Season of Iftar offerings

ANYONE WHO feeds a fasting man or woman at the time of Iftar (fast breaking) will be rewarded by God as much as the fasting person. The word of Prophet Mohammed never goes begging, particularly in the month of Ramadan. If you are fasting, rest assured that you will get some food at sunset from the mosques, shops, hotels or homes of Muslims. Those who donate dates and snacks to mosques are largely oblivious of the politicking that is sometimes reported at the Iftar parties thrown by the high and mighty.

Albeit a few in number, the restaurants managed by Muslims maintain a healthy competition in offering Iftar packages for their clients. Calling a fasting person a client might be odious, they agree. Most of them treat a `swa-im' or fasting person with great respect and care.

For everyone, Ramada's Iftar evenings remain a unique event of special food items. One might wonder at a fasting person eagerly watching his clock tick past the current sunset time, holding a date or two in his hand. While Muslims hasten to break the fast, their curious friends from other communities often join them at Iftar, appreciating the spirit behind fasting.

The Iftar packages offered by restaurants in Kochi like Chicago Plaza, Cylone Refreshment, Canopy Coffee Shop (Abad Plaza), etc. are fit for the occasion. It seems without dates, ripe or dry, there's no Iftar.

The muezzin's sweet call for Maghrib prayer echoes the revolving panels of the Chicago Restaurant at sunset. Soon after breaking fast with a date and a few snacks like `mutton samoosa', `unnakka' and `chicken palada cutlet', one can proceed for the Maghrib prayer. The prayer hall set up at the floor below is spacious enough to accommodate a pretty large gathering.

Back from the prayer, the `swa-im' is treated with a wide variety of mouth-watering Iftar dishes. There are lime juice, oranges, green grapes, `thari' or `rava' gruel, `jeeraka' gruel, and `kichadi' as starters.

Is there an Iftar without `thari kanjhi'? Hardly any Iftar could be seen without this `rava' delicacy. So is the case of rice `pathiri', a predominantly Mapila food. And to go with `pathiri', there's arguably no better dish than chicken curry.

But for a change, this time we're concentrating on mutton, said K.A. Ansari, general manager of Chicago Revolving Restaurant. Apart from `pathiri', there are `idiyappam', `muttapathiri', ghee rice, mutton curry, chicken fry, fish curry, `chemmeen pidi', etc. for the main course. And in the backdrop, the Quranic verses of the Imam from Masjidu-Nnabawi add some significance to the occasion.

At Canopy, even readymade Iftar packages are available. It will have dates, banana fry, `samoosa', cutlet, `idiyappam', `pathiri', chicken curry, beef roast, etc. Yet, the `thari kanji' of Canopy remains a seasonal attraction.

But the efforts of Hotel Cylone at Padma Junction in providing not only Iftar packages but pre-dawn dinner as well are being widely appreciated, particularly by those living away from family.

`Samoosa', `unnakka', `Irachi pathiri', banana roast, `ulli vada', `idiyappam', `vellappam', `thari', `jeeraka kanji', chicken, mutton and fish `kuruma', etc. are there in the package. Over 100 people break their fast regularly from Cylone. But the rush seen here between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. for pre-dawn dinner or `suhoor' is amazing.

By Abdul Latheef Naha

Photo: Vipinchandran