Ramadan Kareem to you! The Blessed Month has arrived and I’m thrilled to be sharing my first recipe. In fact, I have been working a little harder than I normally would have to bring you four fantastic recipes for each week of this month. So let’s start with Suhour.
Suhour is the pre-dawn meal taken before sunrise to prepare the Muslim for their day of fasting. Fasting commences at sunrise with the call of prayer for Fajr, the morning prayer, and we are not allowed to eat or drink until the sun sets. Growing up, Suhour was always the same as breakfast would have been - cereal and milk. And Farleys biscuits. Yes, baby biscuits dunked into the last few drops of leftover milk and stirred into sweet mush. My brother and I are assigned a box each by Umma. My husband, however, has grown up eating Suhour differently. Chicken, fish or egg curry for dinner the previous might is prepared with extra portions for the early morning accompanied by hot thattu dosa. The first year into marriage, I would eat the same. However, I have a sensitive stomach and curries prepared in south Kerala are quite spicy and lack the addition of coconut milk as I am used to. This usually meant that around mid-day, I would get an uncomfortable heartburn. So I went back to eating my muesli and milk.
If you too would like to keep it light, I’ve got just the recipe for you. Overnight Oatmeal has been doing its rounds for a while. It’s been my dinner for months now. What I do is prepare the oatmeal first thing in the morning and refrigerate it till night. I love reusing my empty Bonne Maman Fruit Preserve jars for this meal. My favourite part is how easily you can customise it to your whim and fancy. Scan through the Internet and you’ll find Cinnamon Roll, Carrot Cake, heck even Cookie Dough overnight oatmeal. So as you can see, it is far from boring.
As unbearable as the heat is in the UAE, it is the season that bears the fruit every Muslim uses to break their fast. As the warm winds starts blowing signalling the onset of summer, thickets of the date palm can be found with branches lowered by the weight of clusters of fruits. Bright shades of green, as the heat intensifies it goes through varying stages of ripening, gradually turning yellow and deepening to brown signalling its ripest stage. Umma bought me my first box of Sukari and since then, the refrigerator always has a stock of them.
Sokari or Sukari has a paper thin skin revealing a soft and sweet flesh. It's true to its name from which the word Arabic word for sugar can be derived. It’s my favourite way to sweeten milkshakes and smoothies completely omitting sugar. Which is how I sweeten my oatmeal too. I make a smoothie using two dates and a glass of milk along with the spice of the day from the following selection - cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, dried ginger or all-spice. I've used cinnamon in today's recipe.
Oatmeal is a smart choice for Suhour as it fills you up and takes time to digest, yet being gentle on the stomach. Keeping nutrition in mind, If it is available, you're better off buying wholegrain rolled oats in comparison to white oats. You don't need to cook this beforehand which is perfect for mother to toddler moi. The longer the oats thickens, the thicker it becomes texture-wise. Off late, I've been snacking on sunflower seeds and love adding them to this oatmeal too. I don't eat a lot of fish and so I've incorporated flax seeds which are an excellent source of Omega-3 into my diet. I line my jar with a layer of flax seeds, add the oatmeal and stir it with a spoon before adding my date smoothie.
Chocolate by the bar is an absolute vice of mine and I can inhale them before you even finish spelling it. My husband and I try not to snack unhealthily during the week. Come weekend, despite the fact we would have just finished Biriyani for lunch, you'll find us munching on some sugar nasties, headphones plugged in watching a movie, trying to stifle laughs (we are probably catching up on Big BANG Theory) and not wake up Ali from his siesta. Off late, my husband and I have been downing our share of 1.5 Reese's peanut buttercups each. One particular weekday, those cups were twirling around in my mind while making my dinner oatmeal. I happily blended a teaspoon of cocoa and natural crunchy peanut butter with my milk. I haven't ever been excited about oatmeal and was anxious to learn how it would taste. Not exactly close to Reese's but it did taste like I was eating pudding than oatmeal that night.
Here's a tip. The ratio of oatmeal to milk is 1:1. The rest is entirely up to you. You could blend seasonal fruit, use nut milk if you're off lactose or sweeten it with raw honey. Top it off with fresh fruit and a sprinkle of nuts and tuck in to your wholesome nutrient packed far beyond bland porridge. These Greek strawberries were actually more sweeter and you know how chocolate and strawberry are meant for each other, right? The sunflower seeds add a delightful crunch and here once again, you can go nuts with your choices.
I'm going to be trying this oatmeal with a mango smoothie soon and see how that works. And if it's your thing, maybe you should try Nutella. Just a thought ;)
I hope you have a blessed Ramadan filled with answered prayers.
A special shout out to my wonderful hand model Ali for waking up an hour before he was supposed to and walking in onto the ongoing shoot. Especially for being such a sport and letting Umma finish her way-overdue photoshoot and helping her capture her favourite photo EVER taken for her blog. Umma loves you.
Sukari Smoothie Overnight Oatmeal
- 1 cup wholegrain rolled oats
- 1 cup full-fat milk
- 1½ teaspoon cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons natural peanut butter
- 2 Sukari dates - washed and pitted
- ¼ teaspoon choice of spice - cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, all-spice
- 3 teaspoons flax seeds (optional)
- Blend milk, dates, spices, cocoa powder and peanut butter very well.
- Prepare a clean glass jar by adding flax seeds and oatmeal into it.
- Pour blended smoothie over the oatmeal and mix gently with a spoon.
- Refrigerate for at least 6 hours.
- Serve with fresh fruit and choice of nuts.
Have a good food day.