Ramadan is finally upon us, and with it, the culinary experiences we typically associate with this holy month. The activity in and around the kitchen increases significantly, owing to the maddening aromas emanating from the kitchen right around iftaar (time to break the fast). Family members who usually don’t even bother with the food-prep start hovering around to see what’s on the menu.
I belong to a family of food-lovers. Some of my fondest childhood memories are of my mother planning her iftaar menu weeks before Ramadan. I still remember how she wrote everything on a wall calendar; everything from appetizers to desserts. She made rainbow-colored jelly eggs and lip-smacking kukray (D-shaped samosas with mung daal and minced meat filling), always on the hunt for new recipes to try. Watching her make those things was the highlight of my day and I have only her to thank for my culinary passion.
The Ramadan dastarkhwan (floor mats/carpets on which food is served) is empty without a selection of appetizers. I know of some families who absolutely positively need to have samosas and pakoras at iftaar, whereas others try different things. Luckily, I belong to the latter group. For me, an appetizer is the most important course, as it is the first thing you attack after breaking the fast. Thinking about first impressions, it can make or break your entire dining experience.
This Ramadan, I shall be sharing with you some appetizers handed down to me and others acquired along the way. The first entrant in this series is Box Patties. These perfect squares, created using samosa strips, are filled with a savory shredded chicken mixture that instantly satiates your spice cravings.
Prep time: 35 minutes for the filling and the box patties + 4 minutes for frying (per batch)
Yields: 18-20 patties
Serving size: 2 patties per person
- 250 grams chicken breast
- 1 tablespoon ginger paste
- 1 tablespoon garlic paste
- 1 tablespoon green chili paste
- 1 tsp salt (for chicken)
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 medium potato (boiled and diced)
- 1 medium green bell pepper (capsicum – diced)
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 tablespoon all-purpose flour (stirred in with 1 tablespoon water – for filling)
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (for filling)
- 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (for paste)
- 1 cup water
- 40-50 samosa pastry strips
- Add chicken, ginger paste, garlic paste, green chili paste, salt (for chicken) and water to a pot and cook it till the chicken is tender and the water has dried up
- Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred it and keep it aside
- Heat butter in a pan and add the green bell peppers to it; stir-fry for 1 minute
- Add soy sauce, salt (for filling), black pepper and red chili flakes to the capsicum and stir for a minute
- Add potatoes and the shredded chicken and mix it well
- Finally, add the flour and water mixture to the chicken; mix it immediately to prevent the flour from turning the filling too sticky
- Cook for a minute before turning the stove off
- In a bowl, mix the flour (for paste) in water; microwave for 40-50 seconds to get a thick glue-like consistency
- Fold the box patties as instructed in the video
- Deep fry in hot oil till the patties are crisp and golden-brown
- Serve with your favorite dipping sauce and enjoy!
Note: Ramadan is an ideal time to get in touch with your spiritual self, but sometimes, we just get too fixated on food and what to make for iftaar. I prefer making these appetizers in a larger batch and freezing them; they can be used for up to 15 days. This will give you plenty of time to reflect on yourself and significantly lessen your kitchen workload.
Please remember me in your prayers!