The following is a piece published by Muftah staff writer, Francesca Recchia, in the blog OneLunarMonth. OneLunarMonth aims to document people’s experiences during the month of Ramadan.
During Ramadan the call for prayer in Bangalore seems louder, it seems more present and becomes an integral part of the rhythm of the day. And so does the transformation of the roads around small and big mosques across town.
When the sun is about to set, the lethargic quiet of the day is overtaken by a frenzy of activities: stalls and kiosks multiply, grills and barbecues pop up out of nowhere and the scent of food fills the air.
Last night we went with a group of friends (Sajjad, Riju, Sidharth, Kingsly, Ashwan, Deepak, Deepti, Pramod) in Mosque Road for Iftar, the meal that breaks the fast of the day. We were welcomed by tens of stalls and an incredible smell of roasted meat cooked in all sorts of different manners. The main mission – or rather the official alibi – of the evening was to begin my quest for the perfect haleem.
In order to get to the haleem, however, there is a specific “protocol” that needs to be followed and Sajjad is really keen on having things done properly: haleem is the climax of a crescendo of delights for the palate. We began with mutton and beef kebabs when I got the big surprise of the day: the discovery of a new culinary wonder, phal. Phal is a dish of beef strips marinated with salt, black pepper and some mysterious ingredient I could not identify, cooked on the grill and then fried. It seems it is a typical Bangalore recipe, a triumph of aromas to add to the top list of my favourites.
Phal was followed by a recce of the goodies on offer in the different stalls, the (rather unsuccessful) attempt to find something suitable for the vegetarians in the group and finally HALEEM! Two different versions, one with chicken and one with mutton. None of them were satisfactory: one too fat, the other too cold and with pieces of bones, which is a clear sign of a badly done job.
How disappointing! A wonderful kulfi, the ice cream made of condensed milk which I am really fond of, luckily came to the rescue.
The quest for the perfect haleem continues tonight, in a different neighbourhood where it is rumoured that the kebab is extraordinary.