A Gastronomical Treat Awaits Hungry Food Buffs during Ramadan at Various Eateries
Mangaluru : “Assalam Alaikum”in Arabic means “Peace be unto you”. Yes, It is that time of the year again. The month long festival of Ramadan, is in progress. As in India and other parts of the world, the followers of Islam fast during the daylight hours and come evening they break their fast with mouth watering dishes in this holy month. Every city, including Mangaluru has its certain eateries that specialize in certain types of cuisines. If you are an adventurous eater who like restaurant food/fast food/street food, it is your month. A wide range of mouth-watering dishes …vegetarian, non-vegetarian, and sweets tempt connoisseurs across the city to devour the festival’s food points.
Fast or no fast, your search for Ramadan special food during this holy month is incomplete if you do not visit Bunder/Kudroli/Falnir Road and few other spots where Muslim restaurants are established; and also at two malls in the City, namely City Centre and Forum Fiza Mall who have set up Food Tents. You take a trip during Ramadan nights for an all-night-long feasting at these locations, not only you can smell delicious aroma of roast chicken Tikka, Sheek kebabs and Haleem but eat them as well. In the days of Ramadan, the enthusiasm is multi-fold and the place teems with preparations from every part India and some international too. Surely it is not only the Islamic community who come here for giving themselves a gastronomical treat!
But the month of Ramadan, also known as Ramzan, offers a peek into the city’s culinary past. When dusk arrives during Ramadan, with a shrill siren that signals the end of fasting, many locations in the City fill up fast with vendors, shoppers and food buffs. What awaits the hungry are simmering pots of biryani with a distinctly local flavor; endless bowls of haleem — a thick, spicy paste of lamb and wheat, cooked to perfection; dried apricots and fresh cream served together as the wildly popular qubani-ka-meetha; and other flavors that carry the richness of a sultan’s sumptuous meal although they have been prepared in humbler kitchens. Fresh garlic naan also goes best with haleem.
Few obscure restaurants light up their signboards promising the city’s best haleem or Kichda or – certainly the most sought-after dishes at this time, partly because it’s not easily available for the rest of the year. The almond kheer – milk, rice and sugar boiled together and seasoned with saffron and almonds – is a treat. Yet another dessert during this Holy month is Phirini, a dessert made of sugar, milk, soji, ghee and water. And the best part is that most of the Muslim restaurants/fast food shacks are all famous for their Biriyani, Mutton dishes, Samosas, cutlets, chicken puffs, onion pakoras etc doing a roaring business during Ramadan, as one can see from the line of vehicles waiting for takeaway orders.
Yes, the festival of Ramadan is a great favourite of food lovers in Mangaluru. They seem to welcome it as fervently as devout Muslims, though for reasons other than piety. By early evening areas around prominent mosques near Tagore Park Lighthouse, Kankanady market, Kudroli, Hampankatta (Behind Milagres Church) and Bunder Road among others begin to buzz with anticipation. Aromas of freshly cooked special Ramadan delicacies in various stalls begin to mingle for a heady sensuousness. Food shops jostle for space and some encroach the pavements as the number of Ramadan items is considerably more than usual. Push carts heaped with freshly prepared samosas, alluring dates, bakery cookies and fresh fruits choke the roads. City Central market fruit vendors have piled up varieties of fresh, as well as dry fruits like dates, almonds, apricots etc. Not that anyone is complaining about this joyous jumble. A great existential question that exercises the minds of the believers is which is the best first food to break your fast with?
A great existential question that exercises the minds of the believers is which is the best first food to break your fast with? There is no unanimity. Some go for fruits, others swear by samosas. “It is dates,” firmly avers the venerable looking Shameer M S, a entrepreneur .“It is gentle on the fasting belly, loaded with energy and minerals and possibly the one the Prophet himself preferred,” he said while munching on dates. After that first morsel the fasting bellies have a lot to contend with, and if they groan it must be out of sheer joy. Freshly grilled tandoori chicken gleam in anticipation. Succulent kababs of every flavour suspended in long garlanded animation crave for attention, at the food court in Forum Fiza mall, near Pandeshwar; and also at the two fast food restaurants near City Hospital-Kadri Road produce a mind-numbing varieties of kababs?
Various halwas, sweets and misty dois (sweet curds) are also in the list. Harira, a sweet payasam-like preparation is another of the holy month’s offerings. Quick witted city dwellers make their purchases before the believers pour out of the mosques after evening prayers and clean up the food stalls! So if you are in town during this festive month, move it and go on a gastronomical expedition which is worth every rupee you spend. Luckily, the Ramadan food is happily affordable- No need to cry all the way to the ATMs. The irrationality of mankind is baffling. Why can’t everyone feast in the evenings on all one wants and atone for it with day long fasting next day, all the year long? Why don’t we grab this ‘Health and Heaven’ offer with both hands? Bon Appetit !