Friday, March 24, 2023

Healthy Iftar Ideas for Ramadan

Oh dear – 10 days into Ramadan and I can practically feel my waistline expanding. Non Muslims often don’t get how it’s possible to end up weighing more after Ramadan but feasting is as much a part of Ramadan as fasting. Piping hot pakoray, giant aloo kay samosay, garishly coloured sweet sherbets  and jalebis are part and parcel of Iftar here – fine for the occasional treat but lethal for your waistline when they become a daily affair.

It’s always lovely to take time to present your food beautifully – this little bird-table plate is a lovely way to present dates

A less calorific Iftar doesn’t have to be bland though – if you’re looking for appetizing yet healthy options for Iftar, this is the place to be. I asked Amna Tauqeer of Yum, who previously came up with some fabulous Eid trolley recipes for Karachista, to give a few ideas for delicious yet guilt-free iftar.

“I feel that the key to a healthy Iftar is cutting back on fat and sugar without dialing back the flavour. Another key is portion control. After a day of fasting, it’s easy to eat more than you need to. By the time your stomach sends out the message it’s had enough, you’ve generally over-eaten. Try to counter this by serving items in smaller portions.”

Mint lemonade, sweetened with honey

Homemade mint lemonade is much healthier than syrupy sherbets

Rooh Afza is practically a Ramzan institution in Pakistan but the bright red sherbet is full of sugar and colourings. A fresh mint lemonade sweetened with honey is just as refreshing and so much healthier.

Mini cups of Dahi Boondi

Dahi Boondi in little cups

For me, a balanced Iftar has a lot to do with portion control. Serving Dahi Boondi in little containers achieves jsut that. Dahi (Yoghurt) is also a good source of potassium and sodium which help you rehydrate after a day of fasting.

Sprouted Lentil Chaat

Sprouted Lentil Chaat
Sprouted Lentil Chaat

My take on Channa Chaat with a sweet, tangy date chutney and lots of freshly roasted cumin. This has a higher fibre content than traditional chaat, is filling and combats constipation. Sprouting increases the amounts of some vitamins and minerals in the lentils, especially B vitamins, Vitamin C and carotene. Like many legumes, lentils have some starches that create intestinal gas. Sprouting helps break down some of those starches. Best of all sprouted legumes contain half the calories of the same amount of boiled legumes.

Mediterranean wraps

Mediterranean wraps = spinach tortillas filled with delicious flavours

Instead of a paratha roll, try Mediterranean wraps with chicken tossed in parsley and mint pesto. Use homemade spinach tortillas with lemony couscous, chopped tomatoes, cucumber and red cabbage for fibre, taste and texture.

Baked Samosas

Baked Aloo Samosas

If you must have samosas, these baked versions are so much healthier than the fried variety. Filled with a potato filled spiced with tempered curry leaves, these are brushed with sunflower oil and baked till golden.

Crustless quiche

Crustless Quiche

This literally takes a few minutes to prepare and 35 minutes in a low oven. With lots of spinach, eggs, milk and a little cheese, it’s the perfect post-iftar power snack.

Kidney bean cutlets

Vegan Baked Kidney Bean cutlets
Baked Kidney Bean cutlets

These are a healthy alternative to deep-fried potato or chicken cutlets. With a high fibre and protein content, these baked cutlets are both filling and healthy. You can shallow fry them for a more glistening, moist look but the baked versions are super tasty too.

Kidney Bean Cutlet Recipe

Soak 200 gms kidney beans in water overnight.  Add salt to water in a large pot and boil till soft. Drain well , cool and pat dry with kitchen roll. Mash/mince the beans. Add 15 grams cornflour , salt , ground cumin , red chilli powder and chopped green chillies , chopped fresh coriander , chat masala and 1 tsp ginger garlic paste. Divide the dough into 12 portions and make kebabs. Shallow fry till golden on both sides or brush with oil and bake at 160C for 20-22 mins. Serve with lemon and mint chutney.

Hummus, Roasted Pepper and Cottage Cheese open-face sandwiches

Hummus, cottage cheese and red pepper open-face sandwiches

Open face sandwiches are a great way to cut down on your carb levels while choosing hummus and cottage cheese as toppings provides a great dose of protein without adding much fat. Roasted pepper is full of vitamins and fibre and packs a powerful punch of flavour.

Fruit cups

Fruit cups
Fruit cups

Fruit cups are as inviting to the eye as they are to the tastebuds – and unlike fruit chaat they don’t add any refined sugar or salt to your bloodstream.

Chia and Oat topped Banana Bread

Banana Bread topped with chia seeds and oats

With wholewheat flour, no refined sugar and lots of bananas, this is the perfect guilt-free accompaniment to post-iftar tea. Chia seeds add extra vitamins and minerals while oats add fibre and texture.


Salima Feerasta
Salima Feerasta is chief editor of and one of Pakistan's top fashion and lifestyle journalists.

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