The holy month of Ramzan, the ninth month in the Islamic calendar is considered as the most auspicious and the observed as the month of fasting by the Muslims worldwide. Ramzan marks several religious practices like regular recitation of Quran, charity and the most important being fasting from dawn to dusk.
Muslims observe pre-fast meal early in the morning as Saher and sunset meal as Iftar. Iftars are very popular not just among the Muslim community but also for others as it serves sumptuous meals for huge gathering of family and friends.
While Muslims worldwide typically break their fast by first consuming dates, the community in the south India relies upon a porridge, also called Nombu Kanji, made of raw rice, moong dal, veggies, chicken, mutton to gain instant energy.
Cooked in giant containers the porridge is served in small bowls at the time of breaking fast. Safa Mushtaq, dietician with Quanutrition explains the significance of Nombu Kanji. “It is a comfort dish made of rice, moong dal, lot of vegetables like carrot, peas, potato and is loaded with nutrition. It has right amounts of carbohydrates that provide instant energy, protein in the form of dal and non-vegetarian ingredients. Vegetables give enough fiber to the body and it also has enough water for hydration. Consuming Nombu Kanji is the ideal way of breaking the fast.”
Safa Mushtaq also recommends to consume juices like lemon water, milkshakes, chia, sabja seeds soaked water and lots of fruits along with Nombu Kanji to keep the energy levels going.
“Those who are fasting skip lunch, mid-meal snacks, water and it is important to catch on these during Iftar dinner. These items will help the body gain back its energy and vigour.”
Vegetarian version of Nombu Kanji:
½ cup raw rice
4 tbsp moong dal
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tomato, finely chopped
½ cup first pressed coconut milk
½ tsp ginger garlic paste
¼ tsp garam masala
Pinch of turmeric
Fistful of mint and coriander leaves
Salt to taste
2 tsp of oil
1 green chilli – slit
Grind raw rice and moong dal into a coarse powder. Heat oil in a pressure cooker, temper it with cloves, cardamom, cinnamon and green chilli.
Add ginger garlic paste, onion and fry till it turns transculent. Mix in veggies, mint leaves. Add turmeric, chilli and garam masalas. Add salt and saute.
Add raw rice and moong dal powder
Add required amount of water and pressure cook for 6 whistles. After the pressure releases, mash it into a soft porridge.
Add coconut milk. Garnish with coriander leaves.
For the non-vegetarian version, replace veggies with finely shredded chicken or mutton marinate for a while in turmeric.