Ramadan: Fervour that favours food 

The month of Ramadan, which marks a period of spiritual introspection, is also synonymous with fostering a sense of community.

Published: 26th April 2022 06:49 AM  |   Last Updated: 26th April 2022 11:44 PM   |  A+A-

Iftar delicacies

Iftar delicacies. (Photo | Special Arrangement)

Express News Service

CHENNAI: The month of Ramadan, which marks a period of spiritual introspection, is also synonymous with fostering a sense of community. After the customary day-long roza (fast) and prayer at sunset, iftar time is when family members join to break their fasts and share a meal together. For Muslim families in each state and community, daily iftar is a feast to be remembered (until the next one).

To find out what’s cooking in the festive kitchens of Muslim communities across Tamil Nadu, The New Indian Express reached out to industrious womenfolk currently tasked with preparing elaborate evening spreads. Showing no signs of exhaustion, they excitedly rattled off names of dishes from all courses of an iftar meal. A few adept-yet-modest ones added disclaimers (“I’m not that good a cook!”) before going on to recite heirloom recipes almost entirely from memory. Mindful of the gut and the heat, they suggested refreshing beverages and light snacks as perfect companions to the heavier biryanis and haleems.

Prawn Vaada 
Kulam Sithi Rabiya, YouTuber @Kayal Kitchen, Kayalpattinam, Thoothukudi

A crispy savoury item that can be paired with your evening kanji.


Cooked rice: 1 cup
Prawn: 100 g
Maldive fish maasi powder: 2 tbsp
Coarse rice flour: 1 cup
Oil, turmeric powder, chilli powder, salt, curry leaves: as required
Chopped shallots: 2 tbsp
Chopped onion: 1/4 kg
Grated coconut: 3 tbsp


For the dough 
Grind the cooked rice in a mixer without using water. Transfer the mixture to a wide plate. To this, add coarse rice flour, turmeric powder and salt. Knead it using your palms; water need not be added. Cover and let the rice flour mixture ferment for three hours (sprinkle water if it’s too dry later).

For the stuffing
Mix 1/2 tsp turmeric powder, 1 tsp chilli powder, and salt with a bit of water. Cook the prawns in this mixture for 10 minutes until the water evaporates. Cool/freeze the now-cooked prawns (called varathuna iral). Then, add them to the fermented rice mixture. Keep them aside.

For the prawn mixture
In a pan, temper chopped shallots and curry leaves in 3 tablespoons of oil. Then, add 1/4 kg chopped onion, 1 teaspoon turmeric powder, 2 teaspoons of chilli powder and salt. Sauté until the onions turn translucent. Now, add the prawn mix and saute for a minute. Turn off the flame. Add the fish maasi along with the grated coconut to the cooked mixture. Your prawn stuffing is ready.

For the vaada
Spread a damp cotton cloth on your countertop. Take a lemon-sized portion of the dough and spread it out slightly with your fingers (it will resemble a small coaster). Take two teaspoons of the prawn stuffing and place it inside the spread-out dough. Take another similar-sized portion of the dough and spread it like before. Use this portion to cover the previous spread-out portion of dough from the top. Seal the corners. Fry the vaada until it turns slightly golden brown on all sides. 

Serve hot.

Benazir Shroff, healthcare administrator - Ismaili Muslim, Chennai

A special falooda (courtesy Benazir’s paternal grandmother) with basil seeds which cools the body.


Milk (full cream): 1 l
Condensed milk: 1/2 a can
Rose syrup: 4-5 tbsp
China grass (agar-agar gelatin): 10 g
Basil (Sabja) seeds: 25 g
Pistachio and almonds: a handful each

Chop the nuts to sizes of your liking. Soak the sabja seeds in plain water for 30-40 minutes. Keep aside.

Now, soak the china grass in plain water for ten minutes. Then, bring it to a boil (you can add a few drops of any food colouring during the boiling stage). After the gelatin completely melts and becomes a translucent liquid, turn the heat off. Keep it in the fridge to cool off (best done overnight). Grate the china grass after it solidifies. Keep aside.

Bring the milk to boil in a large pot. After the first boil, simmer for 30-45 minutes. Now, add condensed milk while on simmer and stir well. Turn off the heat. Let the milk cool at room temperature.
Add 4-5 tablespoons of rose syrup, chopped nuts, grated china grass, soaked sabja seeds to the milk. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours.

To serve

Pour 3/4 cup of the delicious falooda into a tall glass. Top it off  with a scoop of vanilla or butterscotch ice-cream. Garnish with some extra grated china grass and nuts for an extra crunch. 

Leave room for a spoon. 

Serve chilled.

Sahana Sameera, Geohomz Developers - Kilakarai, Ramanathapuram

This egg-based cake-like appam (resembling custard) is a popular delicacy among Tamil Muslims.

Thick coconut milk: 700-750 ml
Yolk of 6 eggs
Cashew paste (use 200 g of cashew nuts)
Sugar: 2 tbsp
Condensed milk: optional
Almonds, pistachios, raisins: as per choice

Whisk the egg yolks along with the coconut milk in a bowl. Add sugar and cashew paste. You can also add some Milkmaid (condensed milk) if you wish. Keep aside this thick mixture.

Place a small vatta kadai (round pan) in a 5-10 litre-sized cooker. Sprinkle some water on top of the kadai. Place the vessel containing the mixture inside the kadai and close it with a lid. Lock the cooker.

Wait for up to 10-12 whistles. Once done, insert a toothpick to see if it comes out clean and if the mixture has set like custard.

Decorate with nuts of your choice and slice like cake. 

Serve warm.

China grass halwa
Sadeeka, homemaker, Nagercoil, Kanyakumari

The multi-layered kadal paasi pudding is a favourite at iftar meals in the state.

China grass (agar-agar gelatin): 15 g
Milk: 4 cups
Cardamom powder: 1 tsp; Sugar: 1 cup
Vanilla essence: 1 tsp
Food colour: As per choice
Nuts of your choice

Cut agar-agar into pieces and soak them in a vessel containing water (2 cups) for 10 minutes. Now, place it on the stove and bring to a boil until the gelatin starts to melt. Simultaneously, boil milk in another vessel. Add sugar to the milk.

Once done, add the boiled milk and the boiled agar agar in a single vessel. Add vanilla essence and cardamom powder to it. Now, separate the mixture into two batches using different containers.
Add a few teaspoons of a food colour of your choice into the first container (ideally, a glass bowl).

Repeat the same using a different food colour with the second container.

Refrigerate the first container for ten minutes. Once done, hold a large spoon backwards over the chilled/coloured mixture, and gently pour the second coloured mixture onto the spoon. As it falls on the existing coloured mixture at the bottom of the bowl, it forms a naturally smooth second layer. Now, refrigerate the bowl for another ten minutes.

Decorate with grated nuts (almonds, pistachios, cashews). Again, refrigerate the entire dish for 20 minutes. Serve chilled.

Badam ka harira
Farheen, homemaker, Vaniyambadi, Tirupattur

A delicious drink that provides quick nourishment to those fasting.

Almonds (soaked overnight): 1/4 cup
Milk (full-fat): 500 ml
Cardamom: 2
Cinnamon: 1
Saffron: few strands
Sugar: 2 tbsp
Ghee: 1/2 tsp
For garnish
A few silvers/ finely-sliced almonds or pistachio

Peel and grind almonds into a fine paste (add a little bit of water). To a saucepan, add warmed ghee followed by whole spices; the ground paste. Mix well. Add milk and sugar; keep stirring. Let it boil well. Add saffron strands; simmer for a minute. Turn off the stove. Garnish with your choice of nuts. Serve warm.


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