These if­tar dishes are ef­fort­less but still packed with big, fun flavour

Friday - - Ramadan Recipe Special - PHO­TOS BY ANAS THACHARPADIKKAL

I’m Jas­mine Ban­dali, a food ed­i­tor and a full-time work­ing mother of four chil­dren. I’ve spent some 25 years in the kitchen, cooking and cre­at­ing new recipes. I have to cater to two very fussy eaters, so my at­ti­tude to­wards food is an un­com­pro­mis­ing bal­ance of easy meals packed with flavour and made with speed.

This ethos ap­plies to me even more so in Ra­madan, when en­ergy lev­els take a dip and my en­tire fam­ily, in­clud­ing my nine­and 10-year-old boys, are fast­ing. I don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen but I do want to cre­ate a special and mem­o­rable oc­ca­sion ev­ery day of the month, to cel­e­brate the ca­ma­raderie that the spirit of the sea­son brings. Ra­madan is a special time of year, full of peace, re­flec­tion and of course, de­li­cious edibles with which to end your fast.

Per­son­ally, I think there is noth­ing quite like the feel­ing of when if­tar time draws near, and the en­tire fam­ily gath­ers to share the meal and en­joy all sorts of sweet and savoury goodies, pre­pared with love.

Wel­come to my ta­ble, where each week I’ll show you how to cre­ate ev­ery­thing from fam­ily meals of small bites, to a mag­nif­i­cent feast for guests, with­out break­ing a sweat. Whether you’re look­ing for snacks, mains, drinks and desserts, or a suhour that is tasty, fill­ing and nu­tri­tious to keep you go­ing the whole day, I’ve got you cov­ered. I hope you en­joy these.


Prep time 10 mins Cooking time 10 mins Serves 6 4 blocks plain halloumi cheese Juice of 1 lemon 1 tbsp dried oregano Ex­tra vir­gin olive oil, as needed 20 mini bread rolls TO SERVE: 1 large onion, halved and sliced thinly 2 Roma toma­toes, sliced May­on­naise, as needed Cut each of the halloumi blocks into five thick slices. Place in a bowl. Add the lemon juice, oregano and a driz­zle of olive oil. Toss very gen­tly to com­bine, as halloumi is very frag­ile. Cover the bowl with cling film and place in the re­frig­er­a­tor un­til you are ready to serve. In the mean­time, sauté the onion slices lightly with a driz­zle of olive oil in a fry­ing pan set over a medium heat. Once soft­ened, re­move with a slot­ted spoon and place in a bowl. Lightly toast the in­sides of the rolls in a dry fry­ing pan set over a high heat. This will take just 20 sec­onds, so keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t burn. Slather the in­sides of the buns with may­on­naise. Set aside, cov­ered with cling film if you are not go­ing to serve the slid­ers im­me­di­ately. When you are ready to serve, brush a grid­dle pan lightly with ex­tra vir­gin olive oil and place over a medium-high heat. Care­fully place the halloumi slices on the grid­dle pan and cook un­til golden on each side. Once cooked, place one halloumi slice on the bot­tom half of each pre­pared bun. Top with a slice of tomato and a few fried onions. Place the top half of the bun on top and serve im­me­di­ately.

Per­son­ally, I don’t find mango juice thirstquench­ing due to its vis­cos­ity, but the fra­grant fruit is al­ways a pop­u­lar flavour choice in our house. This recipe is eas­ier to drink, com­bined with the fresh­ness of mint and a tart twist of lime.


Cooking time 20 min­utes Serves 6-8

1 pack frozen mango cheeks/ chunks 1 large bunch fresh mint, chopped Juice of 1 lime 1l cold wa­ter FOR THE SIM­PLE SUGAR SYRUP: ¼ cup sugar ¾ cup wa­ter TO SERVE: 2 limes, sliced Crushed ice Mint leaves Make the sugar syrup by com­bin­ing the sugar with the wa­ter in a small saucepan. Bring the mix­ture to the boil and stir un­til the sugar has dis­solved. Set aside to cool. Place the frozen mango, mint, lime juice and wa­ter in a blender. Whizz un­til com­bined. Trans­fer the blended mango juice to a jug and add the sliced limes. At if­tar time, check the sweet­ness of the juice and ad­just to taste us­ing the sugar syrup. Pour the cooler into glasses filled with crushed ice, gar­nish with a few mint leaves and serve.


Prep time Overnight Bak­ing time 20 min­utes Makes 25 to 30 puffs

1kg skin­less chicken breast, cubed 3 packs frozen puff pas­try squares A squeeze of lemon juice 1 egg, beaten FOR THE MARI­NADE: 1 onion, quar­tered 450g tub plain yo­gurt 1 tbsp gar­lic paste ½ tbsp gin­ger paste 1 tbsp chilli paste 1 tbsp coriander pow­der 1 level tbsp cumin pow­der 1 level tbsp garam masala 1 tsp salt Bunch of coriander, chopped ¼ to ½ tsp red food colour­ing, to pref­er­ence

Place the chicken cubes in a large non-metal­lic bowl. Whizz the mari­nade in­gre­di­ents in a food pro­ces­sor un­til thor­oughly com­bined. Pour the mix­ture over the chicken and mix with your hands un­til all the pieces are coated. Cover the bowl with cling film and trans­fer to the re­frig­er­a­tor. Leave for at least 8 hours or overnight. Set your grill to a medium-high heat. Us­ing a slot­ted spoon, trans­fer the chicken pieces to a grill pan, spread­ing them out evenly. Grill for about 10 min­utes, then flip the pieces and grill for a fur­ther 10 min­utes, un­til cooked through. While the chicken is cooking, re­move the puff pas­try squares from the freezer and sep­a­rate. Set aside to thaw. Grease 2 bak­ing sheets with oil. Place the chicken in a bowl and squeeze over some lemon juice. Mix to com­bine. Place a hand mixer in the cen­tre of the chicken and set to a slow speed. This shreds the chicken ef­fort­lessly – or use your hands if you pre­fer. Pre­heat the oven to 180°C. Place one ta­ble­spoon of the shred­ded chicken in the cen­tre of each puff pas­try square. Fold the pas­try over to cre­ate a tri­an­gle. Seal us­ing a fork to press down the edges, then ar­range on the bak­ing trays. Glaze with the beaten egg and bake in the oven for 20 min­utes, or un­til golden. Bring to room tem­per­a­ture be­fore serv­ing.


Cooking time about 15 mins Serves 4-6

8 mini frozen corn cobs, halved 2 blocks creamed co­conut (I use Biona Or­ganic from the or­ganic sec­tion at the su­per­mar­ket), or 3 cans co­conut cream 1 tbsp green chilli paste ¼ tsp turmeric pow­der 1 tsp salt Juice of 1 lemon A gen­er­ous hand­ful of fresh coriander, chopped Freshly grated co­conut, to gar­nish

Take a saucepan large enough to hold the cobs, add just enough wa­ter to cover them, and place the pan over a medium-high heat. Add the creamed co­conut blocks or co­conut cream and gen­tly mix un­til the co­conut dis­solves. Mix in the chilli paste, turmeric, salt, lemon juice and the chopped coriander. Bring the mix­ture to the boil, cover, lower the heat and sim­mer un­til the corn cobs are cooked through. Re­move the pan from the heat and al­low to cool slightly. Gar­nish with a sprin­kling of fresh co­conut be­fore ladling into bowls.


Cooking time 90 mins Bak­ing time 30 mins Makes 1 large pie

FOR THE PAS­TRY: 1½ cups plain flour 175g but­ter 3 tbsp ic­ing sugar 1 tbsp wa­ter 1 large egg, beaten FOR THE JAM FILL­ING: 200g frozen rasp­ber­ries 2 Granny Smith ap­ples, quar­tered, with the core in­tact Juice of 1 lemon 1 cup Vimto cor­dial ½ cup caster sugar FOR THE MERINGUE TOP­PING: 1 cup sugar ½ cup wa­ter 4 egg whites Juice of ½ a lemon

Place the rasp­ber­ries, ap­ples, lemon juice, Vimto and caster sugar in a saucepan set over a gen­tle heat un­til the fruit soft­ens, the juices from the fruit are released and the sugar has dis­solved. Bring the mix­ture to a hard boil, stir­ring in­ter­mit­tently and check­ing the con­sis­tency ev­ery 10 min­utes or so un­til it re­sem­bles jam – this takes about half an hour. Strain the mix­ture into a bowl to re­move the seeds. Set aside to cool. To make the pas­try, blitz the flour and but­ter in a food pro­ces­sor un­til they re­sem­ble fine bread­crumbs. Add the ic­ing sugar, wa­ter and egg and whizz again un­til all the in­gre­di­ents are com­bined into a dough. On a floured sur­face, roll the dough un­til 3mm thick. Place the dough in a 23cm loose­bot­tomed flan tin. It doesn’t mat­ter if you have ex­cess pas­try hang­ing over the top, just be mind­ful not to stretch it when you cover the base. Cover with cling film and al­low to chill in the re­frig­er­a­tor for half an hour. Pre­heat the oven to 180°C. Take the chilled pas­try shell and re­move the ex­cess pas­try from the top. Don’t cut off too much, you’ll need a lit­tle height over the tin, so do this by pinch­ing the pas­try up­wards. Line the pas­try with bak­ing parch­ment and fill with bak­ing beans. Bake for 15 min­utes. Take the tin from the oven and re­move the parch­ment and beans. Re­turn to the oven for an­other 5 min­utes, then trans­fer to a wire rack to cool. In the mean­time, make the meringue. Com­bine the sugar and wa­ter in a small saucepan set over a high heat. Boil un­til the syrup reaches soft-ball stage (this is when a lit­tle syrup dropped into a bowl of cold wa­ter forms a soft ball but is still pli­able). Pre­heat the oven to 180°C. As the syrup cooks, com­bine the egg whites and lemon juice in a bowl, us­ing a hand mixer or stand mixer, set to a medium speed. Whip un­til you achieve soft peaks, about two to three min­utes. Care­fully driz­zle in the hot sugar syrup, in­crease the speed to high and whip un­til stiff and the peaks hold up on their own. Spread the bot­tom of the cooled pas­try case with the Vimto jam. Top with dol­lops of the meringue and spread gen­tly to cre­ate soft peaks. Place the pie in the oven for about 10 min­utes, un­til golden brown. Cool be­fore serv­ing.

You have to grill the halloumi just be­fore you serve these bites, so pre­pare the buns in ad­vance for a speedy de­liv­ery to the ta­ble!

Jamie Oliver glasses Dh95­forsetof4 Lsa Icelip jug Dh185

Aqua monte bowls and plates (left) Dh45 each I use creamed co­conut blocks for this dish be­cause as it cools, it de­vel­ops into a thicker tex­ture, which I adore. Us­ing canned co­conut cream re­sults in a soupier con­coc­tion.

Moon Matt cut­lery set Dh1,700 All items from Bloom­ing­dale’s Home This cre­ation is in­spired by the Bri­tish cor­dial, which is a Ra­madan sta­ple and hits record sales dur­ing the month. The recipe is a lit­tle labour-in­ten­sive, but the fruity, punchy flavour of this dessert com­bined with an Ital­ian meringue top­ping is well worth the ef­fort.

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