To Re-Tweet Or Not To Re-Tweet

How long has it been since the Israeli bombardement of Gaza began? Honestly I can’t remember exactly. All I do know is that every night I sit in my house with family around me and I eat my iftari, pray and then wander along to watch the news. The news recently has not ceased to surprise and shock me. My blood runs cold when I watch how families are sat in their houses and are bombed, when children playing on the beach are killed, when a nurse operating in surgery has her arm amputated by shrapnel. All the while the world turns the other way.

In recent days there has been a lot of discussion on social media as well as in the main stream press about individuals who choose to retweet images of the dead/wounded. Many bloggers and members of the press have come out in force to say this is macabre, indeed it is, furthermore they have gone on to say that nothing is to be achieved by doing this. This is where I firmly disagree. Before turning away please let me explain.

In the age before social media, news about what happened in Palestine or indeed anywhere was limited to the main stream media. If a story was not in the public interest, or was not ‘interesting’ enough to make the news it simply did not make the news. Lots of stories don’t make the news, we just don’t know about them. If it weren’t for social media I, for one, would not know that there have been demonstrations in nearly every European capital against the bombardment of Gaza and yet in the UK we can see Gaza sliding down the news agenda. Public noise via demonstrations have been downplayed. The fact is we, muslims, are over 1.6 billion in the world and yet the world cannot hear us.

War is horrible. It is dispicable. No one should have to witness war. Our lives would be so much easier if we did not know about what goes on in war zones. Or without seeing those four little boys playing on the beach, seeing them so full of life and then them being gone the next? Would you feel more comfortable not seeing a tiny bundle not wrapped in a white blanket but in the white funeral cloth? It is not easy to see. It is not easy to retweet but the world needs to know what is happening in Palestine and in other forgotten non high profile war zones. Retweeting creates a hashtag, a noise that becomes hard for main stream media to ignore. Retweeting enables people who are surrounded by destruction and death to do something. They are telling the world their story. Unedited.

900 children (according to UNICEF 22/07/2014) have been injured in Gaza since the latest Israeli operation began. How many of those injuries will be life changing? How many of those children know where they will sleep tonight? How many will have their parents to snuggle into? How many of those children get to choose what they have for dinner? A handful, if they are lucky. We may not be their parents, we may have our own babies sleeping in our beds or children snuggling into us but we all owe it to the Palestinian parents who are no longer here to share their story, to show the world what attrocities are being carried out in the name of legitimate defence. We must not allow the world to ignore the forgotten.

I pray with all my heart and soul that this is the last time the Palestinians have to endure such pain and suffering; that they will be free; that they cease to be opressed; that the world wakes up and stops their suffering Ameen.

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Olive and Chilli Pasta Bake

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The second night of Ramadan and another quick and easy to assemble iftari for us. We decided to have pasta bake, simply because it was sooooo wet that day that the mere thought of something hot from the oven was very appetising. Yup, there is something so wrong with wanting things hot from the oven in July!
This is one of those dishes that I make so frequently with whatever is to hand. Essentially it was a very simple pasta sauce made by frying onions, garlic and a good pinch of chilli flakes followed by a couple of tablespoons of ground black olive paste and bottle of passata. Allow it to simmer then season. Pour in your cooked pasta, toss around and then top with fresh mozzarella cheese and bake in the oven just until the top is crispy. It hit the spot for me on a very soggy day.

 

Quick Turkish Pizza Lahmajun/Lahmacun

With the days being so long I’ve been trying to make things for Iftar that aren’t so time consuming or require less washing up; anything to save time. One of the things I did before Ramadan was to make up batches of cooked beef mince with spices and then froze it. Hardly rocket science in the land of tips but it does save time. I know it doesn’t take long to cook mince but sometimes its the combination of things in a recipe that makes things more time consuming. I tried to make the mince filled with spice and not heat so that it could be adapted to make things like Bolognaise etc.

So on to last night, I decided to go with Lahmajun (Turkish pizza). I have to be very upfront and say I really don’t like keema pizza and while in some parts of the world the keema pizza has a cult status I am firmly not a fan. To a certain extent while this does sound like keema pizza the end result was nothing like it. Tradionally the raw mince is spiced and then mixed with finely ground peppers. Generally people don’t put cheese on this which is why I think was willing to give it a go. As my objective was to save time I used a shop bought pizza dough and used my pre cooked mince (now defrosted) mixed with finely chopped peppers (done in a food processor) and fresh corriander. You need a ratio of 50:50 for the mince to peppers. The addition of the peppers makes the mince a lot lighter.

Simply roll out your dough, press on your pepper-mince mix and you are good to go! Cook the pizza according to the instructions on the dough then serve up wedges of lemon, a simple salad of onions and tomatoes. Before you eat pile on the salad and squeeze on the lemon juice! All is good!

I also made up a batch of guacamole to serve along with this as I wasn’t sure if the mince would be too dry. While it probably is extreme fusion it was a perfect accompaniment to the meal as there was none left! Enjoy!

29th June – 1st of Ramadan

Alhamdulilah Ramadan is here, I must admit my focus was mainly on survivng the day rather than excelling in the extras. If you found it easy, great if you managed loads of extras great. For me I survived and frankly that was quite an achievement for me. I have loads of ‘mileage’ on my Ramadan clock but the truth is I do find it hard. This isn’t a case of ‘woe is me’ but honesty.

Sehri

With the long (wet and warm) days ahead I thought a lot about what types of things would be good for sehri/suhoor. In the end I opted for something that I have become quite fond of quite recently; overnight oats with chia seeds. Simply choose a jar, put in a portion of oats (I use gluten free oats) add in a table spoon of chia seeds, then add in some thing you like, dried fruit, nuts, nut butter, then fill with milk put the lid on and then leave in the fridge. Normally I would make this before. I go to bed but because our ‘nights’ are so short – about 5 hours in the UK – I try and do this first thing in the morning or you could do it when you get home from work. Once you get into the rhythm of doing this it is quite easy. It is also good if you are in a larger family as everyone has a portion sorted and there is no risk of running out of milk at 2:30am. I had mine with a simple fruit salad of watermelon and chopped apple ( a quick dunk in lemon/vinegar water to prevent the apple going brown). In true paranoid Ramadan style I put out a bread roll for myself but was so full I couldn’t bring myself to eat any more.

My husband decided to stick to simple things and had a bowl of cereal with some waffles I had made earlier in the day. We both had the mandatory date, a smoothie and lots of water.

Iftari

I decided to go with an Arab inspired meal for iftari not in the least authentic but everyone loved it and it required very little effort for which it earns bonus brownie points!

For the lamb (serves 4)
1/2 a small leg of lamb chopped into to cubes
1/2 onion sliced
1 aubergine chopped into cubes
1 tablespoon of fresh garlic minced
1 tablespoon of fresh ginger minced
2 teaspoons of Rose flavoured Harissa paste
1 teaspoon chilli flakes
1 tablespoon of a spice mix containing equal quantities of:allspice, white pepper, cinammon, ginger, nutmeg, mahlab, sumac and cardamon
2 tablespoons pomegrenate molasses
2 tablespoon olive oil
4 quarters of sunblush tomatoes chopped up finely
A handful of olives

Place all the ingredients in to an ovenproof dish and mix well.
Leave to marinade for at least 3 hours but not longer than 12 hours.
2 hours before ifari cover the dish with ovenproof foil and put in the oven at 190 degrees centigrade
Check on it from time to time to stir the ingredients.
This should be ready about 10 minutes before hand when the meat is soft and tender.

Haloumi
I did a similar thing with 200g of haloumi leaving out the chilli and aubergine. Bringing the quanties of all the spices/ pastes down to a teaspoon. This went into the oven 30 mins ( also covered) before iftari. Coming out the same time as the lamb.

I served this with shop bought roti, fresh hummus, an undressed salad. I had gluten free shop bought wraps by Be Free Foods.

Today was also a family birthday so dessert was a home made birthday cake.