As a child, I grew up learning not to ask too many questions, particularly those pertaining religious or cultural practices. It was always a matter of “because it is so”, and as much as my highly inquisitive mind would be the first to vehemently refuse that answer, more often than not, I would just skip away and ponder upon it while preparing my next dish out of Play-Doh.
With Ramadhan though, I’ve grown to realise that the answer lies not within what is explained by the older folks, but rather, what is distinctively learnt through each unique individual’s experience.
My mother once told me that amongst my siblings, I was the one who started fasting at the youngest age, around 4 or 5. Though I can’t remember much of my fasting experience as a child, I recall waking up excitedly (albeit sleepily) for suhoor, the pre-dawn meal we have to fuel up our bodies for the day’s fast. My mother would have prepared six glasses of Milo, for all of us to end our meals with, after which I would be sent back to bed, with the mother reading the niyyah (which states our intention of fasting the next day) with me.
Quite a number of children start fasting only for half a day, just to accustom their little bodies to the act of fasting the whole day, as well as for those who can’t abstain their thirst and hunger any longer. Lucky for me though, I never had half-day fasts, and plunged headlong into whole days of fasting altogether. Looking back I don’t think it was so much of will power as a child, as it was out of innocence, and well, not really knowing how to tell the time. I remember my mother would always say that it was going to be iftar (the fast-breaking meal at sunset) soon, even though her definition of ‘soon’ was really four to six hours away. I never thought much of it though, and simply looked forward to my dad’s return from work, after which he would bring my brother and I to a mini-mart near our place, to grab something for iftar, as a form of reward, so to speak.
I would always grab the same thing. Having abstained from food and drinks from dusk till dawn, one would reckon I would go crazy choosing food items, but nope, all I ever wanted was a grape-flavoured drink in an elephant-shaped bottle. It meant the world to me, and I remember feeling so special each time I had it during iftar, knowing that I had deserved it. After all these years, Ramadhan has grown to mean so much more than just a token reward, yet it is always the simplest of things, like these crunchy star-shaped cookies (which I’m sure the younger me would’ve loved), that brings me back to the time I identified Ramadhan with an elephant juice.
Rainbow Star Cookies
(adapted from Langkah Demi Langkah bersama Chef Anuar 2)
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 tbsp Nutella
1 egg yolk
200g plain flour
60-100g rainbow sprinkles
chocolate chips for decoration (optional)
- Mix butter, sugar and vanilla essence until light and fluffy.
- Add in Nutella, and mix well. Add in the egg yolk until it is fully incorporated.
- Stir in the flour and rainbow sprinkles, and knead to form a dough.
- Roll out the dough to about 7mm thick, and cut into your preferred shape(s). Decorate with a chocolate chip, or more rainbow sprinkles.
- Bake at 160°C for 20mins.
Previously on Ramadhan Baking:
Brown Butter Buttons