It has been a year already, despite feeling much longer than a year thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, and we roll into our second Ramadan, the holy fasting month in Islam, amid lockdowns. The first couple of days always seem the hardest when fasting and while we might want to wolf the food down, your stomach will not appreciate that and you may end up feeling uncomfortably bloated. So here, I have put together a light and quick menu to break your first fast.
However, if you would like a more traditional iftar, make sure to check out our Ramadan series from last year, which featured:
With this little reminder out of the way let’s see what we've got for today!
This is probably the lightest soup you can ever make and in my family, it is known as the “soup of the sick.” Whenever one of us fell ill or caught a cold, my mum would cook this up and apparently she was right – in terms of health benefits anyway. As it is not as heavy as creamy soups, it will replenish the fluids you've lost throughout the day and strengthen your immunity in the first days of fasting.
Note about the chicken: You don’t need to have a whole chicken. Any parts you have already at home work great for this but having a whole chicken has the advantage of having drier and juicer meat all in one. But using chicken scraps (from your local butcher) is just as effective and is my preferred way to make it. Usually, those scraps still have some meat on them which is enough for a soup!
Cook the chicken with the bay leaves in plenty of water for about one hour on low heat and periodically remove the foam building on top. Meanwhile, chop your onions as small as you like, sautee them until they go translucent and add them to the chicken broth when the one-hour mark has passed. Remove the chicken pieces from the water, and then carefully remove the meat from the bones (a fork is handy) and toss them into the broth again. Chop up the other vegetables, namely the carrots, leeks and celery into more or less the same size and toss them into the broth as well. At this point, you can add noodles if you'd like. Finally, add the seasoning and let it simmer until the vegetables have softened. Turn off the heat and chop the parsley or dill finely and add it at the very end as a final touch.
Remove or add whichever vegetables you have available. You might not like celery but want to add peas? Go for it.
You can prepare your broth ahead of time and freeze it. If you cook the chicken broth long enough, you can even turn it into concentrated stock – much cheaper and healthier than store-bought bullion, without the preservatives or the like.
Who wants to stand in the kitchen for hours on end, especially in the first week of Ramadan where you can just forget you are fasting and instinctively reach for the food for a taste? Well, I don’t. The accidental tasting has happened before so I like to avoid that whenever I can. So to avoid that, I like quick and easy recipes like this one. And considering that salmon even has properties to decrease anxiety, it makes it a perfect choice.
Start by preparing all the vegetables. Peel the potatoes and cut them into thin wedges, doing the same for the onions. The zucchinis can be sliced in whichever way you desire. Their thickness is entirely up to you but they do cook pretty fast. Chop the tomatoes in half and deseed your paprikas, chopping them up roughly. Carrots should be cut either lengthwise or even quartered but relatively thin to reduce their cooking time in the oven. Douse them in a bit of olive oil (I've found 3 tablespoons are more than enough) and sprinkle the seasoning. Toss the veggies so that they are all coated evenly and place them onto a lined baking tray. Bake them for about 30 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius. Meanwhile, sear your salmon on each side for a minute or two with about a tablespoon of oil. Once the half-hour is up, put the fish in the middle of the veggies and continue baking for about 15-20 minutes. Once out of the oven, serve hot.
If you like moist yet very fluffy cakes that are not too heavy, banana bread is the perfect solution. And the best thing about this one is that you don’t even need to have a mixer and can make it in one bowl, just like a wacky cake.
Mash the bananas with a fork and add the wet ingredients, giving it a good mix. Then add the flour, baking powder, vanilla, salt and sugar, first mixing it on top of the mixture and then going deeper with your trusty fork until all the ingredients are incorporated. If you want, you can add in some chocolate chips at the very end and give it one last mix before off into the oven it goes. Bake it for about 50 minutes at 170 degrees Celsius. Depending on how deep your dish is this might take less time, so do a test with a toothpick or thin knife to see if it has baked through at a few intervals.
Spice up this recipe with a bit of peanut butter, adding a bit more flour to preserve the consistency. You can also add other crunchy things, such as nuts, for great variety in texture. If you want to make it a bit healthier, you can add oats in as well. Feel free to experiment with this recipe as it is quite forgiving. A dash of coffee is another way to dial it up a notch. Just be mindful of the consistency when adding more fluids to the batter.
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