In Islamic culture, the holy month of Ramzan is particularly venerated since it was during this time that the first verses of the Quran were revealed to Prophet Muhammad. Muslims across the world commemorate it with a month of fasting, prayer, charity, and introspection.
They observe fast from sunrise to sunset. At sunset, they take part in Iftar or the meal where the family or community comes together to break the fast. Traditionally the Iftar dishes vary from region to region. The purpose of fasting is to sensitize the observers about enduring poverty and hardship. It is also a demonstration of self-restraint which brings them closer to Allah.
To experience the rich and exciting cultural fervor during the festive time of Ramzan through local food, this time, we have arrived at Bhopal, the City of Lakes.
In this episode of our Bhopal food tour, we bring to you the awesome experience of having an Iftar with our genial host Hashim and his family. Before joining them at their home we visited the 19TH century-old Taj Ul Masajid, which is deemed as the largest mosque in India. The imposing architecture, the festive vibe, and the cordial faces led to an ecstatic start to our gastronomical quest.
On arriving at Hashim Bhai's place, the warm hug and the cheerful countenances instantly made us feel at home. After a brief conversation about the practices and the basics of food habits followed during Ramzan especially the Iftar, we headed to the kitchen to see the undergoing preparations for the Iftar. The enthusiastic ladies were busy preparing Mutton kebabs, onion Pakodas and Lassi. The grace and the urge to provide tasty and wholesome food to the famished souls was exemplary. With the preparation of the whole spread yet to be concluded and with quite some time left for the Iftar we left for the market to observe the festive vibe, activities, and of course food.
Hashim walked us through the bustling lanes of the marketplace near the Emami Gate sharing snippets about the area. The streets were a visual delight especially due to the sight of the inviting foodstuffs. We bought a few of Bhopal’s quintessential Iftar snacks like the Nukhti Khara, Sheermal, and Dal Ke Samose and went back to Hashim’s place to join the family for the meal.
With sundown, we all gathered around the elaborate spread that had so much diversity in terms of forms, tastes, textures, aromas, and experiences. After saying our prayers it was time to eat. It was heartening to see that in spite of being insanely hungry, nobody displayed any kind of haste in partaking in the food. All of us silently relished the dishes. We got to know that usually, people break their fast with a few morsels of any fruit or snacks, get back to pray and after being done with it they sit down for the complete meal. The homemade kebabs, pakodas, kheer, etc was simple, delicious, and hearty. While the popular snacks from the market were equally satisfying. Especially the Nukhti khara struck a chord as it ushered in so many sweet memories.
Hashim and his family were such amazing hosts who tenderly introduced us to the nuances of cultural connection through food.