I am Lubna. I am from India , currently living in the Emirates. I started this blog as a way to showcase my Crafty side and on the way learn more about the world of crafting. In some posts, I give a detailed tutorial to the project. This , I hope, will help and inspire many others to do them. Some yummy recipes, some beautiful crafts, some lovely accessories, some amazing hacks - in short..
Kebabs are loved by everyone, big or small. Although there are infinite types of kebabs out there, some of them get to enter into our favorites list. Thinking about kebabs reminds me of our recent trip to Istanbul where I devoured them, every single bit of it. The best place to enjoy kebabs has to be in this beautiful city of Istanbul. No matter where you go, the smell of this meat cooking makes you hungry, even though you might have just finished breakfast 10minutes back. In this gorgeous city, you can get to eat the kebabs anytime of the day. People have it for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Just few days back, I was thinking about our trip and the thought of kebabs came into my mind. I knew I had to make one right away. I had ground mutton meat in the freezer and this was the perfect way to use them. I tried my best to get a good shape on the wooden sticks ( I know, I need some practice on that).
These kebabs turned out delicious. They do not taste like the kebabs from Istanbul but nevertheless this version with the Indian spices is so good that maybe for once, you forget those. Here’s how this yummy goodness is made.
300g ground meat ( I used mutton. You can use mutton, beef or chicken)
3 tbsp of ginger-garlic-green chili paste
1 tbsp red chili powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp coriander leaves, finely chopped
1 egg, beaten lightly
4 tbsp corn flour
2 tbsp lemon juice
Salt to taste
Wash and drain the ground meat. Make sure there is no water in the meat. Add all the ingredients and mix well. Keep aside for at least 2 hours.
Heat oil in a grill pan. I used my Royalford double sided grill pan. You can find a similar one here.
Take a ball of the meat and shape your kebabs on a wooden stick. Cook on the grill till it’s cooked and appears brown on all sides.
Ramadan is approaching soon. It’s time to prepare ourselves for this blessed month. One of the preparations to do beforehand is to make some cooking related preparations in advance so that we can dedicate more time towards prayers and spend less time in the kitchen. Here is part 2 of the kitchen prep series.
If you haven’t checked out part 1, do check it here.
Now off to some more tips…
1. Chop and store nuts – Almonds, pistachios and cashews can be chopped well ahead before Ramadan and be stored in the refrigerator. They stay fresh for up to 6 months in the refrigerator. Adding nuts to any dish makes them taste delectable, especially the sweet dishes. The crunch can really add to its taste. If you have a weakness for sweet, it’s okay to indulge in them once in a while. Avoid having stuffs that contain high sugars as this will make you lethargic.
2. Make basic pizza dough – If you make a lot of baked snacks like pizza, pies etc then one of the easiest prep you can do is to make the basic dough needed and freeze them in individual portions. The dough stays fresh for up to a month. I use my basic pizza dough recipe which you can find here.
Once the dough has risen, punch it down. Allow it to rise for another half an hour. Now take a ball of dough that you will require for an individual snack meal, wrap it in cling foil and keep it in the freezer. Whenever you need to prepare your pies, just thaw them for about 2-3 hours and you’re good to go.
3. Make pies and store – Alternatively, you can make your favorite pies, croissants, pizza, braided breads etc and store them in the freezer ( without baking). Once you have rolled out your pies and stuffed the filling, instead of putting them in the oven, line them on a tray and place in the freezer. Once they have frozen individually, take them out and place in a ziplock bag and store in the freezer. This way they will not stick to each other. You can also wrap them individually in cling film and store.
When needed for use, do not thaw. Just pick out the number of pieces required, and place in the oven. Leave for about 5 minutes and bake.
4. Store samosas, springrolls cutlets etc – Make a batch of samosas, spring rolls and cutlets. Once you have stuffed them place in the freezer to freeze. Take them out and store in a ziplock bag. Take them out when needed and fry, bake or air fry them. A lot of time can be saved during Ramadan when preparations are made beforehand. One more advantage is that there won’t be any problems with how salty or spicy it is as you can taste it and make accordingly if you prepare them before Ramadan and not during fasting hours.
5. Make stuffings – Another useful preparation tip is to make stuffings and freeze. I include these in my regular meal planning as well, for use during busy days. Make different stuffings like shredded chicken stuffing, potato and peas stuffing, mixed veg stuffing, palak paneer stuffing, paneer tikka stuffing etc – this list could be endless. Once cooled, place in ziplock bags and store in the freezer. Do not refrigerate. Refrigerating can cause bacteria in it after a 2-3 days. Freezing will maintain its taste and keep it free from any bacteria for up to a month.
So on days when you want to make a quick sandwich for iftar, thaw your favorite stuffing. Add layers of chutney on your bread, spread your stuffing and you have a hearty snack /meal ready. If you have the basic pizza dough as mentioned earlier, you can thaw a portion of the dough and a stuffing of your choice and make your favorite pie and rolls in a jiffy. There are literally a hundred ways you can use your stuffings, in calzones, rolls, pizzas, pastas, sandwiches, croissants, etc.
If your freezer doesn’t have enough space to store samosas and springrolls, you can make their stuffing and store. When you want to make them, thaw the stuffing. Fill in the samosa and you’re done. This way, if you make 4-5 different stuffings, you can alternate them in samosa, rolls and pies.
I always like to store my stuffings in ziplock bags. Just flatten them. They become easier to store, requires less space and also thaw faster.
6. Marinate chicken, meat and freeze meatballs and kebabs – Marinating chicken and meat with your favorite pastes will be a life saver on some of the exhausting days in Ramadan. Be it peri peri chicken, barbecued chicken or green chicken charcoal, your taste buds are going to thank you for this delicious treat.
The marinated meat and chicken should be stored in the freezer. That way they will stay good for long. I usually prepare two packets of each marinated chicken and keep it in the freezer. So that means I have arranged for 6 days of dinner meal. Isn’t that great!
On one of those tiring days, I just pull out marinated chicken and grill in the oven. Make some hamoos and enjoy my meal with some pita bread.
Same goes with making kebabs and meatballs (Koftas). Mix the ingredients and bind them into proper shapes and freeze individually in a tray. Once frozen, transfer into a ziplock bag in batches. Take out a batch and grill or bake whenever needed.
7. Prepare for soups – Soups are highly nutritious and healthy. Since it contains a high quantity of water, soups nourishes our body cells and provides us fibers depending on the ingredients involved. Chicken corn soup, vegetable soup, oats soup, spinach soup, lentil soup – there are numerous combinations of soup that you can prepare on this planet.
During Ramadan, starting the iftar with a bowl of soup warms the stomach and helps in preventing bloating or any stomach discomfort. They hydrate our body after a long day. This Chicken Corn soup is soothing and refreshing and is quick to prepare as well.
You can make soup preparations beforehand by chopping the veggies and storing in ziplock bags. Alternatively, you can even blanch the veggies and store. If you want to add noodles to your soup, you can boil them and store in airtight container in the refrigerator. You can even prepare the stock base in bulk and store in the freezer.
8. Making salads – Make big batches of salad and store in an airtight container. Chop all the necessary ingredients for your salad, take an airtight container or an airtight jar. Place heavy veggies at the bottom. For example, tomatoes, onions, radish, carrots, bell peppers, cucumbers etc. Top with leafy greens like lettuce, spinach, kale, parsley, mint etc. Leafy greens have to be the topmost layer. Do not place anything over them as they may rot easily.
Another tip to remember while making batches of salad is to not add any salt, olive oil,juice etc basically no dressings. At the time of eating the salad, toss everything into a bowl and mix in your dressings, lime etc.
9. Grind and freeze masala pastes – This is tremendously useful in Ramadan as well as on other days throughout the year. Make a batch of your favorite curry pastes and store in the freezer. They stay fresh for about 30 – 45 days. For busy nights, just defreeze a packet of curry paste, and empty in a vessel. Add your ingredient (chicken/mutton/vegetables/paneer) and cook. You may add extra seasoning depending on the recipe requirements.
There is a whole lot of curry pastes that you can prepare in advance and freeze. Makhni gravy, green gravy, korma gravy etc are some of the options.
Ramadan is a blessed month for the Muslims all over the world. In every corner of the globe, Muslims observe a fast from dawn to dusk. Ramadan is not only abstaining from food, but also keeping away from bad thoughts, arguments and bad deeds. It is a time when Muslims engage in lots of duas, dhikr and reciting the Holy Quran. In keeping up with the spirit of Ramadan, there is always a hustle bustle in Iftar preparations. That’s when an effective meal planning comes into picture.
No matter how tired the days get during Ramadan, we always want to whip up some delicacies for our loved ones. We want to break our fasts on a healthy and nutritious note. Meal planning is extremely important in Ramadan as we need to save our precious time in prayers and worshipping Allah, the Most Glorious, by making dua and dhikr. Usually, a lot of time is used up in preparing for iftar.
Below are some of the make ahead preparations I do for Ramadan that makes my days smooth and easy. It reduces the hassles associated with iftar and suhoor meals. These save my time as well as sanity, while still bringing some delicious meal to the table.
1. Make Ginger and Garlic Paste – Ginger and garlic paste is one of the absolute necessities in an Indian household. We usually have a bottle or two of them stocked in the freezer. Ramadan is no exception. Have some extra ginger and garlic paste stocked in the freezer and a bottle in the fridge for daily use. This will save you on a lot of time as we are all aware of the time consumed while cleaning and making ginger and garlic paste.
2. Fried onions – Some households use fried onion for a lot of recipes. It is also called barista. Sprinkle over biryani’s, add on top of haleem, add it to curries, kebabs, pulaos etc. Fried onions enhance the flavour of any dish. It also gives a nice rich look to it.
To make fried onion, slice the onion with an onion cutter in almost equal sizes. Fry them in hot oil till golden brown. Drain on a kitchen towel. Transfer in an airtight container or a ziplock bag and store in the freezer.
Whenever you want to use it, just take a handful and put the remaining back in the freezer. This way, they will be fresh for long. Do not thaw the fried onion, use it directly after taking out from the freezer.
3. Ready to eat chapati – Although making chapatis is a regular affair in everyday cooking, during Ramadan, especially at Suhoor times, having a couple of chapatis already rolled out makes those times quite relaxed. Some people prefer to have rice during Suhoor but at my place it’s always chapatis. I like to make and freeze some chapatis beforehand as it gives me some time to concentrate on the Tahajjud prayers. These prayers are the surest ways to get what you want, in the Dunya as well as the Akhirah.
To make chapatis or parathas, roll them out and place between layers of plastic sheets. I had no plastic sheets around, so I cut up squares from the plastic table cover roll ( also called the sufra rolls). Store them in a ziplock bag ( I had a store bought paratha ziplock bag).
4. Spice powders – I like to make my own spice powders. It is always better than the store bought ones. I also stock up on some Arabic spices like zaater and sumac. Cumin powder, coriander powder, Garam masala powder etc are some of the spices I keep on hand all year round, especially during Ramadan.
To make your own spice powder, you have to roast the spices and allow to cool. Grind to a fine powder and store in airtight containers to preserve the freshness.
5. Peel and store garlic – To all the cooks, peeling garlic has to be one of the most time consuming task. Well, I literally despise peeling garlic right at the time of cooking. Same goes for during Ramadan. That’s why I have a couple of garlic pods peeled and stored in a container lined with paper towels. Keep them in the refrigerator. So whenever I need a few garlic in my recipe, I head to the refrigerator and take a couple of garlic and use them. It saves a lot of time and sanity.
6. Clean and store herbs – Coriander and mint leaves are some of the essential herbs, especially in Indian cooking. We need to wash them really well before use so that it is free from all the dirt and soil. The best way to preserve and use them for long without any spoils is by trimming the roots and discarding the browned and spoilt leaves. Do not wash them.
Line a plastic container with kitchen towel. Keep herbs in them. Place another layer of kitchen towel on top. Close the lid. Store in the refrigerator and use as required. This arrangement makes the herbs stay fresh for up to 3 weeks, maybe even longer. One tip to follow is to not leave the container out of the refrigerator for long, just take how much ever herbs is required and toss them back in the fridge. Keeping them out for long leads to moisture getting into the box and will wilt the leaves, hence spoiling them.
7. Store chutneys and sauces – Make and store green chutney ( mint chutney), tamarind chutney, pasta sauce etc. This literally saves a ton of your time. Chutneys are handy in making sandwiches and even as a condiment with samosa, rolls etc. You can even utilize them in chaats. Having pizza and pasta sauce at hand is a blessing in disguise. Whenever you crave for having your favorite pasta, you know that half of your work is done. Saves on a lot of time.
8. Stock up on pantry items – As easy as it may seem, there are many times where we have to rush to the supermarket to get an ingredient or two that we almost ran out of. Even in a country like the Emirates, where the abundance of supermarkets is visible around every block, the need to stock up on pantry items is essential during Ramadan. In order to avoid large queues and exhaustion, prepare yourself beforehand by buying your pulses, packets of macaroni and spaghettis, lentils, rice, flour etc, anything that you know you will require in this Holy month.
However, fresh fruits and veggies, meat, milk etc can be bought on a per week basis or a 10 days once basis. ( Just imagine the time and energy you will save when you have to head to the grocery just thrice or four time in the entire month).
9. Blanch and freeze veggies – Veggies like carrots, green peas, celery etc can be frozen to use in soups, stews and pastas. The one thing to keep in mind is that the chopped veggies should be blanched before storing.
Blanching keeps the veggies fresh for longer. It also helps to maintain its color, taste and texture.
Arrange the blanched veggies in a tray, spread them. Freeze for about 2-3 hours, till completely frozen. Now transfer in a ziplock bag and store in freezer. All the veggies have to be frozen individually before freezing them together.
You can even make separate packets with different veggies needed for a particular soup. So whenever you plan on making the soup take one packet out and use. Remember to not thaw the vegetables as they will turn soft. Adding the veggies directly from the freezer preserves their vibrant color and flavour.
10. Boil and freeze chickpeas, Black Chana, rajma, white peas etc – If you use pulses like Chickpeas etc, for salads, chaats, pulaos etc, it is a good idea to cook and freeze them. This makes cooking so much peaceful.
Soak them overnight in enough water and the next day pressure cook for 3-4 whistles till completely cooked. Allow to cool. Store them in a plastic container and keep in freezer until use.
I hope you found these tips useful and will incorporate them for a smooth Ramadan. Don’t forget to check out part 2 of this series, which will be coming up shortly.
Here is a free printable that you can print and write down your meal plan for the entire month of Ramadan. This will save you from the guesswork while preparing each day. Take some ideas from your spouse and children as to what they would like in Ramadan and plan your meals accordingly.
If you would like to have a detailed and productive Ramadan, try out this Ramadan Planner 2019, where you can have your daily activities logged on a single paper. This 2-page daily planner will be highly helpful as you can have a look at where your days in Ramadan is going. From tracking your meals to tracking your water intake, from tracking your prayers to your good deeds, this has it all. It will motivate you to do better and plan your day..
Did you know that the first brownie made was actually by mistake. It seems that the baker was baking a chocolate cake but didn’t have baking powder. Hence the end result was an unrisen fudgy treat that we now know as a brownie. Although there were many adjustments done from that point on for the brownie that we so happily eat today. This is one of those delights that you can never be bored of. You can eat them as it is right out from the oven, or add a scoop of ice cream on top of it. You can also add some fresh cream and berries over a slice of brownie and oh my! You have a tasty treat filled with goodness in its every bite.
Brownies mainly consist of flour, eggs, cocoa powder and sugar as the main ingredients. However this recipe is made without eggs but they taste equally as good as the brownies with eggs in them. Since they do not contain eggs, they stay fresh for long about a week in mild temperatures.
Now off to the recipe…
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
2 tsp baking powder
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup butter, salted, melted and cooled
1 1/4 cup yoghurt
3 tsp vanilla extract
Chopped walnuts / Chocolate chips ( optional)
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Grease a baking dish with butter. Sprinkle little flour over it.
2. Mix flour, sugar and baking powder in a bowl. Sift cocoa powder into it. Mix well.
3. In another bowl, mix melted butter, yoghurt and vanilla essence. Add the dry flour mixture slowly in to the bowl while mixing continuously. Once everything is combined stop stirring. The batter should not be over mixed.
4. Add walnuts or choco chips and mix. Pour on the greased baking tray and bake for 15 minutes or till a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Leave it in the oven to cool for a little bit.
Cut in squares and serve! Enjoy this delicious brownies with cream or ice cream, just any way you like.
There are so many ways to make a fried rice recipe with a variety of ingredients to choose from. You can add spoonfuls of sauces or just a dash of spices, the styles of making a fried rice varies from home to home and region to region.
Today, to participate in the MFB challenge, the theme being ‘Cooking from your mothers food’, the first thing that came to my mind was the simple vegetable fried rice that my mother makes in an instant. Although there is literally a list of my mothers recipes which I love and try to master myself in those, this one just stands out. When we were young, this was a regular in our tiffin boxes because we loved to devour it till the last bite. Pair it with fried chicken or some curd – yumm! Even to this day, when I visit my mom I ask her to make this, the moment she asks me what I would like to eat.
This is one of the easiest fried rice recipe packed with the goodness of vegetables and a delicious flavour brought about by freshly ground black pepper. You can always add chicken to make it into a chicken fried rice or prawns for a prawn fried rice.
2 large onions, chopped
2 green chilies, slit
1 large carrot, julienned
1 large capsicum
1 cup grated cabbage
1/2 cup grated beans
2 cups chopped spring onions
2 eggs ( optional )
2 tbsp black pepper, freshly ground
2 tbsp tomato ketchup
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1 tbsp ginger, minced
5 tbsp oil
3 cups long grained rice, cooked
salt to taste
Heat oil in a pan. Add ginger and garlic. Sauté for 2 mins. Add chopped onions and 1/2 of the spring onions. Cook till the onions turn transparent.
If adding egg, add it now and scramble. Let it cook for a while. Add carrot, capsicum, cabbage and beans and cook on a high flame. Do not overcook the veggies. Add pepper powder and salt. Mix well.
Toss in the rest of the spring onions.
Add the cooked rice and mix well.
Serve hot along with yoghurt and tandoori chicken.