April 24th-May 1st
Suhoor of the week:
Suhoor is a meal, kind of like breakfast, we eat before sunrise (fajr) to help us get through the day without struggling to fast. When I was younger, my mum would always wake us up for suhoor, especially on days we had to go to school. During my teenage years, for some reason I stopped eating before fajr, I used to only drink water, pray and go back to sleep. But now as an adult working full time (thankfully at home due to self-isolation), I find eating suhoor honestly is the reason I can accomplish more in one day while fasting. My job requires me to work 7.5 hours a day, on top of that I need to keep the house clean, laundry done, cooking done and ready in time for breaking fast (iftar), and work a bit on my blog each day. Therefore, I need to add as much fuel as I can to my body when I get the time to.
Suhoor essentials to me: I am a coffee drinker, so I pick to drink my coffee during suhoor (even though you’re not meant to because caffeine makes you thirsty) as well as a cup of water. In terms of food, I would usually lean towards the leftovers which usually involves rice, but on mornings I want something lighter, I lean towards bread, sandwiches, cereal, chapati bread, and sometimes even soup. After that I go pray the first prayer of the day, and usually would have another 1-3 hours before I have to start work, so I go right back to bed!
Soup of the week: Chicken & Sweetcorn Soup
For the first week of Ramadan, I decided to create a classic dish my mum always cooks for Ramadan, chicken and sweetcorn soup. Me, being a pro blogger, forgot to take a picture of it, however I will share the recipe I followed and really liked (Here is the link:https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/user/757676/recipe/chicken-sweetcorn-soup). I personally wouldn’t change anything about the recipe, it was a quick and easy recipe to follow and it tastes so good.
Starters of the week: Chicken Fattoush Salad, Beef & Chicken Sambosa, Veggie Spring Rolls and Falafel
Starters, or side dishes, are as important as the actual meal (at least in my opinion). In some cases, it is made to complement the main dish. So, for this week, since it’s only two of us, I decided to make small quantities of everything to avoid wasting food. I love feeling like I’m in a buffet of options when it comes to iftar, so for the first week I picked four different starters, and only one of them I’m actually going to prepare myself. My aunt visited me few months ago and she had prepared me big bags of homemade beef sambosas, and I knew I wanted to keep them for ramadan therefore I froze them the day it arrived, and would just need to cook them few minutes before iftar. For the chicken sambosa, veggie spring rolls and falafel, they are store bought and as well frozen to be cooked before iftar. Everyday I take out 2-3 of each to defrost and cook in the oven, I am not a huge fan of cooking with oil so I try to avoid it as much as I can. For the salad, this obviously needs to be prepared in the day, it is a quick and easy salad to follow!
(Here is the link for the Chicken Fattoush Salad: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/chicken-fattoush)
Meals of the week:-
As mentioned in my previous post, pre-planning meals in Ramadan is very important to avoid stress and meal repetition. For each week I will be cooking 3 main meal dishes, in quantities that will last 2-3 days to avoid cooking everyday. This week I decided not to touch the pre-cooked meals that Ive frozen, I’m planning to save these meals for those rainy days where I might be too tired to cook.
1. Minced Lamb Maqlouba
So, let’s start with the Maqlouba, it’s a very popular Middle Easter dish which means upside-down. In the simplest explanation, its layering your vegetables (traditionally starting with eggplant), then adding your meat of choice, and finally adding your rice and broth to cook, and once ready, flipping the dish into a plate to present all the different layers. Now, this is my first time trying it (after watching like three videos online) and I thought I could pull it off, but it was a huge fail, well not entirely. As shown in the picture, the rice is over cooked, however the taste and flavour of the dish was incredible (we still ate the entire thing!). The measurements were not right, and for that reason I will not be sharing the recipe for now, but once I perfect it I will!
2. Chicken Shawarma
Another classic Middle Eastern dish is Shawarma! One of the most loved dish across all Arab countries. Again, as an amazing professional blogger that I am, I forgot to take a picture of the food, but found this picture in my phone (took it to show off what I made to my brother so it’s the best I could do for now). As shown in the picture, the table is set to create a ‘taco night’ theme but Arabian style. We each got a large piece of Arabic bread which has been buttered and heated on a pan for few minutes on each side. For me, I made myself a small bowl of the chicken and sweetcorn soup and leftover beef sambosas from the previous night. We as well had freshly chopped salad to go in our sandwiches, the chicken shawarma strips, homemade garlic yogurt, and of course some rice because we can’t have dinner without rice in my house!
3. Salmon with Homemade Potato Chips and Rice
Moving on to the last dish of the week, and once again the blogger of the year forgot to take a picture of it! So sorry! Promise will get better at it, for those who fast and cook will understand how hard it is to take a picture of the food while fasting, because once everything is laid out and it’s time for iftar, your mind goes blank and thinks of food, Food, FOOD!
Anyway, this dish was one of the easiest and fastest meals I’ve cooked this week, I just roughly chopped up some potatoes into french fries with come olive oil, salt, pepper, and potato seasoning, threw it in the over for 30-45 minutes (try to chop them equally so everything is evenly cooked). The salmon was as well seasoned with olive oil, salt, pepper, hint of turmeric, and fish seasoning and in the oven for 30-45 minutes as well (depending on how big you fillet is).
Dessert of the week: Chocolate Biscuit Cake
Desserts are extremely important after every iftar in my opinion, that is the way I grew up having it. It doesn’t have to be something big, or even fatty, anything sweet as a treat is a great thing to look forward to after a long day of fasting. For the first week, my in-laws dropped off some goodies a day before the start of Ramadan and one of the things they dropped of was a chocolate biscuit cake which is truly amazing complimented with a warm cup of Arabic tea. This is usually my ‘chilling’ time after iftar, I watch TV and relax after a long day of working, cooking, cleaning, and religious activities. It is my favourite time, and I got right to bed after it to be able to wake up for suhoor the next day.
Drink of the week: Vimto + Water
I truly don’t know if this is a Middle Eastern thing, or all muslims do this, BUT! RAMADAN WITHOUT VIMTO ISN’T RAMADAN!
#sorrynotsorry for the all caps but, I am extremely passionate about having vimto during iftar. For some reason we don’t have this drink throughout the year, even though it’s available to buy all year round, we just have it during Ramadan at iftar. It is amazing, incredible, and reminds me of my childhood so much that I cannot, and will never, have Ramadan without it.
So, how I prepare it! This year I’ve put my own twist to it, I add a splash (2-3 tablespoons) of rose water to the mixture, one cup of vimto syrup, one cup of white sugar, and fill the rest of the jar with water. For the size of my 1.5 L jug, this is the perfect measurement. Sugar level is debatable so make sure if you do try this, start with half a cup of sugar and add more if needed after tasting.
The first week has gone by so fast, and I am proud to say that I haven’t missed one day of reading the Quran, I am proud of myself so far because I’ve never gone this far in one week in previous Ramadans. Another thing I am proud of is being able to cook fresh, healthy food everyday, and being more organized and in control of my time. What I’m looking to improve in the following weeks is stop being lazy and procrastinate, every now and then I do feel like I’m wasting my time on my phone when I could be using it in a better way. In the next few weeks I want to focus on accomplishing the goals I set before the end of the month, and finding ways to continue accomplishing these goals throughout the rest of the year. Along with, finding ways to give back and help people in need.