It’s the 15th day of Ramadan already which means that technically today we have just passed the half way point. This year, like the previous two, I am fasting from sunset to sunrise – about 3.50 am through to 7.15 pm. Breaking fast at Iftar time is an important part of Ramadan for those who celebrate it and usually the fast is broken with something light.
This year the focus has been on breaking fast with something that is light, nutritious, tasty and easy to make. The first thing I always reach for as the Magrib (sunset) prayers are called is a large glass of chilled water along with three dates (Khalas are one of my favorite dates) a small glass of laban and a bowl of homemade soup. This year I have made different soups every 2-3 days using the book, Magic Soup as my inspiration. I reviewed Magic Soup for FoodeMag Dxb about a year ago now, and each time I pick up the book I’m inspired to get back in the kitchen and cook soup. The book covers everything from bone broths (suddenly trendy though my Grandma has been cooking them for years) through to hearty big bowls of soup which can easily replace a meal.
My Ramadan plan this year was to keep making different soups using inspiration from the Magic Soup book, always with a twist since I find it hard to completely stick to a recipe, and not to repeat a recipe twice. The aim was to cook simple soups with the majority of ingredients being those which I hold in my kitchen cupboards or simple to source ingredients which are fairly inexpensive. Partly for my budget, but also partly to try to stick to some of the principles of Ramadan, as well as an extremely sacred and religious period for Muslims, Ramadan is an important time to focus on family and friends and not on lavish food. This Spicy Roasted Tomato and Garlic Soup has proven to be a firm winner since it’s easy to make, nutritious, extremely tasty and fairly quick to make and costs less than 20/AED for the batch*
*1 kg tomatoes (15/AED) Everything else was in my kitchen cupboards.
Spicy Roast Tomato & Garlic Soup
This soup tastes great both hot or chilled so works year round. Roasting the tomatoes and garlic intensifies the flavors. I can guarantee once you’ve made this you won’t go back to the canned stuff again.
SERVINGS | 8 people
DIFFICULTY | Easy
1 Kg Ripe Tomatoes
5 or 6 cloves of garlic
Good glug of olive oil
2 x vegetable stock cubes (or your own vegetable stock)
2 liters water
1 Tbsp Paprika or Tandoori Spice (note you can change the spices if you wish)
1/2 Tsp Chilli powder
Salt & Pepper to season
Cut the tomatoes into quarters and place in a deep roasting tin
Add the peeled garlic cloves
Sprinkle on the spices and salt & pepper
Drizzle the olive oil over the tomatoes (approx 2 Tbsp)
Put tin in a hot oven (200c) and roast for approx 1 hour
Turn oven off and leave pan in the oven for a further hour or so (this intensifies the flavors but if you are in a rush you can skip this part).
Place the tomatoes, garlic and juices in a large saucepan or slow cooker (I have a multi cooker)
Add the stock cubes and about 2 liters of hot water* – or your own vegetable stock (*I always use hot water from my Zip Water Tap which speeds up the cooking process)
Bring water to the boil and simmer for approximately 30 minutes
Use an immersion blender or blender to blend the soup until it’s smooth – Caution the liquid is hot so go careful.
Serving Tips :
Serve as is or add a dash of cream for a decadent touch
I like to serve with hot flatbreads (recipe below) dotted with just a tiny bit of salted butter
Leftovers can be chilled and will keep for a few days in the fridge, or will freeze well too.
Serve hot or cold – it works equally well.
These are quick and easy to make during the last fifteen minutes before the soup is ready. You can add chopped herbs, spices or my favourite middle eastern spice Zaatar to the flatbreads if you want to add a bit of variety.
SERVINGS | Makes 4
TIME | 10 minutes
DIFFICULTY | Eas
200g flour – you can use fancy flour if you want, but I often use whatever is in the cupboard, in this case all purpose flour
2-3 Tbsp Cold Water – I use sparkling water from my ZipWater Tap as I find it makes the dough just a little bit lighter.
Olive oil for cooking
Dab of butter for serving (optional)
Put the flour in a small mixing bowl
Add the water slowly and keep mixing with a spoon until the water and flour are incorporated into a soft dough
If the dough is a little too sticky add some more flour until the dough is not sticky, conversely if the dough is a bit flaky and dry add a little more water
Sprinkle some flour on your work surface and tip the dough onto the flour.
Split the dough into four equal portions
Roll each portion into a ball then use a rolling pin (or glass if you don’t have one) to roll the dough into a circle shape approx 3 mms deep (don’t worry if you can’t get a circle it doesn’t matter too much)
Repeat until you have 4 roti.
Heat your frying pan until it’s hot, add a little bit of olive oil
Add the flatbread to the pan and fry for approx 1 minute on each side until it’s light brown and crispy. I often add some Zaatar at this stage to make Zaatar flatbread which goes well with the tomato soup.
Keep warm and serve with the soup, I like to add a tiny bit of butter on the flatbread for extra flavor
For the last six months I have tried a Zip Water tap which was installed in my kitchen and replaces my normal tap and my kettle too! Since it’s been installed it’s made a huge difference to the way I work in my kitchen.
Hot Water on Tap
The tap is super clever it dispenses boiling hot water at the press of a button, so bye-bye kettle and reboiled water which always tasted a bit nasty. Bye bye limescale buildup too and that bit of chalky sediment that used to build up in my kettle. Hello hot water dispensed as and when I need it, particularly great for my coffee addiction as I can alter the temperature of the water so it’s perfect for brewing freshly ground coffee, or turned up a bit higher for perfectly brewed tea. Cooking vegetables, rice, pasta and making soup etc is also that bit quicker since I always start with boiling hot water. I also use the boiling function to give the sink a quick rinse especially after I’ve done a round of washing up – it keeps germs at bay and the grease away.
Cold Water On Tap
It dispenses sparkling water which I adore, hello healthy fizzy drinks – simply dispense some fizzy water and add some flavoring of your choice. Since I’m avoiding sugar, I choose slices of lemon or lime, a dash of apple cider vinegar or gently infuse some cucumber and berries for something a little more refreshing. For inspiration on flavoured waters read my article in FoodeMag dxb here >> Water – an essential to life
Unlimited amounts of filtered chilled Water is also on tap, no need to get water delivered by security and no need for a separate water cooler taking up space, or for a fridge full of water bottles, not just a pain to keep but also a huge impact on the environment.
Washing Up & The Environment
Washing up water comes from the same tap which dispenses hot and cold water from the building supply and since I don’t have a dish washer I can wash up easy using the water from here with a top up from the boiling water supply if needed. No more having to leave the spare bedroom water heater on just to have hot water in the kitchen tap for washing up (crazy plumbing I know).
Zip Water Tap in Practice :
The tap comes in different styles and colors etc to suit your kitchen and/or workspace. Different taps also come with different specifications depending on your needs. As well as the tap, there is also an under-counter control centre which takes up the majority of space in the cupboard under the sink. The control box controls all the variables with the water e.g. temperature, dispensing time etc and monitors use. My option includes a C02 tank for sparkling water as well as a filter. The system tells you when things need to be changed, or when a service is required. Based on my current consumption it looks like the filter will last about a year before needing to be changed.
Installation took a few hours with access to the building water supply and an electrical supply being required. Since I rent my place, the team were able to install this with minimal changes to my kitchen which should mean I have a happy landlord when I move.
For the first few days I noticed the noise of the unit as water was heated and/or chilled, however this is now a background noise which I have become used to and rarely hear.
Drinking Dubai Water
The water that comes from your kitchen tap is desalinated water (sea water) which has had the salt removed, been filtered and treated to prevent bacteria growth and then converted into safe drinking water. In general, it’s perfectly safe to drink this water, however before the water makes it to your tap, it’s usually stored in an on-site water tank which needs to be regularly maintained and if not could cause issues. Most people who I know tend not to rely on their building water being drinkable and so tend to drink bottled water which is delivered to their house/apartment.
Safe to drink
Using the Zip Water Tap means that water from my building water tank is processed through a micro filter which removes any dirt or contaminants and is then dispensed directly from the tap. It also means that I am now confident that the water I am drinking is safe and I no longer buy bottled water.
Filtered Cold drinking water is always on tap and comes either was plain chilled water or sparkling water, depending on how you want it dispensed. There’s also an option for plain unfiltered tap temperature water, perfect for washing up, rinsing items etc. I know I seem obsessed by washing up, but if you don’t have a dishwasher and you like cooking, washing up is a necessary evil lols.
The hot water option allows for the ‘boiling’ temperature to be adjusted which is really handy if you are a bit of a coffee snob like me and is super safe to use with a built-in safety system which means the tap stops dispensing water the moment both buttons are not being pressed. Equally the tap does not get hot to the touch so it’s safe in that respect too.
From a convenience point of view, I no longer have to remember to order water from building security and rely on him delivering when I need it. Nor do I have to plan and/or store large water bottles in my apartment.
My chiller unit has been donated to someone who needed it and I no longer boil countless kettles full of water when I fill flasks for my #ChaiPopUp (Tea for the Taxi Guys) nor do I have to wait for water to come to the boil for cooking vegetables in etc.
I find that I’m drinking a lot more water now, particularly sparkling water as it’s readily available and always ‘on tap’ so to speak. In fact, since having the tap, I have completely moved away from buying any form of sparkling diet beverages and flavoured sparkling water and so my ‘soft drink’ habit has changed dramatically.
On average I think I save a minimum of AED 50/week (3 x 5 gallon bottles and 6 bottles sparkling water) on buying in water, not to mention the reduction in water bottles going to landfill.
[Disclaimer : I was gifted the Zip Hydrotap by Zip Water. All opinions are my own based on extensive usage of the Zip Water tap in my apartment. More details on www.zipwater.com]
[Images : Header image from Pixabay represents the essence of the soup and the flatbreads and is for reference only. The rest of the images were shot by a slightly dehydrated and tired me after a day of fasting with artificial light on my phone, so are not up to my usual standard, but represent the real challenges of cooking and shooting images after fasting (well my reality anyways).]