The Holy month of Ramadan started on May 28th. Living in Kuwait, the month of Ramadan is an experience by itself. People who believe in Islam, start their fast before the sunrise and break the fast after sunset. People even stop on the highway and do namaz without minding the extreme temperatures. Temporary tents are built near the mosques to accommodate more people and feast is served everyday in the evening when the fast is broken. The meal had after the fast is called as Iftar. The fast is broke by having a sweet and usually it is the ripe dates or fruit juices. Pastries, meat briyani and laban(buttermilk)are common on the Iftar menu. Apart from the mosques, other communities and forums also conduct communal Iftar parties inviting people from all the religions and it is a proof of religious brotherhood in the country.
During the entire month of Ramadan there will be no shops open during the fast period of the day; no restaurants, grocery stores (called as Bakalas here), hypermarkets and the shopping malls. Pantries/cafeterias are closed at the workplaces too. Considering all these, work timings are reduced to 6 hours for all sectors. Drinking water or eating in public can earn you a fine of 100 Kuwaiti Dinars and a month in jail !
As it is the month of good food, sharing here one of the most common desserts in the middle-eastern cuisine, Basbousa. It is made of mainly rava or semolima and topped with a lemony syrup. Though originated from Egypt, basbousa is widely known as the Middle-eastern delicacy. There are many variations to the dessert, with cream, with dry fruits, etc. I’m sharing the recipe with fresh coconut.
Disclaimer – I don’t call it a simple recipe. It involves many steps but when it is done, the taste will be worth all the effort 🙂
What you need
- Semolina or rava – 1 cup
- Egg – 3
- All purpose flour – 1 cup
- White sugar – 1 cup
- Shredded Coconut – 1/2 cup
- Yogurt – 170 gms
- Vanilla essence – 1 tsp
- Orange zest – 1/4 cup
- Baking soda – 1 tsp
- Baking powder – 1 tsp
- Vegetable oil – 1 cup
- Almonds – for topping
- Grease an 8 inch square baking dish and keep aside. Pre-heat the oven at 180 degrees.
- Sieve the all purpose flour, baking soda and baking powder together.
- In a mixing bowl, add sugar and eggs and whisk until sugar dissolves. Add in the yogurt and whisk again. Use a hand mixer which will ease your job.
- Add semolina, flour-baking powder-baking soda mixture, vegetable oil, vanilla essence, orange zest, shredded coconut one by one into the bowl and beat to mix together.
- Pour the mixture into the baking tray and bake for 10 minutes at 180 degrees. Take out the tray and place the almond silvers or whole almonds blanched in hot water on top of the cake. Brush the top of the cake with little butter or oil.
- Now bake again for 15 to 20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
- When the cake is in the oven, the syrup can be made ready. In a sauce pan take 2 cups of water and 2 cups of sugar, along with tbsp of fresh lime juice.
- Bring to rolling boil until the syrup reaches the string consistency. Switch off the heat.
Once the cake cools down to handle, with a sharp knife, cut them into squares. Pour the sugar syrup on top and in the gaps between the squares in the baking tray. Refrigerate for 10 to 15 minutes and it is ready to be served.
- You can use orange essence if you don’t have orange zest handy.
- Yogurt can also be replaced by table cream.
- Adjust the sugar in the cake and the syrup according to your palate.
Ramadan Kareem to everyone who is celebrating!