Ramadan (taking place this year between March 22 and April 21) involves abstaining from food and water during the day, as well as dedicating yourself to prayer and charitable acts. The fast is broken at sunset every day with Iftar, where family and friends traditionally gather around the table.
“When you’re young, you don’t really think about the charity side of Ramadan,” Karolia explains.
“I now think more about countries where they don’t have food at the end of the day. We know that we are fasting, but we are looking forward to a table full of delicious food.”
Food is important during Ramadan – both abstaining from it, and coming together over it for Iftar. This is why Karolia – who has been blogging about food since 2015 – has dedicated her first cookbook to the holy month.
Called The Ramadan Cookbook, it’s full of recipes for Suhoor – the small meal eaten just before sunrise – Iftar, and beyond.
1 cauliflower, cut into florets
1tbsp oil, plus extra for deep-frying
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 fresh green chilli, chopped
1 red onion, diced
2 spring onions, finely sliced, plus extra to garnish
½ red pepper, diced
½ green pepper, diced
2tbsp tomato ketchup
2tbsp chilli sauce
2tbsp dark soy sauce
1tbsp rice vinegar
1tbsp chilli flakes
1tbsp ground black pepper
For the batter:
100g plain flour
1tsp chilli powder
1tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
1tsp ground black pepper
1. Cook the cauliflower florets in a large saucepan of boiling water for eight to 10 minutes, then drain in a colander and set aside. For the batter, mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Then slowly add the water, stirring all the time to make a smooth batter, thick enough to coat the cauliflower. Drop the florets into the batter and stir gently to coat.
2. Heat some oil for deep-frying in a large saucepan on a medium-high heat until it reaches 180°C. Fry the cauliflower florets in batches for about six minutes until golden and crisp, then drain in a colander to remove excess oil.
3. Heat one tablespoon of oil in a large wok on a low heat, add the garlic, chopped chilli, red onion, spring onions, and red and green peppers, and cook, stirring, for two minutes. Add the ketchup, chilli sauce, soy sauce, rice vinegar, chilli flakes, black pepper and salt, and heat through for one minute.
4. Toss the fried florets in the sauce, making sure to coat them properly. Serve the cauliflower in a bowl, garnished with sliced spring onions.
2 bay leaves
1 onion, finely chopped
500g chicken breast, cut into chunks
1tsp ginger paste
1tsp garlic paste
1tsp chilli powder
1tsp chilli flakes
1tbsp Kashmiri chilli powder
1tsp ground coriander
1tsp ground cumin
½tsp ground turmeric
1tbsp butter chicken masala or tandoori masala
½tsp ground black pepper
1tbsp dried fenugreek leaves
1 fresh tomato, chopped
250g tomato passata
150ml single or double cream
2tbsp lemon juice
Fresh coriander, chopped, to garnish
1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan on a low heat, add the bay leaves and onion, and cook for five minutes until golden brown. Add the chicken, ginger paste and garlic paste, and cook for 25 minutes, until only a little moisture is left from the chicken.
2. Add the chilli powder, chilli flakes, Kashmiri chilli powder, ground coriander, cumin, turmeric, butter chicken masala or tandoori masala, salt, pepper and dried fenugreek, and stir well. Add the fresh tomato and passata, cook for one minute, then pour in the water, milk and cream, and stir well. Simmer for eight to 10 minutes until the sauce has thickened.
3. Add the butter, letting it melt through the sauce, then add the lemon juice, and serve sprinkled with chopped coriander.
Date and nut slices
250g pitted dates, finely chopped
50g granulated sugar
20g chopped pistachios
20g chopped almonds
20g chopped cashews
50g Marie biscuits or digestive biscuits, broken into pieces
Sesame seeds, for sprinkling
1. Melt the butter in a saucepan on a low heat and add the dates and sugar. Cook until the dates soften and start to look mushy. This will take eight to 10 minutes. Add the chopped nuts and biscuits, and stir everything together.
2. Take a sheet of baking paper and lay out flat. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and place the date mixture on top. Roll into a log shape, using the paper to help make a tight roll. Chill in the fridge for one hour until firm, then cut into one-centimetre slices. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three weeks.
The Ramadan Cookbook by Anisa Karolia is published by Ebury Press.