Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 2, Issue 67, Tuesday October 18, 2005



Festival Weekly Planner


To Fast or to Feast?

A perpetually boring lecture in classes at university suddenly awoke from its slumbers when the professor put forth an interesting question. Resigned to accepting the fact that most of his students were too tired and drained to go through to the end of the class paying attention to the intricacies of Economics, he instead posed a question that was both interesting and soul-searching to an extent.

What he asked us was this: Is Ramadan the month for fasting or feasting?

The question bought with it the expected regulation round of giggles and such and allowed us to proceed further in a much more light headed manner. Aside from being a fantastic diversionary policy for teachers the question also did another job in that it had me thinking. What is Ramadan really? A month to fast, or to feast?

Of course fasting is the chief and the most important issue of the month of Ramadan but more and more it has been pushed back into being more of an underlying theme than anything else. Taking religious issues out of the picture a case in point is the amount of food shops that are offering us almost "too good to believe" deals for iftaar (or so they would have us believe).

I myself have been quite taken by the deals and have already been to check a number of them out. Here are some that are worth a look.

Pizza Hut
Pizza Hut, the pioneer of this so called "iftaar feast" (or should that be "iftaar fest"?) comes back bigger and stronger this year not to mention more expensive. Their deal involves eating as much as you can or want @ Tk.299. Of course, if you are going to check it out be sure to take extra money for the drinks and the VAT. You want to be a good taxpayer now, don't you? And plus you never know where that RAB member might be lurking, ready to cross-fire you into the land of no pizzas.

Jokes aside, Pizza Hut is definitely worth a visit but make sure you do it with friends who can eat like a glutton. And if you are a glutton and reading this, make sure you take some friends who can carry you back home after all that exertion.

Will wonders never cease? The All-American A&W comes up with their very own "iftaar line" this year. Slightly more innovative that most other places their timings also differ as such. Their offer of all you can eat @ Tk. 275 lasts from 5pm to 7pm. Doesn't really work out best for us who fast. Since iftaar is at quarter to six and maghrib prayers take up a significant portion of the rest of the time you are only left with about forty minutes to cram down all you can.

Not the easiest of tasks if you haven't eaten the whole day and definitely not as enticing as it sounds.

Still A&W remains a decent place to check out. And look on the bright side. You have a jukebox to play if only the strict disciplinarians (read terrorists) won't mind.

First, the million dollar question.
Do we call it "Iffys" (so that it rhymes with jiffy's) or do we call it "F-S" (as in pronounce the F and S separately)?
Ok, since we have almost no respondents lets move on to what this place has to offer. Despite (or because of it perhaps) the controversy surrounding the name of the restaurant, one thing that cannot be denied about EFES is that it is in all probability the place to hang out for young people these days.

Although most prefer to use the roof to chill out or so to speak, it is definitely worth checking out Efes's iftar cum dinner menu @ Tk.250. With a plethora of sumptuous dishes to choose from the only question that remains is what to leave and what to eat. Efes have managed to integrate the customary iftaar menu of beguni and piyaju with their traditional middle eastern cuisine which consists of an array of delights.

Also additionally, as dessert you now have crispy jilapis alongside the regulation items. And best of all is that you can have as many glasses of juice you require provided you choose between orange and lemon.
All in all Efes is a must visit this Ramadan season.

Bistro & Malancha
Moving on to the residential hub of the city that is Dhanmondi, two shops Bistro and Malancha offer iftaar with a twist. They offer reasonably priced iftaar boxes where you can customize according to your preference. Both offer mainly traditional iftaar items. With the long line of shops either side of the Satmasjid road you will almost never fall short of places to dine in.

Bar B Q Tonite and Thumri
Both shops are very well known in an around Dhanmondi and both also offer something different for this iftaar season. Although the underlying theme is the same (in that they too offer boxes) they provide customers with a change in flavour by not catering solely towards begunis and piyajo's. Thumri offers won ton and fried chicken and spring roll while Bar B Q provides kebab rolls and snack items as such.

There are many places more that are worth visiting and mentioning and it would be well neigh impossible to describe all. Take a walk down the streets of Dhaka and offers will be staring at you right, left and center. For those of you who eat out regularly, it would be daft to miss out on such an opportunity.

Finally the answer to the question that I had set out to answer almost inevitably turned out to be the latter, i.e Ramadan has become a month for feasting rather than fasting.

By Quazi Zulquarnain Islam


Eating right this Ramadan
Chronic fatigue, headaches, indigestion, constipation and for many, an 'inexplicable' 3-4 kilo weight gain by the month's end. Not what you'd expect to get from thirty days of fasting, right? Yet it happens often enough. Here's how you can escape:

Put a break on the bingeing!
After a whole day of not eating or drinking, the temptation to gorge and guzzle to make up for lost eating is a very strong one. Never, but never try to cram 24 hours worth of food into your body within 46hours. It will overload the system, wreaking havoc on digestion, metabolism and blood sugar levels. Dieticians recommend a gradual breaking of the fast. In other words, drink your sherbet, eat your dates and sprouts, then go and take offer your prayers before coming back to feast.

The right foods
Dried dates, or any dried fruits, for that matter, are considered ideal for Ramadan. Dried fruit is an excellent source of sugar, fiber, carbohydrates, potassium and magnesium and should be included as an essential part of the evening meal. Desserts and sugary treats are a big no-no for iftar. They're high in calories and cholesterol, and they spike blood-sugar levels to alarming highs and should be particularly avoided by those with diabetes or a family history of the disease. If you don't want to become a citizen of Constipation City, then you shouldn't ignore fruits and vegetables this month. Including all four food-groups in your diet is essential. It is also a good idea to consume slow-digesting and fiber-rich foods so that you don't wake up feeling hungry in the morning. These include whole-wheat breads, beans, lentils, green beans, peas, spinach and almonds

Water, water
Dehydration is a demon we all have to contend with during Ramadan. The unusual heat this year isn't really helping either. Make sure you drink a lot of water during and after iftar, and if possible, minimize on the tea intake. Tea is a natural dieuretic, and could aggravate the dehydration problem. If you really need your caffeine, however, try gradually phasing out your tea/coffee intake.

Midnight munchies
A heavy iftar, followed by a filling dinner might give you the bright idea of skipping sehri. Bad idea. A light sehri, which could be a glass of water and a piece of fruit or yoghurt, is an important energy booster that can keep you from feeling excessively lethargic the next day.

Eat right, and you might actually emerge from Ramadan looking fabulous and not flabulous.

By Sabrina F Ahmad



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