Ramadan Recipes for Iftar

Ramadan is literally around the corner, for those thats dont know its the month of fasting, Muslims wake before dawn and have a meal ad then don’t eat or drink until sundown.  Naturally during the long hours of fasting our minds turn to what we ll eat at that evening meal called Iftar. usually we break the fast on water and dates, dates are perfect for this as they are very high in easily digested sugar. Then we pray maghrib the prayer after sunset before having our meal. If we’re feeling famished we ll eat before praying but its not a great idea as you can imagine after a day without your instinct is to be a bit greedy thus making the bowing of islamic prayer a little uncomfortable afterwards !

Here are my favourite all time Ramadan recipes from around the Muslim world.

Harira

I usually cook this in the slow cooker so the delicious smell fills the house for hours before we breakfast.

  • 500g cubed lamb
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic crushed
  • 1 stick celery chopped
  • 1 medium carrot chopped
  • 1 red pepper cubed
  • 1 can cooked chickpeas
  • 1 green chilli
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds roasted and ground
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground tumeric

I literally throw everything in the pot and cover with hot water and set to cook on low for 6-8 hours. I dont bother frying anything first but you can if you like, I sometimes add a can of chopped tomatoes and a handful of broken vermicelli but my lot prefer it meaty and simple , serve with fresh lemon squeezed over the top and a drizzle of olive oil and fresh bread. Often as kids we’d eat this for the morning meal as well Ramadan became harira month.

Soups

We like soups heres a great chicken noodle soup recipe, filling and refreshing.

http://www.ramadan.co.uk/?p=328

Lasagne

We love a hearty lasagne with a big green salad, I use beef but you can use turkey mince or even a vegetarian option.

Irish Stew

My mixed heritage means feel I’m getting back to my celtic roots whenever I cook an irish stew, I use my trusty slow cooker, it gets a lot of use in Ramadan because I dislike cooking while I am fasting.

  • 500g cubed beef or lamb
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 leek chopped
  • 2 or 3 carrots in chunks
  • 1/2 diced swede
  • 2 waxy potatoes in chunks
  • a handful of dried pearl barley
  • a couple of bay leaves
  • dried herbs of your choice, I like parsley and rosemary, but whatever you’ve got is good, avoid coriander though it just doesnt work.
  • a knob of butter
  • 1 pint hot stock.

I brown off the meat for this dish and then remove it from the pan and sweat the vegetables to soften them before adding it add to the slow cooker covering with hot stock and leave to cook for 6 hours or so, towards the end you can add some dumplings simply put 150g plain flour in a bowl rub in 50g of cold hard butter, add a handful of herbs, chives or sage work nicely, bund together with a little milk and form into golf ball size and drop into the pot, they will swell, we like ours BIG, you can make them smaller and you can leave out the herbs.

Paella

http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/seafood-recipes/paella

We use halal turkey rashers and halal beef salami and stock. Anything that has pulses and rice will help with hydration the following day which is something to think about when we are fasting 19+ hour days.

Cowboy Style Baked Beans

Again with my trusty slow cooker ! I use red kidney bean but any are good,I start this with DRIED beans I boil them for 10-15 mins and skip off any scum, them I rinse them and throw them in the pot with a chopped onion, crushed clove of garlic, dried fennel, a few new potatoes and a BIG spoon of malt syrup or molasses, a tea spoon of chilli powder, you can add BBQ seasoning too if you like and a table spoon of tomato puree.A bit of chopped sausage or turkey rashers add flavour but are not essential.

If you don’t have a slow-cooker or crockpot you can do the recipes on the hob or in a covered pot in the oven. Cook slowly for a long time on a low heat because the beans are dry and to infuse the favours to their full potential. Ideally you want to leave it to cook overnight for at least 10 hours. It’s long but well worth the wait.

If you have any recipes you recommend please add and share 🙂

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Ramadan Month of Fasting.


O you who believe! Observing As-Saum (the fasting) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqoon (the pious – see V.2:2).*

Ramadan is just a few short weeks away, for those who don’t know, Ramadan is the 9th Islamic month which Muslims spend fasting from dawn – dusk each day, its a time to cleanse ourselves physically, mentally and spiritually.  Learn more about Ramadan here. We spend the days fasting and the nights in prayer with extra prayers being held every night at the mosques. We look forward to Ramadan in the same way Christians count down to Christmas, and we morn the end of it. Obviously there are practical difficulties to fasting for long hours everyday, the main one is difficulty concentrating, hunger is easy to ignore however thirst is a constant nag. So successful planning is vital.

As the parent of teens who will be fasting the whole month and a pre teen who will be doing every other day or every third day inshaallah, I am very concerned about making sure they get the most out of the month while eating nutritious foods and getting enough water. This year well be fasting from 3 am – after 9pm thats an 18 hour fast here in London.

Heres my list of top tips.

  • In the weeks before Ramadan fast every Monday and Thursday( these are the sunnah days to fast, sunnah means the Prophet saws did this and we try as much as possible to follow his example).
  • Detox your life, cut out coffee and chocolate and other addictions as much as possible in the fortnight before to minimise withdrawal, the first few days of the fast we sometimes suffer headaches even migraines as our bodies adjust to life without the morning coffee !
  • Don’t eat empty calories, the traditional Ramadan food is greasy and stodgy with little nutritional content and puts a strain on your digestive system so eat cleanly with a few treats, frozen yoghurt, frozen water melon, stuffed dates make good substitute for the usual baklava and parathas and dare i say, avoid white rice and samosas, they lead to hunger and constipation.

  • *Plan, Plan plan, make a weekly or even monthly plan of tasks to be completed everyday, its very easy to fall into a doze waiting for the end of the day which is not what Ramadan is about. I write out the plan on a white board in the kitchen, everyone spends some time reading Quran and doing chores.
  • Get up early, we begin the fast at 3 am which means we have the most energy in the hours afterwards, so sleeping until midday or 1pm isn’t a very good idea, instead have a short nap between sunrise and 8 am and then nap again after midday. For children fasting, be reasonable and don’t expect them to keep up with the adults.
  • Cook early in the day or stick food in the slow cooker, theres nothing worse than being stuck in a hot kitchen for the last hour of the fast.
  • DONT go shopping in the hours before the end of the fast (Iftar) we made this mistake a few years ago and spent £70 on various delicious juices and smoothies which didn’t last more than a few days !!!!
  • Give food as gifts to neighbours, friends and family, this year the fast ends so late that we wont be planning many iftar gatherings, as we want to get the mosque for night prayers as often as possible.
  • Get outside in the fresh air, we go for moonlit walks and star gaze a lot during Ramadan, its a great adventure for the kids.

  • Up your game, whatever you did last Ramadan, up it, so last year you read Quran everyday, this year read it and teach it, learn a new surah or hadith every week, set realistic targets.

Toddlers

keeping the little ones busy, one of the hardest jobs in Ramadan is looking after young children who will not understand that mummy and daddy haven’t had coffee today, are sleep deprived and don’t want to chase you round the park in the hot sun all morning ! Help each other out, give your sister a break for a few hours and babysit , maybe she’ll return the favour.

Prepare lots of ramadan themed crafts and games, stock up on islamic cartoons and arrange lots of play dates, invest in a paddling pool and sunscreen, they ‘ll keep each other busy while you can cool off in the shade.

Pre teens

These children understand Ramadan though they don’t have to fast yet they often want to so let them fast a few days, but keep an eye of them, fasting is taxing to a growing body be sure to give them plenty of fruit and vegetables also a good multi vitamin to keep their strength up. Distract them during the day with games and water games, a few cheap new toys are always a good idea. A few hours of TV or Xbox can help them get through the day.

Teenagers

When it becomes fard for a child to fast i.e: when they hit puberty, they MUST fast everyday, so be sure that they get a nap in after school, feed them well at suhur (morning meal) and make sure they drink enough water, my teenagers will often not feel hungry at 3am, so I prepare fruit smoothies and keep them in the fridge (no one wants to hear you using the blender at 2.30 am!) add protein powders like Maca and Spirulina to boost the nutritional content. This year Ramadan is mostly during school holiday, we home educate so its not an issue though some children will have to sit exams next year while fasting.

 

 

 

Budget Friendly Tasty Breakfasts.


Breakfast

1, My number one all time tip to save money on breakfast is to invest in a good mocha pot and steel milk jug and make your own espresso at home, simply add hot frothy milk for a latte or cappuccino, we love ours so much it comes on holiday with us !!

 

2, Porridge, get some oats in your day, add syrups, dried fruits, jam, cinnamon, blue berries, stewed fruit or if you’re scottish, salt hehe!

3, Flapjacks, still on the oaty theme here, we make our own flapjacks heres our favourite recipe which and own own yummy yogurt flavour topping, they’ll keep you going all morning and cost a few pence each.

Yoghurt Topping,

Melt 2 100g bars of white chocolate gently in a glass bowl in the microwave, short bursts of 10 seconds on low power will do the trick but be careful not to over heat it as it becomes tough and loses its shine. When its melted add a few tablespoons of plain natural yoghurt, spread the mixture over your cooled flapjacks and put in the fridge to set over night. YUM! You could also use the yoghurt mix to coat fruit and nuts.

4, Yoghurt, buy a big pot of plain natural yoghurt for about a pound from the supermarket and add your favourite things, we like jam and fruit or a sprinkle of sugar if theres nothing more interesting.

5, Green Smoothies, buy a cheap blender, a bag of spinach, berries, a banana and a tea spoon of spirulina, ta da healthy green smoothie and no you really cant taste the spinach, look here for more green smoothie recipes.

Brunches

Breakfast is a big deal in our house, it often becomes brunch as we figure if we finish breakfast at 10.30 am whats the point in having lunch?

6, Eggs, eggs, eggs, scrambled, poached, boiled, fried, omelettes, in quiches, pancakes or frittatas, EGGS.

7, Mackerel Pate and toast, whizz up a skinless smoked mackerel fillet with a tub of quark and LOTS of lemon and black pepper, on hot buttered toast its amazing, keeps for a few days in the fridge.

8, Buy a bread maker, we got ours on sale for about 50 quid a couple of years ago, we fill it up at night and set it to start in the early hours of the morning so that we wake to the smell of fresh baked bread, WARNING this is not a good idea for your waist line, buttered fresh bread with good jam or cheese is hard to resist. Second hand bread makers are everywhere as people make way for a new juicer or whatever the new gadget will be.

9, Theres other cheap tasty breakfast ideas of course like cereals and danish pastries and oh my goodness home made pretzels on a sunday morning = heaven.

I should really add one more to make it an even 10 so heres another…

10, Muesli, make your own its much nicer, cheaper in the long run too, layer it with fruit and yoghurt and coconut, yum.

My 5 Favourite Family Weekday Meals on a Budget

So budgeting is rather chic now days, when I was growing up in London in the booming 1980’s no one spoke about making money go further, then the recession of the 1990’s hit just as I was setting up home with my husband and we quickly learnt that money doesn’t go far unless you plan your meals. We still have off days when theres not much in the house and at 4pm we’re wondering what to make for our evening meal, this usually ends with a rushed trip to the local shops, spending far too much and not eating until after 8pm.

So we try to plan, as we are mostly in the house all day we plan for breakfasts, lunches and dinners, in this post I’m going to share our favourite recipes from around the internet.

Number 1, Chilli.

One of our stables is Chilli con carne, we eat it on average twice a month, its so versatile, in a jacket potato, with rice, in a wrap as a burrito, we cook it with lean minced beef or with Quorn and loads of peppers and kidney beans heres our recipe. One batch will go over two days for a family of 4, for my greedy lot its amazing if any makes it to the fridge !!

  • 500g lean minced beef or Quorn mince.
  • 1 chopped large onion.
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic.
  • 2 tins of kidney beans in water.
  • 1 carton of passata or chopped tomatoes
  • 2 bell peppers chopped.
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin.
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • a handful of chopped coriander.
  • 1 chopped scotch bonnet pepper or a couple of chopped green chilli’s or if you like it mild you can throw in the peppers whole and take them out at the end.

Its a really easy meal to cook, gently fry (in spray oil or a table spoon of good olive oil) the onions, garlic and peppers, add the mince and brown, pour in the drained beans and passata, add the spices and chillis, add salt if you want to and cover and leave to simmer for an hour on a low heat. I usually do this in the slow cooker. Left overs taste amazing.

Number 2, Macaroni Cheese.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/macaronicheese_83521

Good ‘ole Mac n Cheese.

Number 3,Tomato Soup.

http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/vegetables-recipes/tomato-soup

Add a tin of butter beans or a handful of small pasta to the soup to make it more filling. This is the first vegetable soup I got my children to eat. It freezes well too.

Number 4, Daal.

http://agirlcalledjack.com/2013/10/03/lentil-and-spinach-daal-66p/

My favourite comfort food lentil daal, with boiled rice and a dollop of yoghurt, yummy.

Number 5, Tagine.

Moroccan Tagine is something I grew up eating its kind of like a curry but with a different set of spices, its very easy to make as its basically a stew, I love one pot cooking, here my chicken tagine recipe.

  • chicken pieces it doesn’t matter which pieces you use, I like boneless thighs they are juicy, always chose skinless ones but bone in or our it makes little difference.
  • 1kg of chicken, breast pieces, thigh or a mixture of drumsticks and thighs with the bone in.
  • an onion chopped
  • a clove of garlic
  • tea spoon each of ground cumin, paprika, black pepper and turmeric
  • half a tea spoon of cinnamon.
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 can cooked chickpeas
  • 1 litre of chicken or vegetable stock or less, if your serving it with couscous you might want more gravy.

Plus add a selection of vegetables, cubed potatoes, chunky carrot, turnip, parsnip, sweet potato, courgette, aubergines, okra, green beans, all work well, but be aware the softer vegetables don’t need as long to cook as the root vegetables. Avoid bell peppers they give it a bitter flavour.

Soften your onion and garlic in olive oil, add your chicken and brown it a bit, add your tomatoes and spices and the root veg, cook for 20 mins and then add the chickpeas and soft veg and cook on a low heat until done, this smells wonderful while cooking. You can adapt it and make a more elaborate looking meal by leaving out the vegetables, chickpeas and tomatoes and adding a jar of olives and a chopped preserved lemon serve with cous cous, rice or bread.