So, the onset of Ramadan is a joyful celebration; a chance to reflect over the past year and renew our pledge to improve ourselves in the year to come. And realizing, in that final moment of hunger and weakness before breaking fast at sunset, that all sustenance belongs to God and it is by His Grace alone that we are able to eat our sunset meal at all.
This year, however, the mood around my Ramadan table is somber. As we break our fast, the thought of suffering in Pakistan (a crisis much bigger than the Tsunami) is not far from our minds. At present one-fifth of the country is submerged under water, the lives of over 14 million people have been affected because entire villages have been wiped out leaving over 250, 000 homeless, an estimated $1 billion worth of crops have been destroyed... To further compound the situation, water-borne disease has broken out. It's all the more painful that this should happen in Ramadan - the holiest month of the year.
It's no wonder I don't have much of an appetite, despite a 14.5 hour fast. Ramadan is a time of charity, but here I am - unable to do anything. To really do anything to help anyone. The realization that I have so much for be thankful for is a hollow one when faced with the other realization that while my family and I enjoy a cozy meal each evening, there are millions who have no access to clean water or nutritious food and that they long for a place called home. .*(please read post note)
Praise be to God who blessed us with food to eat, water to drink, homes to live in and our families surrounding us. . may He have mercy on all the suffering souls and may He accept our fasting, all our prayers and good intentions this blessed month. Ramadan Kareem, everyone.
And now I bring you Channa Daal Curry: a simple, satisfying, every-day curry. I made it today with zucchini although it's traditionally made with either pumpkin or bottle gourd.
Channa Daal and Zucchini Curry
1 cup channa daal, washed and pre-soaked for 1-2 hours
2 cups water
1 cup zucchini, diced (about 3-4 small)
1 large onion, sliced
2 tomatoes, diced into small cubes
2 tsp minced ginger
2-3 green whole chillies, stalks removed (I used birds-eye because I like the extra heat)
1 tbsp lime or lemon juice
1 heaped teaspoon salt
1/2 tsp red chilli powder (I actually used only 1/4 because I was using birds eye green chillies)
1/4 tsp turmeric powder2 tbsp fresh, chopped coriander
2-3 tbsp cooking oil
Heat cooking oil in a pan and add sliced onions. Fry around 15 minutes on medium heat, or until golden-brown.
Add all the dry spices, along with a small splash of water (so that the spices don't burn) and stir fry for a minute or so. Add the diced tomato as well as the whole green chillies and cook until the tomatoes are mushy and the oil separates (around 5 minutes).
Now add the zucchini, stirring it well to make sure it is coated with the tomato mixture. Cook for 2-3 minutes, then add in the daal, water and salt. Mix well, cover and let cook on medium-low heat for approx. 20 minutes. Test to make sure that the daal is fully cooked before removing from heat.
Stir in the lemon or lime juice as well as the chopped coriander and serve right away. For me, this daal is delicious all on its' own & I eat it with a spoon. But it is served with either Roti (flat bread) or rice.
(Post-note: after publishing this post, I came across a link to a blog listing one of many non-governmental organizations that are helping the relief effort in Pakistan. If you would like to lend a hand, visit the blog here and this organization here, here or here . And here's another very comprehensive list of ways you can help)