|Home | Issues | The Daily Star Home | Volume 6, Issue 32, Tuesday, August 09, 2011|
R is for Ramadan Rules
I. Thou shall not spit on thy neighbour's path.
By Munize Manzur
Sweet as heaven
As the siren goes off, countless millions quickly and busily gulp a couple of dates or two, the first food in\\of the whole day.
Our beloved Prophet recommended us to break the fast with dates. Indeed, dates have secured a very special place in the religion of Islam. In fact, dates are mentioned about twenty times in the Holy Qur'an.
Therefore, it is of no surprise that the demand for dates skyrockets during Ramadan. It is customary to start iftar by eating dates, just like our Prophet (S.A.W.) did.
But not just for that, the fact that this is a yummy fruit is by itself reason enough to munch some dates. “Khejur is the chocolate of Ramadan,” says an enthusiast. “When I was little, my dad bought me dates but told me they were chocolates so that I develop a liking for the fruit. Even now, I eat dates just the way I eat chocolates!”
Some are so into this fruit that they are not satisfied with just having them during iftar. “I have seheri with rice, milk and dates. If you can have banana this way, why not dates?” another lover of the sweet fruit opines.
And then of course, we all buy various kinds of dates for our loved ones when we go for Hajj. Saudi Arabia, after all, has the reputation of producing the world's finest dates.
But there are also logical reasons why we should include dates in our menu. Dates have a lot of health benefits. For starters, dates are energy boosters: they contain large amounts of carbohydrates, fructose, glucose and lactose. Thus, if someone eats a few dates after a long day of fasting, he/she is likely to quickly replenish the energy that has been lost.
Moreover, dates are rich in minerals like potassium, calcium, iron, sulphur and phosphorus. They contain a range of vitamins as well.
Dates are also highly beneficial for pregnant women. It is believed that eating dates strengthens the uterine wall during pregnancy.
Cultivation of date palm trees has been going on since time immemorial. As a matter of fact, it is argued that these trees are one of the oldest ones to be cultivated. Another factor that hugely contributed to the need for cultivating date palm trees is that the entire plant and not just its fruits are used by mankind. Each and every portion of the tree, be it the leaves or the trunk or the flowers, are used by people for various functions.
Interestingly, date palm trees grow throughout their lifetime some even grow to about 100 feet tall! Eventually, with age, when the height is unbearable, they simply fall over.
But producers typically keep the palm trees to a certain height for their convenience.
In Bangladesh, of course, we do not have our own dates. The dates that are produced nevertheless are not very tasty or sometimes not even edible. But we too, like people all over, share a passion for this fruit.
And importers and retailers ensure our hunger is satisfied. “Our country mainly imports from Dubai, Iran, Tunisia, to some extent from Saudi Arabia, and in rare cases from Pakistan,” informs a shop owner in Karwan Bazaar.
To get hold of some quality dates, pay a visit to one of the superstores like Agora and Nandan. With Ramadan in focus, such shops have quite a good variety of dates in store for you.
Maryam dates are one of the most popular and widely available. A packet of these dates cost about Tk. 465. But if you want to buy one of those Maryam dates where the seeds are replaced by other edibles such as almonds or other nuts, it will cost you about Tk. 615.
This is indeed a fantastic innovation that reinforces the taste of dates and adds to their zest. In many countries, they have chocolate coated dates too. This is very rare in our country, unfortunately.
But we do have some delicacies here. Tunisian dates have gained immense popularity over the years. A pack of these sweet treats can cost you around Tk. 550.
These stores also feature some premium dates you might want to gift to someone.
Ajwa is another date immensely famous among Muslims due to its reference in the Hadith. However, this date is also very uncommon in Bangladesh. A shopkeeper in Gulshan-1 says, “Last year we didn't have this kind of dates. Rarely an importer brings in this particular breed.”
At the lower end of the market, you'll find dates with a price tag of about Tk. 55 per kg.
No matter what kind of dates you bought, few things can be more satisfying than putting a very sweet little fruit in your mouth after a daylong regime of fasting.
A TRUE TASTE OF ASIA
Mint and fennel drink
By Tommy Miah
It's a very different drink and hardly anyone knows about it. Healthy and nutritious because of mint and fennel, it is also good for those who have gastric and heart burning problems.
Using drainer or soft cotton piece, drain out all the blended liquid so that no particles are in the liquid. Mix 1 glass of water in it and sugar (if required). Sprinkle icing sugar and serve in glass with mint leaves for garnish.
Tommy Miah's Original Mango Juice
Mango juice is no doubt everyone's favourite but raw or fresh mango juice is hardly known in most of the western countries. It originates from South Asia where mangoes are found in vast quantities and in different varieties.
Some people boil raw mango but its actual taste develops when roasted on an iron skillet and then the pulp taken out to make juice. It's very healthy and also prevents illness during extremely hot climatic conditions.
After 30 minutes when the mango is completely cooked, remove it from the heat and let it cool. Remove the skin from each mango and separate all the pulp from the seed.
Now in a blender, whisk the pulp of mango with little water (2-3 cups) so that a smooth paste is formed. Pour the paste in the deep pan and cook it with sugar until it boils (15 min. approx).
Cool it by stirring continuously otherwise a white layer is formed on the top and it's very difficult to drain.
Iftar High Energy Drink
Thick and creamy; you can also use chocolate or strawberry ice cream if you prefer.
LS EDITOR'S NOTE
Tea has always been my object of fascination. Black or green; steaming hot or ice cold, served in fancy cups or terra cotta pots or in tall glasses by the roadside; with milk, honey, lemon or sugar, mint or masala or our traditional malai chai, there is something in tea that never fails to perk me up.
For that matter when you find latte chai at Starbucks or Teh Tarik in Malaysia it is as close to home you can get in a cup. Because for us Bengalis nothing is more special than a cup of sugary tea with thick milk and a pack of Energy Plus biscuit on the side.
What we miss in our buzzing metropolis is a tea salon or bar; chocolate-coated cookies with tea or dunking a slice of plain cake in a steaming cup; nothing beats the pleasure. And now with Ramadan my mornings begin after sunset when I get to take the first sip of my tea.
However that's not the reason why I am rambling today; recently I just came across this article that I happened to stumble upon while netsurfing and thought I would share it with my readers. I just took the liberty to tweak it a little because obviously a lot of it isn't meant for our country.
But anyway, I love tea and I know there are many like me and thought that it might add to their knowledge bank, so read on.
Here are a few Q/A tips from tea consultant Alexis Siemons, from the lovely blog 'Teaspoon and Petals', to give us some guidelines on good equipment, tasty teas, food that pairs well, and her favourite tea spots, so that if you ever visit the places she mentioned maybe you can check them out.
Here are her answers:
If you want to go a little further than just a tea bag and a cup of hot water, what kind of equipment do you need to make good tea at home?
Can you recommend five teas that we always should keep at home?
What is your favourite tea right now?
What do you prefer to eat with your tea?
Where is your favourite place to go to for good tea?
I end my note today on a sugary tea high and keeping my fingers crossed for an elegant tea bar in our tea crazy city.
-Raffat Binte Rashid
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