Besides being a source of blessing for the Muslim community around the world, the holy month of Ramazan also brings with it a variety of special dishes for sehar and iftar. Cooking is done out of love and a kitchen is the centre of every home. The one dish which graces the dining table in every house every day is Samosa Chaat popularly known as Lahori Samosa Chana Chaat. Tangy, sweet and sour, its flavour just bursts into your mouth.
Pakistanis living abroad don’t have the luxury of buying this delicious snack at every shop or roadside carts like we do in Pakistan, so they make iftar sumptuous by preparing it at home.
Recently, a live cooking show was aired via Facebook Live as part of a series of Interfaith cooking. Titled ‘From Halal Kitchen to Kosher Kitchen’, the first episode of this series invited Pakistani-American Chef Raheela Mehmood and Chef Dinah Frieden, author of a popular cook book and website ‘Dinah’s Kitchen’. The purpose of the show was to introduce recipes from different cultures and faiths with an objective of ‘sharing is caring’. Chef Raheela Mehmood – popularly known as Mamajee – cooked live while recalling her college days in Rawalpindi when she used to savour the Lahori Chana Samosa Chaat with her class mates. She was coming live from Los Angeles, California. The show was hosted by Anila Ali, President of American Muslim Women Empowerment Council (AMWEC). She is also the one who initiated this series of interfaith Ramazan cooking and talked about why the word ‘halal’ food is important for the Muslim community living outside Pakistan. “The purpose of such programmes is to embrace each other’s culture as it is obvious from the current pandemic which has not discriminated anyone on the basis of their religion, caste, colour, creed, political, social or economic class or country of origin,” shared Anila.
Chef Dinah Frieden, a democratic activist and the board member of AMWEC didn’t share any particular recipe in the hour-long webinar but gave some brilliant tips about the art of serving and the role of crockery in making presentation of food beautiful and eye catching. She showed her collection of crockery and dinnerware which she uses to serve. She told that plain white, pearl white, turquoise blue and green dishes, oriental square dishes, dinner plates, tranquillity round platter, flowery quarter plates, oval dish with spring pattern, round, oval or square bowls, beautifully crafted handmade ceramics made in traditional Multani style pottery, and pottery plates give a perfect dining table ambiance. Dinah also demonstrated how the two platters of different shapes and hues can be infused together to make a beautiful contrasting presentation of food.
“Food can become a work of art. All the white dishes make food look beautiful and enhance your dining experience besides giving a crisp, clean cultural look to the table. Similarly, if you infuse two platters like white with blue, the food will look terrific. Make it fun while adding colour to it,” suggested Dinah. While talking about the specification of a kosher kitchen, she added, “It has separate sets of dishes, one for meat foods and another for dairy foods. To qualify as Kosher, mammals must have split hooves, and chew their cud. Fish must have fins and removable scales while only certain birds are kosher while vegetables are accepted. Interestingly, this is accepted in any kitchen, whether Muslim, vegetarian or otherwise.”
Dinah also told that she used to e-mail her recipes to her daughter who was living away and needed her help. Later, she collected all the recipes in a book on the request of her second daughter and then put all the recipes on her website too. Besides having delicious recipes of various dishes, the book and website also guides about various styles of presentation.
Soon, the series will present ‘From Halal to Greek Orthodox Kitchen’ in which one Pakistani-American and one Greek Orthodox chef will present their recipes.
Kabuli Chana (chickpeas): One kg (soak them overnight with a tablespoon of baking soda and then boil them in the morning in the same water, while adding one teaspoonful of red chilies and one tsp salt until tender and make a thick broth).
Yogurt sauce: Mix plain yogurt with roasted crushed cumin seeds, black pepper and a little salt
Green Chutney: Mix coriander and mint leaves in equal quantity add 3-4 green chillies and blend to make chutney
Tamarind Chutney: Boil tamarind after taking out the seeds with little water. Strain the mixture and add brown sugar, lemon juice, red crushed chillies and a pinch of salt. Boil until thick.
Lemon Juice: One cup
One onion: Thinly cut
Green Chillies: Finely sliced
Coriander and mint leaves: Finely shredded
1. Put the boiled chana mixture in a big dish and pour lemon juice lavishly in the mixture while it is still piping hot.
2. Sprinkle chaat masala and then season with finely cut onion, green chillies and green coriander (optional).
3. Repeat the garnishing the above process.
4. Now add yogurt, tamarind and green chutney. Lastly, sprinkle some more chaat masala on the chana mixture.
5. Savour this Chana Chaat with samosa and papri.
Tip: Garnishing should follow the above order to give it a distinct taste