Piyaju, beguni, chhola, halim, muri and jilapi are the hot favourites across iftar tables. While some of these serve as 'comfort' foods, they can make fasting the next day more difficult. Most of the typical foods eaten at iftar happen to be greasy and DEEP fried, which are a big no-no after a day of fasting. So, if you are one of those who either do not like these or want to opt for healthier and yummier iftar options, here's what you can try out. Just keep in mind that iftar is the 'power meal' of the day and you do not want to feel undernourished or end up with an upset stomach in the end.
Lack of water during the intense heat of the day will need to be addressed by sunset, so refreshing drinks are a must-have when breaking the fast. Dates and water or milk are not only nutritious but also a humble and traditional way to break the fast. The sweet taste and high sugar content of the dates provide much needed energy. Since Ramadan falls during summer this year, there is a high availability of seasonal summer fruits. Try out fresh smoothies. A sip of a glass of chilled fruity goodness is surely a blessing.You could also try lassi made from yoghurt or laban which is a buttermilk-style drink.
Too many servings of sherbets and sweets with added sugar can be unhealthy. Avoiding the caffeine content in drinks such as tea, coffee and cola is also wise, unless you are a coffee addict like me.
The Big Fill
It's customary for those breaking the fast to start light, by consuming salad, soup or a stew first. Soups or stews can replace the traditional halim and these lighter options won't make you feel as bloated afterwards. If you add a few dumplings to your soup, it will further help you to feel full. A bowl of whole grain cereal with milk and dry fruits will not let you down either.
Your iftar can also have a satisfying serving of grilled delicacies instead of the deep-fried, acidity-inducing options. Grilled potatoes can be an alternative to the oily 'alur chop.' Chicken and other root vegetables can also be grilled and served with green salad. Chapati/ruti made without oil fit easily on the same platter. Noodles, pasta, sandwiches and even rice might be taken at iftar, given that the quantity is moderate. I have not seen anyone try fish at iftar. Why not give it a go?
If you have a sweet tooth or need some sugary bites to get you going, you do have a handful of options to choose from. In case you find jilapi to be overly twisted and trying to hypnotise you with their circular patterns, try milk-based sweets and puddings for a change. Sweet yoghurt is also a great substitute. Other sweet treats during iftar can be pancakes or bread filled with Nutella, cream or crushed walnuts and almonds.
Iftar, consumed after several hours of fasting, is an important meal and hence must be tasty, nutritious and fulfilling. Though it is the safest to stick to home-made food, what's Iftar without a peek into the lavish iftar feasts of Old Dhaka? An exception can be made once a week.