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Spotlight

Fading festivities

In our part of the world Shab-e-barat, or the night of destiny, was always celebrated with a homely kind of cheeriness and devotion. The night long prayers were the soul of the celebrations, more so because of the unsaid competition between siblings and cousins as to who could count more prayer beads or who could do the late nights at the mosque.

Not only that, each and every house on the block was up and about buzzing with activities on this particular night come the month of Sha'ban on the lunar calendar.

It was almost like Eid with the slight difference being in the exchange of trays full of gourmet goodies with neighbours and friends, and praying with family the entire night instead of visiting them; with the festivities being the same as you wore new clothes, cooked the best savouries in your cookbook and decorated the house with flowers and lights on this auspicious night.

Candles were lighted on window sills and verandas, firecracker shows on the rooftop were almost mandatory just like mid night snacking on thin rice flour chapattis and halwas was a must. One has such fond memories of those simple yet fun filled celebration not too long ago.

Somehow amid all the modernity and globalisation the good cheer of Shab-e-barat has lost its flavour. You hear different schools of thoughts regarding this merriment.

People in Saudi Arabia or other Muslim countries don't make any or much fuss on this day, thus our doing so is not right. As a result the entire culture of neighbourly love and fraternity is on the wane. With office work and regular chores you hardly have time or desire to go for any elaborate arrangement to prepare anything ultimately you simply stick to the basic prayers and tuck in. And on top of that since you don't know Mr. and Mrs. X next door you see no point in sending them a big tray full of sweet delicacies and love and of course you don't have the heart to send one to cousin Y in Gulshan braving the Kakoli crossing.

But think twice. Don't you really want to share with your child that culture of dropping in at neighbours, exchanging greetings and happiness, visiting families?

No wonder our children are so indifferent towards social rituals and obligations. They would rather exchange a virtual pastry on Facebook than actually make an effort to meet real people face to face.

Honestly there is no point in denying one's culture, what far off lands do is theirs to deal with, not ours; there is no reason in denying or re-inventing ours.

We must keep the adherence of certain religious norms within brackets just like our abhorrence for particular fixation. Moreover you don't have to be grouchy and strict in order to be religious and keep God to yourself only, there is no harm in smiling and saying a prayer or sharing good cheer with others. Especially when the religion emphasises on being pleasant to neighbours.

Do it differently
Since this Shab-e-barat is on a working day we have penned down some ideas and suggestions for you so that you can have a smooth sailing on that particular day and not hurry scurry and compromise on rejoicing.

Remember just piling a plate with stuff and sending it off to the neighbours with the maid is a big no-no this year. You must go the extra mile to make your goody tray look outstanding.

First make a list of your menu for the day. Doing this beforehand makes it all very easy on the day. Opt for borfis of carrots, beetroots, chickpea, and papaya instead of the usual halwas. These crusty cubes have longer shelf lives and preparing them beforehand saves time.

However if you go for halwas, try to decorate them with marzipan flowers available at Good Luck Departmental store in Gulshan 1 market. Slivers of pistachios, almonds and raisins or even silver tabbak (foil) is done to death, don't you think? Yoghurt delights slightly sweetened and topped off with pomegranates, grapes or simply choco buttons and sprinklers can be another item on the list; an offbeat choice that's bound to add exclusivity to your tray.

Make rice flour bread wraps filled with roast duck slivers, garnished with bell peppers and spring onions, with just a dash of hoisin sauce or black pepper sauce, both of which are available in local superstores.

You can simply stitch the wraps with sandwich pins. You can also go for your version of quesadias or stuffed tortilla breads. For the stuffing you put mince meat, spice it up if you want and add mozzarella cheese. Cut it into triangles and garnish it with cherry tomatoes.

The splurges of all these colours will lend a cheery look to your tray. If this is too much hassle then simply roll the breads with foil paper and put a ribbon around it. It will look good and people will know you care.

With all these food items you can add a small gift to the tray; it can be ferrero rocher or sparkler packs and coloured aromatic candles, or may be just a pack or two of incense sticks. These are available in local street side stores, or you can opt for the Tk25 ones at Jatra which are available in flavours like spice, amber, blueberry and strawberry.

The idea here is to celebrate the night when destiny is being written, so make merry with food and prayers.

By Raffat Binte Rashid
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed

 

Odd as it may seem, veggies had an appeal to us even at a young age. Of course we still detested curries and fries, but mundane vegetables got transformed into delightful sweets in the form of borfis, made especially on Shab-e-barat and preserved for months on end in jars.

The crusty, crystallised top and the softness in the core made this chewy, sugary treats popular among us children. How else would we consume green papaya, beetroot and carrots, the gustatory "no-nos" of childhood? Mothers and grannies alike had just the trick folded up their sleeves.

The secret to making delicious borfi lies not in the ingredients but more so on the method. The technique is pretty much the same as preparing halwa, but it requires a greater care in stirring. Once the thick consistency is reached, it must be spread for cooling down, cut in desired pieces and preserved!

Read on as Star Lifestyle cuts out borfi menus for you to try at home. Let the sweet end of Shab-e-barat take shapes and forms this time around.

Dates (khorma) borfi
Ingredients:
½ kg khorma
½ kg sugar
½ cup ghee
½ kg milk (thick) make 1½ cup
6 pieces nuts
10 pieces pistachio

Method I:
Cut the khormas and separate the seeds. Wash properly. Boil in water, then grind it to a fine paste. Put ghee on the wok and fry khorma a little. Add sugar and milk to it. Use a wooden spoon. Keep stirring on medium heat until the ghee separates. Spread the nuts and pistachio on a wooden plate.
Next, cut the borfi when cool.

Beetroot
Ingredients:
6 pieces beetroot (large)
1 kg sugar
1 cup ghee
½ cup milk (thick)
8-10 nuts and pistachio
Method:
Cut the beetroot into small pieces. Same as Method I.

Carrot
Ingredients:
2kg carrot
1kg sugar
1 cup ghee
½ kg milk (thick)
10 pieces nuts
8 pieces pistachio

Method:
Cut and boil in water. Grind and then fry with ghee. Add sugar and milk. Fry on medium heat until ghee separates. Spread on a wooden plate, spread the nuts and pistachio. Cut the borfi.

 

Recipes

Rolled over

Missi ruti
Ingredients:
2 cups whole wheat flour (atta)
2 cups gram flour (besan)
1 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
2 tbsp dry fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi)
2 tbsp oil
Salt, red chilli powder to taste
A pinch of turmeric powder
Water to knead

Method:
Mix wheat flour, gram flour, salt, chilli powder and turmeric powder. Mix well. Make powder of fenugreek leaves and mix it with the flour. Rub oil into the flour, slowly add water and make soft dough and keep it covered with a damp cloth for 30 minutes.

Knead the dough again and make balls. Roll into a slightly thick chapati than usual. Pre-heat the girdle (tawa) and cook the missi roti with or without oil.
Note: It can also be cooked in an oven or tandoor.

Rumali ruti
A traditional ruti difficult to make at home. Roll out as thinly as possible and stretch before cooking.
Cooking time: 20 min.
Preparation time: 10 min.
Makes 10 to 15 rutis.
Ingredients:
3 teacups plain flour (maida)
¼ tsp salt
2 pinches soda bi-carbonate
Milk to make a soft dough

Method:
Mix all the ingredients together and make a soft dough. Keep aside for 1 hour. Knead again, divide into 10 to 15 portions and roll out each portion very thinly. Stretch a little on all sides and cook on an upside down tawa for ½ minute. Serve hot.

Lacha paratha
This style of paratha turns out crispy and with several layers.
Ingredients:
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup ghee (clarified butter)
Water to make dough
Salt to taste

Method:
Mix the flour and salt and knead into a soft dough with a little water at a time. Keep aside. Mix 3 tablespoons of ghee with 1 tablespoon of flour and keep aside. Divide the dough into equal-sized balls. Divide each ball into 2 portions. Take each portion and roll into a long, finger-thick noodle shape.

Coil the first shape into a spiral. Flour the rolling surface lightly and very gently roll out the spiral into a flat circle about 5" in diameter (1/3" thick).

Grease the top surface with the ghee-flour mix. Roll the next shape in the same way and place over the first circle. Make up all the remaining dough the same way.

Heat a flat pan on a medium flame. Fry each paratha like this: after placing it on the pan the first time, turn after 30 seconds.

Spread ghee on the top surface and turn again. Grease the side now on top. Turn often and fry till crisp and golden. The resulting paratha will be crisp and flaky!

Peshawari naan
Preparation Time: 1 hr 15 min
Cooking time: 20-30 min
Servings: 4
Ingredients:
4 cups refined flour (maida)
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp soda bicarbonate
1 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
1 egg
1 cup milk
2 tbsp yoghurt
2 tbsp oil
2 tsp chopped pistachio
2 tsp butter
½ teaspoon each of black and white sesame seeds

Method:
Sift the flour together with the baking powder, soda bicarbonate and salt into a deep bowl. Add the sugar, egg, milk, yoghurt and sufficient water and knead into medium soft dough.

Apply a little oil on the dough, cover with a damp cloth and set aside for one hour. Divide the dough into eight equal portions and shape into balls.

Apply a little oil on each ball and sprinkle the chopped pistachio and sesame seeds on top. Flatten each ball of dough into a six-inch circle. Stretch the dough on one side to make a triangular shape.

Place on a thick cloth pad and press onto the wall of a preheated tandoor, or cook in a preheated oven at 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6. Remove with the help of skewers or tongs when it is crisp and brown on both sides.
Serve hot, topped with the butter.

Khasta ruti
Preparation time: 15-20 minutes
Ingredients (to make 2):
2 cups wheat flour
¼ cup besan
¼ cup fine chopped onion
¼ ginger paste
2 pinches roasted cumin seeds
¼ tsp roasted cumin powder
2 pinches black pepper
2 pinches ajwain
1 tsp lime juice
2 tsp ghee/oil
Salt to taste

Method:
Knead wheat flour adding salt, onion, besan, cumin seeds, roasted cumin powder, ginger, black pepper, ajwain, lime juice and 2 tsp of oil or ghee. Add a little water and knead to slightly stiff dough. Divide in to small balls, roll each ball to round shape. Cook on a greased tawa or thick-bottom flat pan (greased with ghee or oil).

Place the ruti over it and apply a little ghee or oil on both sides on medium flame. Keep turning the ruti and applying little ghee. (If u want to eat extra oil in ruti, then you can apply ghee otherwise you can cook with 1tsp ghee or oil or without ghee or oil also) until the ruti turns light golden colour.

Serve hot with pickle or chutney and sauce. It can be served with tea.

Recipe courtesy: Khazana, House #9, Road #55, Gulshan #2.
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed

 

Check It Out

Khazana expands menu

Khazana, Dhaka's premiere Indian food restaurant, has introduced new additions to their menu to delight and beguile Dhaka's food lovers. The qualities of Khazana's existing menu need not be expound upon anew; it is well known to the Dhaka foodie. All the dishes are made with authentic Indian spices imported from India, thus ensuring that patrons enjoy the taste of genuine Indian cuisine.

"We are still following the menu that Sanjeev Kumar set when the restaurant started. The items that have been added are carefully picked from the best of the menus of different food festivals which we organize at regular intervals for our esteemed diners, so that they can enjoy these items all through the year," said Avishek Sinha, Director of Operations, Khazana.

The new additions to Khazana's already ample menu are:
Jheenga Malai Kesaria Kabab - King Prawns marinated overnight with cream, cheese, saffron and green chillies. Prepared on a tandoor and garnished with Saffron.

Hilsa Dum Curry- Boneless minced Hilsa cooked with Indian spices and flavoured with mustard seeds.

Malai Kofta Curry Creamy rich tomato gravy with stuffed cottage cheese dumplings.

To complement the expansion to their meal menu, Khazana brings two new dessert items in the form of Rasmalai and Misti doi, served in earthen pots to enhance the subcontinental roots of the cuisine.

Khazana is located at House # 9, Road # 55, Gulshan -2.For reservations please call 8826127 / 01711476379.For more information please visit Khazana's new website www.khazanabd.com.

LS Desk

 

 

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