Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Semolina And A Sweet Snack...

I have never been a fan of sweets, especially authentic Indian sweets like laddus. Of course, one or two on an occasion would be a nice treat. But not more than that.

AZ is different. He loves these sweets; especially those from his hometown that Mum-in-Law makes. His sweet tooth is to the extent that he apparently used to have mouthfuls of them for breakfast almost every day whenever he went back to his hometown during his college semester breaks.

Ever since he's been here, his eating habits have changed. I have not been really encouraging him to munch so much on sweets; but of course, treat times are inevitable for us.

It's only natural I think, that I started learning how to make some of these traditional sweets. Nei urundai (translated as ghee balls) have been checked on the list. Have not shot photos as yet, but these were made from the ready-made mix (something which I don't really support as I like learning and preparing food from 'scratch'; makes cooking so much more 'homelier'.)

And rava laddu (semolina sweets) is the next one on the list that has been checked. Have been making time on weekends to make try out new dish.

The recent weekend, I gathered these simple ingredients for this simple sweet dish.

Just some ghee, semolina, raisins, cashew nuts, icing or powdered sugar and some cardomom seeds will be good.

All I had to do was to toast the semolina in a dry pan, and then heat up the ghee, adding in cashew nuts and raisins. And from there, added the warmed-for-awhile mixture into the semolina and made them into round dough. 

And they turned out well and sweet - to the taste buds and eyes, Alhamdhulilah. 

Monday, 8 December 2014

One Of Those Briyani Days...

You know there are some days when you would feel like having just rasam and dhal.  And there are others when you feel like having food bursting with flavours. And then there are other days you would like to pinpoint that bursting-with-flavours dish to be briyani.
Our most recent weekend was one of those days.

A beautiful weekend; and became more beautiful when AZ suggested I make lunch. These days, while I try and complete most of the housework on weekends, Mum still prefers to be ruling the kitchen. But today, getting up earlier than usual (only on weekends) and wrapping up weekly chores gave me more time to prepare dinner (because we had an early lunch too).

Mum decided on chicken; and I decided on briyani. I have long wanted to prepare a really spicy and simple at the same time,  chicken briyani. Erm...don't we all want to do that?

After looking up a few recipes online, I didn't quite find what I had in mind. I surrendered and went to  Mum. When the best cook's always with us, why do I sometimes turn to the Internet?

I have a few reasons. I only look up new versions once I have learnt Mum's variations well. I look up online, like most ladies who cook, for inspirations on variations. But briyani is different on this standard. Only because Mum's briyanis are too complex. She makes dum briyanis - where the rice and briyani masala curry are cooked separately.

That day, we both - Mum and I were in the quick-cooking mood. Looking at my dismay on not finding a recipe that we could try out, she dished out her own. It was some steps she has not tried before.

This is the simple recipe we cooked up.

To marinate first
1/2 kg of chicken
(all measures are generous portions here)
2 tsp tumeric powder
1tbsp garam masala
1 tbsp briyani masala
3-4 tbsp coriander powder
1 tbsp cumin powder
5 tbsp chilli powder/ chilli paste
1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
2 tbsp vegetable oil
salt to taste
half cup of lime juice/yoghurt
4-5 bay leaves

We left the mixture to marinate for  1 hour; the longer, the better it should be.

Cooking Method
1/2 tsp food colouring
1 tbsp rosewater
2 tbsp ghee
3-4 bay leaves
set of spices - cinnamon sticks, star anises, cardamom
serai - 1 or 2
evaporated milk, with 2 -3 strands of saffron
2 onions
2 tomatoes
2 green chillies
2 cups basmati rice : 3cups of water
fresh yoghurt to taste
salt to taste
fried onions
coriander and mint leaves
1 tbsp of ginger and garlic paste

After cooking for half an hour, Alhamdhulilah, the result was as below.
Mum and I added a tad too much water (the amount stated above is the correct version).
Otherwise, the taste was as I hoped for - bursting with flavours.
Serving up a plate below.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

My Thoughts On A Book - Notebooks from Makkah & Madinah

I have been sharing this with friends whom I know are into books:  I have never experienced anything even close to what I felt reading this book below.

The synopsis came across as a personal journey of the author - A South African convert, Shafiq Morton, with some historical information on the holy cities of Islam he visits. When it comes to history-related reading, I personally will find it heavy; heavy-reading.

But this book pushed  aside all that. Right from the first chapter, the author's personal sharing of his interaction with the people, places and presence during the visits was to me, real. There are about 32, or thereabout, chapters in the book. But I am only at Chapter 10. Because I keep re-reading them over and over again.

I have been reading on my daily commute to and from work. As that way, I will have an hour of 'me' time to dedicate just to reading.
(provided the passenger who sits next to me doesn't watch videos on his or her phone without an earpiece, or listens to music at the highest level so that half of the bus can share his or her choice of song)

Out of the times I managed to read this gem in the bus, I have teared at least twice. It was actually AZ who got hold of this book at the library.  I was preparing for a work trip weeks back and needed a book to keep me occupied on the flights. I could rarely find time to get to the library. So, AZ made time to pick up a few books for me. May Allah bless him. Ameen.

And this was one of the picks. And it's so Masha-Allah.

I am way past the due date to return this book. I have returned the other two - which I couldn't finish as well (given the three weeks' - only). But I have no heart to return this. I have searched online to purchase this book; but am yet to find a reliable source.

AZ suggested an awesome idea. That we should make a copy of the book and bind it ourselves. We will do just that, soon. In-Shaa-Allah.