While nobody can deny the appeal of Iftar standards like dahi bara, chaat, samosas and pakoras, sometimes you want to change things up a bit or take a break from all the fried food.
These recipes are favourites of mine all year round but also happen to be items that can fit in perfectly on an Iftar table. So go ahead, why not try something different for Iftar today?
Date and Nut Bites
(makes about 20)
Recently I have struggled with fatigue and low energy levels and I always need to keep snacks handy to keep my energy up. These nutty, sweet bites of goodness are loaded with good-for-you ingredients and I often keep a few in a small container in my bag for hunger emergencies.
However, they can also make a great addition to Sehri to maintain your energy level throughout the day, and can definitely be a fun alternative to simple khajoor at Iftar.
1 cup dates
⅓ cup unsalted almonds
⅓ cup unsalted cashews
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1 tablespoon coconut oil
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
1 tablespoon cocoa powder (optional)
Remove the pits from the dates.
Add all ingredients to a food processor and process for one to two minutes, or until the mixture is well combined (the mixture will look grainy but it will come together when you start to shape it).
Take one heaped tablespoon of the mixture in the palm of your hand and press it into a ball, or into the shape of a date.
Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for upto two weeks.
Lentil and Potato Salad
(serves 2 to 4)
A fresh, simple and healthy alternative to chana chaat, this salad is the easiest thing to make and one of my favourite things to eat. When you’re not fasting, this makes for a great lunch too, because, although it may look simple and sparse, it’s very filling. Remember that the lentils take a while to cook, so it’s best to soak them overnight.
½ cup green or black lentils, soaked in water overnight
2 potatoes (200-250g)
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon vinegar
1½ teaspoons mustard
salt and pepper, to taste
Cook the lentils in boiling water until tender. Drain and set aside to cool.
Peel the potatoes and cut into medium chunks. Cook them in boiling water until tender; drain and set aside to cool.
To make the dressing: In a small mixing bowl, add the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper. Mix well. Add the chopped onions and mix.
When the lentils and potatoes have cooled, add them to a mixing bowl. Add the dressing and mix well. Add more salt if necessary.
Refrigerate until you are ready to serve.
Baked Chicken Wings
(serves 4 to 6)
While I really do love Buffalo wings, my taste buds can't tolerate spicy food. At restaurants I can barely finish one piece before my tongue starts to burn. By making them at home, I can control how hot the wings are by choosing a milder hot sauce.
Now Buffalo wings are traditionally fried but they turn out just as good if you bake them (so less guilt about eating your favorite appetizer!).
Baking also makes the cooking process shorter and simpler. For this recipe, you’d have to fry the wings in two or three batches, but if you bake them you can cook them all in one go. You can coat the wings with flour before baking to give them a crispy coating, or you can just bake them plain; they’re just as good either way. Because what really makes the wings special is the sauce you’ll slather over them after they’ve baked.
1 kg chicken wings
5-6 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tablespoons oil
½ cup flour (optional; see step 4)
1 tablespoon (15g) butter
¼ cup hot sauce
Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
Line a baking tray with foil and brush with oil.
In a large mixing bowl, add the chicken wings, garlic, and oil. Mix well.
If you are using flour, add the flour to large plastic bag. Add the chicken wings, seal the top of the bag, and shake well. (You can bake the wings without the flour coating as well. Just place the wings on the baking tray and proceed to the next step.)
Shake the excess flour off the wings and place them on the baking tray.
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the wings are golden brown and cooked through.
In a small saucepan, or in the microwave, melt the butter.
Stir the hot sauce into the butter, and pour this mixture over the wings.
Toss gently to coat, and serve.
Tip: This recipe is for Buffalo wings, but you can swap out the hot sauce for ¼ cup to ½ cup of barbecue sauce or peri-peri sauce as well.*