As the festivity of Ramazan touches its peak, the Lahorites throng to eateries with families and friends for sehri and iftar as there is a local proverb that Lahorites can skip their sleep but cannot miss good food.
Abdul Ghaffar, a 45-year-old foodie, who lives in Bahria Town Lahore, travelled all the way to eat at the Nasir Bhai Siri Paya — a famous traditional cuisine outlet located at the Paisa Akhbar area that is about 55 kilometres away from his home. “I eat zuban and bong daily since my childhood and can’t give up on that due to which I travelled all the way from my home to this eatery of Lahore along with my family at sehri”, said Ghaffar.
Ghulam Abbas, a 32-year-old Lahori, who had the traditional murgh channay at the same food outlet along with his friends told Bol News that after eating the gravy we will go to Chacha Feeka shop for the famous Payray wali lassi at the Gowalmandi area in the city. The traditional yogurt drink will keep us hydrated for the rest of the day during the fast, he added.
Speaking to Bol News, the owner of an eatery named Sawad said that for sehri we serve plain channay, desi murgh channay, mutton channay, mutton machli channay, beef paye, bong, nali, bong paye nali special bowl, desi murgh in desi ghee, black pepper mutton channay, mutton paye, mutton kunna machli and mutton nihari while for iftar we have introduced buffet as well as a la carte.
“Our iftar menu includes mutton steam roast, mutton machli steam roast, matka biryani, mutton koyla karahi, chicken koyla karahi, chicken makhni handi, gola cheese kebab, malai boti, chicken pieces, chicken wings and chicken cheese boti”, he said.
Hamza Ali, a young wrestler who is fond of desi food told Bol News that he enjoys the ambiance at Sawad. He said that for the iftar here, chicken samosa, spring roll, dahi bhallay, fruit chat, chana chat, Russian salad, pasta, Caesar salad and gol gappay were also served.
‘Lahorites sleep after eating sehri’
Muhammad Hassan Mujtaba, a resident of Johar Town in Lahore, told Bol News that he and his friends, since iftar, do not prefer sleeping and rather opt to play indoor games such as ludo. And after having Sehri at the Chai Khana ie after having parathas with tea, we go back home to sleep.
Zakir Hasan Naqvi, a resident of the Ferozpur Road, who became a chef recently, while sharing his experience of the holy month said that he cooks food at home and then enjoys that along with his friends and family. We sometimes stay up late till sehri and discuss sports, religion, and other affairs of our day-to-day lives. And then after having sehri, we take some rest.
As the month of Ramazan is providing opportunities to people belonging to different walks of life to go to eateries and enjoy their favourite and traditional cuisines at sehri and iftar times, it is also providing the opportunity to underprivileged families to make ends meet.
Making ends meet
Muhammad Tufail, a 45-year-old labourer, eagerly awaits Ramazan so that he could sell parathas and fried eggs at sehri time, and samosas and chicken rolls for iftar. “Thanks to the holy month of Ramazan I manage to earn an amount which helps me bear the expenses for three-four months”, he shared with Bol News. “I am selling plain paratha for Rs40 and aalu wala paratha for Rs80 and I manage to sell around 250 plain parathas and about 150 aalu wala parathas almost daily during the blessed month”, Tufail shared and added that more profit is made by selling samosas and chicken rolls.
Tufail is not the only one who is benefiting from the holy month of Ramazan. Rukhshanda Bibi, who is a widow and mother of three children told Bol News that she manages to earn easily for her family during Ramazan by selling pakorian, bhallay, samosa and roll pattis which are used in making dahi bhallay, chat, samosas and rolls as families place orders to her even before the holy month and she supplies the stuff to different households as well as vendors across the city. “This month helps me to earn an amount that lasts for at least eight months”, she said.
Getting back to the gastronomic delights the Punjab capital offers, Lahorites also enjoy the desi food at the Mashallah Paratha outlet which is located at Jail Road. The outlet has a variety of parathas which are served with tea and lassi at sehri.
“I visit Mashallah Paratha with my loved ones to enjoy their chicken egg parathas, mooli egg parathas, qeema paratha and gobi parathas along with my friends on alternative days during Ramazan”, said Salman Hassan, a foodie from Lahore.
Mamu’s traditional Bengali kaghzi samosas are served at a small eatery in Lahore’s Shadman Market. The delicacies are small sized samosas that are filled with chicken, onion and other vegetables. They are served with tomato chutney.
Najeebullah, the owner of the shop told Bol News that his family is serving these kaghzi samosas in the Shadman area for decades. Their average monthly sale during Ramazan is around 10,000 samosas and around 1,000 rolls.
A large number of Lahorites prefer Iranian dates for iftar. “No iftar is complete without dates and we love Iranian Khajoor as they are soft and melt in the mouth. They are also vital for health at iftar time”, said Dr Sehar Raza. Pheni, which is present at almost every table for sehri, is a sweet dish and is loved by Lahorites. It is prepared from desi ghee. “I have been eating pheni as a sweet dish after my main course meal at sehri for the last 50 years and our sehri is incomplete without this traditional sweet dish”, said Abbas Ali, a retired bureaucrat.
Ramazan is not all about eating good food and enjoying it with families; it also gives us the lesson of patience and caring for others. Like every year different influential businessmen and families have made arrangements for free of cost sehris and iftars for the underprivileged families and individuals. “I am following the tradition of my grandfather and we serve free sehri and iftar to around 3,000 people every day”, said a leading businessman who wished not to be named.
Apart from this, a number of influential families also provide ration bags to the poor during Ramazan.
photos: Mohsin Raza/Bol News