India-bound this month? Follow our insider's guide to etiquette, eating and spiritualism during Ramadan
The month of Ramadan can be an enlightening time to travel, and – as with any religious festivals – can be a great opportunity to learn more about faith and tradition. Wanderlust quizzed India aficionado Ivor Peters (aka the Urban Rajah), chef, traveller and author of Urban Rajah’s Curry Memoirs, about what travellers to India can expect...
Let's talk logistics. As a non-Muslim will I have to go hungry during the day?
In a country like India there’s always food available, but it’s good manners to use discretion if tucking in whilst others abstain.
How can I enter into the spirit of things - and avoid making a faux pas?
There’s some simple Ramadan etiquette; dress modestly, and use the Ramadan greeting ‘Ramadan Kareem’, (loosely translated as happy Ramadan). Obviously don’t offer food during daylight: respect this time of peaceful reflection, and perhaps consider fasting to experience a little of Ramadan for yourself.
Try to join a community Iftar, or find one run by a local mosque – it’s the closest you can get to immersing yourself in the experience. But don’t go empty handed: a box of Indian sweets always goes down well.
See Urban Rajah for more recipes!
250g gram (chickpea) flour
50g self-raising flour
½ tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp garam masala
Water to combine
300g potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
½ cauliflower, sliced, then cut across into small chunks
1 tsp cumin seeds
12 spinach leaves, finely chopped
1 onion, finely sliced
1 tsp chopped green chilli
Bunch of coriander leaves
Pinch of salt
Sunflower oil, for deep frying
Sift both flours into a bowl, spoon in the cayenne pepper and garam masala and combine. Gradually add water, tablespoon by tablespoon, and work to form a batter smooth and thick enough to cling to the back of a spoon. Leave to rest for 15 minutes.
Apart from the oil, tip in the rest of the ingredients, making sure everything is coated. Pour enough sunflower oil in a deep frying pan or wok, and heat until a dropped cumin seed fizzes and swims.
Carefully lower in tablespoons of the fritter mix. Work in batches, frying the vegetable pakoras for approximately 3 minutes on each side until they’ve taken on the colour of caramel and the vegetables are cooked through, crispy and light. Serve with a chutney of your choice.