Ramadan is a time for contemplation, perseverance
and thankfulness for what we receive. We can spend days with abundance and
never look once at the wastage, over-consumption or extravagance of food. But Ramadan
is one month that allows us to think inwardly about what we eat and how we eat
grandmothers and parents while growing up in Pakistan. Our Ramadan mornings
started early at Sehri (before
daybreak), waking up to the nutty aroma of ghee with paratha’s on the tawa,
spicy omelletes being whipped up and a bottomless pot of chai being prepared. My favorite Sehri meal however was plain cream buffalo milk yoghurt topped with
chunky caramel-like Gur – Jaggary (raw
sugarcane molasses). The rest of the days began and somehow I would be fine
after the first few fasts, only feeling the intense need for water in the
scorching heat of the relentless Karachi sun.
(sunset meal) approached, the kitchen would once again be alive with the scent
of hot, tantalizing snacks such as tangy tamarind black chickpea chaat, dahi baras (lentil fritters with
yoghurt) and aubergine pakoras.
Breaking the fast traditionally with a Medjool
date my first sip of Rooh Afza (rose flavoured
sherbet) would whet my appetite – though after many days of fasting I would
find I could hardly eat much at Iftar time….
The month trains you to learn to do
without, reducing your intake and your need to consume more than you think you
calmer and more understanding person. The excitement of the end of the month
celebration of Eid was a thrill with
new clothes, bangles and lots of parties promised. The Eid celebratory foods of Pakistan are many, but one that never
leaves my mind or my home without being prepared is Seviyan (sweet roasted vermicelli made with nuts, saffron and
milk). Here is my grandmother’s simple recipe, which to me reminds me of the
comfort of her hugs, Eid festivities
and the sunshine of Pakistan.
with pistachios and raisins
- Half a packet of Pakistani/Indian roasted vermicelli
(found in Asian shops) – crush these by hand, into small pieces before adding
- 25 grams caster sugar
- 100 grams of sweet condensed milk
- 1 pinch of saffron, soaked in 1 tbsp hot boiling milk
- 1 pint of whole milk / soya milk / almond milk
- A handful of chopped pistachios, almond, raisins
- 4-5 cardamom pods, bruised open
- Decorate with silver leaf (optional)
- Heat ghee in a saucepan on medium heat and add the
cardamom. Once fragrant add the crushed vermicelli and keep stirring to avoid
- Once fragrant slowly add both the milks and keep
stirring. Add sugar and stir and cook until the mixture becomes thick and
vermicelli is cooked through.
- Pour in saffron and then place in a serving dish.
- Garnish with nuts and raisin – and silver leaf if
available. Serve cold or hot.