Cooking for Ramadan

We're not even a week into Ramadan, and I'm already tired of cooking the same old thing.  My husband likes to eat a large variety of foods, so everyday cooking goes out the window during this month.  Some days I feel like a short order chef, though I try to smile and just carry on.  Many people feel sorry for the people fasting all day.  I mean, who would purposely choose to eat breakfast at 3 am, then wait to eat dinner at nearly 8:30 pm?  A lot of Muslims living in the midwestern US, that's who. Depending on where you live, the fast can be longer or shorter because it goes from before sunrise to sunset.  He eats it, but I cook it. So I thought I'd share some of the recipes I'm using this week for dinner, which is called iftar.

He starts with water, strong coffee and dates- they have to be American grown California Medjool because I like to support local growers, and many of the dates grown in the Israel/West Bank region, have been suspect to using children in the processing. You can read about it here. Last year there was an effort to boycott dates of "unknown origin."

Then it's crepes, though called different things in different countries. There are many recipes, but this one is very close to the one my mom always made. Sometimes I add a teaspoon of vanilla, or change out some of the all purpose flour to include some wheat flour and wheat germ. He likes to eat them smothered in honey.

Next it's a cup of soup.  Lentil is his favorite because it's high in protein. This recipe is good on its own, but I often add a Tbsp. of curry, just because he likes it a bit spicier. And I usually clean out the vegetable drawer with whatever we have because I can hide vegetables in this he won't normally eat (like broccoli) because it goes in the Vitamix. Shhh...don't tell him.

Lentil Peanut Soup

Today I got out a recipe for Lentil Peanut Soup. I received this from Astrid, a woman I met while living in Denmark.  She was from Rhodesia. I wrote that on the recipe. It doesn't even exist under that name anymore. Now it's Zimbabwe.  She and her husband were white, and had come to Denmark because her husband found work at a garage doing bodywork. I always liked eating at their house because she used a variety of recipes, some African, but others were from her Danish/Dutch heritage.  If you want to try this, here's the recipe:

Ingredients:
1 cup red lentils, sorted and rinsed
1 cup pearl barley, rinsed
2 carrots, peeled, cut in half lengthwise and sliced
2 stalks celery, washed and sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons cumin
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon allspice
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste
1 can diced or crushed tomatoes 
5 cups broth (I use bone broth made from chicken carcass)
1 bay leaf

1 Tbsp. grated ginger
1-2 Tbsp. peanut butter

Saute the veggies in ghee or olive oil until onion is translucent.  Add lentils, barley, spices, tomatoes and broth.  Stir and cook until everything is cooked through.  I use a pressure cooker, but it can be cooked stove top for about an hour.  Add ginger and peanut butter. Then blend in Vitamix if you want to hide the veggies too.  It's pretty tasty, though the peanut butter overpowers any veggie taste. 

After the soup, we're on to the main course, which has been beef tips in gravy, with peas, and rice.  I make enough to last three days. Sometimes just before bed, he'll have a yogurt to top it off.

Want more recipes?  Here is the article from 2012 the local Milwaukee newspaper did.  The recipes listed are staples for us during Ramadan. The sambusa can also be made using tortillas and baked or fried.  Sometimes I freeze them and just take out a few every day.  Here's a Kenyan/American recipe with tips on how to do that. You don't have to be Muslim or wait for Ramadan to eat these recipes.  Let me know if you try them.



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