Saima Khan, a Delhi University student, has her fruit salad ready for iftar at sunset. While the rest of her family feasts on a sumptuous meal of biryani and kebabs after the daily Ramadan fast, she is happy with her bowl of salad, sprouts and fruit juice.
“I fast religiously during Ramadan. However, unlike the rest of my family members, or for that matter the general trend, I don’t like eating rich, oily food during iftar. After the daylong fast, I would rather eat a bowl of fresh fruit that is more healthy and refreshing,” Khan told.
Like Khan, a growing number of health-conscious Muslim youngsters these days are moving away from heavy feasting during iftar – the fast-breaking meal in the Muslim holy month of Ramadan – and opting for lighter and more healthy food instead.
Therefore, instead of gorging on delicacies like haleem, which is made of mutton, lentils and wheat, korma and shammi kebabs, it’s more of sandwiches, burgers and fruits for the youngsters.
Likewise, during sehri, the meal before the break of dawn after which the daily fast – or roza – begins, they prefer a light refreshment of cornflakes and milk.
“During sehri, I don’t feel like eating anything heavy because it’s too early in the morning and during iftar in the evening, fried and oil rich food is not what I would like after a daylong fast,” said Sajid Mohammad, a young BPO employee in the capital.
“In today’s times, when the stress level is so high and keeping healthy is a challenge, most of my friends, like me, go for light food during iftar and sehri which would help us avoid indigestion.”
Parents, of course, are quite taken aback by this sudden trend during the month-long Ramadan, which began on September 2 this year.
“I was surprised when my 16-year-old daughter Shaheen pushed away her favourite biryani during iftar and ate fruits and cereals instead. When I tried explaining that the oil-rich food actually helps your body get back energy lost during the fast, she replied it was unhealthy to stress your body with too much fat-laden food!” said Nagma Hasan, a homemaker and mother of two girls.
According to M. Tayyab Siddiqui of Rae Bareli in Uttar Pradesh, youngsters in the metros today are so used to fast food that they would rather go for readymade stuff, which is more convenient, than tedious home cooked meals.
Similarly, Ambrin, a manager with Gopaljee Milk Products, said: “Changes in lifestyle, especially in metro cities, prompt today’s youngsters who are professionals and health conscious to go for light and low calorie meals instead of oil-laden ones.”
Religious heads, however, hold a different opinion on this growing trend. “The best food is that which is traditionally cooked at home. Not only does it give enough strength to the body, replenishing it after the daylong fast, but it is also a sunnah (practice of Prophet Mohammed),” Moulana Abdul Basit, the head priest of Mecca Masjid in Okhla.