Thursday, 17 July 2014

ieatfood reviews - Halal ready meals at your local supermarket

Salam readers.
So I was in Sainsburys a few weeks ago and came across some halal ready meals. There was a dedicated section for these halal meals, which consisted of ieatfoods and mumtaz curries. These meals are perfect for iftar if you are too tired to cook as they taste home made or even to take as lunch for work. I will be reviewing 3 products from the ieatfoods range.
range of meals from ieatfood in Sainsbury's

First up was the spicy beef pizza. I found the product matched the picture, the title lived up to it's name - it was beefy and spicy! As the crust part was a bit big for my liking, I added extra cheese, cherry tomatoes and small pineapple chunks to the pizza before placing in the oven. I can honestly say it is one of the best pizzas I've tasted! So much so that I made a homemade version a few weeks later lol. This pizza deserves a 9/10.
ieatfood halal spicy beef pizza
What ieatfood spicy beef pizza looks like out of the box. I added extra toppings as I don't like the edges to have too much crust.
Fresh out of the oven with added toppings and cheese. ieatfood spicy beef pizza

Next up is the spaghetti bolognese. It comes in a black mocriwaveable plastic dish with a sleeve describing the product and nutritional information. The product is about 700grams so easily feeds 2 however, you may need to boil up some extra pasta. There is plenty of meat and sauce with carrot cubes. I found this product to be standard. It was nothing to write home about. So for this reason I will award it 5/10.
ieatfood spaghetti bolognese on the left.

Next up is the Pesto chicken tagliatelle. Descried on the sleeve as "delicious tagliatelle pasta topped with succulent british chicken breast chunks and a creamy fresh basil pesto sauce."
This product comes in at around 400 grams and is over 700 calories per person, but you can share it (if you feel inclined). I've never had creamy pasta sauce before, so this was something new for me. I saw this product being reviewed on Islam Channels Living the Life for which it got good feedback from the presenters. I can say I agree. The sauce was plentiful, it was creamy and the pesto gave it an edge. The chicken was well cooked and there was a good ratio of chicken to pasta. It didn't have that stodgy bechamel feel or taste that many ready meals have. I've been back a few times to re-purchase this item but it is always out of stock which I guess is testimony to how popular it is. I will give this meal a 7.5/10.


ieatfood pesto chicken tagliatelle.

Delicious! ieatfood pesto chicken tagliatelle

So all in all the pizza is the clear winner followed by the pesto chicken tagliatelle.
Have you tried the ieatfood range yet? What's your favourite meal?

Friday, 11 July 2014

Recipe: Date Paste Crumble (Batheetha)



Ingredients:
1kg flour
3 cups caramel water
1 cup corn oil
1 cup date paste
1 cup sugar 

Preparation:
Heat the corn oil in a cooking pot and add the flour. Sauté the mixture until brown, then add the date paste, caramel water, sugar and mix for about five minutes. 

When properly cooked, remove from heat. Can be served hot or cold. A side addition of chopped fruit or ice cream perks it up nicely.
Recipe by Mike Harrison. Published in Times of Oman's 2011 edition of Art of Cooking - Flavours of Arabia

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Ramadan iftar meal plans 2014

As salaamu alaykum,

Last year, I posted meal plans where you could draw inspiration from.

Here is the link to iftar meal plans 2014:
http://www.nestle-family.com/My-Ramadan/english/recipes.aspx

RecipeRecipeRecipe

Some of the recipes include pasta with lentils, an orange and chocolate tart and a pomegranate and date drink.

Hope this provides inspiration for some of your meals!

Monday, 30 June 2014

Do's and Dont's of Ramadan - Part 1

empty plate

Ramadan: A month in which God multiplies our good deeds, forgives us and blesses us!

'O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint'  [Quran 2:183]
This month is VERY precious for us Muslims; we cannot afford to waste a single minute.
Narrated Abu Huraira(r.a): The Prophet said:"... whoever fasts during Ramadan out of sincere faith and hoping to attain Allah's rewards, then all his past sins will be forgiven." (Sahih Al-Bukhari).
"Fasting is a shield with which a servant protects himself from the Fire." [Ahmad, Saheeh]
Here are a few Do's and Don'ts, of which some you may not know and some that you may but shaytaan our ultimate enemy has made you forget!

Dont's of Ramadan

salah10
Use websites like Jamattimes.com to help keep track of prayer times

Missing Prayers

Salah (prayers) are the second pillar of Islam. It comes before Saum (fasting).
It's OBLIGATORY on all Muslims and your saum is incomplete without Salah!
ACTION:
Pray 5 times a day understanding its importance and realizing that it is God you are standing in front of. This will not only help you with your abstaining from food but also from sins as the one who is busy remembering to keep his prayers doesn’t have time to commit sins!

lower gaze

The Eye

Looking at a non-mehram (any person with whom marriage is allowed in Islam) is NOT allowed!
A Muslim should lower his/her gaze at all times where possible this will protect you from going towards that which displeases Allah.

AVOID:
* Eye contact with non-mahrams

* Staring at the pictures in newspapers/magazines

* TV - we stare at the TV without realizing the sinful images that are infront of us which we feel are normal.

These things affect your desires (even if its subconsciously) and entices you towards acting on these desires.
INSTEAD:
  • Read Quran/observe nature and say Subhaan Allah!(All praise to Allah)
  • Use the opportunity to learn and understand how amazing nature and the world around you is, you can quite easily busy yourself in getting to know your Lord through the amazing creation he puts in front of us.

listening to music

The Ear

Quit music or try refraining from it

INSTEAD: switch to
  • Tafsir of Quran
  • Recitation of Quran
  • Nasheeds 
  • CD's of Islamic lectures etc

backbiting

The Tongue

Back biting is considered a extremely sinful act
It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Do you know what gheebah (backbiting) is?” They said, “Allah and His Messenger know best.” He said, “Saying something about your brother that he dislikes.” It was said, “What if what I say about my brother is true?” He said, “If what you say is true then you have backbitten about him, and if it is not true, then you have slandered him.” [Muslim]
It was narrated that Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Whoever has wronged his brother with regard to his honour or anything else, let him seek his forgiveness today, before there will be no dinar and no dirham, and if he has any good deeds to his credit they will be taken from him in a manner commensurate with the wrong he did, and if he has no good deeds, then some of his counterpart’s bad deeds will be taken and added to his burden.” [al-Bukhaari].
So if you think that talking on the phone or meeting friends might result in back biting then avoid it.
*Abusive language: When you abuse someone it doesn't harm him, it just adds to your sins!

God hates people who abuse, so don't use it even if you don't mean it!
Narrated on the authority of Jabir that he heard the (Holy Prophet) say: A Muslim is he from whose hand and tongue the Muslim's are safe.
*Be VERY careful how you use your tongue, hurting some one with your words, is DEEPER and STRONGER than physical pain!
INSTEAD:
  • Tell people about Islam.
  • It is obligatory on us to spread the word of Allah, as we are the Ummah of the last Prophet.
  • Keep good company of those who remind you of Allah.
  • Attend the masjid or Islamic events to be in an environment which people are remembering Allah.

Fist hand human evolution COSMOS Science Magazine

The Hand

Don't get into fights, stay away and if you get into one and lose your temper, practice patience (sabr) and walk away.
Narated By Abu Huraira : The Prophet said, "Whoever does not give up forged speech and evil actions, Allah is not in need of his leaving his food and drink ( i.e. Allah will not accept his fasting.)" – [Sahih Bukhari, Vol.3, Book 31, #127]
People will probably think you're a coward, but God thinks you're a lion!


Look out for part 2 on DO's in Ramadan.
Source: email from http://www.alfitrah.com/

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Ramadan Mubarak + Ramadan Action Plan 2014

Asalaamu alaykum, the month of ramadan is finally here! I hope you all have a productive and spiritual month in which you become closer to Allah. insh'Allah.





I received my copy of the Ramadan Action Plan and it looks fantastic so far. There is a daily checklist which helps you to organise your day as well as daily tips, a deed of the day for you to complete and a dua and ahadith. What I really like about this is that you can learn the 99 names of Allah as the plan breaks the names up so you learn a few every day. There is also a poster of the full 99 names which you can tick off as you learn.

You're allowed to set personal goals which you wish to achieve during the month and use this to fill in a post ramadan reflection. There is even a chart to tick off the 6 fasts of shawal.
You can subscribe to download the action plan here: http://www.ramadanactionplan.com/
Best of all it's free and you can have a portable copy on your phone or print out a copy.


Ramadan kareem!

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Ingredients For a Content Life (2) - Love

Part 2 (final part): All you need is love..


need love
The definition of love is a ‘strong affection for something’. Love is an innate feeling in every human being. It is sometimes thought of as the element that makes us human .

The need for love

According to Islam, love has to be enlightened. A sacred love is the love which is realistic and insightful. It has been a common theme in moral advises by great Muslim preachers and Sufi masters that one should not let one's love for something or some person make him negligent of the whole truth. The reason for this emphasis is that love naturally tends to make the lover "blind and deaf'. If you love some one it is very unlikely to have an impartial view of it, unless the love is directed by the reason.
allah love

 

Divine love

A Divine love is that of a mutual love and thus the most fulfilling love a creation could ever feel. Even the worst of people still can be a receiver of Love from Allah so long as they repent. There are many beautiful Hadeeth which relate this amazing and fulfilling love Allah has bestowed upon His creation.
On the authority of Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him), who said that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:
"Allah the Almighty said: 'I am as My servant thinks I am. I am with him when he makes mention of Me. If he makes mention of Me to himself, I make mention of him to Myself; and if he makes mention of Me in an assembly, I make mention of him in an assembly better than it. And if he draws near to Me an arm's length, I draw near to him a fathom's length. And if he comes to Me walking, I go to him at speed." (related by al-Buhkari)
Furthermore the amazing quality of divine love is that Allah has made it so that through loving creation you can also be loving the Creator. This is done through following the guide of how to love through the Quran, how we live our lives, how we treat the earth and people around us. All of these things can be counted as loving Allah because it is done in obedience to Him and in seeking His pleasure and in turn Allah loves us as shown in this Hadeeth;
On the authority of Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him), who said that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:
"Allah (mighty and sublime be He) said;
'Whosoever shows enmity to someone devoted to Me, I shall be at war with him. My servant draws not near to Me with anything more loved by Me than the religious duties I have enjoined upon him, and My servant continues to draw near to Me with supererogatory works so that I shall love him. When I love him I am his hearing with which he hears, his seeing with which he sees, his hand with which he strikes and his foot with which he walks. Were he to ask [something] of Me, I would surely give it to him, and were he to ask Me for refuge, I would surely grant him it. I do not hesitate about anything as much as I hesitate about [seizing] the soul of My faithful servant: he hates death and I hate hurting him.'"
It was related by al-Bukhari.
dunya

 

Love of the dunya

According to Islam, the minimum expectation from believers is that God should have the first place in their heart, in the sense that no other love may override one's love for God; God should be the highest and foremost object of love. The Qur'an says:
Say: If your father or your sons or your brethren or your wives or your kinsfolk or the property you have acquired or the commerce you fear may slacken or the dwellings which you love¬ if these are dearer to you than God and His Apostle and striving in His way, then wait till God brings about His command; God does not guide the transgressing people. (9:24)
This verse clearly indicates that one's love for God has to be superior to one's love for whatever else that one may come to love in one's life. This superiority shows itself when the love for God and for His religion comes into conflict with one's love for one's personal belongings. In this case, a believer should be able to sacrifice his personal favourite things for the sake of God.
However there is a balance as Allah says;
But seek, through that which Allah has given you, the home of the Hereafter; and [yet], do not forget your share of the world. And do good as Allah has done good to you. And desire not corruption in the land. Indeed, Allah does not like corrupters." (28:77)
We should be moderate in when it comes to materialistic things and show gratitude to the blessings we have. It is not wrong to enjoy or have dunya in abundance but it can become a means against you when this dunya distracts you from living your life according the deen and what is more pleasing to Allah.
brotherhood

 

Love of brotherhood

On the necessity of love for people, we see that the Qur'an praises those members of the Household of the Prophet who fasted three days and gave everyday the only little food that they had at home successively to a poor, an orphan, and a captive: "And they give food out of love for Him to the poor and the orphan and the captive. [They tell them:]we only feed you for God's sake: we desire from you neither reward nor thanks."(76:8 & 9)
In another Hadeeth, The Prophet Sallahu Aleyhi wa Sallam said: "By Him in Whose Hand my soul is, you will not enter Paradise unless you believe, and you will not believe unless you love each other. Should I direct you to something that if you constantly did it, you would love each other? Spread the greetings of peace among you."[Muslim]
muslim-couple-bearded-man-niqabi-wife

 

Falling in love ..is it Haraam?

We do not say love is halal or haram because it is a feeling. Maybe it is not under control. You can judge what is under control.
If we are speaking about the emotion which we call “love” then we are simply speaking of a feeling. What we feel toward a particular person is not of great importance until our feeling is expressed in a particular action. Now if that action is permissible, then well and good. If it is forbidden, then we have incurred something that Allah does not approve of. If it is love between a man and a woman, the emotion itself is not the subject of questioning on the Day of Judgment. If you feel you love someone, then you cannot control your feeling. If that love prompts you to try to see that person in secret and to give expression to your feelings in actions permissible only within the bond of marriage then what you are doing is forbidden.

 

In conclusion

Love is a natural need for a human and comes in many forms, a parent to a child, friendship, romantically or through the bond of Islam. Having love in ones life makes a key ingredient for a content life and the best love is that of Allah’s so use the types of love we have talked about to gain Allah's love if you want to be the most content.
''O Allah I ask You for Your Love and the love of those
whom You Love and the actions that will cause me to attain Your
Love,O Allah make Your love more beloved to me than myself,my
family and cold water''
Allahumma inni asaluka hubaka, Wa hubbaman ya hibuka,
Wal amal al-ladhi bil leghuni hubbaka,
Allahumma ja’al hubbaka a-habba alay-yai,Min nafsi,
wa-ahli,wa minal barrid.

(received in email from al Fitrah academy)

Monday, 9 June 2014

Review: Abu Zaad Shepherds Bush

Abu Zaad restaurant Shepherds Bush exterior

Nestled amongst the variety of stores surrounding Uxbridge Road/Shepherds Bush Market station we found Abu Zaad and decided to try this Syrian restaurant one Saturday afternoon.
Inside it was quiet and as we sat down, the waiter/owner bought us our menus. Once we were ready to order he asked whether it’s our first time to which we replied yes, we’ve come from the other side of London. He was genuinely happy and asked how we came across the restaurant. We ordered drinks – one mint tea and one fresh tropical juice. The juice was made fresh to order, nice and thick. Cooling for the warm day. The mint tea was lovely and refreshing.

Refreshing mint tea and tropical juice - note the fresh pink rose
We ordered an aubergine kebab and a shish taouk which come with either rice or chips plus salad. We chose one rice and one chips. When they arrived woah, the portions were colossal! The cubed aubergines were grilled and fluffy on the inside and the kebab was well flavoured. The rice was seasoned, not bland as it had been cooked with meat stock and contained pieces of vermicelli. The chicken was soft and well cooked. We also got 3 types of sauces - mayo, chilli sauce and ketchup. The only downside would be that the chips were a tad oily. None the less, an enjoyable meal. One that couldn’t be finished.

Scrumptious cubes of aubergine which were soft on the inside and crunchy on the outside with seasoned lamb kebabs, chips, salad and khobez
Shish taouk, rice with slivers of vermicielli, salad andkhobez/nan
Upon leaving the waiter was kind to offer us something on the house as a warm gesture of us coming from the other side of town. We were offered a pot of mint tea and baklawa. Awww.

Pot of mint tea and some pistachio baklawa
Pouring the tea into the cups :)
It was a really nice experience and there are obviously many loyal customers as could be seen when a family arrived to a warm welcome and had a chat with the workers when collecting their take away. The only thing I would think twice about is what I order/if I can finish it! Abu Zaad you were lovely!! 9/10.

Final parting treat :P mini chocolate