Between fasts, Ramzan invites a feast. Come sundown, and a sumptuous spread of biryanis, samosas and bowls of phirni do the rounds. The quintessential community festival is also the perfect opportunity to flaunt your culinary skills.
Fill your tables with quirky dishes borrowing from traditional staples from all over the world — Egypt, Turkey, Lebanon, and Central Asia. So, the legendary Sikandari Raan could be paired with spaghetti or lasagna, suggests Mihir Desai, co-owner, Masala Zone, or the nihari produced with shellfish as suggested by chef Sameer Bhalekar of Mirchi & Mime. “Nihari originated as an early morning dish made with either mutton or beef. We substitute it with shellfish to introduce an intense flavour à la bisque style,” he says.
Childhood memories are also served by dollops on such occasions. Scoop out the Hyderabadi dessert khubaani ka meetha in the form of an ice-cream. Kunali Chandaria Dattoobhai, founder of gourmet ice-cream label Sucres Des Terres, says, “The traditional sweet dish would be perfect in its updated, glamorous avatar, rounding up the decadent meal.” Select recipes from the exotic line-up and whip up a unique buffet to spread and partake the rewards of Ramzan.
Lobster Nihari (Serves two)
Roast 1 kg of lobster heads in an oven at 140° celsius for 15 minutes. Warm 100 gm of butter in a pan. Sauté 80 gm of shallots and 40 gm of onions together. Once browned, toss the lobster heads in the pan. Add 100 gm of tomato paste. Once the oil separates, add 2 litres of water to it and reduce it till it attains soup consistency. Add 10 gm dill leaves. Strain the soup. Again heat the strained soup with 10 gm of soft butter and 50 ml of cream. Add crushed pepper and salt to taste. Serve hot.
~ Recipe courtesy chef Sameer Bhalekar of Mirchi & MimI
(LEFT): Watermelon Sabza Cooler; (TOP RIGHT): Duck Seekh; (BOTTOM RIGHT): Lobster Nihari
Whip up quirky treats: Baklava Cups (Makes 6 cups)
Mix one cup of blended nuts (almond and pistachio) with 1 tsp cinnamon, 50 gm icing sugar and keep aside. Cut six phyllo sheets into 3 by 3 inch squares. Brush 100 gm melted white butter in a muffin tin and layer the first phyllo sheet, brush with butter and sprinkle 20 gm of the icing sugar. Similarly, line four to six sheets on top of the other, brushing generously with butter and icing sugar. Fill the cups with the dry fruits mixture and repeat two more layers of phyllo sheet in a similar manner with butter and icing sugar. Bake at 150° celsius for 30 minutes until golden. Bring half a cup of castor sugar, 1/4 cup of honey, 1 cup of water, 2 inch-sized sticks of cinnamon and 2 cloves to a boil and cook on a slow flame till thick. Pour over the baklava cups and let the syrup soak through the phyllo sheets well. 1 tsp of orange zest can be added for freshness or even orange blossom water.
~ Recipe courtesy chef Rakhee Vaswani of Palate Culinary Studio
Khubani ka meetha ice-cream (Makes 1 litre)
Soak 500 gm of dry apricots in warm water overnight. De-seed the apricots, and save the seed. Blend the apricots into a purée and cook them until thick. Place it in an ice bath to cool. Combine 400 gm of whole milk, half tsp of sea salt and 120 to 160 gm of sugar depending on the sweetness desired. Bring it to a boil. Add 400 gm of cream to the milk mixture and set it in an ice bath. Mix the cool apricot puree with the milk and cream mixture. Let it rest in the fridge for four to six hours. Churn in an ice-cream machine. Crack open the seeds to extract the apricot almonds and use as garnish.
~ Recipe courtesy Kunali Chandaria Dattoobhai, owner of Sucres Des Terres
Duck Seekh (Serves four)
Grind 500 gm of meat five times in the mincer till it gets soft and has a smooth texture. Add 5 gm of yellow chilli powder, 4 gm of garam masala powder, and 4 gm of jeera powder to the mince. Heat a pan. Add 5 ml of oil and sauté 4 gm of finely chopped ginger. Add it to the minced duck. Add 4 gm of chopped coriander and salt to taste. Mould the duck mince on a seekh. Apply 10 gm of chopped chives, 50 gm of cubed red and yellow peppers along with capsicum each, on the seekh. Cook it in the oven at 140° celsius for 15 min. Brush with butter and serve hot.
~ Recipe courtesy chef Sameer Bhalekar of Mirchi & Mime
Watermelon Sabza Cooler
Roughly chop 1 large watermelon. Set aside some pieces and blend the rest in a juicer with 8-10 mint sprigs. Collect the juice in a bowl with 10-12 ice cubes and 2 tbsp of castor sugar. Mix in 1 tsp each of black pepper powder and black salt, and the juice of a lemon. To serve, place watermelon pieces in a gl
ass, add mint sprigs, 1 tbsp basil seeds (soaked in water) and the juice. Serve chilled.
~ Recipe courtesy chef Sanjeev Kapoor
(HT PHOTOS: Anshuman Poyrekar, Sanjay Solanki)