I love living in the US, that’s why I live here!! But with Ramadan here, many beats in my heart feel the absence of the excitement and gaiety that we experience back home during this religious time. The obsession of traditional sweets and savory snacks paired with tea specially comes back in Ramadan. I can eat almost any cuisine during the rest of the year but for breaking the fast, it has to be a royal Pakistani tea affair with dates as added bonus! This year when I rummaged through my mind on how to welcome Ramadan with our non-Muslim friends, I thought of the best combination from the East for Ramadan: sweet, savory and tea!Tea is a central and essential part of many cuisines in the world and when it comes to Pakistan and other South-East countries (or sub-continent as the region is called) hot black tea with milk and sugar is the most satisfying and mood-adjusting beverage of all seasons, weathers and occasions. The need for tea becomes more obvious during Ramadan. Water for tea is the first thing to be boiled when preparing the suhoor (the breakfast at the sunrise to begin the fast). The tea kettle is on again at the iftar time (the sunset snack/ dinner combination Muslims eat when breaking fast). Mostly at this hour, the tea is accompanied by a grouping of sweet and salty delights. Dates being specific to Ramadan grace the table and are first to be consumed followed by these yummy snacks and then dinner.
To bring that taste of Ramadan and tea for people who are important in mine and my families’ lives, I made little Ramadan gift boxes with a hint of this specific combination. Since not all the snacks that can be enjoyed with tea can be packed, I decided on the dry ones that could be stored at the room temperature and enjoyed by our dear friends. For sweet, I picked naan khatais, one of the oldest desserts of the subcontinent. Its closet kin would be shortbread cookie but with a distinct taste that separates itself from shortbread cookies. Usually the fresh naan khatais available at the bakeries in Pakistan look different from these but these did match the taste! For savory, I added dar biji -another favorite and hearty snack of the region. It is made with many different ingredients – flour noodles, dried and seasoned lentils and nuts. This one had peanuts, cashews with green lentils. To complete the experience, I included the black tea by Tapal. It is by far my most favorite and close to home tea for its taste. It has a very rich aroma. I combine this tea with cardamom pods or with Tetly cardamom tea bags that I order from Amazon or sometimes buy from local stores. I placed all three items in these cute boxes that I got from amazon. 4 x 4 x 2 in size, they are available in different colors. I chose fuchsia to bring traditional colors in my present. I made the decoration and insert and they are available both for the Ramadan Mubarak and for Eid Mubarak for the upcoming end of Ramadan celebration and are customizable for your informaiton. Should you need the box with its décor (no food included) as a finsihed product, feel free to email me.Here are the finished boxes…I hope you enjoyed this post and inpsiration. You can use number of things to put in these little boxes from pitted dates with almonds ensconed in them, loose tea instead of teabags or any other kind of mithai, baklawa etc. Happy Ramadan and may the blessings of Ramadan be with you!