Sunday, August 15, 2010

That Fasting Time Of Year Again

And sooooo it begins.

Sounds ominous, eh? Well, it's not; I've just always wanted to start a blog post that way!

Fact is, Ramadan is here again. Last year I was pregnant, so couldn't fast. This year I feel closer to my fellow Muslims around the world who are fasting, and am enjoying the spiritual experience thoroughly. Erm, of course I do have the added benefit of not working and staying at home. But then again, it's not like I can sleep through it - baby B won't stand for that! This Ramadan is the toughest one yet (in my lifetime anyway) because the days are the longest so far. When this holy month comes around in December, it's almost easy to not eat or drink, because sunset is around 4pm! But these days, when dawn to dusk have 15-16 hours in between them - well, let's just say that it takes a special kind of willpower to keep you going.

Well, God never said it was going to be easy. It's supposed to test your spiritual mettle, so to speak. Let me tell you though, it helps to have a sense of humor to get you through that noon-3pm time slot, when all you can think about is devouring the contents of your refrigerator! I personally like to torture myself by watching the Food Network, or browsing through my favorite food blogs - that masochistic streak comes out to play from time to time.

There isn't much I'm doing this year in terms of
iftar - i.e. the sunset meal. Since it's already past my dinner time when the sun goes down, these days DH and I just break our fast with dates, the ubiquitous fruit chaat, some cooling beverage, then it's straight to dinner. So let me tell you about this beautiful Blackberry Herb Spritzer that you can try for your iftar or just because it's the last few weeks of summer.
I'll be sending this recipe to Lubna of Kitchen Flavors for her annual "Joy from Fasting to Feasting" event, which is now in its third season. It was a fabulous source of inspiration last year, and I can't wait to see what other people contribute this time.

Blackberry Herb Spritzer

Click here for printable recipe

1 or 2 pints of fresh blackberries
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
Club soda
3-4 leaves fresh basil
Few sprigs of lemon thyme

1. Put the blackberries in your blender and puree them till smooth. Then strain that unbelievably gorgeous indigo-violet mixture through a sieve to get rid of as many seeds as you can. Set aside.

2. Combine the sugar and water with the herbs and bring to a boil till the sugar dissolves. Then turn off the heat and let the mixture steep so that the herb flavor is intensified. The smell is amazing! Let this cool completely.
3. To assemble, put a 1/4 cup of the blackberry puree in a glass, followed by 1/4 cup of the herb syrup. Top it off with 1/2-3/4 cup of club soda and lots of ice. Sip and savor!

Verdict: This is such a revelation for me. Using my own, homegrown fresh herbs for this drink made all the difference. You can use all kinds of fresh herbs to flavor the sugar syrup - like mint, or rosemary, or regular thyme. You could also add in some lemon/lime juice. I loved the combo of fresh basil and lemon-thyme. Don't use too much basil though, because it is pretty strong. And I'm nuts about the color of this drink. Looks like pinot grigio, almost, but deeper. It's a great beverage for these hot, sticky Ramadan nights.