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Weekly Menu

Breaking the fast: A balancing act

It is perhaps one of the paradoxes of Ramadan that during the time that we are expected to abstain from food, the main thing on most of our minds is food. For some, it is simply the hardship of going without food or water for an extended period of time. Then the sun goes down, the gluttony ensues, and "After a hard day's fast, there is a natural tendency to over-compensate by eating too much," says Shamsunnahar Nahid, dietician, BIRDEM. "When a lot of rich food hits an empty stomach like that, it leads to problems like loose motion, nausea, lethargy, and general discomfort.

Over a period of time, if overeating at iftar continues, one experiences complication like irritable bowel syndrome, acne, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, gastric problems, etc. People with existing heart conditions and diabetes are also at risk."

Another reason why food can be a pressing concern during Ramadan is because, particularly in the city, with its traffic jams and crazy deadlines, those who are charged with preparing the iftar literally have to rage against the dying of the light in order to put a decent meal on the table in time for the breaking of the fast. Keeping that in mind, planning an iftar meal that focuses on one large item and a few light extras helps minimize labour, and is also healthy.

The good news is, it doesn't take much effort to defeat the demon of gluttony and still get the nutrition your body requires. We'll show you how.

Week 1

Iftar, sherbet and lassi
Any iftar meal should contain two kinds of sweet drinks (lassi, sherbet, fresh fruit juice, or milkshake), a fruit portion (including dates), and not more than one fried item (alternate between piyaju and beguni or other fritters), a helping of legumes like chola or sprouts to aid digestion, and one filling main dish to complete your energy requirements.

Whole wheat chappati and mincemeat with vegetable for iftar would ensure a diet rich in carbohydrate, proteins and fibres. Add chilled lemonade, and you get to replenish the water lost. Besides, the sugar will also rejuvenate with a sudden burst of energy.

Good deed of the day
On a religious note, start everything from the right side! It's an authentic tradition and not a mere superstition.

Egg vegetable noodles. Try with spinach as it has macro minerals- calcium and iron- necessary for good health. Go for fresh wood-apple (bel) juice.

Good deed of the day
Remember that humility and courtesy are acts of piety. Do flash your pearly whites the next time you meet the nice shopkeeper at the grocery store and ask about his well-being.

Sandwich and dahibora make excellent iftar dishes. Make a mixed fruit punch for a dose of essential vitamins and minerals.

Good deed of the day
Serving guests is not only a social obligation but also a religious binding. Invite friends and family for iftar and share the spirit of Ramadan.

Vegetable macaroni. Add small amounts of grated cheese to make it a complete food. As drinks, try ice lemon tea. Serve up with a fruit custard for that sweet kick.

Good deed of the day
The kinship of blood has been stressed in Islam. Set aside pride or anger and rebuild the bonds you had painfully severed.

Potato chop with rice chappati. Roll in a dice of meat to enrich the protein content of the dish. Try chocolate, banana smoothie to wind up the meal.

Good deed of the day
Offering prayers in a congregation can be a spiritual enlightenment. Offer your prayers with fellow Muslims in congregation whenever and wherever possible.

Chicken haleem and fruit lassi or fruit salad with yoghurt.

Good deed of the day
Alms-giving is a duty made compulsory unto every Muslim with means. Give to the homeless whenever you come across some on the streets.

Whole wheat chapatti and rajma, and an apple.

Good deed of the day
Recite the Quran. Read portions of translation and explanation.


Tips from Dr. Shamsunnahar Nahid

Avoid fried food during iftar. Particularly, avoid buying fried food, as many of the iftar bazaar places use the same oil over and over again. The rising rancidity of the oil can cause ulcers and other complications. Stick to homemade food as far as possible, and if that isn't always possible, go for light, non-spicy food. Open your fast with a sweet drink, preferably fruit juices. The liquid counters dehydration caused by fasting, while the sugar replenishes the fallen glucose level. Diabetic patients are advised to consult with their physicians before doing this. Include at least one fruit portion with all three meals. Fruits are an important source of essential nutrients. Do not skip dinner. Go for a light, low-fat meal, and drink plenty of water.Sehri should be a carb-rich meal instead of a quick snack, and taken in the last hour before Fazr, in order to closely imitate the normal body clock. This helps prevent hormonal imbalance. Any form of exercise or hard physical labour should be undertaken in the earlier hours of the day, as energy levels gradually drop as the hours progress.

Rita Ahmad's Rajma
2 medium-sized onions, chopped finely
2 pieces of ginger, finely diced
6 cloves of garlic, minced
2 large tomatoes, chopped into 1" cubes
2 fresh green chillies, chopped finely
2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp garam masala
2 cups red kidney beans
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
salt to taste
a pinch of asafetida (hing)
chopped coriander to garnish

Heat the oil in a deep pan and add the cumin seeds. When they stop sizzling, add the onion and fry till soft. Add the ginger and garlic and fry for 2 minutes. Add the green chillies, tomatoes, coriander, cumin, turmeric and garam masala powders and fry till the oil separates from the masala. Add the red kidney beans, 4 cups of warm water, asafetida, salt to taste and cook till beans are very soft (approximately 10 minutes). Mash some of the beans roughly (this thickens the gravy). Garnish with coriander and serve piping hot.



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