Ramadan cooking day 18

Assalamu’ Aleikum to everyone 🙂

Yesterday my mother bought me a butternut squash and today my brother brought it over to my home. So I decided to see what kind of Indian dishes incorporate squash/gourd vegetables and fell upon a traditional dish belonging to the Telugu style of cooking called ‘Sorakaya Pappu.’ Sorakaya means bottle gourd in the Telugu language, which by the way is the fourth most spoken language on the entire subcontinent, trailing Hindi, Bengali, and Punjabi. Pappu means Dal, and dal is the hindi word for lentil. So the name Sorakaya Pappu basically means bottle gourd lentil.

As usual I followed my favorite chef Sanjay Thumma on one of his YouTube videos but I also checked out some other Youtubers and their versions of the dish and then set out to cook my own. The butternut squash is not native to India and thus is not typically used in Indian cooking but that is the beauty of Indian cooking, it can turn any vegetable into an exquisite piece of art.

So I started off by putting in some black mustard seeds in hot oil (South Indian cooking relies heavily on mustard seeds) followed by whole red chilies, fennel seeds (since i did not have any cumin seeds) and hing powder. Fennel seeds give a slightly sweet aroma which in the end matched well with the sweet flavor of the butternut squash.
After letting them fry for a short while, I then sauteed some chopped red onion until the pieces became translucent, during which I also added a pinch of turmeric and a handful of pink salt. This was followed by the butternut squash that I had chopped into small pieces.
I fried the squash for a little while, added a considerable amount of Kashmiri red chili powder, added some Tamarind water, and then put in some fresh water and let the dish boil for half an hour, stirring occasionally. Once the pieces of squash had become tender, I transferred the dal that i had boiled (Majority Masoor dal/pink lentils and minority Sabut masoor dal/brown lentils) into the dish and then cooked the mixture together for a little while more.

The final step was to make a Tadka. A Tadka is a technique used all over India wherein whole spices and spice powders are fried in very hot oil or ghee. In this way, all the aromas are released from the spices. In my Tadka I put in some more mustard seeds, red chilies, hing powder, and some curry leaves. Once i had poured my Tarka over the Sorakaya pappu, the dish was ready. And, so was my iftar 🙂

I served it to my mom and little brother together with plain white basmati rice, and the breads puri and roti. The dish had some similarities to the Sambar I had made two nights earlier, but I enjoyed this dish more. The squash was very flavorful and sweet and it felt like it not only filled up my stomach but my soul as well.

So, my last two iftars have been south Indian iftars and they have not disappointed. Sambar from Kerala and Sorakaya pappu from Andhra Pradesh. Which Indian state will I choose for my next Iftar meal? Stay tuned 🙂

God bless and continue to enjoy your Ramadan ❤

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Ramadan Cooking Day 16

Assalamu Aleikum! 🙂

Hope that you all are having a pleasant and happy Ramadan, In Sha Allah.

So today I decided to cook a South Indian dish for Iftar, something that I have never done since up until now I have only focused myself on cooking North Indian dishes, mainly from the Uttar Pradesh region. Indian food, whether it be from the North or South, is especially perfect for the holy month of Ramadan because it is light and easy while still full of all the essential nutrients that are needed for feeling energetic and positive throughout the long fasting days. (Side note: I live in Stockholm and the fast lasts about 20 hours)

The dish that I decided to cook is called Sambar. The word sambar (old Tamil:Champaar – சாம்பார்) stems from Tamil word Champaaram (சம்பாரம்) meaning “spicy condiments”. Thus, the dish, at least when made in India, tends to be spicy. A sambar is basically a stew that is based on a broad range of mixed vegetables and daals (lentils). I did not have access to all the traditional vegetables used back in India so I improvised and used aubergines, carrots, tomatoes, onions, garlic, turnip, and string beans.

What gives the dish its unique taste is the mix of both Tamarind water and coconut milk. Tamarind and Coconut are staple ingredients of South Indian cuisine.
Mixed together with whole red chilies, black mustard seeds, fennel seeds, turmeric powder, red chili powder, asafoetida (hing powder), brown sugar, whole black peppercorns, curry leaves, salt, and store bought MDH Sambar Masala, the taste of dish reminds one of a typical Thai curry dish with an Indian twist.
My taste buds tell me that Sambar is 100% Indian but that if served in Thailand it would somehow blend in with the rest of the cuisine. Anyhow, a spicy tropical dish that warmed my heart for Iftar. I also made rice, chapattis, and what i call “Flat batura”, similar to the normal puffed up batura. Batura is a North Indian bread that is usually served with the Punjabi dish Chana Masala.

So dear friends, remember to eat healthy, drink plenty of water, and have fun in your kitchens during this blessed month.

God bless ❤

 

Ramadan In The Light Of The Qur’an

Salaam Aleykum to all of you 🙂 I wish you all a Ramadan full of happiness, love, and more love 🙂

Yesterday I spent my time reflecting upon one of the few verses that have to do with Ramadan, and then I wrote my own thoughts regarding the verse. Now I will share them with you…….

Ramadan is the (month) in which was sent down the Qur’an, as a guide to humanity, also clear (Signs) for guidance and judgment (Between right and wrong). So every one of you who is present (at his home) during that month should spend it in fasting, but if any one is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed period (Should be made up) by days later. Allah intends every facility for you; He does not want to put you through difficulties, and he desires that you should complete the prescribed period and that you should exalt the greatness of Allah for His having guided you and that you may give thanks (2:185)

So let us break down the verse here.

The verse starts by saying that “Ramadan is the (month) in which was sent down the Qur’an.”

Anything special to note here? Indeed, yes. Knowing that we are currently living in the month during which the Qur’an was sent down gives a very mystical aura to our present state. The book is letting us know when the book was revealed, and I think the reason that it does this is to, once again, make us aware of just how spiritual Ramadan is supposed to be.

“As a guide to humanity” – Here, we learn the purpose of the Qur’an, and its purpose is simple : It is to serve as a guide to all human beings. What can we learn from these five words? There are many things to ponder and reflect upon here. Personally, it is the final word of this short phrase that gets to me. Humanity. The Qur’an itself, our very own holy book, was not intended for us muslims. Rather, it is for all of humanity, seeking to “guide” humanity into the path of “Islam”, peace.
From this, I draw the conclusion that the blessed month of Ramadan is a blessed month for the entire planet earth, and from this conclusion, I say that as Muslims we must guide our fellow human beings during this month, regardless of faith, color, caste, creed, gender, regardless of all barriers. We must guide them to peace, both inner and outer. Reinforce the peace that already exists wherever it is found, and create peace wherever it is not found.

“Also clear (Signs) for guidance and judgment (Between right and wrong)” – Here, we learn that the Qur’an contains signs that are there in order to guide us, and that it also contains the keys that will help us to separate the right from the wrong. Thus, it is up to us to search for these signs and keys. This means that we should make sure to read and try to understand our holy book as much as possible, especially during this month.

“So every one of you who is present (at his home) during that month should spend it in fasting” – Here, the Qur’an tells us that if we are at home during this month, we should spend it in fasting. Pretty straight forward and clear here.

“But if any one is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed period (Should be made up) by days later” – Here, we get a special set of circumstances. If we are Ill, then we are not required to fast. I believe that this makes sense because it for sure must be quite hard to fast when one is sick. The same goes for travel. If we are on a journey, we are not required to fast either. However, we must make up our fast at a later time, when we have found our health again, and when our journey is over.

“Allah intends every facility for you; He does not want to put you through difficulties” – Here, God says he wants to make things easy for us, and that he does not want to put us through difficulties. This is a manifestation of the mercy of the most merciful. His intention for us is ease, not hardship. When times get hard during your fast, just remember these words in your heart. They will help you make it through.

“And he desires that you should complete the prescribed period” – God’s wish for us is that we complete the fast. The least we can do to please our creator is to hold on, have patience, and make it through all 30 days of our fast? These words tell me that by fasting, we are pleasing Allah.

“And that you should exalt the greatness of Allah for His having guided you” – Here, we are told why we should praise our creator’s greatness. We should praise his greatness because he has guided us. It exemplifies a give and take relationship. Allah has given us guidance, and in return, we should exalt his greatness. This means, whenever we say “Allaho Akbar” (God is great) during Ramadan, we should really mean it, from the depth of our hearts. Why should we mean it? Because of the guidance we have been so fortunate to receive from our maker. We are striving to become better people everyday, and striving to be good human beings that serve others. This is the guidance that we have received, the guidance that leads to peace. God is great, indeed.

“And that you may give thanks” – Here, we learn that we should be thankful to God. Thankful for what? This is up to you to decide. The things that we as people can be thankful for are endless. Just start by being thankful for life, because life, is the biggest blessing of all, and without Allah, life simply would not be.