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.

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Halva and Mini Pooris

When I was little my mum and dad would sometimes make Halva Poori on a Sunday morning, normally when they had their university friends over to visit. My mum would make the pooris and my dad would make the halva. He would start early in the morning and allow no one in the kitchen except for me. I’d sit up on the worktop next to the cooker (no health and safety issues back then!) and I’d watch him stirring and mixing, making a halva that would melt in your mouth.

Before I knew it he was gone, and so had the recipe. I had no one to ask how to make it, as no one was ever allowed into the kitchen. Any time anyone would make me halva it was not remotely like his halva. It would be oily, gritting, the wrong colour, lumpy, every negative adjective under the sun. I yearned for that halva.

Finally last year after tasting a particularly bad gluten free halva (halva is normally made with semolina) I set myself up with the challenge of making a halva which was both gluten free and met my memories.

Halva
50g Basin/ Ground Chickpea Flour
50g Fine Corn Meal
50g Juvela White Mix
50g Unsalted Butter
50g sugar
1 cardamom pod

1. Boil ½ pint of water with sugar until the sugar dissolves
2. Lower the heat
3. Strip the cardamom pod of its husk and place the seeds and butter into the sugar water
4. Allow the butter to melt
5. Mix the flours together in a bowl and slowly pour into the water
6. Whisk the flour and water with a whisk. Keep the flour moving.
7. Once the mix begins to go sticky, use a spatula to bring it together so that it starts to look more like a dough
8. Using the spatula keep moving the dough, flattening it, moving it to remove any remaining lumps. This process will cook out the flour. Do this for about 5 -7 mins until the halva in cooked
9. Place the halva in a bowl and use the spatula to smooth out the surface.
10. Serve with hot pooris

Mini Pooris
These pooris won’t fluff up like real gluten pooris, however they will have some air pockets making them the closest thing to a poori that I have had since being coeliac.

200g Doves Farm Plain Flour
2 tablespoons ispughul seeds with the husk removed
Water

1. Mix the seeds and flour together
2. Slowly mix in some water until the flour forms a dough
3. Make golf ball sized balls from the dough
4. Roll out on a floured surface, using a clean rolling pin, I prefer to roll them all out at once as it makes it easier to fry. Don’t make them too thin.
5. Half fill a frying pan with oil and heat up the oil and then shallow fry the pooris in there. Cook for about 2-3 mins each side until or until crunchy.

Kaufteh

Kaufteh are meatballs. Most cultures have meatballs and no doubt everyone will say that theirs are the best! To me meatballs are lovely, small enough to shape in the palm of your hand and just a perfect end to a long day.

Ask anyone who knows me, and they will tell you that my favourite food is kaufteh (meatballs from Pakistan). I just adore them. I love the whole process from the making of the meatballs, to peeling the potatoes (and that has to be the only time I love peeling potatoes). Making them gives me so much pleasure that it is abnormal.

I prefer to make the kaufteh in a big batch, then I fry the meatballs, and then freeze them, meaning I can have meatballs without so much work later on.

As always I suggest making your own meatballs and playing around with them until you find a flavour combination which works for you. Kaufteh normally contain finely sliced onion, ginger, garlic, chillies and spices along with herbs mint and coriander. Egg is the only binding agent, there is no need to add flour whatsoever. Kaufteh should be the size of a golf ball. Fry off the meatballs and set aside or freeze and then make the sauce.

Kaufteh sauce
Ingredients – to serve 4
1 small onion
4 cloves garlic ground
2 cm of ginger peeled and chopped and ground
½ a tin of tomatoes
Red chilli flakes to taste
1 green chilli
¼ teaspoon garam masala
¼ teaspoon of ground coriander
¼ teaspoon of tumeric
¼ teaspoon of cumin
1/4teaspoon of black pepper corns
¼ teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon of cinnamon or a small cinnamon stick
1 slightly squashed cardom
Salt to taste

Also required
Approximately 12 meatballs
Approximately ½ the amount of potatoes to meatballs
4 hard boiled eggs – peeled

1. Chop the onion, brown the onions in oil so that they become soft
2. add the ginger and garlic and the tumeric, red chillies flakes, then add the whole spices and add the tomatoes
3. On a medium heat cook the spices off, so that when you move a spoon through the tomatoes the oil is visible as a clear line.
4. Then add the kaufteh, heat them in the paste add enough water to cover the kaufteh and allow to boil.
5. Bring to a simmer and add the potatoes and simmer
6. When a knife goes through the potatoes add the peeled eggs.
7. Allow the eggs to heat through in the sauce for a while so that also absorb the spices add the chopped green chilli.
8. Finally top with coriander and serve with freshly cooked rice.