Unexpected but very welcome guests

The other morning I received a phone call from my husband (he was at work) after the usual pleasantries he said, “ oh I spoke to A,” he began, “ …yes they are going to come for iftari this evening” my immediate reaction was how fantastic! The last time we saw A and his wife was Ramadan last year when they came to offer their condolences to us neither of us were great company that day. My second reaction was what do I cook? Followed by a moment of blind panic! My husband being concerned about snacks (Why??? We’re fasting!), decided to take charge of what he felt was important, crisps. However my concern was to cook something which was tasty, and secondly that it was plentiful. There really is nothing worse than opening a fast with a meal which is either unappetising or a meal which is appetising but there is clearly not enough. Having used up some of my squirreled supplies earlier on in the week, it was clear that kaufteh were not going to be on the menu. I knew that risotto was not going to cut it.

Despite going shopping on Sunday and placing random items into my trolley, we hadn’t really been shopping this week so preparing for the equivalent of a dinner party with limited time, ingredients and ability to think would normally have been challenging. Armed with minced beef, 4 chicken drumsticks and rice I began to think of my options. Nothing OTT or labour intensive but it had to be good, really good. I played with a few ideas in my head and after momentarily thinking of some form of chicken in rice (seeing as neither my husband or I like chicken in rice) I quickly dropped the idea. Fortunately the easiest option presented itself; the minced beef became keema and with baby potatoes, the chicken was marinated with yoghurt and spices and then cooked in the marinade along with aubergines and courgettes. The rice was fried and then steamed. I found an almond cake in the freezer. Suddenly it became very easy.

A, his wife and adorable toddler came round we ate, we laughed, we prayed, we enjoyed the company of our guests and we waved them off into the night. Wandering back to the kitchen I began to wonder the prescribed role of the host, religiously, and here lies the answer:

It was narrated that Abu Shurayh al-‘Adawi said: I heard with my own two ears and I saw with my own two eyes when the Prophet (pbuh) spoke and said: “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him honour his neighbour; whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him honour his guest as he is entitled.” It was said, ‘What is his entitlement, O Messenger of Allah?” He said, “[The best treatment] for one day and one night; and hospitality is for three days, and anything after that is charity bestowed upon him. And whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him, speak good words or else remain silent.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 5560; Muslim, 69. This version was narrated by al-Bukhaari.

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