Ramzan 2020 Food

A different kind of Iftar during the lockdown

Haseena Yaseen (in blue) with her iftar spread of carrot pola, chicken cake, dahi patties, bread egg toast, pazham stir fry, home-made nonbu kanji, appam, egg roast, mutton sukka and watermelon milk sherbet

Haseena Yaseen (in blue) with her iftar spread of carrot pola, chicken cake, dahi patties, bread egg toast, pazham stir fry, home-made nonbu kanji, appam, egg roast, mutton sukka and watermelon milk sherbet   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

While piety and prayer remain steadfast during Ramzan, the Iftar feast has had to undergo some adjustments owing to the isolations and quarantines

“It is carrot pola for Iftar today,” announces home baker Haseena Yaseen. The delicacy from Malabar is also called carrot egg cake and is prepared with mashed carrots, beaten eggs, sugar, and a dash of cardamom powder. “I steam this mix in a pressure cooker, and carrot pola is ready,” says Haseena, adding, “Though there is a shortage of fruits, dates and nuts, we are managing to make some Malabar specialities. We also make make pineapple pola.”

Pazham nirachathu and chatti pathiri

Pazham nirachathu and chatti pathiri   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

For Haseena, Iftar this year has been different because of the COVID-19 lockdown. “Every year, we invite friends and relatives over. This time, it is a smaller and quieter affair.”

But the positive thing is the family members are able to pray and break their fast together. “Usually, people are out at work, even during the fasting. This time, we are spending a lot more time together,” says Haseena.

Haseena Yaseen’s recipe for Killikoodu
  • Ingredients : 2 finely chopped onion, 3 green chillies, A few curry leaves, 1 tsp ginger-garlic paste, 1/4 tsp turmeric powder, 1/2 tsp chilli powder, 1/2 tsp garam masala powder, 2 tsp coriander leaves, 2 boiled potatoes, 150 gm cooked chicken ( cooked with salt, turmeric and pepper powder), 1 beaten egg, 1 boiled egg and 1 cup vermicelli
  • Method : For the filling: Heat kadai and add 2 tspn of oil. Add finely chopped onion and green chilli, saute till light brown. Add curry leaves, ginger garlic paste, turmeric powder and chilli powder, saute well. Add the shredded chicken and boiled potatoes, and garam masala and coriander leaves. The filling is ready.
  • Shape the filling as small ball and flatten in the palm of the hand, and place a small piece of boiled egg in the centre. Wrap the filling around the egg. Dip this ball in a bowl of beaten egg and roll in a bowl of vermicelli and deep fry. Repeat till the filling and till the boiled eggs are over.

R Mohammed Ali, who runs a garment business, is of the same opinion. “It’s been a happy and content month of Ramzan fasting this time. As my mother prepares kanji (rice porridge) for Iftar, I help her in the kitchen to make crisp vadas as accompaniment. I have never done this before. As food supplies are hit, we keep it simple — for example a fruit chaat with whatever we have.”

Time is moving a lot slower, says Mohammed Saleem, who has never missed fasting in 10 years, but he feels everything is more meaningful and intimate. “I miss my nonbu kanji though,” sighs Saleem. In South India, during Ramzan, most mosques offer this mildly-spiced rice porridge made with lentils. This year, because of the lockdown, preparing nonbu kanji at the mosques is banned. Instead, Saleem keeps his energy levels going with steamed vegetables and salads. “Our meals are more vegetarian, as getting meat is difficult.”

Shaima Saleem rings in Ramzan the Malabari way with kaiveeshal appam, a snack made with beaten eggs, sugar and refined flour. “You have to mix them all together. Then, pour the batter over oil through the hole of a coconut shell. You can make shapes like jalebi. Children love it.”

Shaima Saleem’s recipe for Kaiveeshal Appam
  • Ingredients : 125gms maida flour, 3 eggs, 1/2 cup sugar, a pinch of cardamom powder, salt, 1 cup oil (to fry)
  • Method : In a bowl, beat the eggs with a fork or hand mixer. Then, add sugar, cardamom powder, and a pinch of salt and mix well. Then, add maida little by little and mix well, till you get the flowing consistency, not too think or too thick.
  • Heat oil in a pan. Take a coconut shell with a hole. Close the hole with one finger and pour the batter to the shell. Bring it over the pan and then remove the finger and pour the batter in circles like jalebi. Fry both sides till done.

Haseena says, “Our friends love the Iftar spread, especially kilikoodu. It is made with mashed potatoes and minced meat coated with a layer of egg, and broken vermicelli on top for the crunch. And chatti pathiri, a layered pancake made with shredded chicken. The dish resembles a lasagna. For the sweet version, the filling is usually a mix of grated coconut, sugar and dry fruits.”

Some of Shaima’s other specialities include nendran pazham rolls stuffed with grated and fried coconut, ghee and dry fruits, called unnakai; erachi pathiri made with minced meat (now replaced with minced soya) and thari kanji made with sooji, vermicelli, and milk. “What we miss the most is not being able to distribute the goodies to our neighbours,” she says.

Here are Haseena Yaseen’s recipes of Malabar snacks:

Carrot Pola

Ingredients: 2 carrots, 1/2 cup water, 5 eggs, 4 tbsp sugar, 5 tbsp milk powder, 1 tbsp ghee

Method : Cut carrot into pieces and boil in water. Add the boiled carrot, eggs, sugar, milk powder, ghee and blend in a blender.

Pour in the mixture in a flat-bottomed kadai greased with ghee.

Place the kadai on top of a tawa and keep it on fire to get an evenly-steamed carrot pola. Keep on low heat for about 15 minutes till a stick inserted comes out clean.

Chicken cake

Ingredients (for the chicken filling)

1 cup boneless chicken, 1/4 tsp turmeric powder, 1/2 tsp pepper powder, 1/2 tsp chilli powder, 1/4 tsp cut ginger, 1/4 tsp cut garlic, salt, 3 tsp oil, 1 tsp ginger-garlic paste,1 crushed green chilli, 2 finely-chopped big onions, 1/4 tsp garam masala powder, a handful of coriander leaves.

Ingredients (for cake)

3 eggs, 1/2 cup coconut oil, 1 cup milk,1 cup maida


Cook boneless chicken with turmeric powder, pepper powder, chilli powder and salt and keep aside. Shred the cooked chicken in a blender. Heat oil in a kadai. Add ginger-garlic paste and wait for the raw smell to disappear. Add crushed green chilli and finely-chopped onion. Add garam masala, chilli powder, turmeric powder, and coriander leaves. Add shredded chicken and mix well. Turn off the flame and keep aside. In a blender, add eggs, milk, coconut oil and maida and blend well. Add the prepared chicken filling and mix well. Pour this mixture into a flat-bottomed kadai greased with oil and place the kadai on top of a pan. Keep on low heat for 20 minutes, then flip the kadai upside down on the pan to heat the upper portion of the chicken cake for five minutes in low heat. Remove from flame when evenly cooked and a stick inserted comes out clean, Wait for it to cool down.

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Printable version | May 27, 2020 6:08:43 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/food/a-different-kind-of-iftar-during-the-lockdown/article31592430.ece

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