The month of Ramzan is here, and where it brings countless blessings for the believers, it also means delicious food at iftars. And, when it comes to good food, how can the ‘zinda dilaans’ let a chance of this kind go?
Being a citizen of Lahore, I rarely miss an opportunity to taste the delicious cuisines that the city has to offer, and when Ramzan started I also joined my friends and folks for iftars a couple of times. I must confess, I not only got to eat some amazing food but also witnessed the ‘spirit’ of the month, as they say.
My first meal out this Ramzan was an iftar cum dinner. For this, I chose the old, historic food street.
Get close to the place, and you can’t escape the tempting smell of fried snacks mixed with the aroma of barbequed meat. It’s an atmosphere that a Lahori falls for, especially because you get to enjoy freshly prepared food served at your table under the sky full of stars.
Even night after iftar, I find families walking into the food street. The surprising part is that a lot of them come from areas quite far away. It is safe for me to conclude that the food street is equally loved by ‘foodies’ of this city and beyond.
The old food street is not the only place where the Lahoris show up in large numbers to break the fast. There are other, rather posh eateries in town that are also a favourite — be it a rooftop space on the vibrant MM Alam Road, or some cozy, dine-in restaurant in DHA. Every evening you see numerous vehicles coming in and leaving the bustling streets that are lined with restaurants.
Many of these restaurants offer reasonable, all-you-can-eat iftar deals as well, but of course not all of them are as economical as the old food street.
A relatively fresh trend of eating out at iftar time is people heading to the food courts of malls. Over the past few years, we have seen a number of huge shopping malls come up in the city, all of which boast impressive food courts. I was surprised when I went to a mall for iftar, a few days back, and found dozens if not hundreds of people eating at the food areas. As Maghreb time drew closer, the crowd grew so large that a lot of people could not find a place to sit, causing them to break their fast while standing up.
The lesson I learnt from my visit is that if you are going out for iftar on a weekend make sure that you have your seats reserved, or you’ll end up standing all the while.
One thing that I witnessed at most places was quite heartwarming: the people were quite patient, while standing in queues, and would leave their tables as just as they were done eating, so as to accommodate those waiting. Maybe that’s the spirit of Ramzan that we keep hearing about.
In the streets, it becomes even more pronounced. You see random people distributing dates and water bottles at Maghreb/iftar time so that those who can’t get back home in time are able to break their fast on the road.
Of course, there are lots of practices in the society that are still begging to change. The Lahoris love food; that’s an established fact, but it is also true that you are unlikely to consume all the food you are served, right after breaking your fast. We often end up wasting a lot of food. That brings me to the point that it is extremely important to order and/or prepare your food sensibly and efficiently. There are many people in the city who are not able to provide for themselves and their families, and sharing food from your platters is clearly much better than throwing away your half-eaten piles of food.