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.

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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
water

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.