Back to Basics

I’ve been a little slow of late and have not managed to post at all this Ramadan, so insh’Allah you will forgive me. It has been a very hard 5 days.

Many things have happened in the past year, however the strangest has been the discovery that a couple of people I know have moved away from Islam. No one has come out and said “this isn’t the path for me”, or perhaps they have but I haven’t digested the information correctly. Either way the only thing that I know is the way that way they spent Ramadan last year is very different to the way that they are spending Ramadan this year. I’m not judging them, if anything I don’t know what to do. There have been points in my life where, on reflection, I have done the wrong thing. It was the friends who didn’t lecture me who helped me come back to the right path. They were the ones who showed me the way, but did not force me to change my direction which helped enormously. They showed me love and included me in things. I guess I would like to emulate those people but in truth I don’t know how. I don’t know for certain that what helped me would help someone else. I don’t know what to say when someone says that Ramadan means nothing to them. I just know that I feel desperately sad for them, want to help them but simply don’t know how.

For many people Ramadan is about going above and beyond, they will pray long taraweehs, they’ll decide that they no longer want to watch television or listen to music, maybe they’ll spend the whole night praying…I don’t know but for someone who may have lost their way this might seem like too much. So what could one possibly say to the person is lost? To the person who is no longer sure of their Eman? I think I would suggest that my friends start by the little things in their life. If prayers no longer play a role in the persons life they could start with those, if they are drinking or taking drugs maybe abstain for the month, if they are partying maybe come home a little earlier. Step by step. Insh’Allah that will help bring them closer to Allah(swt) and be close enough to feel the benefit of Ramadan and fasting.

I’ll leave you with a pearl of wisdom from a friend of a friend “those that enter the the deen fast, leave the deen fast”, insh’Allah take things slowly. Step by step. Insh’Allah try, you are in our duas.

“o you who believe, enter Islam completely, and do not follow the footsteps of Satan. Surely, he is an open enemy for you;” Surah Al Baqara 208

Gluten Free Roti

This is one of those things that took me ages to perfect. This recipe is very simple and quite an accomplishment because not only does it taste good, but it puffs up in places. In addition you can adapt this to make parathas, because there is always someone in Ramadan who wants one!

You need:
1 part isapghal with the husk removed (this can be purchased with the husk removed from Asian shops)
5 parts doves farm gf flour
salt to taste

Mix the flour together with the isapghal and add a little water and leave it for about a minute (this helps the isapghal gel up) then add a bit more water until the flour comes together to form a ball. Don’t knead it. Just let the dough come together to form a ball.
Shape the dough into slightly larger than golf ball sized balls. Then in a gf floured plate flatten slightly and then using a rolling pin, roll out into circles. Heat up a cast iron flat pan (tavva) or frying pan until it is very hot. Then put the roti on to the pan and allow to cook for 1-2 mins on each side before holding it with tongs on a gas flame on each side allowing it to puff up.

Serve with butter or as a side to a main meal.

Ramadan is Very Nearly Here

Alhamdulilah, the beautiful month of Ramadan is just around the corner. Whilst I could carry on and talk about the blessings (and no doubt I probably will) the reality of another Summer Ramadan means that it is going to be hard. Iftari will be approximately 9pm here in the UK. How many of us actually eat that late normally? In a normal life, you go to work, come home and eat maybe immediately or perhaps an hour later but not so much later. It is without a doubt going to be hard. I know Ramadan is supposed to be hard. When Fajr is at 2:30am it is already hard without adding fasting into the equation.

So what can we do practically right now to make our lives easier? Here is my last minute guide to making things easier.

1.Do a freezer audit, write down a list of everything your freezer contains; after all there is no point in cooking endless portions of something if your freezer already contains it. Do the same for your store cupboards. Have a read of this post written when I had a tiny freezer, and alhamdulilah that freezer stored some amazing meals which made my life so much easier:

2.Cook double portions of every evening meal from today for the next ten days, it will mean that you have ten meals in your freezer that are already cooked, and it means for the days when it has all got too much or that you are just exhausted you have a meal ready and waiting. Failing everything you already have a third of your Ramadan cooking done…how fantastic is that?

3.Take the time now to prepare things like:
Uzbek Palov that need preparation now but when they come to the night are very quick and easy to cook.
I still can’t believe that last year I went into the kitchen 20 minutes before iftari. This meant I had free time for so many other things.

4.Create a menu planner. A rather simple idea, but it really does take the head ache out of wondering what to have for iftari when you are exhausted. If you are stuck for ideas, just follow what we ate in Ramadan 2011 and you’ll be eating your way around the world.

5.Assess your meals. Try not to fall into unhealthy Ramadan habit traps. Remember fried food every day before your meal will fill you up very quickly, make you thirsty the next day and of course pile on the weight. By all means have a few fried things but remember the days will be long and eating time will be short so our bodies need to stay healthy so that we can gain the most from Ramadan. Similarly try and avoid thirty of days of eating meat, it is hard to digest and most of us won’t be expending the same amount of calories as we do normally. Make sure to add fruit/vegetables with a high water content to your iftari starters. Fried vegetables may taste nicer, but raw vegetables will re-hydrate you.

6.Don’t go shopping for food without a list when you are hungry. You may be different but honestly every time I have come back with the strangest combination of ingredients and always come home asking myself, “why”? Well, to remind myself if no one else this is a great example of why this is a no-no!

7.Plan for sehri too. I always think it’s a great idea not to rely on sugar infused cereal to get you through a very long day (20 hours plus if you are in Scandinavia). Instead I try and eat food that is whole grain and filling. I find I struggle to function when I’m half-asleep and instead came up with a great idea ( thanks Japan!) to make up sehri bento boxes the night before. They are easy to do and mean that you just get up, eat, pray and with any luck fall asleep again.

8.Guests come in Ramadan. That is a fact of life and a good one too, because there are numerous hadiths about the reward for feeding a fasting person. It’s always nice though if guests can be considerate and realise the host has also had a long day!

9.Remember that (and I’m talking myself out of a blog here!) Ramadan is not just about eating, and with the shorter nights (especially the last third of the night will only be a couple of hours) you really want to focus on quick and easy meals so that you have plenty of time for ibadat. Looking at the calendar at the moment, its easy to imagine it getting to 10.30 on just a casual meal!

10.Finally remember to make a dua’ before and after every meal. Remember all those around the world without an iftari and try and do as much as you can do to help them, not only through dua’ but through your actions.

Insh’Allah may you have a truly blessed Ramadan, may your dua’s be answered and insh’Allah Allah(swt) will rain his mercy and blessings on us. Ameen.