Monday, August 24, 2009

Ramadan Nibbles

It's that time of year again for me, dear readers. I think it's great how many people in the West now know about fasting in the month of Ramadan. For me personally, Ramadan is a time to be more conscious/aware of our relationship with God and with the people around us. To put in that extra effort towards becoming a better person, and being truly appreciative for everything positive in our life. Showing love, generosity and charity to those in need plays a major role. It's a time to set bitterness, jealousy and hatred aside for good, and start afresh. Sort of like rebooting your internal spiritual computer once a year! And yes, the fasting from sunrise to sunset is supposed to help with that. I say "supposed" because I can see how it can work a bit like meditation - you shut out the material world and focus inwards. Honestly though, that's easier said than done. Especially if you're a working individual in this part of the world. Here, a job is a job, and there's no excuse for you not performing a 100% at work. But I suppose that's the test. If it was easy, there wouldn't be much of a point to the whole thing!

The part that many people end up focusing on, however, is the food. It's like when something you took for granted is taken away from you, it's all you can think about! I confess to being guilty of that many a time. But a big part of what makes Ramadan fun is getting together with family and friends every weekend, and cooking the highly-anticipated Iftar (sunset) meal together. This is my very first Ramadan when I'll actually be at home, instead of working long hours at an office somewhere - and I couldn't be happier! I have all the time in the world to plan out what variety of little bites (it works somewhat like tapas) I can prepare for DH and I for the Iftari. Then there's dinner too, which comes later, but is obviously lighter fare than on normal days) Here are a couple of new items that I've incorporated into my Iftar menu this year; they're quick and easy and pretty darn fabulous!

Hummus (got this great recipe from The Sassy Foodie)
Serves 6

1 medium can chickpeas, washed & drained
3 tbsp tahini (sesame) paste, or to taste - you might find this in the "international" section of your grocery store
2 garlic cloves
Juice of 1 or 2 lemons
Salt and pepper
Extra virgin olive oil (about 4 tbsp)
Sprinkle of hot paprika and ground cumin

Dump the chickpeas, tahini paste, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper into a food processor. Start to blend, and pour the olive oil in a thin stream through the spout, till the mixture inside reaches a smooth paste-like consistency. Taste for salt, pepper & lemon. You can even add more tahini if that's what you want.

Take this entire mixture and spread it out in a circle on a plate, using the back of a spoon. Make a fairly wide indentation in the middle. Sprinkle all over with paprika and ground cumin (or in a pretty pattern if you have the patience). Just before serving, pour more extra virgin olive oil into the indentation. Serve with warm pita bread.

I've been seeing fresh figs in the grocery store lately, and have to grab a bunch every time, even though they are a bit pricey. When I was a kid growing up in the Middle East, we used to get these gigantic black figs once a year (about the size of my kiddie fist), and they were a real treat. My dad and I adored them. So eating these small ones now are the next best thing, and bring back lovely memories. I just eat them as is usually, but thought I'd change things up a bit this time.

Soft, dark and mysterious on the outside ...

Ruby-red and bursting with sweetness on the inside! You eat the whole thing, skin n' all.

Fun With Figs

Fresh figs, any kind
Thick Greek yogurt OR ricotta cheese OR mascarpone cheese
Chopped pistachios

Cut each fig in half, and place them pretty side up on a platter. Put a dollop of yogurt or cheese on each half. Drizzle lightly with honey. Sprinkle with chopped nuts. Then pop the whole thing into your mouth and let the juices flow! Nature's candy, folks.

More delicious bite-sized recipes to come. It's only been 3 days of fasting so far - 27 more to go, so I better keep cranking out more foodie ideas. A happy and healthy Ramadan to all!

These recipes will be going to Lubna over at Kitchen Flavors, who is currently hosting Joy From Fasting To Feasting (Season II).


Cathy said...

Happy Ramadan Muneeba!

Yasmeen said...

I hardly have the energy(or time) to cook elaborate meals during Ramadan,most of them are one pot meals.Those are some healthy nibbles for Iftar.Hope you have a blessed season :D

Anonymous said...

Happy Ramadan, Muneeba.
It's been awhile since I fasted but my son fasted the first day. He wanted to do the entire month but it's been much too hot down here and he couldn't deal with the thirst. We've had 60 days straight of 100+ degree weather in TX, it's been horrid.

Those figs look like they came out of 4 star restaurant. Beautiful :-)

Anonymous said...

Hmm..thats a honest perspective of Ramadan..May Allah bless you to give 100% at work and yes to your soul,body as well..

Hummus is my fav too..

Parita said...

Ramadan wishes to you my dear...hummus looks delicious, loved the figs so simple..

Anonymous said...

Happy Ramadan to you! The figs look wonderful with pistachios on top and I love your hummus presentation!

Jennifer said...

Happy Ramadan, I am very pleased to hear more about it, I have been curious! I have only seen Figs, I cannot wait to make your recipe, I bet it is tasty!

Kerstin said...

Happy Ramadan! Homemade hummus is just the best and yours look delicious! And your shot of the figs is making my mouth water - yum!

Teanna said...

Ramadan sounds like an absolutely beautiful time of year! The hummus looks gorgeous and I am LOVING that fig recipe!

Heather S-G said...

Your figs look amazing! I so wish I could get fresh ones in my area!

lubnakarim06 said...

Oh wow...awesome and yum recipes....thank you for sending them down to Joy From Fasting To Feasting (Season-II)....Just send me the links of the recipes, you can also send the recipes from archives.....which are special during Ramadan...just mail me the links...

Duchess of Tea said...

Hello darling,
I am back and have missed you terribly!! I have a post on my blog that explains my lengthy absence but enough of that, I just wanted to stop by personally to thank you for the sweet birthday wish you left Cristina and to let you know that your kindness meant the world to us both. I am now off to read the posts that I have missed and to look around your gorgeous blog.
Love & Hugs
Duchess ♥♥♥

Anonymous said...

Happy Ramdan...I love ur blog..the stuff of genius!

Beatrice said...

Oooo -- I wish I'd seen this when figs were everywhere last August. I'm going to bookmark it for next summer.