Patel and Afshan take out time to be with family members and buddies more than iftar in the month each year. Their two daughters are in Canada and England and the couple is usually visited by Dr Daphne Khan, Afshan’s mother, who is primarily based in Hyderabad, India.
“I’m from Hyderabad, while Aftab is from a place in the border of Karnataka and Maharashtra, so our iftar meals are often a combination of dishes from both the regions. We have poha (flattened rice dish) and dahi vada (dumplings dipped in yoghurt) as well as haleem. We avoid fried and oily dishes and instead start with sugarcane juice or coconut water. The sugarcane juice is from cane grown in our own garden,” Afshan stated.
According to her, it requires about two hours to prepare six-seven things, such as starters and desserts, for the iftar meal. She has spent most Ramadans in the final 3 decades in Oman with her husband, barring a couple of instances when she was in London with her daughter for a couple of days. “I fasted during Ramadan when I was in London too. Ramadan in every season has a different charm but the experiences and the sense of oneness remains the same,” she stated.
Like most Muslim households, iftar at the Patel household begins with dates and juices. Occasionally, there are chaats (savoury snacks). The primary course, comprises genuine Hyderabadi delicacies – chana dal (split chickpeas) seasoned with green chillies, haleem, Nargisi kofta (scotch eggs), kebabs – and occasionally pizza. For dessert, phirni and Jouzi halwa – a speciality of Hyderabad – are served. Afshan avoids rice in the course of this meal.
According to Patel, meals is an integral element of the life and the culture of Hyderabad. “People really like to cook and feed guests and the assortment of dishes in wide and diverse.
“Ramadan is a special month of the year when we divert our attention and focus to God,” Patel stated, adding, “In India, naturally there are more relatives making the month special but we are happy to spend Ramadan here. The environment is apt and conducive to espousing the spirit of the holy month here. People are considerate enough not to eat and drink outdoors, working hours are reduced, iftars are served in every mosque, people are more kind and humble and hence by default it makes us feel spiritual. One can observe a natural calmness and peace all around.”
For Dr Daphne, this is the initial Ramadan in Oman and she’s satisfied to be right here.
Information Source: Muscat Daily