Ramadan is coming up, and now is the perfect time to start thinking about how you can prepare for a smooth month ahead. Below you’ll find several make-ahead freezer-friendly recipes and ideas. I’ve also included tips on how you can freeze and reheat many of them.
I started getting wise about freezing a few months ago when I became a mom of two. I had to shed any food snobbery and really think about maximizing my time in the kitchen. What I found was that if you freeze the right things in the right way, there’s actually little to no detectable difference in the quality of most food.
Here are 3 helpful rules for Freezing:
- Water expands when frozen, so any food that can take a little dehydration will freeze well. Most South Asian foods (curried meats, lentils, beans, etc.) fit into that category.
- Reheat food in the way it was cooked. For example, curries reheat best on the stovetop since they were cooked there. An exception is – some foods (like banana bread) will lose too much moisture in the oven and it’s better to microwave them.
- Air is not your friend. Remove air as much as possible from bags and containers.
Keep in mind, you don’t need to feel overwhelmed by the thought of planning and prepping. I’ve found the best way to meal prep is to just add it on to something I’m already doing. For example, if I’m making cookies, I just make a double batch and freeze half of them after forming balls of cookie dough.
Freezer-Friendly Suhoor Recipes:
- Parathas: When preparing the dough, add a bit of oil to help them stay soft after freezing. Roll them out as you normally would, then place each uncooked paratha between parchment paper and freeze in an airtight container. When ready to cook, heat a pan over high heat and place the frozen paratha on the pan. Lower the heat to medium and cook, buttering and flipping as necessary.
- Pancakes: Prepare and freeze between parchment paper in an airtight container or bag. Microwave for about 10-15 seconds and then pan-fry again to get them crispy.
- Frittata: Freeze uncooked in a glass pan with a lid. When ready to bake, place from frozen into the oven and give some extra time to cook. I’ve tried (and loved) the recipe below with some extra red chili pepper.
- Baked goods: Most baked goods freeze very well as long as they’re tightly sealed. I’ve successfully frozen baked banana bread, french toast loaves, and of course cookie dough balls (breakfast cookies would be wonderful for Suhoor).
- Oats: I often make a double batch of oats and refrigerate half for later. I used to make steel cut oats in the slow cooker, but lately I’ve been making them in my Instant Pot. Microwave or reheat over the stovetop. Before serving, add a splash of milk to freshen them up and make them creamier.
Freezer-Friendly Iftar Recipes:
- Shami Kababs: Form into patties (don’t pan-fry yet) and freeze on a flat tray. Once firm, remove and place in an airtight ziplock bag or container.When ready to use, microwave on a plate until thawed and then dip in egg wash and pan-fry as needed. This recipes has stovetop and Instant Pot instructions.
- Seekh Kababs: Seekh kabab are another great freezer recipe. I’ve tried forming them into kabobs before cooking and after cooking, and they both work. If you freeze while they’re uncooked, don’t allow them to thaw but cook directly. If thawing from cooked, pan-fry to get a nice char.
- Aloo Ki Tikki (Potato Cutlets): I haven’t tried freezing these myself, but I’ve heard from many people who’ve successfully frozen them.
- Date balls/bars: Date balls or bars make an excellent option for both Suhoor and Iftar and freeze very well. For best results, freeze in an airtight container.
Freezer-Friendly Dinner Recipes:
Most South Asian dinner recipes are exceptionally freezer-friendly. After thawing, reheat over the stovetop on relatively high heat with a little bit of water for a like-new taste. Garnish and serve.
Freezer-Friendly Lentil & Legume Curries
- Dals are perfect for freezing. I prefer to freeze dal without finishing it with a tarka (tempering). After thawing, reheat on the stovetop and add the tarka for a completely fresh dal.
- Chickpeas: Beans are also wonderful to freeze. Allow to thaw, then reheat over the stovetop.
Freezer-Friendly Meat Curries
- Kofta: These can be frozen by themselves before cooking. You can also make the entire curry and then freeze. Allow to thaw, then gently reheat over the stovetop.
- Keema: Other than potatoes (which lose texture and taste when frozen) most vegetables can be frozen along with curries. Keema serves as an excellent filler or topping for samosas, puff pastries, pasta, and so much more. Simply freeze in an airtight container.
- Chicken Curries: To reheat chicken curries, thaw to room temperature and then reheat over the stovetop on medium-high heat. Add a splash of water to make up for the dehydration. Be careful not to heat too much to prevent any breaking of the chicken.
- Baked Tandoori Chicken Curry: This can be frozen in its marinade before being baked. Place into the oven directly to cook.
- Haleem: As with dal, add the final tadka after thawing it.
Freezer-Friendly Vegetarian Curries
I find cooked vegetables do not freeze well if they have a high water content. Though you could freeze curries like Zucchini (Courgette) curry, they may not taste as delicious as their pre-frozen versions.
- Saag: A wonderful freezer-friendly vegetarian recipe. As always, for best results, freeze before topping with tadka.
- Baingan Bharta: Because of it’s naturally puréed texture, Baingan Bharta makes a great freezer-friendly vegetarian recipe.
- Naan: These gluten-free naan freeze wonderfully. Microwave them covered in a paper towel (no need to thaw) or reheat over the stovetop.
Freezer-Friendly Dessert Recipes:
- Carrot Halwa: I’ve had great luck freezing and reheating Carrot Halwa over the stovetop.
- Panjeeri: Leave out the exotic ingredients (fox nuts, kamarkas, etc.) and you’ve got a wonderful snack of semolina, wheat, nuts, and raisins that’ll fuel you throughout the nights of Ramadan. Thaw at room temperature and it’s ready to eat.
If you try any of these recipes or freeze them, do share with me in the comments or on Instagram. Also, I’d love to hear about your freezer-friendly recipes too. Thank you for reading!
Freezer-Friendly (Make Ahead) Ramadan Recipes Including Easy Shami Kabob (Instant Pot and Stovetop)
- 1 tbsp coriander seeds
- 2 tsp whole black peppercorns
- 2 inch piece cinnamon stick broken into a couple pieces
- 1 small black cardamom
- 2 green cardamom pods seeds removed and pod discarded
- 8-10 whole cloves
- 1.5 lb ground beef
- 1 1/2 cup chana dal (yellow split peas) washed and soaked for 30 minutes, then drained
- 1 cup water* for Instant Pot
- 1 medium to large onion roughly chopped
- 8-10 garlic cloves
- 1 ” piece ginger minced or crushed
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2-1 tbsp red chili flakes
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1/2 tsp chaat masala optional
- 1 small onion coarsely chopped
- 1 thai or Serrano green chili pepper stems removed and roughly chopped
- ½ cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
- 1-2 tbsp mint leaves
- 1 egg whisked
For pan-frying or baking
- neutral oil as needed
- 1-2 eggs whisked
- Add all of the ingredients listed under ‘Whole Spices’ in a spice grinder and grind until a powder is formed. You may also crush them in a mortar and pestle, though this will be more tedious. This will come to around 2 ½ tbsp ground spices. Set aside.
Instant Pot Instructions
- In the Instant Pot, add all of the ingredients listed under ‘To Cook’ as well as the freshly ground spices. Mix very well to combine.
- Secure the lid and set the Pressure Release to Sealing. Select the Pressure Cook setting and set the cook time for 20 minutes at high pressure.
- Let the pressure release naturally for 5 minutes, and then move the Pressure Release to Venting to release any remaining steam. Open the pot and select the high Sauté setting.
- Sauté, stirring often, for 10 minutes, or until all the moisture has evaporated and the mixture starts sticking to the bottom. Turn off the Instant pot and allow the mixture to cool. Remove the bay leaf.
- In a medium dutch oven, add all of the ingredients listed under 'To Cook' along with the freshly ground spices and 5 1/2 cups of water. Mix well to combine. Bring to a boil over high heat. Use a slotted spoon to skim off any scum that rises to the surface.
- Place the lid ajar and continue to cook on high heat for 55 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the chana dal (yellow split peas) is completely cooked. During the last 10-15 minutes, stir frequently to completely evaporate any moisture. Turn the heat off and allow to cool.
- Combine the onion, green chili peppers, cilantro, and mint in the bowl of a food processor. Use the pulse setting to finely chop (but not blend) this mixture. Transfer to a large bowl.
- Add the cooled beef and lentil mixture from the Instant Pot to the food processor. In batches, process this mixture until smooth. Then add to the large bowl with the chopped onion mixture. Mix well, then taste and add salt, if desired. Add the whisked egg and mix to combine.
- Using your hands, shape ¼ cup heaped of the mixture into a flat, round patty about 2 3/4 inches in diameter. Continue with the rest of the mixture. You will have around 20-22 patties. If you wish to freeze them, do so at this point.*
- Place the egg in a shallow bowl so that you can dip the kababs as you cook. Heat a large skillet, frying pan, or cast iron pan over medium-high heat. Add enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan.
- Dip both sides of each patty into the egg wash. Place 3-5 patties in the pan and allow them to cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, using a spatula to turn them over. Be careful not to crowd them too much or it will be harder to turn them. Reduce heat as necessary.
- Remove from the pan, and place on a plate lined with a paper towel to absorb any extra oil. Repeat until you have finished pan-frying all the patties. Cook any leftover egg in the remaining oil and serve with the patties.