The Ramadan month is a very exceptional time in Dubai, exhibiting great character and respect for the religious ethos in this region. This is also a special month for food lovers in the city, as all restaurants serve a special Iftar menu every evening. Iftar evenings feel quite celebratory on Dubai’s food scene with some grand feasts being hosted by the big hospitality names. It beautifully brings together the fasting and the non-fasting people, being able to understand each other’s culture and enjoy the spirit of local cuisine.
As the sunsets each Ramadan day, all the fasting Muslims devote their evening prayer and take the Iftar meal to break their day’s fast. Mostly they break their fast with a date or something light. I hold great respect for the people who demonstrate fasting perseverance the entire day, in the increasing summer heat, with a positive mind. For me Iftar signifies as the moment when the strength of these people is acknowledged.
I wanted to dedicate a recipe for this moment of Iftar. I have tried creating a recipe with Vermicelli, referencing the traditional Sevai (or Seviyan) prepared in India on Eid festival. Originally this vermicelli recipe is prepared with milk and lot of dry fruits. However, my version is inspired by the Ramadan spirit in Dubai. This vermicelli bowl with pinks and dates is a new flavor with a festive color, a note of the royal rose fragrance, a lot healthier and deservingly delicious for my friends who are fasting this month of Ramadan. I wish my you a pink date with my bowl of vermicelli at your Iftar.
Hope you enjoy my recipe “Pink Date with a Vermicelli Bowl” in the festivities of Eid 2019.
Some important details to make a sweet vermicelli
Choose the right vessel – As you will be simmering the link for long time to thicken it, using a heavy bottomed vessel with high walls is most effective. This kind of vessel will allow space for boiling and evaporating milk while prolonged simmering. Also this prevents burning of milk at the bottom.
NOTE: Avoid using non-stick coated utensil.
Best (but healthy) sweetener – Dessert guilt is a universal feeling. I love this dessert recipe so much because the most fitting sugar for this one is dates. It works perfect with the Arabic flavors and is a relatively healthy sweetener. However, If you prefer extra sweetness than just dates, then you can add some honey, agave or maple syrup (along with dates).
NOTE: Avoid using sugar substitutes like brown sugar, cane sugar or coconut palm sugar as they may have a strong odor or color that will take away from the taste/ fragrance of the thickened milk.
Choose the correct vermicelli – Using the short vermicelli that is used for cooking sevai or seviyan is must.
Full fat milk works best – This is a milk based recipe, that includes thickening of milk. Therefore, it is best to use full fat milk. Unfortunately, there are not many substitutes or options here. Even if you use low fat milk, you are eventually thickening and making it rich. So just stick to the full fat. Its ok to treat yourself on special occasions. Also, as you may have guessed by now, dairy free substitutes like Almond, Soy, Coconut milk won’t really work in this recipe too, as they will not thicken as well as regular milk.
Right time to stop thickening the milk – The process of thickening the milk requires true patience and precision. There can be short cuts to thicken the milk like using canned condensed milk, adding artificial flavors or adding some flour to thicken the milk. Skip all of this because nothing tastes as authentic as milk slow simmered for hours. However, during the thickening process it’s important to understand when to stop. Reducing the milk to about half (or a little more) of the original quantity is good. You should not thicken the milk so much that there is not enough fluid per vermicelli strand.
Let’s get started to cook this pink bowl of Sevai. Prepare this with love and offer to your family and friends. Ramadan Kareem to all of you!