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  • #MyFirstRamadan: The Boy Who Fixed Bicycles

    The First Ramadan in the life of a Muslim is indeed an unforgettable experience. No matter how old you are - five or even fifty, the first Ramadan can be quite hard to tackle through but once it is successfully completed the happiness and pride that you get is simply amazing. Not only do you feel a great sense of accomplishment in your heart but you also immediately feel closer to Allah. The month of Ramadan is the time of the year where blessings are simply showered upon us. To be able to participate in all the religious observance during the holy month of Ramadan and to gain those blessings and merits brings so much happiness. The first time I completed the entire fast without cutting it short or taking breaks in between was when I was about six years old. I don’t remember the whole experience vividly but one thing that I surely know is that it was not a walk in the park. My mother talks about it often with pride. She would always mention how I would count down the hours till it was time for Iftar and I would close my eyes and nose tightly when I walk past the kitchen to avoid the sight and smell of food. To a little kid, fasting is simply staying away from food and water. Most of the time a little child does not understand what fasting in the month of Ramadan is really about and the ultimate aim that Islam as a religion requires of it. Rather than sharing my experience of the first Ramadan, I would like to share the first Ramadan experience of a dear friend of mine which changed his life and my life forever. When I was about 16 years old, I was sent to my aunt's house to be taken care of till my mother and sister got back from their visit to the United Arab Emirates. I was not able to come along them due to my exams. That year, I got to meet Haren. Haren was from a poor family, and he was living with his widowed mother and a sister who was 10 years younger than he was. Due to hard times, he supported his family by working at a garage. I met him when I took my uncle's bike over for a repair. He was just months younger than I was but he was so skilled, and his knowledge about bikes and repairs was impressive. Personally, I felt sorry that such a kindhearted and a skillful boy like him was not able to go to school to get an education, but there was nothing that I could do to change the situation. He and I grew closer and we would often meet after Iftar, and we would talk about various matters that interested us both. We would often talk about religion and the world. For a non-Muslim he had a huge respect for Islam, he would talk about the bonds and the brotherhood he saw among Muslims and he would go on and on about how much he admired it. His interest in Islam made me feel happy, and I made sure to answer all his questions about Islam with care when he asked them from me. One day, he questioned about fasting and its value. We talked for a long time about what the month of Ramadan was about, and when the conversation ended, he told me that he wanted to experience what fasting. I was amazed, because in normal cases even Muslims consider fasting to be a hard and tedious task, and this boy who's not a Muslim yearns for that experience. Without thinking twice I agreed to help him. I spoke to my aunt regarding this, she smiled and told me to bring Haren over for Suhoor. During Suhoor, both my uncle and aunt shared about Islam. They were happy as I was about him for having so much interest in Islam and agreed to help him further if he needed any assistance. All of us hoped in our hearts that this incident would cause a big change in his life. The day was pretty rough for him. He still had to work, and working without water for hours gave him a pretty rough time. I took a break from my studies to help him out with his work for the day. We limited our chats since I knew he was exhausted. I constantly reminded him that he could always break the fast if he found it too difficult, but he never swayed. He kept his fast till it was time. He had Iftar with us, together with his mother and sister too. I knew from their faces that they were grateful for all the food and the hospitality that was extended to them. Haren continued to fast the remaining days of Ramadan. Within that short period of time, his interest in Islam grew deeper and he would question me and my uncle endlessly about our religion. We extended all the help that we could provide to him. Even when I return back home, I would constantly keep in touch with him and support him as a friend. The impact of that day was brought to the surface when Haren visited me around 3 years later with his mother and sister. He revealed to me that he has embraced Islam along with his mother and his sister. Mashallah! He told me that meeting me was a crucial part of helping him make this life-changing decision. There were absolutely no words to describe my happiness that day. It is sometimes unbelievable that a small incident in life can make a rippling effect and change a person's life for the better. Haren who now goes by the name Hakeem is a man with a complete devotion to Allah, his faith is so pure and he loves the religion with all his heart. This is the extraordinary impact that can be caused in the month of Ramadan, and we are indeed blessed to be able to able to experience it....

  • Mini Pizza Cups: A Fun Treat To Whip Up For Iftar

    There are endless varieties in which you can make your pizzas. The Mini Pizza Cups are perfect for Iftar with the family or even for parties. What's great about it is that this version of pizza is that is completely mess free, and comes in bite size portions. if you have young little guests coming over to your place, this is going to be their ultimate favourite. Simple yet delicious, you can add your own touch to it by adding different toppings for each cup.  In this recipe, there are 3 Steps to get that perfect Mini Pizza Cup. Alternatively, you can go for a store bought dough and Marinara sauce but if you do have some time up your sleeves we woul definitely recommend you to make your own dough at home since it will be fresh.  Step 1: Making the Pizza Dough Ingredients 1 cup of luke warm water  2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil 2 ½ teaspoons of sugar 4 cups of all purpose flour 2½ teaspoons of active dry yeast 3 teaspoons of salt Method Activate the yeast. In a small bowl or cup add the luke warm water along with the yeast and sugar. Stir and let it sit for about 5-7 mins until the yeast has been activated. In the meantime, take a large bowl and add in 3 cups of all purpose flour along with salt and mix well with wooden spoon.  Then, add extra virgin olive oil along with the water and yeast into the mixture. Mix well to form a dough. Add flour gradually as you mix the dough until it becomes smooth. Knead the dough for around 5 minutes and set aside in a greased bowl covered in plastic wrap or damp cloth . Set the dough aside to rise for about 1 ½ hours . Note – you can speed up this process using a stand mixture. Use the dough hook attachment for this. Step 2: Marinara Sauce Ingredients 1 can of crushed tomatoes ½ teaspoon of dried oregano 3 cloves of garlic ½ teaspoon of dried basil 3 tablespoons of olive oil Pepper to taste 1 large onion Salt to taste Method Heat oil in a medium sized sauce pan. While the oil is heating, chop up your garlic and onion very finely. Add the chopped garlic and oil into the heating oil and cook until translucent. Once the onions are translucent and fragrant add crushed tomatoes and mix well. Cook the tomatoes for around 5 mins Season the sauce with the dried oregano, basil and add salt according to your preference. Leave the sauce to simmer for around 10 mins until it is thick. Step 3: Making the Pizza Cups Pre heat oven to 200 degrees Celsius or 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease your cup cake tray with vegetable spray or butter. Roll out your pizza dough into a ¼ inch thickness and cut out circles using a cookie cutter or a lid of a jar. The circles should be slightly bigger than the size of your cupcake. Place the cut out dough circles into the cupcake tray and press down gently. Add the marinara sauce to the dough. Fill each dough 'cup' with Mozzarella cheese. Top it off with your favorite toppings. Add more Mozzarella cheese on top. Repeat the same for the rest of the cups. Bake for around 20 mins until golden. Serve warm. Whip up this fun treat with your children and family! Afterall, food tastes better when it's made together with love and joy. ...

  • Doughnut Burger: The Best of Both Worlds!

    Times when I don’t mind stocking up on a few calories, I'd usually turn to a good old doughnut or a scrumptious burger. The Donut Burger — the ultimate cheat meal. This meal is absolutely on a whole new level once both are combined. Although donuts and burgers together can be too oily for Iftar, this recipe will help you remove that excess oil. In this recipe, the doughnuts will be baked instead of frying it. Also, feel free to add some chips as a side! Step 1: Making Baked Doughnuts  Ingredients 500g of regular all purpose flour 250ml of milk 50g of white granulated sugar 2 tablespoons of butter 2½ teaspoons of active dry yeast 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract 2 teaspoons of salt 80ml of water Method Heat milk and water in a small pan and add butter. Ensure that the mixture is heated lightly and doesn't start to boil. In a large bowl, add flour, yeast and sugar. Stir well. Add the warm milk to the flour mixture, and mix well with a wooden spoon, for around 2 to 3 mins to activate the yeast. Add in your salt and mix well. Continue mixing the dough for 6 to 8 mins until sticky.  Once the dough is mixed through, put it in an oiled bowl, and leave the dough to rest. Let it rise for around 1½ to 2 hours. Once the dough has risen, place the dough on a floured surface and knead the dough for a few mins. Roll out the dough to a 1½ inch thickness using a floured rolling pin. Cut shapes of doughnuts using a doughnut cutter or two round shaped cookie cutters (the smaller one for the doughnut hole and the bigger one for the doughnut itself) Lay the doughnut rounds on a baking tray lined with baking sheet . At this point cover the doughnuts again with plastic wrap and let it rise for around 30 to 40 mins.  Once the doughnuts have risen, bake these doughnuts at a preheated oven at 180 degrees Celsius or 350 degrees Fahrenheit for around 15 mins. Flip the doughnuts at half time to ensure that both sides are cooked. Step 2: The Burger Patty Ingredients 1 pound of Ground Beef 1 tea spoon of Garlic powder ½ cup of Dried Bread Crumbs 1 tea spoon Onion powder 1 Egg 1 tea spoon of Chili powder 1 teaspoon of Pepper Salt to taste Method Beat the egg until fluffy . Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl, till all ingredients are fully combined. Heat oil in a pan or a griddle. Shape the beef into small patties and grill well on both sides (shape the patties similar to the size of the doughnuts). Step 3: Choose Your Cheese and Veggies Here are 7 Types of Cheese to choose from: Cheddar Blue Cheese  Gouda Goat Cheese  Pepper Jack Swiss  Brie Add some crunch to it by adding vegetables! Lettuce Sliced up Tomatoes Sliced up Onions Olives (Optional) Step 4: Stack 'em Up Cut your doughnut into half. Drizzle a little bit of mayo or mustard on both sides. Place the patty, cheese and veggies in place. Comple the burger by topping it off with the top of the doughnut!   Try this recipe out and refuel your body after a whole day of fasting! Also, this is a great recipe for parties with your family and friends!...

  • Ghee Roti with Beef Sambal: When You Need Some Comfort Food

    Who doesn’t love to feast on a yummy Ghee Roti dipped in Beef Sambal during the time of Iftar? Also, if you are feeling hungry for some Indian Cuisine, this  'roti and sambal' dish may seem simple but it will definitely fill you up for Iftar.  If you are in-charge for whipping up a meal for Iftar, we got you covered. This Ghee Roti and Beef Sambal meal is not only simple to make but also exceptionally good and satisfying. So don’t worry about having to spend a lot of time running around the kitchen preparing a list of curries that go well with the roti.   Step 1: Making Ghee Roti Ingredients 250g of all purpose flour A pinch of salt 2 tablespoons of Ghee (clarified butter) Sufficient lukewarm water 1 Egg   Method In a large mixing bowl add your flour, two tablespoons of Ghee and mix with your hands to form a crumb-like texture. Beat the egg and add it into the mixture along with a pinch of salt. Mix well. Add lukewarm water a little at a time to form a smooth dough. The dough should not stick to your fingers but should have a smooth texture. Knead the dough for a few minutes. Set the dough aside at room temperature for about 20-30 minutes, to form a smooth and elastic dough. After, continue kneading the dough on a floured surface for about 5 minutes. Divide the dough into balls and roll out the dough to form a thin roti.  You can either fry the roti to give it a crispy texture or lightly pan fry the roti. To fry it, heat 250 ml of oil in a frying pan along with 3 tablespoons of Ghee. Fry on both sides till golden brown.  To lightly pan fry the roti, add a tablespoon of vegetable oil along with one tablespoon of Ghee and heat it up. Sear the roti on both sides until golden brown. Tip: If you are unable to find Ghee in your local supermarket, you can use salted butter as a substitute.   Step 2: Whipping Up the Beef Sambal Ingredients 500g of Beef 2 cloves of Garlic (chopped) 1 teaspoon of Turmeric  A small root of Ginger (chopped) 2 teaspoons of Chili powder 3 large Onions (chopped into small strands) 2 teaspoons of Chili flakes 1 Red Bell Pepper (chopped) 1 teaspoon of Black Pepper powder 1 tablespoon of Soy Sauce ½ teaspoon of Cumin powder 1 tablespoon of Sugar 1 teaspoon of Garam Masala 2 tablespoons of Oil 1 teaspoon of Coriander powder A handful of chopped Parsley Juice of 2 Lime/ 1 lemon  Salt to taste ½ teaspoon of Curry powder   Method Chop the beef into bite sizes. In a pressure cooker, add chopped beef, Chili powder, Tumeric, Coriander powder, Cumin powder, Curry powder, a teaspoon of salt, and juice of one lime or half a lemon. Add sufficient water to cover the meat. Cook the meat until tender. After the meat has been cooked, drain the stock from the meat, and set the meat aside to cool. Once the beef is cool enough, tear the beef into strips or chop them futher into smaller cubes. In a large saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil. Add chopped ginger and garlic and sauté until golden. Then add chopped onions. (Don't let it go brown) And Garam Masala and Chili flakes into the mixture, along with bell peppers and mix well. Add Soy Sauce, along with a tablespoon of sugar and give it a good stir. Finally, add the beef strips or cubes. If you prefer more spice add chili powder to your preference. Squeeze in some lime/lemon juice on the sambal. Garnish with chopped parsley on top and serve warm Tip: You can also substitute beef with chicken. This beautiful roti works with this sambal really well, but if you prefer to jazz it up a little and serve it with more dishes like chicken tikka, chicken tikka masala, kormas, you'll have a feast served for your family! Have fun creating different types of varieties to go alongside this Ghee Roti!...

  • Pizza Lollipops: Something Fun to Spice Up Your Spread

    There is no specific time to enjoy a delicious serving of scrumptious pizza! These Pizza Lollipops are great alternatives for families with children that tend to get messy at times. You can call these Pizza Lollipops or even Pizza Pops but these will surely make your spread look extra appetizing during Iftar!    Step 1: Making the Pizza Dough Ingredients 1 cup of luke warm water 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil 2½ teaspoons of sugar 4 cups of all purpose flour 2½ teaspoons of active dry yeast 3 teaspoons of salt Method Start by activating the yeast. In a small bowl or cup add in your luke warm water to the the yeast and sugar. Stir and let it sit for 5 to 7 mins. Add 3 cups of the all purpose flour into a large bowl, add salt and use a wood stirrer and mix.  Add extra virgin olive oil to the water and yeast mixture and mix well, forming a dough. Gradually add flour to the mixture and continue mixing until dough is smooth. Knead the dough for around 5 mins and set aside in a greased bowl covered in plastic wrap or a damp cloth . Set the dough aside to rise for about 1 ½ hours . Note – you can speed up this process using a stand mixture. Use the dough hook attachment for this.   Step 2: Marinara Sauce Ingredients 1 can of crushed tomatoes ½ tea spoon of dried oregano 3 cloves of garlic (chopped) ½ tea spoon of dried basil 3 table spoons of olive oil Pepper to taste 1 large onion (chopped) Salt to taste Method Heat oil in a medium sized sauce pan. Add the chopped garlic and onions into the heating oil and cook until tender. Once the garlic and onions are tender and fragrant add in your crushed tomatoes and mix well. Cook the tomatoes for around 5 minutes. Season the sauce with the dried oregano, basil and add salt according to your preference. Leave the sauce to simmer for around 10 minutes until it is thick.   Step 3: Toppings Sausage and caramelized onions. Barbeque chicken. Spicy prawns. Mushrooms and chopped up bell peppers. Olives, cooked chicken and chopped up peppers. Pizza margarita with marinara sauce, cheese and fresh basil. Chicken and pineapple. All you have to do to prepare your toppings is by chopping them up into small pieces. You might also want to saute some of your toppings such as the prawns chicken, or mushroom with caramelized onions and olive oil.   Step 4: Assembling the Pizza Lollipops Pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees celcius or 400 degrees farenheit. Place a baking parchment paper over your baking tray. Knead the pizza dough well, and take a small portion of your dough, about the size and shape of a golf ball. Insert your cake pop stick or popsicle stick to the centre of the dough ball. Place the dough in your baking tray and flatten it out to make a circle. (Avoid overcrowding the baking tray) Spread your marinara sauce over the pizza pop evenly. Top it off with grated mozzarella and other toppings. Bake the pizza lollipops for about 20 minutes and serve warm. Tip: When you are buying the sticks make sure they are on thicker side so that they can hold the pizza in place.  It is that simple to make your Pizza Lollipops. Alternatively, you could buy pre-made dough or marinara sauce from your local supermarket but it is always best to make them from scratch if we have some time up our sleeves. Enjoy this treat with your family and friends for Iftar this Ramadan!  ...

  • Creamy Chicken Spring Rolls: The Fusion Chicken Spring Roll

    Durin the month of Ramadan, the house is filled with beautiful aroma from your kitchen during Iftar. More often than not, families will always prepare sides that are fried to munch on. You can definitely find fried snacks such as samosa, spring rolls or fried sweet potato every other day during Iftar in a typical Muslim household. Taking a twist on the traditional fried spring roll, the Creamy Chicken Spring Rolls are amazing as sides especially if you love cream and cheese. It is creamy on the inside and crispy on the outside. These rolls are also great for kids that cannot take spice. Typically, you could fry them but if you are going for a healthier option, you can bake them as well. Ingredients  Spring roll wrappers  ½ a cup of grated cheese (Parmesan/cheddar) 1 Chicken breast diced into small pieces. ½ a cup of cream 1 small onion (chopped) ½ a tea spoon of black pepper powder 2 cloves of garlic (chopped) Salt to taste 1 medium sized carrot (diced) Oil Method Marinate chicken with salt and pepper at least 30 minutes before cooking. In a large saucepan, add 1½ tablespoons of oil and sauté the onions and garlic until tender and fragrant.  Once tender, add the chicken dices and sear it till it is cooked through to the inside for 8 to 10 minutes. Once the chicken has been cooked, add in diced carrots and cook until tender. Add in the black pepper powder Add in the cream and cheese. Mix well until very thick. Take out your spring roll wrappers and place one table spoon of the mixture on a wrapper. (*Don’t go too heavy on the filling, it makes your spring rolls soggy) Shape it into a shape of a roll and use water to seal the edges of the spring roll. At this point you can either bake the spring rolls or fry them. To fry, take a large frying pan and fry the spring rolls until golden brown. Alternatively, you can bake them. Place the spring rolls on a baking tray and brush the spring rolls lightly with vegetable oil on both sides using a pastry brush. Pop it into a preheated oven at 220 degrees celcius or 425 degrees farenheit for around 15 – 20 minutes or until golden brown (flip them to make sure that all sides are cooked) Serve hot along with your preferred sauce, but it surely tastes good all on its own.   If you want the spring rolls to have an extra kick, marinate the chicken with a teaspoon of chilli powder and add a teaspoon of chilli flakes in step 5, together with the black pepper powder. Since the spring roll is creamy and cheesy, it would pair very well with a basic Salsa. To make a simple salsa simply chop the following ingredients: 2 Large Tomatoes 1 Large Onion ½ of a Red Bell Pepper  2 cloves of Garlic Add all the ingredients into a mixing bowl and add in 2 tablespoons of lime or lemon juice along with salt and pepper to taste.    There you go! Creamy Chicken Spring Rolls served fresh and warm on your table. Enjoy this delicacy with your family and friends for your Iftar tonight!...

  • Watalappam: A Sri Lankan Dessert

    No meal is complete without a delicious cup of dessert! Especially during the month of Ramadan, where we abstain from food and drinks, it is highly likely that our sugar levels are declining. It is almost essential to at least have a side of fruits or dessert to refuel sugar intake. Very popular in the Sri Lankan Muslim Community, Watalappam is a scrumptious dessert perfect as a side during Iftar. If you are a fan of creamy custard or caramel pudding you are going to love this creamy pudding. This recipe will give you the perfect combination of both Jaggery pudding with a stiff top with a creamy center. You will never get enough of this sweet dessert! The recipe serves up to about 8 to 10 people. You can either serve it in a big bowl or prepare them in individual ramekins.  Ingredients 15 Eggs Small dried Plums (optional) 1 cup of thick coconut milk or full fat fresh milk Chopped Cashews or Almonds (optional) 500g of Jaggery A pinch of salt   8 to 10 pods Cardamoms   Method Whisk all eggs in a large mixing bowl until fluffy and bubbles appear. In medium sized saucepan, melt the Jaggery along with half a cup of water till it turns into a syrup like consistency over low heat and keep stirring. Crush the Cardamoms using a pestle and mortar or an electric grinder. Add in the crushed Cardamoms into the Jaggery syrup/brown sugar and mix till it is fully incorporated to the syrup. Keep on stirring. Take the syrup off the heat and set aside to cool for a few minutes. Once the syrup mixture is completely cooled down. Add it to the beaten eggs a little at a time until the syrup and the beaten eggs have fully mixed together. Once the jaggery and eggs have completely mixed , add in thick coconut milk/fresh milk a little at a time and mix well . Strain the mixture into another bowl to remove the cardomom seeds and give you a fine pudding. Once the mixture is strained, you can pour it to a large heatproof bowl , or individual ramekins if you want to serve your watalappam in small quantities. Cover the bowl or ramekins with aluminum foil tie a rubber band or string around it to keep the foil in place . In a large saucepan pour in water to cover ¼ of the saucepan. Place the bowl covered in aluminum foil over the saucepan (make sure the water level is not too high, and steam the watalappam for around 20 minutes) When the watalappam is cooked through, set aside at room temperature for cooling. You can garnish your watalappam by sprinkling the chopped almonds or cashew nuts along with dried plums. Show your creativity in garnishing with nuts and plums or you can serve the dish as it is! This is an amazing dessert to make ahead and store, so that you can treat yourself and your family to a delicious dessert at Iftar....

  • 5 Porridge Recipes to Fill you up in Iftar

    While most families love laying out different snacks for Iftar, it is also important that we eat something that will soothe and keep us full rather than to munch on snacks from time to time. If we constantly eat after breaking fast it could result in weight gain for most people. Here are five tasty porridge recipes that you can make to keep you and your family full throughout the night. Included in this list, we have porridges that are sweet, spicy and savoury to mingle your tastebuds. So go on and give these recipes a try! 1. Rice and Beef Porridge Picture Credit: salu-salo.com This porridge is one of my most favourite. It is creamy and spicy at the same time. You will get all the flavours that you enjoy is a normal beef curry along with the creaminess of coconut. This porridge pairs up really well with any iftar snack and the rice and beef will make sure you are full and satisfied.  For this porridge, you may prefer leaving the beef bones in this porridge to give it a rich flavour. Ingredients  500g of Beef 1 tea spoon of fenugreek seeds 1 cup of white rice (or rice that have small sized grain) 1 small piece of a pandan leaf (about an inch) 1½ cups of thin coconut milk ½ tea spoon of turmeric powder 1 cup of thick coconut milk 1 tea spoon of chilli powder 8 cloves of garlic 2 tea spoons coriander powder 4 cardamom pods ½ tea spoon cumin powder 1 small piece of cinnamon Salt to taste Method Cut the beef into bite sizes. Wash and strain your rice and set it aside. Add the beef into a pressure cooker along with turmeric, chilli powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, cardamoms, cinnamon and salt to taste along with sufficient water. (ensure that the water level does not go above the level of the beef to avoid runny porridge) Cook your beef till it is tender. In a separate cooking pot, add the rinsed rice along with cloves of garlic, fenugreek seeds, pandan leaf and 2 cups of water. Cook the rice. Once the rice is cooked, stir the rice with a wooden spoon and break the rice into fine grain particles. Add the thin coconut milk to your rice and season it with salt. Once the coconut milk is mixed into the rice, add in the cooked beef along with the beef broth (do not strain the broth of the beef, add the whole mixture to the cooked rice) Keep stirring. Once it is well mixed and the porridge starts to bubble up, add in the thick coconut milk a little at a time till it is fully incorporated with the porridge. Turn the flame to low. Serve warm in a bowl. 2. Milky Rice Porridge Picture Credit: www.mysrilankanrecipe.com This porridge perfect for families with kids because it has a mild milky taste to it. However, you could also add the coconut sambal if you prefer something that is more spicy. However, be sure to serve the porridge and sambal separately and add it to your porridge gradually. Ingredients 1 cup of white rice 2½ cups of thick coconut milk 2 tea spoons of fenugreek seeds A small piece of a pandan leaf (the size of an inch would do) 10 cloves of chopped garlic Salt to taste 2 cups of thin coconut milk   Method Wash the rice thoroughly and set aside . In a medium cooking pot, add in the rinsed rice, fenugreek seeds, small pandan leaf along with the chopped garlic, salt and 2 cups of water.  Cook rice until it is soft. Once the rice is cooked through , take a wooden spoon and stir the rice while breaking the rice into fine particles. Add in your thin milk to the rice mixture and allow it to cook for a few minutes. Keep stirring till it mixes well . Once you see bubbles forming, add your thick milk a little at a time and keep stirring the mixture until the milk is fully incorporated to the porridge. Turn the heat to low and let the porridge simmer for a few minutes . Once you see the porridge thicken up, take the pot off from the heat and serve in porridge bowls. Coconut Sambal Ingredients  1 cup of grated coconut ½ tea spoon of turmeric powder 4 cloves of garlic ½ tea spoon of cumin powder 3 green chilis ½ teaspoon of chilli flakes 1 small onion ½ a lemon or 1 lime 4-5 curry leaves Salt to taste Method Grind all the ingredients coarsely except for the lime (don’t make it to a paste consistency) Add salt to taste  Squeeze lime or lemon juice Note – the addition of green chilies along with chilie flakes can make this quite spicy. If you don’t want this on the hot side you can skip the chili and just add the chilli flakes to spice it up.   3. Semolina Porridge Picture Credit: www.ruchikrandhap.com This porridge is a sweet porridge and is absolutely perfect to ease your gut after a good Iftar meal. Semolina has so many great benefits to your heath. There are two ways when preparing this porridge. You can either use sugar as a sweetener or alternatively you can substitute it with jaggery, a traditional non-centrifugal cane sugar. Both variations of the recipe are given below, take a look at what works the best for you and give this beautiful recipe a go! Ingredients 1 cup of Semolina 1 cup thin coconut milk 2 pods of crushed Cardamoms ¼ cup of sugar A small pandan leaf (about an inch) ¼ cup of thick coconut milk ¼ cup of chopped cashews Salt to taste Method Pour 1 cup of water and Semolina into a medium sized cooking pot and mix the two. Stir well and heat it on medium.  Keep stirring and avoid forming lumps. Break up lumps using the back of a spoon. After the Semolina has been cooked in the water, add in the cardomoms, pandan leaf and a pinch of salt. Continue stirring the mixture. Once the above ingredients are fully incorporated to the mixture, add in thin coconut milk a little at a time and keep stirring. Add in your chopped cashew nuts to the porridge. Add the ¼ cup of sugar a little at a time and stir well till it is dissolved in the mixture. Turn the heat to low and let the porridge sit for a few minutes . Once you see that the porridge is starting to bubble a little, add in your thick coconut milk a little at a time and mix till it is fully incorporated in the porridge. Serve warm. As a substitute to sugar, use 250 g of Jaggery. You have to add the Jaggery in the first step along with the addition semolina to the water. If your jaggery is tough you can grate it into fine pieces. This help the jaggery to dissolve easily. 4. Sago Porridge Picture Credit: keeprecipes.com Being abstained from food and drinks duirng Ramadan may cause our body to dehydrate. This Sago Porridge will help you get rid of the excess heat in your body. This porridge pairs well with any roti (bread), specially ghee roti, by dipping the roti into the porridge. Ingredients  ¼ cup of sago 250 g of jaggery A small pandan leaf (about an inch) 1 cup thin coconut milk 2 cardomms ¼ cup thick coconut milk 1 cup thin coconut milk 1 cup of chopped cashew nuts Method Add the sago, pandan leaves, 1¼ cup of water and a pince of salts into a large cooking pot and place it on medium heat. Keep stirring and break all lumps formed using the back of the spoon. Add the jaggery to the mixture and keep stirring, ensure that the jaggery is grated so that the mixture is smooth. Bring it to a boil and add the thin coconut milk to the mixture. When the mixture starts boiling, add the thick milk a little at a time and mix well. Turn down the flame and let it simmer for two to three minutes. Serve warm in a bowl and you can top it off with chopped cashew nuts. Instead of jaggery, you may substitute it with ¼ cup of sugar. 5. Creamy Oats and Chicken Porridge Picture Credit: toastable.com I'm pretty sure you've heard of oats that are served with berries and fruits. But have you actually thought of pairing it with meat? It is simply delicious. This oats and chicken porridge will give you the amazing curry flavour, along with all the goodness and health benefits of oats, leaving you full and satisfied after Iftar. Ingredients 1 small chicken breast A small pandan leaf (about an inch) ½ tea spoon of coriander powder ¼ cup of thick coconut milk ½ teaspoon of chili powder 2 cloves of garlic ¼ tea spoon of turmeric powder 1 small onion ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon powder (or stick) A few curry leaves (around 4 to 5 leaves would do) ½ tea spoon of coriander powder 1 tablespoon of ghee (clarified butter) ¼ cup of instant oats Chopped coriander leaves for garnish (optional) Method Cut up the chicken breasts into cubes. Add the chicken cubes, tumeric, chilli, coriander and cinnamon powder or stick into a pot. Add a teaspoon of salt and a cup of water and bring the mixture to a boil until the chicken is cooked. Set it the pot aside. In a separate cooking pot, mix the oats and 2 cups of water. Stir well until it is partially soaked. Place the pot with the oats and water on a stove with medium heat. Add in a ¼ tea spoon of salt along with the small pandan leaf and cook the oats in the water. Once the oats are cooked add in the chicken along with the broth and mix well. Keep stirring the mixture and avoid any lumps being formed in the porridge. Once the porridge has reached a boil, add the thick coconut milk a little at a time and mix well. Turn the flame to low and let the porridge simmer for a few minutes. While the porridge in simmering on low heat. Take a small sauce pan and heat the table spoon of ghee. Add the garlic and onions to the heated ghee along with the curry leaves. Sauté this till the onions are golden (do not brown the onions too much, make sure to keep an eye on this). Add the garlic, onion and curry leaves to the oats. Serve warm in bowls and garnish with few chopped up coriander leaves. Alternatively, you can substitute the chicken with beef. Pre-heat the porridge before iftar to serve it warm....

  • #MyFirstTarawih: The Unaccompanied Man

    "Never have I imagined to be met with this man on my first Tarawih and it truly is a blessing." Taking you back to the year 2004, at about eight years old at the time, I was living in Sri Lanka with my mom, sister and my grandmother. The month of Ramadan has always excited me. But as a little kid, I didn’t have a deep understanding to what Ramadan was really about. A huge part of me was simply excited about the variety of food laid on the table. And another part of me was also looking forward to the times when I would receive an abundance of compliments from my family when I successfully fasted without missing a single day. I loved it. There has always been something special about the month of Ramadan compared to the rest of the year. It's holy, spiritual and ever since I was little I have always seen how this blessed month unites all Muslims together and strengthen the bond between muslim borthers and sisters. As a child, all I could do was to  mirror the adults in their ibadah. My parents told me that the beauty of Ramadan is that it brings a person closer to Allah, and so I made sure to do anything and everything to get his fullest blessings upon me. That year, my mom thought it was high time that I learned how Tarawih prayers are performed. Proudly walking towards the mosque that night, there's a little spark in me that gives these jittery of my very first Tarawih. The fear of making mistakes during the prayer and to pray alone in the mens’ prayer area without my mom was all over me that night. As I end my sunnah prayers, I noticed a man, probably around 60 years of age, handicapped on a wheelchair. The look on his face, it wasn't something I'm used to especially in Ramadan, the month of barakah. This man had a rough look on his face but at all that vanished when he suddenly smiled. As it hit me that he was a man with disabilities, I couldn't help but to look for his family members or someone that had accompanied him. Emotional, hurt, lonely, these were all I could think about when I look at him. But why? Why was he alone and disabled? I wondered but of course I didn't have the guts to utter a single question for fear that I would be deemed insensitive. I remembered hearing a soft but soothing voice coming from him asking about my family and I. After a talk or two, I finally got the courage to shoot out the 'why question'. Calm, he smiled and told me that he was a victim of an accident that occurred 10 years ago. He was disowned by his own children after the demise of his wife because they thought he was a 'burden'. Tears were clearly starting to form in his eyes. Once again in full calmness, the man simply patted my head. What he said next has always been vivid in my ears. He had told me that whatever happens in life, good or bad, is in the will of Allah and that no matter how hard it is, we must always and forever turn to Allah and In Shaa Allah, He will bestow His mercy upon us. Every word he said has stuck through me till this day. Never have I imagined to be met with this man on my first Tarawih and it truly is a blessing. And 15 years later, at the age of 23, my new love for Islam has Alhamdulillah, shaped me into the person I am today. I thank Allah for allowing my path to cross his in the blessed month of Ramadan. ...

  • A Muslim's Guide to London Stansted International Airport

    Located in Stasted Mountfitchet, and about 48km from Central London is the Stansted International Airport. The Stansted International Airport is owned and run by the Manchester Airport groups, serving up to 170 destinations all over the world. On top of catering to international flights, the airport’s runway is also used by a number of private companies that provide private and chartered flights. Due to its massive operations, the airport earned the prestige of being named the fourth busiest airport in United Kingdom, coming in line after The Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester airports. The London Stansted airport comprises of one main passenger terminal with three passenger satellites which comprises of boarding gates to domestic and international flights. The main terminal of the airport is constructed in a unique way which features a “floating roof” with the support of a space frame that gives the appearance of a stylish swan in flight. Find Halal Restaurants near you in London   Prayer Facilities Picture Credit: www.stanstedairport.com Although the Stansted International Airport lacks of a Muslim-only prayer facility, you will still be able to offer your prayers at a common prayer room which is open throughout the clock. There are two prayer rooms, one is located opposite Check-in Zone A and the other is located near the Escape lounge in the Departure area after you had gone through the security.  The prayer area also includes a washing facility for you to perform ablution before your prayer. Since it is a common prayer place, make sure to carry along a praying mat and a copy of the Al-Quran if required for your worshipping necessities.   Dining Picture Credit: www.airport-business.com When dining in the restaurants at the London Stansted Airport, I would recommend opting for vegetarian options rather than meat since most restaurants do not bear a halal certificate. I would recommend purchasing meals from internationally renowned brands at the airport such as Burger King, Starbucks, Costa and Itsu. Itsu does offer a range of low calorie, low carb, seafood and salad based dishes. However, feel free to consult the staff before ordering your meal to verify if animal fats or such are comprised in your dish.   Shopping Picture Credit: www.worlddutyfreejobs.com The London Stansted Airport will surely give you an amazing shopping experience. Whether it's your last minute shopping, or a calm shopping spree, you will be amazed by the deals that can only be found at the London Stansted Airport. You'll find products such as the latest gadgets, mobile accessories, cosmetics, toiletries and even gifts before you leave for your next destination! Be sure to spare some money for brands like Armani, Estee Lauder and even Apple.   The Escape Lounge Picture Credit: www.stanstedairport.com Take a break and keep yourself occupied before your next flight at the Stansted Airport’s Escape lounge located in the main departure lounge. You can either pre-book and guarantee your entrance to the lounge online at the airport website or simply pay and enter upon arrival. The opening hours of the lounge are from 4AM to 8.30PM, effective till the 31st of December 2018. At the lounge, you'll find an array of meals. I recommend that you go full vegan at the Escape lounge since there are no sources found confirming if the food served is Halal-certified. When ordering your vegan-only meals, feel free to consult with the workers at the Escape lounge regarding the ingredients used in your vegan-only meals to confirm that it is purely vegetarian. Apart from the food, the Escape lounge is also equipped with Wifi and television viewing facilities to keep you occupied. The lounge is equipped with printing and scanning facilities for your admin matters. Or you might just want to take a power nap and unwind comfortably at the Escape lounge before your flight. The pre-book price to use the facility per person is £25. If you are travelling with an infant below two years of age, note that entrance is free for your infant, however please make sure to dial 0808 1697 031 to inform the personnel that you are bringing an infant. If you are planning to travel in groups of over 6 people, you will need to obtain prior authorization before booking admittance to the Escape lounge. Simply call 0808 1697 031 between 9AM and 6PM daily to confirm your booking. The Escape lounge welcomes passengers from any aircraft or airline.   Banking at the Airport Picture Credit: www.stanstedairport.com In order to facilitate your transactions in and out of London, Moneycorp is conveniently located at the Stansted airport to help you. Moneycorp operates six body offices at the Stansted airport for your convenience. You will be able to perform a variety of banking transactions including currency exchanges while obtaining competitive currency exchange rates of over 60 different currencies worldwide. To make your travel experience even more convenient, you can order your travel money online prior to travelling, or you can also apply for the explorer multi-currency MasterCard to make travelling around the globe a much simpler task. Furthermore, there are a number of ATMs located throughout the airport. Simply refer to the airport map or stop by the Information Desk to locate the nearest ATM. The ATMs also dispense cash in a number of different currencies including the Great Britain pound, the Euro, the US dollar, Czech Koruna and Polish Zloty.   Getting To and From the Airport Buses and Coaches You can book your coach from Looking4Transfers, taking you from the airport to a number of destinations all over the UK. The coaches provide a comfortable journey of maximum standards at very affordable prices. Alternatively, you can also take the coach provided by the London National Express which offers transport between the airport to London, stopping at the city’s prominent locations such as the London Paddington, London Victoria and London Liverpool Street. Train from the Airport If you prefer to take the train to get your way in and out of the London Stansted Airport, it can be done with ease. The Stansted Express offers the speediest transport to get you to and from the London Stansted Airport. Note that the train departs every 15 minutes and it takes just 47 minutes to get you from the airport to London Liverpool Street. Alternatively, you can opt to take the direct train to the Stansted airport as well. Since the station is located directly underneath the airport you will have no issue. You can either purchase the tickets upon arrival or pre-book your tickets online, saving you a few dollars. The airport is well-equipped with ramps and elevators for visitors that have bulky luggages. The station is simply a 2 minutes walk from the airport terminal.  Taxi If you prefer to book a taxi rather than using the public coach or train, you can do so at the airport reservation desk located in the international arrival concourse.  The recommended transport provider by the airport, 24x7, provides a very good service for its passengers 24 hours a day. For all the passengers who need special requirements such as wheel chair access or baggage accommodation please note that certain vehicles of the service provider are well equipped to cater to those needs. Simply make your booking as per your requirement at the reservation desk. The fare of the journey will be informed prior and you can make the payment at the counter using your debit or credit card or alternatively, you can also pay directly to the driver when you have reached your destination. Book a Halal Trip with us! Check out our London City Guide!...

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