Ramadan Food ( Contains Pictures of Yummy Food, Read after Iftar !)

Its Ramadan Allhumdulilah (praise God)!
Of course there is never a better way to get people to become obsessed with food than to have them fast!
The long hours of this years fast in the northern hemisphere means we are also constantly thinking about what delicious juices to drink once the sun dips.
Fasting for 18 hours+ means we have to carefully plan what we will eat in the two meals at sunset and before the dawn, a window of time so small that these meals have to be light and balanced or else we’ll really feel the consequences.

The meals also have to be quick and easy to prepare, Ramadan is precious and we are busy with worship night and day, spending hours in the kitchen shouldn’t factor into our holy month.

Iftars (evening meal at sunset)
After the traditional dates and water I usually put a bowl of fresh fruit salad or water melon on the table that everyone can dive into before the Maghrib prayer, I usually have a big tub of fruit salad in the fridge in Ramadan and everyday add to it or re do it, sometimes just slices of apple with lime juice and a sprinkle of sugar or honey.

You can add cinnamon or even a peanut butter dip but keep it light.

After the prayer we sit down to a meal, usually meat and rice or couscous and salad, we avoid dry or oily foods like chips or processed salty foods like sausage or frozen samosas. (I said it, we don’t eat samosas in Ramadan in our house!!)

We rarely have soup, traditionally most muslims breakfast on a rich soup, well in the culture I was raised in anyway, but my family are not keen so Harira or Choba doesn’t feature very often on our table which is a shame because I love it !

I love making a big chopped salad that goes with everything, just chop, a cucumber, two large bell peppers, a few spring onions and tomatoes and toss in olive oil and apple cider vinegar, add salt to help the juices come out and that will keep in the fridge for a few days.

You can add olives, celery, grapes, fresh chilli or avocados, all are delicious.

Drinks
Nothing beats cold water at iftar Try adding fresh lime to your water and leaving it to steep for an hour before you breakfast its the most refreshing drink ever!

Juice cocktails,
try mixing coconut water with fresh pineapple juice and lime
orange juice with cranberry
mango with fizzy water
or whatever takes your fancy, but avoid sugary processed drinks like coke or pepsi which will dehydrate you and irritate your bladder and kidneys.

Suhur

We keep it simple at Suhur,
eggs in a wholemeal english muffin
yoghurt with fruit and linseed
wrap with tuna and some of the chop salad I mentioned.
Lots of water.

Chicken and Vegetable Soup.

This is my all time greatest soup recipe and even better is is costs so little and taste great.
This is a real, whatever you have knocking about in the fridge kind of recipe and its wonderful if you’re feeling a bit run down or have flu.

You’ll need the following basics.

  • Chicken on the bone.
  • Onion
  • Herbs
  • Garlic

Chicken on the bone, it doesn’t have to be a lot of chicken, I usually use a couple of carcase after the butcher has removed the legs and fillets.

Put the chicken in to a large pan and cover with cold water, add a roughly chopped onion, a handful of peppercorns, a whole head of garlic (you dont have to peel it) and a lot of herbs, whatever you’ve got but I’d avoid mint.

Bring this to the boil and skim off any froth off the top, then simmer for a couple of hours. It will fill your home with the comforting smells of soup.
Drain the lot, reserving the water, do NOT throw it away! Leave the chicken to cool, the stock you’ve made will be why your soup is so delicious.

gently fry an onion until soft and add a load of vegetables cubed into bite size pieces, use any of the following. I often pick up a “soup mix” from the reduced section of the supermarket, so its all nicely chopped for me.

  • Leeks
  • Onion
  • Carrots
  • Potatoes
  • Celery
  • Parsnip
  • Sweet potato
  • Swede or Turnip
  • Kale
  • Sweetcorn
  • Fennel
  • Mushrooms
  • Spinach
  • Bell Pepper
  • Chilli Peppers

Really anything in the fridge will do.

I then add a ridiculous amount of garlic finely minced, a whole couple of heads, you really don’t have to. It really kicks the crap out of a cold or flu.


If you want, you can roast a few heads of garlic and add them. Really YUMMY.

Once its fried for a few mins add your lovely stock and a big handful of herbs, fresh parsley or if you are Moroccan like me, coriander !
Add a handful of barley (don’t be tempted to add more than a handful as it really expands and you’ll end up with barley stew, trust me !).
Bring this to the boil and then simmer for about an hour to cook the barley throughly.

You can add all kinds to this soup,noodles, beans or mini pasta shapes, a handful of rice or cous cous. I add cumin and paprika, but you can add whatever you like. As long as you have the basic chicken stock and seasoning you can make this however you like. Its yummy without all the vegetables as a very nourishing broth. Bone broth has so many benefits. Serve with crisp bread or rolls, bread or just eat as it is. Any left overs can be frozen or used as the base for a stew or chicken pie.

Enjoy.

Change How You Shop and be Happier !!

Shopping on a tight budget can be depressing and repetitive, unless you make changes.We’ve had many weeks when we’ve had to feed ourselves for £10 each, there are 6 of us, 4 adults and 2 children. We try and see this as a challenge rather than something negative.


1, Stop shopping at the BIG supermarket that you’ve shopped in for years. We were regular customers in Tesco for over a decade. We stopped and started shopping in a discount German store Lidl and the local butchers and grocery stores for fresh fruit and vegetables. Lidl stocks a wide range of organic fresh foods and has a different theme every week, this is good fun, we’ve took advantage of this and had complete Italian weeks when every main meal has been Italian as thats what week it was in Lidl !!

2, Make a meal plan every week and STICK TO IT !!Unless theres something cool on offer when you get to the store !

3, Look out for the discounted items, my husband confessed yesterday that when he shops he scans every aisle for the yellow reduced stickers rather than browsing ! Visit the reduced sections of the store before getting whats on your list, be prepared to alter your meal plan depending on whats available.

4, Eat whats in season, not only is this good for your body its cheaper and helps the environment so that you are not eating fresh green beans grown in Zambia for dinner in November when you could have bought frozen ones grown a few miles away. I confess we had stir fry the other night and when I checked where the sugar snap peas had come from I was disappointed to find they’d been flown in from Chile! They were delicious but we usually try and eat local grown, seasonal food. This sounds very middle class but really its not, we buy greens and potatoes from a local store that are grown on a farm which is walking distance away. We get fresh produce from our family with gardens and allotments. We try and buy British Milk and butter and cheeses.

5, Eat Organic, yes its possible on a low income. We swopped and buy only organic milk, 4 litres cost £3 for two bottles, which will last us for a few days, its worth the extra 50%, the milk taste amazing.

6, Eat 2 vegetarian main meals a week and 1 with oily fish, this helps a lot. try new recipes. The best vegetarian recipes are intended to be meat free rather than the ones that replace meat in a traditional recipe, e.g no one I know who is in their right mind likes a lentil Bolognese, use those lentils to make a tasty daal or soup.

7, The “ooo” factor, we look for new products that when we get home we’ll pack it away and say “oo thats going to be nice” The thing we bought this week was a hot chocolate from Lidl that is made from chocolate chips, it only cost £1.99 and man it was amazing !!

8, Cook from scratch, if you cant cook basic foods then you’ll never be able to survive on a low income and be healthy, if you cant cook then learn, start by learning to make a basic tomato sauce which you can use to make soup or pasta, lasagne, tuna pasta bake and lots more. Check youtube for simple recipes.

9, Go to the market,not the farmers market, I’m talking old school weekly parish market or the modern equivalent! I know we are all short of time but if you take time to shop around rather than doing all of it in one big store you’ll find your money goes further.

10, Buy in bulk online, we rarely do online shopping anymore. I got fed up of late or absent deliveries, green bananas and battered boxes. However if theres a very good deal I’ll order a bulk load to last a few months, e.g a 10kg sack of rice on special at Asda or 10l of apple cider vinegar from Amazon.

My 5 Favourite Family Weekday Meals on a Budget

So budgeting is rather chic now days, when I was growing up in London in the booming 1980’s no one spoke about making money go further, then the recession of the 1990’s hit just as I was setting up home with my husband and we quickly learnt that money doesn’t go far unless you plan your meals. We still have off days when theres not much in the house and at 4pm we’re wondering what to make for our evening meal, this usually ends with a rushed trip to the local shops, spending far too much and not eating until after 8pm.

So we try to plan, as we are mostly in the house all day we plan for breakfasts, lunches and dinners, in this post I’m going to share our favourite recipes from around the internet.

Number 1, Chilli.

One of our stables is Chilli con carne, we eat it on average twice a month, its so versatile, in a jacket potato, with rice, in a wrap as a burrito, we cook it with lean minced beef or with Quorn and loads of peppers and kidney beans heres our recipe. One batch will go over two days for a family of 4, for my greedy lot its amazing if any makes it to the fridge !!

  • 500g lean minced beef or Quorn mince.
  • 1 chopped large onion.
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic.
  • 2 tins of kidney beans in water.
  • 1 carton of passata or chopped tomatoes
  • 2 bell peppers chopped.
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin.
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • a handful of chopped coriander.
  • 1 chopped scotch bonnet pepper or a couple of chopped green chilli’s or if you like it mild you can throw in the peppers whole and take them out at the end.

Its a really easy meal to cook, gently fry (in spray oil or a table spoon of good olive oil) the onions, garlic and peppers, add the mince and brown, pour in the drained beans and passata, add the spices and chillis, add salt if you want to and cover and leave to simmer for an hour on a low heat. I usually do this in the slow cooker. Left overs taste amazing.

Number 2, Macaroni Cheese.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/macaronicheese_83521

Good ‘ole Mac n Cheese.

Number 3,Tomato Soup.

http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/vegetables-recipes/tomato-soup

Add a tin of butter beans or a handful of small pasta to the soup to make it more filling. This is the first vegetable soup I got my children to eat. It freezes well too.

Number 4, Daal.

http://agirlcalledjack.com/2013/10/03/lentil-and-spinach-daal-66p/

My favourite comfort food lentil daal, with boiled rice and a dollop of yoghurt, yummy.

Number 5, Tagine.

Moroccan Tagine is something I grew up eating its kind of like a curry but with a different set of spices, its very easy to make as its basically a stew, I love one pot cooking, here my chicken tagine recipe.

  • chicken pieces it doesn’t matter which pieces you use, I like boneless thighs they are juicy, always chose skinless ones but bone in or our it makes little difference.
  • 1kg of chicken, breast pieces, thigh or a mixture of drumsticks and thighs with the bone in.
  • an onion chopped
  • a clove of garlic
  • tea spoon each of ground cumin, paprika, black pepper and turmeric
  • half a tea spoon of cinnamon.
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 can cooked chickpeas
  • 1 litre of chicken or vegetable stock or less, if your serving it with couscous you might want more gravy.

Plus add a selection of vegetables, cubed potatoes, chunky carrot, turnip, parsnip, sweet potato, courgette, aubergines, okra, green beans, all work well, but be aware the softer vegetables don’t need as long to cook as the root vegetables. Avoid bell peppers they give it a bitter flavour.

Soften your onion and garlic in olive oil, add your chicken and brown it a bit, add your tomatoes and spices and the root veg, cook for 20 mins and then add the chickpeas and soft veg and cook on a low heat until done, this smells wonderful while cooking. You can adapt it and make a more elaborate looking meal by leaving out the vegetables, chickpeas and tomatoes and adding a jar of olives and a chopped preserved lemon serve with cous cous, rice or bread.