Ramadan is approaching soon. It’s time to prepare ourselves for this blessed month. One of the preparations to do beforehand is to make some cooking related preparations in advance so that we can dedicate more time towards prayers and spend less time in the kitchen. Here is part 2 of the kitchen prep series.
Now off to some more tips…
1. Chop and store nuts – Almonds, pistachios and cashews can be chopped well ahead before Ramadan and be stored in the refrigerator. They stay fresh for up to 6 months in the refrigerator. Adding nuts to any dish makes them taste delectable, especially the sweet dishes. The crunch can really add to its taste. If you have a weakness for sweet, it’s okay to indulge in them once in a while. Avoid having stuffs that contain high sugars as this will make you lethargic.
2. Make basic pizza dough – If you make a lot of baked snacks like pizza, pies etc then one of the easiest prep you can do is to make the basic dough needed and freeze them in individual portions. The dough stays fresh for up to a month. I use my basic pizza dough recipe which you can find here.
Once the dough has risen, punch it down. Allow it to rise for another half an hour. Now take a ball of dough that you will require for an individual snack meal, wrap it in cling foil and keep it in the freezer. Whenever you need to prepare your pies, just thaw them for about 2-3 hours and you’re good to go.
3. Make pies and store – Alternatively, you can make your favorite pies, croissants, pizza, braided breads etc and store them in the freezer ( without baking). Once you have rolled out your pies and stuffed the filling, instead of putting them in the oven, line them on a tray and place in the freezer. Once they have frozen individually, take them out and place in a ziplock bag and store in the freezer. This way they will not stick to each other. You can also wrap them individually in cling film and store.
When needed for use, do not thaw. Just pick out the number of pieces required, and place in the oven. Leave for about 5 minutes and bake.
4. Store samosas, springrolls cutlets etc – Make a batch of samosas, spring rolls and cutlets. Once you have stuffed them place in the freezer to freeze. Take them out and store in a ziplock bag. Take them out when needed and fry, bake or air fry them. A lot of time can be saved during Ramadan when preparations are made beforehand. One more advantage is that there won’t be any problems with how salty or spicy it is as you can taste it and make accordingly if you prepare them before Ramadan and not during fasting hours.
5. Make stuffings – Another useful preparation tip is to make stuffings and freeze. I include these in my regular meal planning as well, for use during busy days. Make different stuffings like shredded chicken stuffing, potato and peas stuffing, mixed veg stuffing, palak paneer stuffing, paneer tikka stuffing etc – this list could be endless. Once cooled, place in ziplock bags and store in the freezer. Do not refrigerate. Refrigerating can cause bacteria in it after a 2-3 days. Freezing will maintain its taste and keep it free from any bacteria for up to a month.
So on days when you want to make a quick sandwich for iftar, thaw your favorite stuffing. Add layers of chutney on your bread, spread your stuffing and you have a hearty snack /meal ready. If you have the basic pizza dough as mentioned earlier, you can thaw a portion of the dough and a stuffing of your choice and make your favorite pie and rolls in a jiffy. There are literally a hundred ways you can use your stuffings, in calzones, rolls, pizzas, pastas, sandwiches, croissants, etc.
If your freezer doesn’t have enough space to store samosas and springrolls, you can make their stuffing and store. When you want to make them, thaw the stuffing. Fill in the samosa and you’re done. This way, if you make 4-5 different stuffings, you can alternate them in samosa, rolls and pies.
I always like to store my stuffings in ziplock bags. Just flatten them. They become easier to store, requires less space and also thaw faster.
6. Marinate chicken, meat and freeze meatballs and kebabs – Marinating chicken and meat with your favorite pastes will be a life saver on some of the exhausting days in Ramadan. Be it peri peri chicken, barbecued chicken or green chicken charcoal, your taste buds are going to thank you for this delicious treat.
The marinated meat and chicken should be stored in the freezer. That way they will stay good for long. I usually prepare two packets of each marinated chicken and keep it in the freezer. So that means I have arranged for 6 days of dinner meal. Isn’t that great!
On one of those tiring days, I just pull out marinated chicken and grill in the oven. Make some hamoos and enjoy my meal with some pita bread.
Same goes with making kebabs and meatballs (Koftas). Mix the ingredients and bind them into proper shapes and freeze individually in a tray. Once frozen, transfer into a ziplock bag in batches. Take out a batch and grill or bake whenever needed.
7. Prepare for soups – Soups are highly nutritious and healthy. Since it contains a high quantity of water, soups nourishes our body cells and provides us fibers depending on the ingredients involved. Chicken corn soup, vegetable soup, oats soup, spinach soup, lentil soup – there are numerous combinations of soup that you can prepare on this planet.
During Ramadan, starting the iftar with a bowl of soup warms the stomach and helps in preventing bloating or any stomach discomfort. They hydrate our body after a long day. This Chicken Corn soup is soothing and refreshing and is quick to prepare as well.
You can make soup preparations beforehand by chopping the veggies and storing in ziplock bags. Alternatively, you can even blanch the veggies and store. If you want to add noodles to your soup, you can boil them and store in airtight container in the refrigerator. You can even prepare the stock base in bulk and store in the freezer.
8. Making salads – Make big batches of salad and store in an airtight container. Chop all the necessary ingredients for your salad, take an airtight container or an airtight jar. Place heavy veggies at the bottom. For example, tomatoes, onions, radish, carrots, bell peppers, cucumbers etc. Top with leafy greens like lettuce, spinach, kale, parsley, mint etc. Leafy greens have to be the topmost layer. Do not place anything over them as they may rot easily.
Another tip to remember while making batches of salad is to not add any salt, olive oil,juice etc basically no dressings. At the time of eating the salad, toss everything into a bowl and mix in your dressings, lime etc.
9. Grind and freeze masala pastes – This is tremendously useful in Ramadan as well as on other days throughout the year. Make a batch of your favorite curry pastes and store in the freezer. They stay fresh for about 30 – 45 days. For busy nights, just defreeze a packet of curry paste, and empty in a vessel. Add your ingredient (chicken/mutton/vegetables/paneer) and cook. You may add extra seasoning depending on the recipe requirements.
There is a whole lot of curry pastes that you can prepare in advance and freeze. Makhni gravy, green gravy, korma gravy etc are some of the options.
10. Make Smoothie Packs – Smoothies are highly nutritious, both at Iftar and Suhoor. You can enjoy a glass of delicious smoothie by preparing beforehand. Decide on what smoothies you like and gather the ingredients. Cut the fruits into pieces and freeze on a tray. Transfer in a ziplock bag and freeze. While making a smoothie, toss the ingredients in, add milk/ yoghurt/almond milk and blend. You can even freeze Greek yoghurt in an ice cube tray and add it into the smoothie packs.
Some combinations for smoothie packs :
a) Banana + Strawberries + Peaches + Vanilla Yoghurt
b) Fig + Dates. ( Add milk and honey while blending )
c) Apple + banana ( Add yoghurt and flax seed)
d) Mango + pineapple ( Add fresh coconut and yoghurt. Blend)
I hope you found these tips helpful. What are the other things you do to prepare for this blessed month? I would love to hear from you. Do let me know in the comments below.
Here is a free printable that you can print and write down your meal plan for the entire month of Ramadan. This will save you from the guesswork while preparing each day. Take some ideas from your spouse and children as to what they would like in Ramadan and plan your meals accordingly.
If you would like to have a detailed and productive Ramadan, try out this Ramadan Planner 2019, where you can have your daily activities logged on a single paper. This 2-page daily planner will be highly helpful as you can have a look at where your days in Ramadan is going. From tracking your meals to tracking your water intake, from tracking your prayers to your good deeds, this has it all. It will motivate you to do better and plan your day well, both spiritually and in terms of household affairs. Ramadan Planner 2019 is now available in my Etsy shop. Download this for a productive Ramadan.