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Ramadan: Lure of the Fried Goodness

Ramadan Mubarak! It‘s always this time of year that I am prompted to post at least once, not surprisingly since the blog is travel and food oriented, and during the Muslim month of fasting, one’s mind tends to turn to food… and also not surprisingly, if one has grown up in Trinidad, fried foods, specifically those traditional so-called “Indian delicacies”* are the most prevalent of those dreams!

Typical Iftar Plate, courtesy Lilandra

Courtesy my sister, Lilandra, a typical Iftar plate at a masjid.

In Trinidad (and in Guyana, I know, although the range of fried goodies doesn’t match my recollection of T&T), when you go to the masjid to break your fast, there are certain expected Iftar foods. Dates and water of course, since that is the Sunnah or practice of the Prophet Muhammad (s). Although, when I was very young, water didn’t feature as much as the stretched-to-sugary-water Trinidad tinned juice…water was available from the stand pipes in the wudu area if you were picky… An iftar plate, or table (if the food is set out for communal-style eating) would also contain a teaspoon size mound of finely grated ginger. The ginger is not pictured above, but believe me, it could look very like that grated mango chutney…causing frequent disappointment to those who rushed in before checking. The ginger is to aid in the wind or gas reduction as you eat after a day of fasting, so you are supposed to eat the ginger first (well, after the date or water). There’ll be a piece of fruit on the plate – above there are some grapes and a piece of apple, but local fruits such as bananas and watermelon are also popular.

Also not pictured on this plate, but you can see it here (also thanks Lilandra, who has many many Iftar photos), would be a legume…such as channa or black eye peas googni (boil and fried) or curry channa. These things go really well with chutney, or a la doubles, stuffed into the fried goodies.

Homemade Saheena two saheenas Aloo Pie with Cucumber Chutney

 

But of course, the MAIN item, is the particular morsel of fried goodness on the plate. Lilandra’s plate shows an accra and a saheena, but the possibilities for those fried delicacies are far more. As the majority of Trini Muslims are of Indian descent, there are certain traditions that developed out of the Indian community that are fully part of all of our Ramadan traditions. And the Indian delicacies which you might enjoy to break fast include aloo pies, pholourie, kachourieroll-up saheena, baigani, if you’re lucky, samosas or even goolgoola (a sweet fritter made with bananas). For the savoury items, chutney is essential. If you are doing communal or potluck Iftar, you might be lucky to get a variety of chutneys – tamarind, mango, pommecythere, or even cucumber – on one plate. Chutney here is not the stewed fruit kind of chutney my non-Trini readers might think of. Chutney to a Trini (similar to sour to a Guyanese) is fruit-based yes, but intended to be a savoury, spicy condiment served with these various savoury fritters.**

Baiganis for Ramadan! Kachories- with tamarind chutney Oasis Chicken Samosas

 

Now, technically Iftar (or Aftari in Urdu) refers to whatever you eat to break the fast and could include dinner (very often, when on my own, I go straight to dinner), but the concept of Iftar in T&T is popularly used just to refer to those small items you eat at the point of breaking your fast, when the Adhan (call to prayer) is made. Then we go to pray the sunset prayer (Maghrib), and then AFTER that is dinner. So if you are invited to an Iftar, remember to ask if it is Iftar AND Dinner, just to be safe 😉

For my first Iftar this Ramadan, I was traveling. And although I broke my fast on time with some tea, it took a while to get to a meal. And all during that time I dreamed of a typical Iftar, and craved something fried and delicious. My options were limited and I ended up with calamari. Not traditional, certainly, but fried, crispy and delicious. Did it satisfy the Iftar-craving? No. Mostly because it was served with some kind of lemony mayo which in no way resembled a chutney. I should have asked for pepper sauce. Lesson learned – the craving is for fried goodness AND chutney 😉

 


 

*Flyers and posters for bazaars and other events in T&T will proclaim somewhere “Indian delicacies” as an enticement, promising hot and crispy phoulouries, baiganis, doubles, aloo pies etc.

** This might need its own post…

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5 Comments so far (Add 1 more)

  1. Don’t they usually mean sweets when they say Indian delicacies?
    Or maybe that is what I think of when I think bazaar.

    Also…baiganee! Slice anything and batter it and fry it. Chop up anything and drop it in batter like a fritter and fry it.

    Haven’t touched my fried quota at all yet. Wouldn’t have minded some calamari.

    1. Lilandra on July 1st, 2014 at 12:58 pm
  2. ok, you thought sweets, I though savouries. Interesting…had the Baigani photo, but included it in the list too, with link to recipe.

    2. Chennette on July 1st, 2014 at 1:03 pm
  3. Salaams,

    Ramadan Mubarak :)

    I am an cake baker and I want to buy a camera so that I can take better pictures of my cakes when I post them. I recently bought a camera and it is total failure as you will see on my blog http://kadaskatering.blogspot.com/. What kind of camera do you use because your pictures are soo clear? I wish mines came out so good. I have to use a lot of editing just to get the right light.

    Thanks in advance.

    Kada

    3. Makada on July 2nd, 2014 at 4:22 pm
  4. assalamu ‘alaikum and Ramadan Mubarak!
    Thanks for your comments. Right now, I use a Nikon D7000, but for 4 years I had a Nikon D80. The ability to use different lenses, and have a more sensitive light sensor helps with hose DSLRs even though they are not quite professional level. But honestly, alot of my photos were taken for this blog, in the early days, with a Nikon Coolpix point and shoot. The “two saheenas” and the samosas photos were taken with that ordinary point and shoot.

    I find the best photos are with natural light – I would move the food into sunlight, or under direct light. Also, I do not use the flash generally for food photos as I find it creates too many shadows and the food doesn’t look quite right. When you are not using flash though, you need to use a tripod or make the camera steady, balanced on something stable, and then use the timer delay – this would help with the light of the photo, and reduce the blurriness.

    I also try different angles to focus on particular aspects of the food, or the texture. I played around with alot of different things. Sometimes, something as simple as putting white sheets or surfaces around your food will help with the light.

    4. Chennette on July 2nd, 2014 at 4:56 pm
  5. I’m from America, and I was wondering if there are any foods in Trinidad that are at all related to, or similar to some of the foods we have in America.?

    5. Alex on November 15th, 2016 at 8:04 pm

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