Lemon and Mint Cooler

I made a batch of this drink up yesterday evening while cooking something else and have to say it tastes really good. It is easy to do and makes a change. This isn’t an intensely sweet syrup, instead it is delicate and refreshing. Sterilise a jam jar with a lid and keep this in the fridge for up to a week.

1 and 1/2 jam jars of water
100 grams of sugar
½ a lemon (juice and skin)
5 sprigs of mint

Wash the lemon and mint. Place the water and sugar in a pan and heat until the sugar has dissolved. Add the juice of half a lemon. Switch the heat off. Cut the skin off the lemon making sure not to include the pith (the white bit this is bitter). Put the skin in the pan and bring to boil once. Then add the mint while the heat is on and bring to boil once more. Switch off and allow the temperature to come down with the mint and the lemon skin still in the water. Once it is warm, strain into the sterilised jam jar and place the lid on the jar. Place the jam jar in another container of cooler water to help bring the temperature down.

Fill a glass with ice, or not (I didn’t have any), add mint sprigs and lemon wedges. Use 1 part cooler to 10 parts cold water.

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Ramadan Kareem

Assalam alaykum,

Ramadan has been confirmed as starting on Wednesday (the rights and wrongs of virtually the whole world starting on Wednesday is a whole other subject) inshallah – Ramadan Kareem. Inshallah we will be able to make the most of this blessed month, by our actions, our fasts, our prayers and our duas. Inshallah these will all be accepted.

The weather in the UK is getting rather hot surprisingly meaning that we have gone from a fairly cold June to proper full on heat in July. On one hand this is great but with fasting in mind I know I am going to find it really tough.

While not fasting all I am thinking about is cool drinks. A variant on the watermelon ginger drink is 50:50 watermelon and strawberries in a blender, sieved and topped again with chilled sparkling water.

Something that I have become quite fond of over the past couple of years is Gazpacho – a chilled soup from Spain. If you think about it as cold soup there is a mental barrier to climb. However it is much more like a drinkable salad. I think this would fit in really well for iftari, particularly for the time between opening the fast and before pra ying magrib particularly if you follow the: open fast – have something to munch on – pray magrib – eat iftari way of doing things. This is filling as it contains water containing vegetables so it rehydrates which is very important at this time of the year. It is also gentle on the stomach. Importantly, it means that your body has something to process before you start eating properly.

As with many recipes, there are many ways to make this. I choose not to add bread in mine as a) I am gluten free and b)I don’t feel as the bread adds anything to the dish. Don’t add onions and spice to this as this will make it less of a drink and more of a spicy dip. You should be able to taste the olive oil and the vegetables. I, for one, will be looking forward to a cool glass of this tomorrow evening inshallah!

Gazpacho

For a small quantity (4 shot glasses) I used
2 medium ripe and juicy tomatoes – the reddest you can find
3 inches of cucumber
½ a pepper – colour is irrelevant
1 clove of garlic
a squeeze of lemon juice
2 drops of vinegar
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

For larger quantities I try and keep to the following proportions:

2 parts tomato
1 part cucumber
1 part pepper
Garlic, olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste

All whizzed up in a food processor. I like to leave mine so that there are small bits to chew on rather than a fine puré. Keep this chilled in the fridge before serving. Resist the temptation to add ice cubes as this will just water down the taste. I serve mine in shot/small glasses with a teaspoon or when we have more people I place into jugs so that people can help themselves. Enjoy !!

Once again Ramadan Kareem, inshallah our duas will be answered. While fasting this month remember to remember those in our duas who we don’t know and will probably never meet but they are like us, muslims, fasting in extraordinary circumstances throughout the world uncertain as to what the evening will bring. May Allah (swt) ease their pain, give them stability, give them food, give them water, give them safety, give their children a secure future ameen. Finally please remember the orphans or children without families in your duas…their needs are far more greater than ours…ameen.

Ramadan is Around the Corner

With Ramadan just around the corner, one can’t help but feel excited, and if I’m honest a little nervous. For medical reasons I was unable to fast last year during Ramadan so I missed out on fasting in summer. This year in effect is my first season of summer fasting for quite some time. With temperatures in the UK set to rise to 30 degrees (normal in hot countries) it is going to be hard.

Most of us are very aware that during the month of Ramadan it is our golden opportunity to assess our actions of the year before and make the most of the blessed month that is to come. Every moment during Ramadan enables us to get closer to Allah(swt) and stay away from the Shaitan and his agents:

Sahih Bukhari :: Book# 31 :: Hadith# 123
Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Apostle said, “When the month of Ramadan starts, the gates of the heaven are opened and the gates of Hell are closed and the devils are chained.

How many of us though are guilty of other wrong doings while fasting? I, myself, at times in my life have had to question my actions while fasting. In the ‘speed’ of my life I was happy that I was fasting and keeping up with Ramadan, it wasn’t until a particular occasion that I suddenly had one of those “Aha” moments where I had to question what I was doing and ask myself was it totally in opposition of the whole ethos of Ramadan. What I was doing is irrelevant, but what is relevant is that I realised and that I was able to assess my actions and make a positive change. Inshallah keep in your mind while going about your ‘normal’ day to day actions that sadly if we are still doing wrong things while fasting, it is as we are not fasting. I don’t intend to sit on a pedestal say I am in a state of perfection more that I am reminding you while I am re-reminding myself to watch what I say, do, think etc.

Sahih Bukhari :: Book# 31 :: Hadith# 127
Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, “Whoever does not give up forged speech and evil actions, Allah is not in need of his leaving his food and drink (i.e. Allah will not accept his fasting.)”

Watermelon, strawberry, mint and ginger cooler

I made this drink on a hot day and have got to say this is lovely. I think during hot weather Ramadan it is very easy to reach for juice or fizzy drinks immediately at iftari when really we need to replace the lost water and salts needed by our bodies. This drink is quite cooling and at the same time has a bit of a kick from the ginger. If you have never had raw ginger juice before, start by adding half a tablespoon at a time until you find what suits you. This drink contains the roughage of the fruit of both the watermelon and the strawberries while this will result in the drink being thick this is excellent when exiting the fast. It is important to consume natural foods and their pulp, this will help rehydrate as efficiently as possible.
Keep this in the fridge during the day and maybe take out a bit before iftari so that it is not too cold when drunk.

2 tablespoons of ginger juice (ideally done in a juice extractor)
½ a watermelon – skin removed and cubed
250g of hulled strawberries
5 mint leaves – sliced in to thin strips
1 bottle of sparkling spring water

In a food processor place the watermelon, strawberries, mint leaves and blitz until smooth and liquid. Place in to large jug and add the ginger juice. Place in the fridge. When ready to serve fill glasses a third of the way and then top with chilled sparkling water.

Just in case you have not got a Ramadan Timetable here is a link to a London one:
http://www.iccuk.org/images/RamadanTimetable2013.pdf

Inshallah our duas will be answered this Ramadan – amen.