Archive | June 2014

Moon Sighting

Let’s start off this post first and foremost with a “Ramadan Mubarak” to all the fellow Muslims. May Allah (SWT) guide us all in the right path, and accept all our prayers, fasts, & good deeds during this blessed month. Ameen.

For my non-Muslim friends: the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar so the start of each month/year, therefore, is based on the [new] moon. Thus, the days in each month can vary by a day as a result.

The significance of the month of Ramadan? The holy Qu’ran was revealed in this blessed month.

Now onto the topic itself that is eating away at me today. It’s actually been eating away at me for years.

So, each year, when it’s time to figure out when the month of Ramadan is going to start and/or when Eid will be based on the moon sighting… well, let’s just say the days before every Ramadan/Eid [for as long as I can remember] is always full of controversy, debate and even, perhaps, arguments.

A moon is a moon. If it’s been “sighted” by one, then as a collective ummah we need to unite. The earth has but one moon.

Yet every year, without a shadow of a doubt, there is at least one group of people that decides to vary from the pact and do it a different day. There have been times in the past when the difference in days has been two days. How that is even possible, I don’t know, considering a month can have either 29 or 30 days in the Islamic calendar.

For there to be different days of Eid, or to argue which day is the first day of the blessed month of Ramadan is to essentially accuse the other half of the ummah of deceit and lies. That “we know you say you saw the moon, but we don’t believe you”… which in itself is something major and something for you to ponder.

There is an hadith that says something to the likes of that:

“Whenever you sight the new moon (of the month of Ramadan) observe fast, and when you sight it (the new moon of Shawwal) break it, and if the sky is cloudy for you, then observe fast for thirty days.”

Which is very ironic because so many times the argument made in previous years is that it was too cloudy for the moon to be visible so Ramadan doesn’t start tomorrow.

Which brings me to my next point. Technology. Technology has come a long way. We now can very easily figure out when there is [or will be] a new [visible] moon. We need to come together and create an Islamic calendar based on the help of indisputable astronomical information and all of the advancements in science and technology over the years.

I read a quote online by the national coordinator and moon sighting consultant to ISNA that said:

“Today, Muslims have expertise and access to technology to understand the calculations of when and where the sighting occurs. Recorded data shows how the science of moon sighting is compared with the actual observations. The results show that calculations of sighting and observations have matched every month since 1993. Calculations of moon sighting and actual sighting are not two different things for an Islamic Calendar when it was found that they both match.”

Don’t even get me started on the argument that back in the day, there wasn’t all this science and astronomical information. Because most of the people who argue this are the ones who open their fasts based on the exact time of maghrib down to the minute/second as listed on the prayer schedule [and are not so particular about prayer times the other 11 months of the year]. Never mind the fact that back in the day there weren’t cell phones, computers, TVs, and all these other technological advanced things available either.

Religion isn’t meant to complicate your life, rather it’s meant to simplify it. If you dig deep enough, it will always help you find an answer to every single one of your questions.

I am not sure if I completely agree with leaving it all completely to science. Some part of me believes that there needs to be a reliance on a physical sighting IF it’s not cloudy because of the hadith. I think science and technology should be used to help, not hinder. I think we need to establish and follow a universal “moon sighting” at the very least [that if it’s visible to one, then it’s as if it’s visible to all]. I think we need to get our acts together and work on establishing an Islamic calendar.

Again, these are my thoughts and thoughts alone. I’m not an expert by any means… and I don’t claim to be one either.

Allah knows best.

What’s for Dinner: Olive Oil and Herb Dip


To serve alongside my homemade bread last night, I quickly put together this olive oil and herb dip that is served at several restaurants.

I combined garlic powder, [very little amount of] salt, black pepper, crushed red pepper, thyme, basil, oregano and parsley flakes. I also mixed in a little olive oil so the herb mixture would stick together.

Add some of it to olive oil and it’s ready to serve/eat.

Like my recipes? Click the below link to purchase my cookbook “What’s for Dinner”:

P.S. This post is a part of my “What’s for Dinner” series, where I share what I’ve been cooking and my recipes.

What’s for Dinner: Homemade Bread

You need:

  • 1 cup of [warm] water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar20140625-173527-63327979.jpg
  • 1 package of instant yeast
  • 3 cups of [all-purpose] flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Olive oil

What I did was:

  1. In your mixing bowl, combine the warm water, the sugar, and the yeast. Stir the ingredients together. Then let it sit for around 10 minutes [until the yeast starts to foam].
  2. Next, add in the flour and salt. Mix the ingredients together until everything is incorporated and a nice dough forms. In my stand mixer, I switch to the dough hook when adding the flour and salt.
  3. I, then, sprayed the bowl that I would let the dough rise in with non-stick cooking spray just to make things simple for me. Transfer your dough into this bowl. Cover with a damp paper towel and let it rise in a warm area. I typically let any type of dough I am working with rise in a turned off oven. No kneading involved!
  4. Let your rise for around an hour. Or at least 30 minutes.
  5. When you are ready to bake the bread [the dough has risen], preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  6. Line a baking tray with foil [for easy cleanup]. Drizzle olive oil on top of the foil.
  7. Transfer your dough to your lined baking sheet. Score the top of the dough, and drizzle with more olive oil.
  8. Bake in your preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes.

I served it alongside an olive oil and herb dip today, but it would be great for sandwiches or anything else too.

Like my recipes? Click the below link to purchase my cookbook “What’s for Dinner”:

P.S. This post is a part of my “What’s for Dinner” series, where I share what I’ve been cooking and my recipes. Grab and share my button:

What’s for Dinner: Garlic Knots

Tonight, I made garlic knots.

The semi-homemade way. I say that because instead of making my own pizza dough first, what I used instead was those refrigerated biscuits.

Easy to make, delicious, and ready in twenty minutes [prep and baking time included]!

Here’s what I used:

  • 1 [16-ounce] can of [refrigerated] buttermilk biscuits20140619-192121-69681884.jpg
  • 2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried parsley flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 cup of [unsalted] butter, melted

Here’s how I made it:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Line your baking sheet with foil [for easy cleanup].
  2. Cut each of the 8 biscuits in half. Then, using your hands, roll each of the pieces until they are about twice the length. Or even a little longer.
  3. Make a knot out of each piece of dough. and lay on top of your [lined] baking sheet.
  4. In a small bowl, combine together the Parmesan cheese, garlic powder,oregano, parsley and salt.
  5. Melt the butter and add it to the dry ingredients. Mix well.
  6. Brush each of the knots with the butter mixture. Don’t get rid of the leftover butter mixture just yet.
  7. In your preheated oven, bake the garlic knots for about 8-10 minutes. Until they are golden brown.
  8. As soon as you take them out of the oven, brush them with the rest of the butter mixture that was leftover earlier. The heat will help the mixture melt over the baked garlic knots and give the finishing touch.

Serve immediately!

Like my recipes? Click the below link to purchase my cookbook “What’s for Dinner”:

P.S. This post is a part of my “What’s for Dinner” series, where I share what I’ve been cooking and my recipes. Grab and share my button:

What’s for Dinner: Mini Tacos

Monday night, I made some mini chicken “tacos” using wonton wrappers. This is how I made it:20140609-171540-62140852.jpg

  1. I took ground chicken and seasoned it with black pepper, paprika, garlic powder and paprika. You could, of course, do the same thing with ground meat as well.
  2. Over low to medium heat, I cooked the ground chicken in a non-stick skillet.
  3. Once the chicken was cooked through, I added [low sodium] taco seasoning. Mix well, and let it cook for a few more minutes before you remove it from the heat.
  4. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  5. Take a [24-count] mini muffin pan and line each one with a wonton wrapper, pressing it down in the middle. Fill it with your cooked taco meat.
  6. Bake, in your preheated oven, for about 6-8 minutes.
  7. Once it is baked, add salsa [along with whatever other topping you like on your tacos].

Like my recipes? Click the below link to purchase my cookbook “What’s for Dinner”:

P.S. This post is a part of my “What’s for Dinner” series, where I share what I’ve been cooking and my recipes.

Milestone Anniversaries

This past Saturday, we celebrated my aunt and uncle’s silver jubilee [about a month early]. Their anniversary falls in the middle of Ramadan this year, so their kids decided to throw them an early surprise party.

My aunt and uncle in Canada will, inshAllah, mark their 25th milestone next month.

My parents just celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary, mashAllah, this past March.

My aunt and uncle in Norway celebrated their 40th anniversary this past January.

And my great aunt and her husband, mashAllah, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary this past November.

I pray Allah SWT bestows this kind of happiness on all of us.

All of these aforementioned couples have such distinct and different personalities. But they balance each other out. Like any couple should do.

I am not sure how many of you have heard the saying that “they were born in a time when if something was broken they would fix it, not throw it away.” There is just something about the previous generation that just makes it work. They won’t budge. They compromise.

Not just tolerate each other, but thrive with one another.

It’s probably one of the most valuable lessons they can teach our generation, yet at the same time– it’s not something you can be taught. Rather, it’s something you emulate. You can tell someone that marriage is full of compromises a hundred times over, but unless they witnessed that themselves from their role models… it means nothing.

In this day and age, where divorce and separation is as common as a new wardrobe, it’s something to think about. It’s something I have always thought about a lot… and even more so now with the big day being less than seven months away for me, inshAllah.

Anniversaries, and other such joyous events deserve to be celebrated. Whether it’s one year, nineteen years, or 60 years together: it’s momentous. It’s something to be proud of. And most importantly, I think, it’s a good reminder of what you have faced together. Not to mention what you have overcome together. The good times and the bad not so good times.

I pray Allah SWT showers everyone with His infinite blessings. I pray our generation not only emulates from the good examples from the previous generation(s) but also LEARNS from the troubled ones. And are a good example for the future generation(s).

What’s for Dinner: Biryani

So apparently when you are about to marry a [born and raised] Pakistani guy, you start to think that maybe, just maybe, you should also brush up on your Pakistani cooking skills and know how to make the more common Pakistani dishes. As a result, last night’s dinner was chicken biryani.

Biryani is probably a staple in every Pakistani house an20140608-112701-41221622.jpgd pretty much everyone loves it. Not me, but that’s besides the point. But I do like the potatoes in biryani…

Counting last night, I have now made biryani a grand total of only three times in my life. Once, way back in high school [to the best of my recollection] at least ten years ago, once last year on Ayaz’s birthday upon his request and then one more time last night. 

If you know me, then you are well aware that while I cook often, and enjoy doing so, I tend to cook non-Pakistani dishes most of the time. Mainly because I’m not a fan of eating it either. I suppose it has somewhat to do with the fact that I would prefer to eat other [lighter to eat, easier on the stomach] cuisines. Oddly enough though, two of my favorite things to eat are Pakistani dishes: haleem and bihari kabab.

More than anything else, this post is a write up mainly for me– because we all know I am going to need it for future reference 🙂 .

Here’s how I made it yesterday [basedIMG_0226IMG_0226 on what Ami told me]. I list the amounts for two different versions: a smaller serving and a hefty family size serving.

  1. To chicken, add: fried onions, yogurt, lemon juice, paprika, black pepper, garlic, ginger, salt, a pinch of garam masala (if using 1/2 a chicken or add half a teaspoon for 2 chickens), combination of Bombay biryani and Sindhi biryani mix (if you are using two chickens: use a little less than 1 box combined; for half a chicken, add just 1/4 box combined).
  2. Spray your pot with non-stick cooking spray. Add the marinated chicken on high heat. When the chicken starts to cook, reduce the heat to very low heat and let the chicken cook completely. You know the chicken is done when you test the leg piece and it’s cooked through.
  3. When chicken is about half way done, add cut potatoes to it.
  4. For the rice portion: use 6 cups of rice if you are using 2 chickens; if you are using just 1/2 a chicken, take only 2 cups of rice.
  5. When boiling rice [on high heat], add 1 long [clove] if are using half a chicken (ot 3-4 if using 2 chickens), eliachi [cardamom] (same amount as long), a pinch of kala zeera), some oil [1 tablespoon for 1/2 chicken, 2-3 tablespoon for 2 chicken] and the same amount of apple cider vinegar (which helps the rice not break). Also add 2-8 black peppercorns [depending on the amount of rice/chicken], salt, and a whole cinnamon stick.
  6. As soon as rice starts to boil take it off the heat and drain– you only want to have the water start to boil until the rice is almost done– it will still be a little hard, but won’t break when you press it. Should/could take about 20+ minutes.
  7. Next, to your big pot [over very low heat]: add the chicken to the bottom before adding the rice on top [don’t mix yet]. Add a sprinkle of fried onion, some lemon juice [1-4 teaspoon depending on the amount of rice/chicken], some garam masala powder, and some poudina [mint]. If you are adding fresh poudina, also add a few fresh small green peppers and cut up tomatoes. Lastly, sprinkle in some food coloring if you want [orange or yellow]. Leave your pot covered, and on extremely low heat, for about 30-40 minutes.
  8. Turn off the heat, keep the pot covered, and leave it alone for another hour before you mix the biryani [and serve].

Tip: two types of raita will work great with this biryani. Click here to see the one I have already posted about in the past. The other one is this: to yogurt, add garlic powder, salt, diced up tomatoes, poudina (mint), and diced up cucumbers.

If you are using red meat [baby goat works well], the meat will just take longer to cook [and you will need more ginger].

Like my recipes? Click the below link to purchase my cookbook “What’s for Dinner”:

P.S. This post is a part of my “What’s for Dinner” series, where I share what I’ve been cooking and my recipes.