Guide to an Organised and Healthy Ramadan Kitchen

Being Type A personality, does make things a little difficult at times. In the long run however i have seen that it actually helps me alot! The organisation freak that I am, i always seek ways to organise everything and anything! Same goes for Ramadan. And my kitchen during Ramadan. And my freezer during Ramadan…um, you get the idea right!

This Ramadan I am totally out of time ( and you can imagine how freaked out I am at the moment!!!), but over the last month i did organise my kitchen (atleaaast!). So here are right away 5 tips on how to organise your kitchen during Ramadan and keep things healthy!

Make a daily menu – consider days you will be going out for iftar, or days you will be cooking for neighbours or guests. Plan out a healthy suhoor and iftar menu. If you have planned well in advance, you will be less likely to make quicker (like fried) or unhealthy choices. Plus you will know what you need for the week and can stock up on fresh ingredients appropriately. Try to make filling yet healthy choices for Suhoor. Foods with a low GI index, or high in protein are ideal as they keep you feeling full for longer. For Iftar try to keep minimal items. The more options you have, the more you are likely to over eat. Try to cook one fruit based dish (try non creamy fruit salads, or fruit platters), one yogurt based dish or baked/grilled/steamed appetiser or soup, and one main course. Break the fast with water and dates followed by fruits or soup and then pray. Try to have the rest after Taraweeh, so that you are alert during taraweeh and not just longing to crawl into bed because you have overloaded the tummy! I make my menus in Evernote, but if i ever ever make a printable, i will surely post it here.

Buy main staples beforehand – This will save you time and energy on going out to buy groceries all the time. Besides who wants to do that in this scorching heat!! The menu will help you with this too. While planning the menu, make a grocery list on the side!

Do not waste food! Use leftovers – I feel bad about wasting food throughout the year, but during Ramadan i hate it even more, because we are fortunate enough to have enough food to break our fasts Alhumdulillah. And not only that we actually look forward to all the delicacies of Ramadan. But there are people out there who do fast for the sake of Allah, but have no idea how they will break their fasts!! And here we are wasting food because no one wants to eat the same thing the next day! I always try to either serve the leftovers the next day, or make something new out of them. For example if you make mac and cheese one day, make baked mac and cheese balls the next day using all that pasta!! trust me no one will suspect you! Google it and you will find lots of ideas. So this Ramadan, no throwing away food inshaaAllah!

Setup Suhoor table night before – Another thing i sometimes do is set the plates etc for suhoor the night before, so that when i wake up i just have to heat up things and eat. With children Suhoor times become the most hectic of all. So any time saved is gold! Or what you can do is, keep suhoor items that will not spoil outside on the table. I tend to do that for my husband if he is working late into the night. So he can have Suhoor at whatever time he feels convinient, and i don’t have to wake up for it. Not ideal, but works for us!

Pray while working in the kitchen – be it short supplications, or listening to lectures, or just reciting durood. You will be making the most of your time this way. And there is a bonus point, and trust me on this, the food will taste amazing inshaaAllah!

Healthy Make ahead foods for Ramadan:

  1. Wrap filling – instead of filling up those samosas and rolls which will be fried later, make the same filling and freeze it in freezer bags. And when you want to use it, make lettuce wraps with them, or make a cabbage roll which will be steamed and as crunchy and delicious as spring rolls without all that oil!
  2. Shami kebab – i like the fact that shami kebabs have only boiled ingredients (until they are fried!). My sister tried something new the other day, she microwaved them once defrosted, and they did not taste bad! Thing about Shami kebabs is that they are already cooked, so even if you cook them on a lightly sprayed pan, they will turn out amazing! I have seen people coat them in egg and fry them in heaps of oil, not a healthy way at all!!
  3. Alu kebab – yes they freeze well, and are taken well on the dinner table ( talk fussy eaters). You can increase the nutrient value by sneaking in other vegies, and trust me no one will even notice! Don’t coat them with cornflour and breadcrumbs, just egg and minimal oil should do the trick!
  4. Biryani masala – surprised at how biryani made to the healthy list?!! Well, i consider biryani a complete meal, and it can be made healthy if you want to. First of all i am talking about a biryani masala marinade for “kacche gosht ki biryani”, in which the meat cooks along with the rice. So this saves on any oil/ghee being used during the cooking of the biryani salan. Secondly, when keeping it on ‘dum’ we can use olive oil instead of the traditional ghee. If you look at it otherwise, this dish is full of nutrients! the use of yogurt and meat makes it rich in protein, whereas if you swap white rice with brown, you get a healthy dose of carbs too. Lastly, it’s more about quantity guys! I will be uploading my recipe of Kacche gosht ki biryani soon, this is the best biryani you will ever make!
  5. Haleem – full of protein, this traditional dish if so filling and healthy. It freezes really well too. Keep the spiciness low, and serve it for suhoor! An alternative is Harees, and since it does not have any spices at all, it will keep your energy levels up without the thirst factor accompanied with spicy foods.
  6. Chutneys – Chutneys are low in calories but add so much flavor to every food. Make them in bulk and freeze in small packets! please refrain from the ones made with sugar!
  7. Drumsticks marinade – marinade chicken drumsticks or wings and freeze, and bake or broil them when needed!
  8. Fish marinade – Fish is the healthiest thing ever! so why not get it in bulk and marinade it. There are so many healthy options to cook it from microwaving, to baking to steaming, and everytime it turns out just delish!!
  9. Koftas/meatballs – Again they don’t need to be fried. Make the mixture and freeze as small balls. They can be steamed and added to any dish you want!
  10. Broth – makes a lovely base for soups and can be frozen.
  11. Chickpeas – boil them chickpeas, black and white both and freeze in packets. Nothing more healthier than those chats (minus sweet chutney)
  12. Granola – Make your own granola at home with ingredients that you prefer and have it with yogurt or oats for suhoor!

Try to eat fresh and raw fruits and vegetables as much as possible. Ditch those fruit trifles, sugary drinks and kachoris for one Ramadan and you will notice the difference!

Ramadan Mubarak to all my Muslim readers. May Allah help us make this Ramadan more about ibadah and less about food!