Category Archives: Ramadan Recipes

My Ramadan Staples

Some people are curious as to what I stock up on and cook during Ramadan.  I actually don’t like to stockpile on the massive amounts of food that is being featured in the grocery stores.  Funny thing about Ramadan and shopping, all of the standard items are all boxed up foods and most are sweet stuff like cream, cake mixed, jelly mixes, custard mixes, soup mixes…It is a mix of mixes 

What I will stock up on and buy regularly is fresh dates, Vimto, and Laban Up (what would Ramadan be without these three?), Tang, some jelly packets, Nestle cream (for soups and desserts), Quaker oatmeal, some Maggi soups, samboosa wrappers…hmmm, and that is about it.  Everything else is basically fresh foodstuff.  I buy enough meat and poultry to last for at least two weeks so that I will not have to go to the store.  I will be making smaller meals anyway.

I really, really, really hate grocery shopping during Ramadan because of the crowds.  

Just the other day I was saying to my husband that the best time to shopping now is between midnight and seven in the morning just to beat the crowds and the heat.

Everyday for Iftar (the breaking of the fast), we will have dates, water, Laban Up, Vimto, samboosas, pakoras, some fruit like watermelon or cantaloupe, fruit salad, and a soup.  That right there you get filled up on.  Alhamdulilah (Thank God).  I will sometimes make big batches of Harees, Thareed, Madhrooba, or Arseeyah and share that with the neighbors.  If I cook those early they last for Iftar and Suhoor.

I will cook my husband a bigger meal like a rice dish and pack that along with things from the Iftar so he can take it to work with him.  He eats that for Suhoor.

For Suhoor, our meal will consist of either leftovers or some breakfast-type items like oatmeal, eggs, cereal, fruit, and water.

My daughter helps me in cooking up desserts during Ramadan.  This is the only time of year that we cook desserts on a regular basis.  Some desserts we usually make are Liqeemat, custards, creme caramel, poke cakes, brownies, and an Indian dessert called “Sevian” (I’ll post a recipe for that soon).

Writing it down, it all seems a lot, but it really isn’t.  I make just a little bit of this and a little bit of that..enough for that meal so we don’t have leftovers.

Harees…new recipe variation

Fasting for Ramadan 2013 starts tomorrow and my daughter and I have been doing food prep this past week.   Yesterday we filled about 250 samboosas and then froze them.  So we are good to go for a few weeks, InshaAllah (God Willing).

A daily Ramadan staple is Harees.  I only ever cook it during Ramadan.  It is tasty and filling and a great thing to have for suhoor.  The original recipe uses wheatberries which is locally called “harees”.  It is a thick porridge made with a few simple ingredients:  wheatberries, choice of meat, water, salt, pepper, and cinnamon.

I met a lady, originally from Iran, now living here in the UAE who once told me that she made Harees using Quaker oatmeal and nobody knew the better of it.  I was intrigued because when I make it, it takes forever and her way sounded much easier.  I never followed through with her suggestion until about 3 weeks ago when another lady on a Facebook group that I am on, shared her recipe for Harees and it included oatmeal…so I had to try it!  It was so easy and tasty to make…even my husband liked it and could not tell the difference until I told him!

So here it is…easy peasy:

Harees Using Quaker Oatmeal

1 kg (2 pounds of meat of your choice) you can use lamb, beef, or chicken.  Note:  if you use beef, I suggest it be 1/2 kg  or one pound.  When I first made this recipe I used 1kg of beef and the harees came out a darker color than usually…it was still very tasty but not so good looking.

3 cups of Quaker oatmeal

1 small onion, chopped

1 small stick of cinnamon

1.5 liters (6 cups of water)

1 tablespoon of salt

1/4 tsp of black pepper

1/2 tsp of cinnamon powder

1/4 to 1/2 cup of melted butter

Directions:

In a large pot, add the meat of your choice, the chopped onion, cinnamon stick, and water.  Bring to a boil and cook until very tender.

Remove meat/chicken…debone if you have to…and then place into a food process and blitz for a few seconds until shredded.  Or you can finely chop the meat/chicken.

Using a strainer, drain the stock into a large pot.  Add the shredded meat/chicken, the 3 cups of Quaker oats, salt, pepper, and cinnamon.  Stir using a whisk.  Add more water if necessary by the cupful.  Bring to a boil and check every 5 to 10 minutes.  Stir each time you check on it.  Add more boiling water if necessary.  Cook for about 40 minutes.  Add the melted butter, stir and then serve.

(Note:  Make sure you stir the Harees every few minutes because it will stick to the pot and become an awful burned mess!)

Thank you Fatema for sharing the recipe 🙂

Arseeyah

Arseeyah (Ar-see-yah)

Arseeyah is a simple and hearty rice and chicken dish.  I consider of the UAE’s great comfort foods.  It is a great food for young children (it is one of my children’s favorite foods) and adults love to eat it as well.  I cook this often during Ramadan and it is also a dish which is always made at my sister-in-laws house every Eid for breakfast time.  I like to make this for a simple lunch or dinner.

This past April, Sharjah had a Heritage Festival.  If you are able to go please do it is held every April.  Anyway, this was a common dish being offered there.  I was able to ask one of the women there how she made hers and it was the same except that she used basmati rice instead of calrose (short grain) rice like I do but she assured me that it could be made using the calrose rice.  I have never tried making Arseeyah with basmati rice.

Arseeyah is very easy to make and only has just a few ingredients.  I use chicken breast to make mine but you can definitely use a whole chicken which will give you more flavor of course.  Okay, now for the recipe.

Ingredients:

2 cups of calrose (short grain) rice

1 kg (2 pounds) of chicken breast or 1200 grams of whole chicken

2 liters of water (about 8 cups)

1 large piece of cinnamon bark

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

2 teaspoons salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper powder

Melted Samen or ghee

Directions:

In a medium size pot add the chicken, water, and cinnamon bark.  Boil the chicken breast for one hour or the whole chicken until it is falling off the bones.  Remember to skim off the scum.  Strain and reserve the broth.

Cool and then debone the chicken.  The chicken will now need to be cut into finely chopped pieces.

In a large pot add the rice, the strained broth, the chopped chicken, salt, pepper and cardamom powder.  Stir.

Bring to a boil and then simmer on low heat for 30 minutes.  The pot needs to be covered.  Every ten minutes go and stir the Arseeyah so that it does not stick to the bottom of the pot.

I like to use this heavy spatula to help stir and scrape the Arseeyah.

Every ten minutes you will need to stir the Arseeyah.

Turn off the heat and remove the lid to let all the steam out.

Once, it finished cooking it will look like this…not dry but still moist.

Taste for salt.

With an electric mixer set on high, mix the Arseeyah until the rice and chicken are “melted” into each other very well.

Arseeyah needs to be served hot.

Place the Arseeyah onto a platter and spoon melted samen (ghee) over the entire surface and smooth out.  Since it is Ramadan I am serving the Arseeyah in a huge hot pot (I just love these!  It will keep the food nice and hot for hours!).

Variation:  I like to add 1 can of Nestle Cream to the Arseeyah and then mix it well using the electric mixer.

I hope that you try and enjoy my recipe!

Print this recipe.

Thareed Laham (Flat Bread Layered with Lamb Stew)

Thareed  is another popular dish to make when a Muslim is fasting.  It is very common to make Thareed  for Iftar (breaking of the fast) during Ramadan because it is light on the stomach.  It is basically crispy flat bread layered with a meat soup.  Actually it is a cross between a hearty soup and a soupy stew.  (Does that make sense?)

It is often mispronounced as “Fareed” but the correct way to say it is Thareed.

Thareed is even mentioned in a hadith of the Prophet Mohammed 

Thareed can be made with lamb, chicken, and also with just vegetables.  Today I will give you the recipe for Thareed with lamb and will post the recipes for the chicken and vegetable later on, InshaAllah.

The best bread to use when making Thareed is Khobuz Raqaq which is a crispy wafer-thin bread.

If you live in the UAE you can usually find it in abundance during Ramadan.  There are women who make this early in the morning and will sit out front places like the Co-Op or the fruit and vegetable market selling these for Dh10 a bag.

You could also use Khobuz Irani which is a thin flat bread (about the thickness of tortillas) and this can be bought at any Iranian bakery.  Sorry I don’t have a picture to share of what it looks like.  Here in Sharjah there are many Iranian bakeries which are little hole-in-wall places in the neighborhoods of Ghafiyah andUmmKhanoor.

When I was living in the US, I would substitute Roti which I bought from the frozen food section of an Indian grocery store.  You could also use regular pita bread.  I have never used it before but a friend of mine has.

 This recipe can easily be halved but since it is Ramadan it is nice to share with your neighbors or to feed the poor.

Okay so on to the recipe:

Thareed Laham (serves 8-10)

Ingredients:

1 kg (2 pounds) lamb stew meat

1 ½ liters of water (6 cups)

2 cups of finely chopped onions

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 tablespoon of corn oil

1 tablespoon tomato paste

2 large potatoes, each potato quartered

4 small koosa (courgettes or  kalabasa squash) each piece cut into half

1 large carrot cut into 4 pieces

4 medium tomatoes, chopped

2 pieces of whole black dried lemons

1-3 pieces of green chili

3 cubes of Maggi

1 tablespoon of Arabic Bizar spice mix

1 teaspoon cinnamon powder

1 teaspoon turmeric powder

1 teaspoon black lemon powder (loomi aswad)

1 teaspoon curry powder

1 teaspoon coriander powder

1 teaspoon cardamom powder

½ teaspoon black pepper powder

¼ teaspoon red Kashmiri chili powder (or cayenne pepper)

¼ cup cilantro, finely chopped

5 large piece of Raqaq bread or 2-3 pieces of Khobuz Irani (or you can substitue Roti or Pita bread)

(Note:  Tear the Raqaq bread or the Khobuz Irani into large pieces…about the size of the palm of your hand.  Leave the pieces out to air dry on a large platter on your kitchen counter or dining room table.  If you do not have Raqaq bread or Khobuz Irani available, you use Roti or Pita bread.)

Directions:

In a large pot, boil the lamb meat removing the foam when it starts to boil.  Boil for one hour.

Strain and reserve the broth.

In a large pot, heat the oil and sauté the onions until they get a nice golden brown color.  Don’t burn the onions.  Add the garlic and stir until fragrant.

Add the tomato paste and all of the vegetables, EXCEPT the koosa (squash) mix together to coat the vegetables with the tomato paste.

Rinse the two whole dried lemons and then pierce each one once with a sharp knife.

Add the lamb meat, reserved broth, Maggi cubes, and the remaining ingredients, EXCEPT the koosa and  the chopped cilantro.

Add more water if necessary to make this stew a bit soupy.  Taste for seasoning.

Bring to a boil and then simmer until the potatoes are almost done.  You can now add the koosa (squash) and the chopped cilantro and cook until the koosa is fork tender.

Preparation:

Carefully remove the meat and vegetables from the pot and keep aside on a large platter.

In a large deep sided bowl, add one layer of Raqaq bread (or whichever bread you are using.

Add another layer of bread and ladle some more liquid.

Each layer of bread will be soaking with the liquid from the stew.  None of the bread should be left dry.

Ladle the remaining liquid from the pot onto the bread.

Now you arrange the vegetables and lamb meat over the soaked bread.

You can garnish with a little bit more chopped cilantro if you wish.

Serve and enjoy!

Note:  Thareed is best eaten on the same day.

Print this recipe.

Pakora (Deep Fried Vegetable Balls)

Pakora’s are a delicious fried little munchie that seems to be another Ramadan staple but of course it can be enjoyed all year round.  Oh! and this is soooo delicious with Laban Up.

The Pakora’s that I either bought or ate somewhere else were always hard and heavy feeling.  I played around with the ingredients and have come up with this lighter and crunchier version that is filled with more vegetables.  I hope you try it and like it!  It is very easy to make and I will provide you with 4 variations on what to put inside.

Pakora (Deep Fried Vegetable Balls)

Ingredients for batter:

3/4 cup chickpea (besam) flour (this can be found in an Indian grocery store)

1/4 cup corn meal or rice powder (I prefer using the corn meal though)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon of salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon red chili powder (or 1 heaping teaspoon Mexican-style chili powder)

1 teaspoon tumeric powder

1 egg

1/2 cup water

In a medium size bowl, mix all these ingredients together.

Ingredients for vegetable variations:

Variation #1:  

1 small onion, finely chopped

1/4 cup finely chopped cilentro

1-2 finely chopped green chilies (it is up to you on the heat…deseed if you want)

Variation #2:

1 small onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoon finely chopped cilentro

8 oz uncooked potato, shredded

1 green chili finely chopped (optional)

Variation #3

1 small onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons of finely chopped cilentro

1 small raw carrot, shredded

1 small raw zucchini, shredded

1 small raw potato, shredded

Variation #4

1 small onion, finely chopped

2 cups of small okra (okra zero) or 1 cup sliced okra

Cooking Directions:

Once you have chosen which vegetable variation you will use just add it to the batter.  Mix it very well.  It should be thick like in the 2nd picture below.

You can fry it now or you can place this in the fridge for at least 30 minutes (not necessary) but I like for the flavors to blend together and also I like to prepare it in advance so I can fry it 45 minutes before Iftar (breaking our fast during Ramadan).

If you let the mixture settle in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, you will notice that it has become a little runny…no worries…this is how turns out if you let it sit for a while.  You will need to add a little bit more of the chickpea flour and the cornmeal.  You can add an additional 3 tablespoons of chickepea flour and 1 tablespoon of corn meal at a time. It will be 1/4 cup total addition.

Go ahead and heat up enough oil (I like to use corn oil or canola oil) in a wok or  deep-sided frying pan.  Turn the heat down to medium-high.

Drop by tablespoonfuls into the hot oil.

Gently fry the pakoras until they get a nice golden brown color.  Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels.

This recipe will make around 24 pakoras.

I like to serve this with 1 cup of yogurt and 1 packet of salad dressing mix (basil & thyme).  It is sooooo yummmy!   

Enjoy!

edited (07-27-2012): to add the variation #4 and to fix up the wording of the recipe.

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Harees

Harees bil Dajaj (Harees with Chicken)

Harees is one of the daily Ramadan staples here in the UAE.  It is easy on the stomach after a long day of fasting.  It is a very simple, delicious,and filling dish that can be eaten at Iftar (breaking the fast) or for Suhoor the meal before Fajr (morning) prayers.  It is served either alone as a main dish or as a side dish with all the other goodies during Ramadan.

During Ramadan, you will find this is one of those dishes that is widely shared between neighbors….if you should receive a bit too much or you get tired of eating it, it will freeze very nicely.  Just freeze it in an aluminum container, thaw it out in the fridge, and then heat it up in the oven.

Harees is also one of those dishes that you will find at every occasion…Ramadan, Eid, weddings, engagement parties, any special event…so I would classify it as one of the foods in UAE popular culture.

The “harees” grain is wheatberries in English and can be made with either lamb or chicken.  When my family was living in America, I also used pearl barley for this because it looked so similar to wheatberries and I achieved the same tasty result using it.

Also, you can add as much or as little chicken or lamb as you wish.  For the 2 cups of harees, I will usually use 1 kg of meat.  Of course, the more meat you use the more richer the dish.  But for economic reasons the harees would be more.  If you are using lamb this is a good time to use those bones and make a stock from it and debone what you can use.

Harees (wheatberries) up close

I made Harees Laham (Lamb Harees) just the other day and I experimented using the crockpot/slow cooker.  It is summertime and the temperatures outside are at least 45C.  During Ramadan in the summer, I want to spend as little time in the kitchen!  The results…I think it turned out better in the crockpot than cooking it over the stove top!

Okay now, on to the recipe:

Harees  (serves 8-10)

Ingredients:

2 cups of harees (wheatberries) For best results, you will need to soak the harees (wheatberries) overnight or for at least 8 hours.

1 kilo (2 pounds) of chicken or lamb

2 sticks of cinnamon

1 teaspoon of black pepper powder

2-3 teaspoons of salt

water

samen (local-made clarified butter) or melted butter

Directions:

First of all, you will want to boil the chicken or the meat until tender.  After boiling until tender, debone your chicken or lamb.  Save the stock to use later on in this recipe.

In a large pot, add the harees, deboned chicken or lamb, cinnamon, salt, pepper, and the stock.  Add water if needed.  The stock/water need to cover the harees  by about 2 or 3 inches.

Bring to a boil and then turn down the fire/heat to low.  Let it boil, boil, boil until it reduces to a watery oatmeal-like consistency.  Total cooking time will be about 1 hour…I didn’t time it.

(Note:  Be sure to check every 10 minutes and just stir the pot so that the harees won’t burn at the bottom.)

Now you are ready to blend the harees.  Using a hand mixer, blend the harees in the pot until smooth.  It won’t be entirely smooth.  You can also use one of those hand blenders to do the job.

The harees when ready will have a thick consistency.  Serve on a small platter and spoon the samen (clarified butter) or melted butter on top to cover.  Some people will decorate the top of the harees with powdered cinnamon in a simple pattern.

Harees bil Laham (Harees with Lamb)

Cooking Harees in the crockpot or slow cooker:

This was my experiment:  If you cooking the harees using a crockpot, you will just need to add all the ingredients to the crockpot.  Add enough stock and water to equal 3 liters (12 cups).  I cooked this on high for 6 hours.

I added the lamb without deboning (I don’t think I will do that again).  I had to add a little more water so that I could blend it and then let it cook a little bit more (maybe an hour).

I will be making the harees again this way today because I think that it turned out much better than on the stovetop.  This time though I will be using already cooked and deboned lamb.

Harees at the end of cooking time. I just needed to add a bit of water to blend.

Cheese Samboosas

My sister-in-law taught me this delicious and very simple recipe and I only make it during Ramadan.  Whenever I make this for friends they always ask for the recipe and comment that they have never eaten cheese samboosas before. 🙂

This recipe will make 100 samboosas!  A few days before Ramadan starts, I will make a batch of these and freeze them and cook them as I need them.

Cheese Samboosa

Ingredients:

200 gram block of mozzarella cheese

250 gram block of Kraft Processed Cheddar cheese

250 gram block of Haloomi cheese

1/2 cup of finely chopped fresh mint (I have only ever used fresh mint.  I don’t think dried mint would work in this recipe because it will not soften from any liquid.)

1 can (425 grams) of corn, drained

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 packages (50 sheets) of samboosa wrappers (Here in the UAE, I use the Switz brand samboosa wrappers.  The samboosa wrapper should be long and rectangular about 2 inches by 12 inches).

Corn oil for frying

 Shred all 3 cheese.  In a large bowl, combine the shredded cheese, mint, drained corn, and black pepper.  Mix very well.

Take one samboosa sheet and fill with 1 teaspoon of cheese filling.  Bring up a corner of the wrapper and fold into triangles.  Moisten the finished edge with water and seal.

Layer the stuffed samboosas on a tray lined with wax paper because you don’t want the uncooked samboosas to stick to the tray.  Add wax paper between the stacked layers of samboosas.

For freezing:  Once you are done stuffing all the samboosa wrappers, place the tray in the freezer.  Once the uncooked samboosas are frozen then you can pack them into ziploc baggies.

For cooking:  On medium-high heat, heat enough oil in a deep frying pan or wok.  Add a few samboosas at a time (I add seven pieces at a time).  Fry until golden brown.  It only takes a couple of minutes so watch them carefully.  Drain on paper towels and then serve.

Enjoy!

Okra Fritters

My husband went to Dubai’s fruit and vegetable market and bought a big box of okra.  All I thought about was, “What in the heck am I gonna do with all of this okra?”  Alhamdulilah we bought a freezer this past Ramadan and I was able clean up the okra, cut it up, and then freeze it in one-quart sized Ziploc baggies.  We will be eating okra for a long time!

 This was a new recipe I tried for Ramadan 2009 and the whole family, even my children, enjoyed this recipe.

If you are not fond of okra because of its sliminess, or for any other reason, I suggest that you do try this recipe.  Serve it with ranch-style dressing.  OMG it is so delicious!

 

Okra Fritters

2 cups of fresh okra, finely chopped

¼ cup onion, finely chopped

1 tsp salt

¼ tsp black pepper

½ cup water

1 egg

½ cup of flour

1 tsp of baking powder

½ cup of cornmeal

Oil for frying

In a large bowl, mix all of the ingredients, except for the okra.  Add the okra and mix.

In a medium-sized wok, heat the oil.  When the oil is hot add the okra batter by spoonfuls.  Adjust the flame to medium heat.  Cook the okra fritters until golden brown.  Remove from heat and let drain on a platter lined with paper towels.

After all of the fritters are cooked serve with Ranch-Style dressing.

Balaleet – Vermicelli and Egg Omelet

 

This is an unusually delicious salty and sweet breakfast dish that is enjoyed on a regular basis.  This is also traditionally served on the Eid holidays along with boiled garbanzo beans and boiled black-eye peas.  Along with the salty-sweet taste your taste buds will be tickled with the cardamom spice.  It is very interesting to eat this for the first time because you think it will not be delicious but it will soon become a favorite of yours too.

 

Ingredients:

 

2 cups of vermicelli

2 tablespoons cooking oil

¼ cup of ghee (or a mixture of 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons cooking oil)

2/3 cup sugar

2 tablespoons cardamom powder

2 generous pinches of saffron soaked in ½ cup rose water

4 eggs beaten with ¾ teaspoon salt and a pinch of black pepper

 

In a large pot, bring enough water to boil for the vermicelli.

 

Meanwhile, in a wok, or wide pan, heat the 2 tablespoons of cooking oil and add the vermicelli.  With a wooden spoon, constantly stir the vermicelli so it won’t burn.  Lightly fry the vermicelli until it is a dark, golden brown color.  Remove the wok from the heat.

 

Once the water starts to boil, add the vermicelli and cook for just 3-4 minutes and then drain.  Place back into pot.  

 

In another pot, heat the ghee and add the sugar and cardamom powder along with the saffron rose water.  Cook until the sugar melts and then pour over the cooked vermicelli.  Cover the pot with a lid to keep warm.

 

In a pan make an omelet.  Heat about 3 tablespoons cooking oil and then when very hot add the beaten eggs.  Tip the pan around to spread the uncooked egg.  When dry on top, turn the egg omelet over and cook for one minute more.

 

In a large serving dish, spread the vermicelli and top with the egg omelet.

 

Enjoy!  It is very delicious!

 

Harira Soup

This soup recipe is originally from Morocco.  I tried this recipe during Ramadan 2008 and all my children loved it.  I made this soup again today because it is rainy and cold outside.  This is an excellent cold weather soup. 

I did not have all of the ingredients so I substituted the cubed lamb meat with ground beef.  Also, I did not have the brown lentils so I substituted it with mung beans and the soup still turned out terrific.  Here is the recipe.  Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1/2 kilo cubed lamb (or 1 pound of cubed lamb or ground beef or ground lamb)

1 teaspoon ground tumeric

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 Maggi stock cubes

a pinch of ground red chili powder (cayenne pepper)

3 tablespoons of cooking oil

1 large onion, chopped

medium tomatoes, chopped

1/2 cup cilentro, chopped

8 cups of water

¾ cup brown lentils (or substitute with ¾ cup of mung beans or split green peas)  

 1 15oz can of garbanzo beans, drained

1 cup of vermicelli noodles

Juice of 1 lemon

2 eggs, beaten (optional)

 

In a large cooking pot, heat the cooking oil and saute the lamb until nicely browned.  Add the onions and sauté until the onions are soft and transparent.  Add the tomatoes, all the spices, lentils, and Maggi stock cubes.  Stir well.  Add the water.  Bring to a boil and then simmer until the lamb is tender (about 2 hours).

 

Add the can of drained garbanzo beans and the vermicelli.  Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 30 minutes.

 

Stir in the lemon juice and the eggs.  Cook for a minute.

 

Serve hot.  This soup is excellent the next day if there are any leftovers!