Of Fasting and Feasting During the Month of Ramzan
By Sonali Shenoy | Published: 28th July 2014 08:57 AM |
CHENNAI: How do you prepare dozens of dishes a day, and not taste them? That’s the question we posed to some of the city’s Muslim chefs as we hit the end of the Ramzan season. Apart from checking for salt and spice, there’s also the fact that one is surrounded by food at practically all hours of the day. With Eid around the corner, we wondered what it would be like to toil through the day, whipping up tureens of delicious eats and not go so far as a single bite.
According to chef Muneer Mangalan of Lavash, the newly set-up Mediterranean space on Khader Nawaz Khan Road, “All it takes is one glance to say whether a dish has more or less salt. I just know,” he says with unshakeable certainty. So we put it down to ‘chef’s intuition’ and move along.
Then there are those that aren’t fasting this year, but admit it was pretty darn difficult, courtesy the obligation to get flavours down pat. “I’ve always been used to being around plenty of food of course,” says executive chef Mohammed Siddiq of the Taj Club House. So temptation was never a problem.” However, he recalls one habit of the profession that he’s been unable to get past. “Whenever I’m at the hotel, there’s always a spoon in my pocket, you know just so that tasting is quick and easy wherever I am...” he tells us. Unfortunately while on his daily rounds, he recalls, “Sometimes during a fast, I would just forget and dip in taste on reflex.” In effect, the fast would be broken of course, but the spoon, still an essential part of the head chef’s job, must remain in his pocket.
However, Yasmin Osman who has been in the business of catering biryani from home for close to 20 years now, is of a more liberal view though. “It’s really about your intent when you’re fasting,” she states, “So I don’t think tasting a dish for the sake of your profession means your fast is broken.” In fact, if you take notes from Yasmin’s view of Ramzan, “It’s more meant to be a detox period for your body and senses and in fact if done the right way, fasting can be quite enjoyable.” She even urges us to give it a try, citing that it’s all about developing the power of will.
For the moment though, it’s countdown to biryani time. And chef or not, everybody is eager to turn in ‘will’ for a liberal dose of ‘just chill’.