A friend recently said to me that so many of us went to working overtime without really being prepared for what that's like. Our brains knew the kids would be home, that we would need home school them, knew there would be less time for us, but did we really comprehend that? No. How could we? How could we understand what it would be like to keep things moving while plastering a smile over our uncertainty? We weren't prepared to talk to our children about global pandemics, about uncertain futures, hoping to convey a fortitude that we weren't feeling. With everything that is happening Ramadan feels different already. It is only a few short weeks away and the prospect of serious amounts of Ramadan prep seems both intimidating and exhausting. If you are here for a manual on how to mass produce freezer friendly fried foods then I am afraid you are in the wrong place. If you want Ramadan Prep Tips from a busy mama then you're in the right one.
I have always been a you do you person, believing everyone must do what's right for them. Right now this simplified approach to Ramadan prep is right for me. Some of these tips are directly actionable and some of them will require a little thinking on your part. I, too, am thinking hard about some of these questions and would love to hear what you end up deciding to do!
Without further ado here are my super doable Ramadan Prep Tips.
Ramadan Prep Tip One: Double Up
Making daal? Double the quantity and freeze half. Tadka/Baghaar after you defrost and reheat stove top. Marinating chicken? Double up and put half in the freezer. Made a ton of Haleem? Don't force yourself to finish it and instead freeze half for later. Making ten times the quantity for something can be truly exhausting. Making 2 pounds of timatar gosht instead of one? That's not so bad.
Other things you can double up and freeze
- Spaghetti Sauce (with or without meat
- Soups (without potatoes or cream)
- Qeema or Keema (freezes beautifully!)
- Dahi Baray
- Kalay Chanay
- Bhunna (Shredded) Meat - Pakistani
Oh and am I freezing unbaked cookie dough balls for that after Iftar treat? You betcha.
Ramdan Prep Tip Two: Batch Cook a Curry Paste
I know - you're confused, didn't I just say to only double up? Curry paste is where I make an exception. Our family seems to eat a lot of chicken curry, the kids love Aaloo Gosht and simple pulaos are Life. To get a beautiful silky masala for a salan or pulao/biryani takes time and patience. So before Ramadan I take a page out of my mothers book, grab the mandolin for rapid slicing and make a huge batch of my Instant Pot Salan Masala. All I need to know when it comes time to cook is to defrost it, saute my meat and simmer it till done. Throw on some garnishes and call it a day.
You can even doctor your masala base with some store bought Biryani masala for an easy Biryani fix. Who doesn't want an easy Biryani fix?
Ramadan Prep Tip Three: DIY a Pakora Mix
Repetition is mind numbing. Also I will be a little honest and say usually by the last bit of time before my fast opens my actual mind will be a little numb. Pakoras seem to be part and parcel of Ramadan iftaris, but that doesn't mean I need to make a fresh batch evey day. In another cool tip I learnt from my mother I make a batch of dry Pakora mix and then just use the base to make whatever kind we are in the mood for.
Ramadan Prep Tip Four: Think about Iftar less and Sehri/Suhoor more
We tend to focus on what we will open our fast with. It's infinitely exciting to think about hot samosas, tangy dahi baray, and that blessed garam jalebi, but pause for a second. Whereas our iftar replenishes us it is Sehri that will sustain us. If you have limited time for Ramadan prep use it wisely. I intend to make some of these Chana Chaat salad jars, freezer friendly baked eggs (with the yolks) and batches of steel cut oats which I prefer savory over sweet. I also tend to drink an electrolyte replenishing drink like hydralyte.
These are things that resonate for me, but please take a minute to figure out what resonates for you, what your body needs to make it through the day and what you can do help yourself down the road.
Ramadan Prep Tip Number Five: Rethink your Routine
Now I know this is way out of the food wheelhouse, but hear me out ok? Most of us have a pretty standard sense of what our day should look like. When schools were open and activities continuing as normal there was not a lot of leeway to deviate. However now, in these circumstances take a moment to think about what you want your day to look like. Are you the early riser whose happiest staying up from Suhoor and Fajr to late afternoon? Is your preference to sleep in? What time should the kids eat? What time should they work? Now kids are kids and will not 100% conform to what you hope but a nudge in your preferred direction is not a bad idea. I suspect this mama will be taking some naps and that for us schooling will be done earlier in the day before my late afternoon slump. With the kids out of school they can sit with us for Iftar which has historically been after their bed time.
So there you have it friends, my simple no nonsense (hopefully) guide to how I will approach Ramadan this year. You will note that I have left out the spiritual element - that is a deliberate choice. With time I have recognized an increasing amount that for many of us religion is at it's most spiritual when it comes from within. Far be it from me to interfere with your relationship with God with endless 'helpful' suggestions. Some people will choose to read a Quran during Ramadan, others will double up on daily prayers and for others the act of fasting while juggling so much is their form of worship. To all of those observing Ramadan in whichever way they choose I send my love and prayers for a happy, blessed month.