Eid Al Fitr 2019: Meet the women behind the fasting and feasting in Muslim households
The month of Ramzan is one of revelry, faith and an all-round festive spirit. The faithful wake up in the wee hours of the morning to eat sehri — the morning meal — after which they are not allowed to eat or drink the whole day. They break their fast at iftar, with a spread of delicious home-cooked food. Preparing this feast is no mean feat, especially for women who work, manage a household and observe rozas. Working round-the-clock, they ensure that enough food is prepared for the family members. And not only this, some of these families also prepare extra food to be sent to the local mosques. We speak to some women who do this, and more, without breaking a sweat.
Raising a full house
For 56-year-old Aisha Qureshi, daughter of Padma Shri, chef Imtiaz Qureshi, managing a household with two kids while observing rozas comes naturally. Owing to the legacy that she carries, the dastarkhwan at the Qureshis is no less than a royal spread. From starters that include spicy pakodas, tangy channa chaat and the mild dahi-phulki to the main course that includes chicken biryani, she makes them all.
“It takes around 3 to 4 hours to prepare meals for iftar. We always make some extra food so that it can also be sent to the mosque. The preparation begins some time before iftar so that the meal is ready well in time. At times, we eat this food during sehri as well. Otherwise, we have doodh-pheni, fruits and rusk,” she says. The day isn’t over for her after iftar as her husband, celebrated chef Gulam Qureshi comes home late from work. “I get to sleep only after sehri,” she says. Few hours of rest and ailments like diabetes don’t deter her spirit. “Himmat toh uparvala deta hai (The almighty imparts us the strength). I have been fasting since I was very small; the strength just comes from within.
Work, fast, repeat
When not out on assignments, Kashish Badar, a 26-year-old documentary filmmaker, helps her mother and aunt in the kitchen. “When I started fasting, I couldn’t do it for the entire duration, but I gradually started doing it regularly. But with work, it’s very difficult because my profession involves travel, odd working hours and I’ve to be at distant locations that don’t even have access to basic amenities. So I keep a packet of biscuits, a water bottle and some fruits with me,” she says, adding, “It’s far more difficult for women who have to run the kitchen. I’m lucky in this regard as there is help. I’ve a family that does most of the work so there is no pressure on me, but I extend help out of my choice.”
For sehri, Badar doesn’t cook, but has fruits, milk with khajla or sevaiyaan. “I also eat curd because it keeps the body cool and makes me feel full for at least a while. If I’m working in Delhi then I come well before iftar. Over the weekends, I try and cook,” she adds. Her favourite meal is nihari and khameeri roti, and for iftaar, she says, “I’m so hungry that I can hog on anything, but I prefer to keep it light, so stick to having fruit chaat.”
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