Babajan Chowk in heart of the Camp area is always bustling with activity. But it’s that time of the year, when not only do crowds from across the city converge here, but there is a distinct aroma in the air.
The holy month of Ramzan has just started, and the month considered the most sacred by Muslims across the world – witnesses a period of abstinence from food, water and worldly pleasures and a complete dedication to Allah. The reason the Islamic calendar marks this month especially important is to commemorate god’s revelation of Islam’s holy book, the Quran, to Prophet Muhammad. An estimated 1.6 million Islam followers worldwide observe the ritual of fasting and prayers for 29 to 30 days, from dawn to dusk. Instead of carrying out their usual routine, during this period, Muslims focus on achieving self-discipline and reflection, while trying to understand the plight of those less fortunate. At sunrise they begin the fast with sehri and at sunset the fast ends with a feast known as iftaar, which is an amalgamation of all sorts of Mughlai dishes also seen as a celebration of food more than anything else.
In Pune, like in all other cities in the country, devout Muslims are seen heading to mosques to make it in time for the prayers but are soon after out on the streets devouring the delicacies specially dished out for the month. Pune is witness to a number of makeshift Iftaar stalls that turn the streets into a foodie’s paradise. It is celebration time not only for those who fast but the foodies get a chance to tuck into a special menu that presents itself only once a year. A tour around the city will allow you to soak in the festive moods and tantalise your taste buds. But the lit-up streets with effervescent stall-owners setting up an array of sumptuous kebabs, samosas and shahi tukda among the rest reveals a little more than what just meets the eyes. Just as the spices blend together creating decadent crispy samosas and the famous haleem, Ramzan sees the city crowd merging without any qualms about caste, creed or religion.
This year not much has changed, as people all over the city are working up an appetite to enjoy delicacies such as phirni or dalcha as Iftar stall owners gear themselves to continue innovating their menus and surprising their customers. As the usual names crop up across the city such as Sharif caterers and Hotel Imdadi, and as the sun sets every evening, the city comes alive with the sights, smell and sounds of Ramzan calling out to not just the ones clad in black and white but extending an open arm to all.
When Pune 365 visited the most frequented eatspots in Camp (Mominpura and Babajan Chowk) and Kondhwa (Kausar Bagh) on Tuesday evening, the action had just about begun. As regulars to these stalls will tell you, the crowds typically start descending from the first weekend after the start of the holy month.
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