This year again like last year, Ramadan has coincided with the dreadful pandemic. Nothing makes the heart grow heavier to know that people at large will not be able to enjoy the peaceful month like they used to in the good old days. But the drama must stop somewhere; at least psychologically we must be able to condition ourselves to beat the pandemic and that means staying at home when it is required, and maintaining social distancing as much as possible. We cannot let the virulent disease take over our sanity at any cost.
During any normal year, the time after the Isha prayers and the Taraweeh, is when we used to sit together as family and have a mini get-together amongst ourselves and the evening included our house help, chauffer and any invited guests for the evening. This is when we went through each other's lives and got to share stories of kindness and compassion.
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Light snacks or even tasty treats like haleem would be the centre of attraction, because at iftar we opted for lighter and healthier meals like fruits and juice instead of making our bellies full with heavy food. But that's a personal choice of course; I have known people who enjoy complete meals including appetisers and desserts during the iftar and that's wonderful as well.
One of my favourite dishes during the mini get-together moment is the beef-noodle soup and chop suey deshi style.
The recipes are tried and tested and have been an instant-hit amongst all the members of my family. So, for the goodness of the month, I am sharing my recipes here with you all, today. I really hope you enjoy it as much as we do.
BEEF NOODLE SOUP
1 tbsp olive oil
2 pounds roasted beef meat or beef stew meat
1 tbsp salt, I prefer kosher salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 large sized onion, chopped
2 tsp dried thyme; fresh thyme can also be used
1/4 tsp dried parsley
3 stalks celery
2 carrots sliced
5 cups of beef broth
2 packets of Mr. Noodles Egg Noodles, or Mr. Noodles Magic Masala
First add oil to a large pot on medium heat and let it heat for a while. Season beef with salt and pepper. Add the beef to the pot and sear on all sides over medium heat, for around 8-10 minutes. Add in the onions and cook Mr. Noodles Magic Masala until they become translucent. Add in the beef broth, thyme, parsley and bring to boil. Then remember to reduce the heat to low. Cook, uncovered for an hour. Finally add in the celery and carrots. Stir well and cook for 15 minutes. Serve immediately with special sauces like soy sauce or anything spicy. I like my beef noodle soup a bit tangy so I add in drops of lemon juice and a little bit of white vinegar with chopped green chillies.
Won't get into the debate whether this is an American variant or Chinese or a bit of both! To me, Chop suey is very much Bangladeshi, as I have been enjoying it since the late '80s and that's almost my entire life.
Stock, chicken stock preferred
Sauce blend (1 tbsp oyster sauce, with 1/2 tbsp soy sauce and 1/4 tsp sugar)
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/2 tsp white pepper
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 a ginger sliced into thin pieces
500g vegetables (celery, onions, bell pepper, cabbage, peas, bok choy, green beans, zucchini, beans sprouts, broccoli, etc.)
Noodles (fried) -Mr. Noodles Egg Noodles
Like any stir fry – chop suey can be made in an instant, so have the ingredients at the ready before starting to cook. For a deshi style chop suey, marinate the chicken beforehand with oyster sauce, a sprinkle of red chilli powder and corn flour. To make the sauce, thicken the chicken stock with corn starch and then add in sesame oil, white pepper, and oyster sauce, and set it aside.
Place a large frying pan on top of the stove, over medium-high heat and then add in the vegetable oil/olive oil, garlic and ginger. Swirl them around, until a sweet aroma fills the kitchen, but don't brown them as of yet.
Add in the celery, onions, carrots and bell pepper and continue to stir fry till the veggies are translucent, but still crisp. Don't overwork the veggies. Move the veggies to the side of the pan, place the meat in the centre and stir fry till most of the meat is cooked through and then toss it together like they show on TV. If you don't feel adventurous enough, skip this step. Just stir both the items together like you would regularly.
Add the cabbage and the peas at the end, since these items tend to soften earlier compared to the other veggies. Be careful not to overcook or they will lose colour and texture. Give the sauce a stir to recombine the settled starch and then pour it over the chop suey. Toss everything together until the sauce is nice and thick and has coated all of the ingredients. Add in lots of tomato-chilli sauce to make the chop suey taste more deshi and flavourful.
Serve the chop suey immediately on a plate of fried noodles or crispy noodles.
For fried noodles (quick version), rinse the Mr. Noodles Egg Noodles under hot water to separate them. Add 1 teaspoon oil to a pan, add the rinsed egg noodles into the same pan and fry it, 3-4 minutes per side or until brown and crispy.