Day Out

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The Independent Culture
When you have been fasting all day, there isn't much inclination to go out. But nothing can stop my three kids from their Sunday outings. By three o'clock the protests become unbearable and we drive down to Ambala in Drummond Street (071-387 7886). It's the only place to buy Indian sweetmeats and savoury nibblies like dhalmooth, Gujrati chevda and Bombay mix. The place is always crowded but during Ramadan the queue extends to the bottom of the street. The smell of all those ludus and jalabis is enough to calm the kids. We buy two pounds of mixed sweets: chum chum (my favourite), habshi halwa (now there is something that is finger-licking good), burfi and gulab jamuns.

Laden with Ambala goodies, we set off to the Lahore Kebab House (081-905 0930) in Kingsbury. This is the only branch of the legendary 'East London' Lahore Kebab House (071-481 9737). Inside, the atmosphere, reverberating as it always does with the quawwalis of Nusrat Fatahullah Khan, is not unlike a roadside cafe in the Punjab. We fight to get a seat, eventually secure the attention of the harassed waiters, and make our order. Seekh kebabs and tandoori roti for everyone, followed by karrai chicken and karrai karela. Karrai is a small wok used for cooking the food. Karela (bittergourd) must be the ugliest and most neglected vegetable in the world. It requires considerable skill to cook and the Lahore chefs have an absolute monopoly. And to drink: sweet lassi for the parents and passion fruit for the kids.

Back at our Colindale abode, we compete with each other in devouring the Ambala sweets. In the aftermath, the elders nurse their stomachs while the children go to bed.

Ziauddin Sardar is the author of Muhammad for Beginners (Icon Books, pounds 7.99) and presenter of 'Islamic Conversations', Sat 12.30pm, Channel 4.

(Photograph omitted)

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