This Ramadan, I’m all over porridge for suhoor, the pre-dawn meal that Muslims eat before fasting. Porridge is filling enough to get you through the day, simple enough to whip up when you’re only half awake and it is super delicious to boot. It’s definitely a change up to the traditional Arab suhoor featuring labneh, zaatar, eggs and the like!
I soak my oats at night, which helps remove the phytic acid they contain, making it easier for your body to digest and assimilate nutrients. It also speeds up the cooking process, and makes the oats super creamy. I always make sure my suhoors (and breakfasts) are macronutrient balanced to make sure that I am not hungry again within a few hours; that is, balance the carbohydrates in the oats with protein and fats.В
Please note that this recipe is very rough because, really, who measures porridge?
Base porridge recipe
- 1 heaped cup of rolled oats
- 2 tsp chia seeds (optional, but reduce liquid and increase cooking time if you omit)
- 3/4 c water
- Splash of lemon juice, apple cider vinegar or whey from yoghurt (You won’t taste this, it is just to improve digestion)
- 1 c full cream milk (Less for a creamier porridge, more for a runnier one. Non-dairy milk won’t be as creamy.)
- Sweeteners of choice to taste (I use 1 heaped tsp of raw honey. Can also use coconut sugar and real maple syrup.)
- At night, add the oats, chia, water and acid of choice to a small saucepan. Allow to soak overnight, leaving the pan on the bench-top.
- At suhoor time, add the milk to the soaked mixture and stir continuously until the porridge is thick and creamy. This takes between 5 to 10 minutes. Add extra splashes of milk if required. It will take slighty longer to thicken if you don’t use the chia.
- Add your sweetener off the heat.
Arab Fusion Flavours
For both these flavours, add a generous pour of Tahini and a spoon of honey in a small bowl. Mix together to create the delicious Sweet Tahini Sauce.
1. Turkish delight and halawa
Add a big splash of rose water to the porridge, along with a handful of frozen raspberries, a sprinkle of pistachio and a swirl of Sweet Tahini Sauce.
2. Caramelised banana sticky date
Add a few chopped dates and vanilla extract to the porridge while cooking. Meanwhile, slice a banana lengthways and fry in a pan greased with butter or coconut oil until caramelised. Top with nut butter of choice (peanut or almond butter would be lovely but I love it with… You guessed it! Sweet Tahini Sauce.) Add it all to the porridge to serve.
Add 1 tablespoon of cocoa to the porridge while cooking and top with roasted hazelnuts. Add a spoon of Nutella too, if you so desire. This dish is also wonderful with figs, but sadly they aren’t in season.
Add a finely diced apple (I prefer Granny Smith apples) and a good shake of cinnamon after adding the milk to the porridge, then continue to cook as per the above method.
Serve the porridge with sliced strawberries or raspberries and – here’s the fun bit – some dark chocolate (70% or higher, the darker the better). Let it melt into the hot porridge.
Add 1 tablespoon of cocoa and 1 teaspoon of orange zest while cooking the porridge. Top with orange slices, or – if you’re feeling fancy – orange segments.
7. Tangy Fruit
Add raspberries, chopped green apples and a little lemon zest to the porridge for a tangy feel.
These can be added to any of the above flavours as a garnish to complete the dish.
Crunchy honey and cardamon toasted nuts and seeds
Gently toast 1 tablespoon of almonds, 1 tablespoon of sunflower seeds and pepitas, 2 tablespoons of flaked coconut (optional), 1/4 teaspoon of ground cardamom, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and a pinch of sea salt with 1 teaspoon of honey on low heat. Allow to cool and harden slightly, then sprinkle over your porridge.
Crushed nuts, seeds, dried mulberries, Goji berries, raisins, bee pollen and toasted coconut flakes all make for equally tasty toppings to your porridge.
That should be enough porridge inspiration to last all month! If you make any of these concoctions, feel free to share them with me on Instagram. Enjoy!
By Mariam Metwally
Mariam is a HSC student with a love for health and food. She shares recipe ideas on Instagram @mariamseats.