Rooh Afza Mousse

This is a Rooh afza mousse recipe that captured a lot of attention! It was submitted to us by Asma Ahmed, but the original recipe belongs to her aunty.  Jazak Allah Khair for sharing!

            Ingredients:

Cool whip
Condensed milk
Mango pulp
Cut up fruits (strawberries/peaches/pineapple)
Rooh Afza

-Mix first three until desired consistency and taste is reached

-Stir in fruits

-Put in piping bag or ziplock bag if you need to improvise, snip a corner off

-In little dessert cups (from party city) squeeze a little drizzle of rooafza    inside…you can use the ziplock bag technique but make sure hole is very small

-Squeeze mango mixture into cups right away…the rooafza tends to go all the way to the bottom very fast

Freeze and enjoy!

Armed Guards Don’t Belong in School

After the senseless tragedy that occurred in Newton, Connecticut at Sandy Hook Elementary the entire nation has been engulfed in a conversation about gun control, school safety and mental illness. In my own Islamic school community, parents have  debated and had heated conversations about our kids safety. The school our kids attend is in the basement of a Mosque. It was decided that an armed guard would be the best short term solution in beefing up our schools security.

But that very notion of having an armed guard at school makes me extremely anxious and I don’t think he will keep our kids any safer. To invite a stranger with a gun into such close proximity of our children seems counterintuitive on every level.

My feeling on having an armed guard align closely with Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy who said:

“Let me say this: more guns are not the answer. Freedom is not a handgun on the hip of every teacher, and security should not mean a guard posted outside every classroom…”

In my head the math just doesn’t add up: Gun+Gun= safer school!

Having an armed guard at school introduces a whole new dimension of problems that we must be aware of. First  and foremost, the armed guard can be a potential threat to our kids and the staff. I understand that the guard would be trained and there would be a background check, but what guarantee do we have that he would not in fact use the weapon against us? We do not know what his intentions are and neither can we judge how he may feel on a given day. Why are we willing to take such a big risk?

The second problem that can potentially arise is the higher risk of accidents. If the armed guard  had a judgement lapse and mistakenly identifies someone as a threat he could potentially injure or kill an innocent person. That is also something that we can’t control and we are putting a lot of faith in a person who our community knows virtually nothing about.

The third problem is that we may become satisfied with the armed guard and not feel the need to consider other security options. The security issue is an ongoing dilemma that needs to be consistently improved by long term solutions such as adding video surveillance and bulletproof windows.

The hiring of an armed guard may make us feel more secure, but we are working under a lot of assumptions.The first assumption being that the armed guard is in fact a good and sane person who will not ever misuse his power. The second assumption is that he will never have an accident in regards to his weapon. The third assumption is that in the event of an emergency he will in fact put himself in harm’s way.

Our childrens security is paramount and an armed guard is great in theory “if” he performs as we would like to imagine him to be. But lets be honest he is a guy working a 9-5 job like the rest of us and we cannot put our childrens lives at risk because we are under the false pretense that the guard will put our kids first and will become a hero if an emergency type situation occurs.

The truth of the matter is that the Newton was an isolated event. Yes we should be proactive about our students safety, but we shouldn’t do that by bringing a gun into a gun free place. We should as a community seriously think about the potential problems and consequences that can occur by  bringing an armed guard to our schools.

‘Simply Scrumptious’ Cupcakes by Ayesha

B&B spoke with Annandale based baker  Ayesha Ahmad.  She is the owner of Simply Scrumptious an cupcake catering business. Ahmad has a flair for baking and has unique flavors such as the Kashmiri Chai Cupcake and lemon blueberry with cream cheese. College student by day and baking extrodinare at other times, we asked Ayesha about her business and her passion for baking.

BB: How and when did you get into baking?

Kashmiri Chai Cupcake

AA: I used to watch Barefoot Contessa and Paula’s Home Cooking on the Food Network every single day in middle and high school. I loved how simple they made everything look! Their desserts were really the start and I began experimenting in my kitchen. I guess I was the less studious child so whenever I was “sick” I used to stay home and bake cakes. Initially, I just used boxed mixes and played around with colored frostings. Now I love to bake pretty much anything but cupcakes have just become my signature.

BB: How did your family feel about it?

AA: I don’t think I could have asked for a more supportive family! My parents are so encouraging about everything – they try all my new flavors, buy me every supply on a cake bakers wishlist, give me tips on what I could do better and so on. I remember randomly talking to my dad one day about how KitchenAid mixers are the quintessential tool for any baker. The following week, I came home to a huge box and inside was a baby pink mixer, complete with every nifty attachment. Alhamdulillah for such loving parents. My older sister on the other hand is my toughest critic! I guess It’s better to hear all the negative things from her than a client though! Oh and I can’t forget about my friends. They were and still are some of the most helpful people. Sometimes I consider adding them to the company name.BB: Are you studying culinary arts in college? Would this be a career or long term goal?

AA: Far from! I started out in college as an undeclared student but took all the Biology classes because I knew I wanted to do something in the health field. I recently changed my major to Community Health and I want to become a dental hygienist in the future insha’Allah. Everyone finds it amusing that I want to clean teeth and bake cupcakes – oh the irony! I could see myself opening a Cakery in the distant future but catering for special orders is fine by me too.

BB: You have become a successful entrepreneur at such a young age masha’Allah!! How has that been coming along? What has been your biggest order?

AA: It’s more of a hobby-turned-business and I enjoy it very much. It can be a little stressful since I’m still in school, especially if the order falls sometime during the semester but it just takes some planning and time management. My last order was one of my biggest with a little over 200 cupcakes for a wedding reception. A hundred each of red velvet with cream cheese frosting and chocolate espresso with espresso buttercream. Before Simply Scrumptious began, I used to bake a lot for MSA events at school Qabeelat Nurayn bakesales (DMV chapter of AlMaghrib Institute) so they really helped with advertising my business.

Cupcake tower

BB: What is your favorite type of cake?

AA: I actually like any type of cake…except tres leche. I can’t taste the difference between the three milks and it seems a bit too wet for my liking. But by far, my favorite cake is regular ol pound cake. No icing, nothing. Its literally the best thing ever…I mean whats not to like? A pound of butter, eggs, sugar and flour 🙂

BB: A Recipe you have yet to try?

AA: Tons! I always bookmark any good recipes I come across and save them for a rainy day. I love to experiment with cake flavors and frosting’s so it’s nice to have some inspirations. I have four massive cupcake books with so many things I have yet to try. The first on my list is an Apple pie cupcake – I’m just waiting for apple picking season to make it’s way over.

BB: How do you feel about Georgetown Cupcakes?

AA: I think that’s the question I get asked most often. I never figured out if it’s because they are my competition? I like to think of it as the other way around, though  I’ve actually never tried Georgetown Cupcakes but they look so yummy. Maybe one day when I feel like waiting in line for an hour, I’ll go. If I were to try one, I’d get either the coconut or chocolate hazelnut cupcake.

 

Chocolate espresso cupcakes

BB: Any beginners advice to aspiring bakers?

AA: Just make sure you always have a fresh supply of eggs and butter and friends who don’t mind being volunteer tasters (hey, if they love you, a few pounds won’t matter) also don’t get discouraged! I still have so many instances when something gets burned or things are overly sweet etc – that’s the stuff I don’t post pictures of. Always remember that there are usually plenty of failures leading up to success and that’s when everything tastes the sweetest (pun intended). Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala put in each of us something that makes us unique. I always remember something Shaykh Waleed Basyouni said during an AlMaghrib seminar. He said, “Allah gave you a gift. What you do with it is your gift back to Allah.” Know that you can serve the Ummah in a way that no one else can. It’s your duty to find what Allah gave you and hone those skills.

 

For more information about Simply Scrumptious please check out her facebook page

http://www.facebook.com/media/albums/?id=126544294087001#!/pages/Simply-Scrumptious-by-Ayesha/126544294087001

 

Desi Spaghetti

If your Pakistani or from the South Asian Subcontinent then I’m sure your mom has mixed all her Desi masalas (spices) into spaghetti. Sounds weird, but it actually tastes great!  I even recall my middle-school friends loving my ‘spicy spaghetti’ lunch days.

Here is a desi spaghetti recipe I found by Chef Fauzia.

  • 2 pounds of Ground Beef (Keema)
  • 1 packet of Spaghetti
  • 1 medium Onion (chopped)
  • Green Chillies (Hari Mirch) (chopped)
  • 1 tsp. of Red Chilli Powder (Pisi Lal Mirch) (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp. Cumin Powder (Pisa Zeera)
  • 1 tbsp. Coriander Powder (Pisa Dhania)
  • ¼ tsp. Turmeric Powder (Pisi Haldi)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • 1 tsp. Ginger Paste (Pisi Adrak)
  • 1 tsp. Garlic Paste (Pisa Lehsan)
  • 1 bottle of Spaghetti Sauce (or to your taste)
  • 3 tbsp. Plain Yogurt 
  • Cooking Oil (as needed)
  • Water (for boiling spaghetti)
Directions
1. Heat oil in a heavy pased frying pan. Add beef and saute beef for a few minutes, or until it changes a little color. To the beef add: the ginger paste, garlic paste, onion, red chilli powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder, salt, green peppers and plain yogurt. Mix and saute for about 15 minutes, or until the beef is well done.
2. Separately in a heavy based pot, boil the spaghetti and cook spaghetti in boiling water until it is well done. Then strain the spaghetti with a strainer. After straining put the spaghetti back into the pot. And put spaghetti back on stove on medium heat.

3. Quickly add the keema to the spaghetti and mix well. Then add the spaghetti sauce and mix. Leave the spaghetti on stove until it is well heated. (By continuously mixing.) Finally take off heat and serve hot.

Something to cook about…

 

Super Shan!

Shan is my hero…Shan Masala that is!  I have to admit I rarely cooked my first year of marriage.  No matter what I made or how easy the recipe would be, it would horribly fail.  My husband was a good sport, he would normally pile on ketchup, ranch dressing, or lots of salad. I, on the other hand could not tolerate my food.  Eating it was torture.  So needless to say ‘take out’ and ‘Mother-in-law’s cafe’ became our best friends!

Then one day, my mom said those vicious words that normally a mother in law would say…“I feel sorry for your husband, a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, at least get shan masala and start cooking.”

There you have it, Shan came into my life and found the way to the stomachs of millions,  well not millions, but you know what I mean.

However, I don’t EXACTLY follow the recipe behind the Shan Masala box, here are a few things I do to change it up; (Note: Doesn’t have to be Shan, it could be any Masala box)

1.  When frying the onions, you can put ONE of the following items; a) green chili peppers, b) garlic clove slices, c) crushed red pepper, or d) cinamon stick.   Adding either one of those things will give a bit of aroma and a more “salan” type taste.

2.  If you are making chicken using Shan masala, after the dish is completed, for the last step add 1-2 teaspoons of lemon juice.  It gives it a more tangy flavor.

3.  Marinate the meat for a minimum of two hours with whatever masala you are using, the meat fully absorbs the masala and gives each bite a rich flavor.

These are a very small and subtle changes that change up the flavor.  If you have any additional tips, please share!

Something to cook about…

Rooh Afza Recipes

Iftar is not complete until you have your dates and a glass of Rooh Afza.  According to  Hamdard Laboratories Rooh Afza is a blend of pure crystalline sugar, distilled natural extracts of citrus flowers, aquas of fruits, vegetables and cooling herbal ingredients, Rooh Afza’s cooling effect is long lasting for it not only instantly quenches the thirst but also rapidly cools the entire system and gives back the body the vigor, vitality and freshness depleted by excessive heat.

It is extremely popular in Pakistan.  Most people mix Rooh Afza in either water or milk.  I prefer a Rooh Afza milkshake over a Rooh Afza sherbet.  I recently came across a wide variety of Rooh Afza recipes.  Some are sweet while others have a refreshing tangy flavor.  Here are a few:

1.  Sunset Island

Pineapple juice 1.5 oz
Grape juice 1 oz
7-up 1.5 oz
Rooh Afza  1 tsp
Sugar syrup  1 tsp

Combine in shaker over a few ice cubes. Shake thoroughly. Pour into glass.

2. Rooh Afza Colada

Pineapple juice – 1/2 cup 
Coconut milk – 1/4 cup
Rooh Afza – 2 tbsp
Coconut – 2 tsp (fresh and finely grated)
Ice cubes – 4-5 nos
For Garnishing:-
Pineapple – 1 piece
Ice cubes – 2-3 nos (crushed)

Step 1: Blend the pineapple juice, coconut milk, Rooh Afza and the ice-cubes in the blender till well blended.
Step 2: Place crushed ice at the bottom of a cocktail glass and pour the blended mixture.
Step 3: Sprinkle some shredded coconut and place the pineapple slice on the rim of the glass.

3. Rooh Afza Banana Milkshake

Bananas  2 
Milk 2 cups
Rooh Afza  2 tsp
Sugar syrup  1 tsp

Mix all the ingredients in blender and serve with ice cubes.

4. Rooh Afza Smoothie

Sliced strawberries  1 cup

Chopped mint leaves 2 teaspoons

Rooh Afza 4 teaspoons

Vanilla ice cream 4 teaspoons

Milk 5 cups

Lemon juice 1 cup

Step 1: Blend strawberry, mint leaves and Roof Afza in blender to make a smooth paste

Step 2: Pour milk and ice cream in it and blend it again. Divide the mixture in 2 glasses

Step 3: Pour lime drink on it and serve after garnishing it with mint leaves

5) Rooh Afza Mint Lemonade

Water 2 glasses

Rooh Afza 4 teaspoons

Lemon juice 1 tablespoon

Chopped mint leaves 2 teaspoons

Lemons for garnishing

Step 1: Mix 2 glasses of water, 4 spoons of Rooh Afza, 1 spoon of lemon juice and 2 spoons of mint leaves all together in a jug.

Step 2: Add crushed ice.

Step 3: Garnish it with lemon slices and serve chill.

Samosa Fest – An American Muslim Family’s tradition

 

There is nothing better than biting into a delicious crunchy golden samosa after a day of fasting, but there are several steps that go into making samosas and it can be a tiring and time consuming process.  The Ayub family has turned this very tedious process into a festive family reunion.

For the past five years the Ayub family has been having the pre-Ramadan Samosa Fests.  Women in their family sit around, enjoy each others company and make perfect triangular shaped samosas. The first Samosa Fest was born when family members began talking at an iftaar.

“We decided that everyone makes samosas, so we should get together and make them together,” explained Humaira Ayub, one of the hosts of Samosa Fest.

The women bring their own batch of keema from home and then add the onions and other “masala”  when they get to Samosa Fest. Then everyone helps to complete one batch (5 pounds makes approximately 150 samosas) for the family member, This takes about 45 minutes, said Ayub.

“When it comes to preparing the samosas the women form an assembly line. The younger girls of the family usually do the sticking of the samosas and the putting them into ziplock bags,  while the more experienced wrap the samosas,” said Ayub.

Family members have traveled several hours for this annual event and see it as a way to spend quality time and get into the festive Ramadan spirit. One year the entire family went to Boston, they made Samosas in the afternoon and then after that they went on a duck tour.

While  the women do the Samosa assembling the guys are usually throwing around a football and the event usually concludes with a big family dinner. Each year, a different family volunteers to host Samosa Fest. The host for the first Samosa Fest,  Sharmeen Khan, had custom Samosa Fest aprons made for all the guest.

” I wanted to give everyone a party favor and aprons seem to suit the event,” said Khan.

She also added that Samosa Fest is about creating traditions,  ” It’s just fun! It’s also an amazing way to pass on a tradition and skill. Since we’ve been doing this, all of us including the girls are great at making samosas.”

 

Does your family have any Ramadan traditions? We would love to hear about your family’s traditons!

B&B Recipe of the week – Kerala Shrimp Curry

Make the tamarind mixture by placing the tamarind paste, chilli powder, cumin and turmeric in a small bowl with the measured water and stir to mix well.

 

Heat the oil in a large nonstick frying pan over medium heat. Add garlic and shrimps and stir fry for a few minutes.

 

 Stir in the tamarind paste and the measured water. Bring to boil, reduce heat and stir.

 

Gently simmer on low heat add salt to taste. Now add coconut milk

Mix well and simmer for 2 more minutes. Remove from heat and garnish with cilantro, serve with rice. Enjoy!

Photo credit: Hamlyn 200 Curries

 

 

What your mother never told you about fried onions

Fried onions is an essential part of almost every Desi recipe. My mom was very precise when it came to frying her onions. The color was a perfect golden, the onions were crunchy and sweet and she stood in front of the stove the entire time while her onions crackled in the hot oil. I had a very short attention span when it came to cooking and was always looking for shortcuts, to my mothers dismay!

That is why I’m here to tell you that after many experiments I have come to the conclusion that you can in fact use store bought fried onions for certain recipes!

So typically recipes ask to fry onions and then add in the ginger and garlic paste. When I am using already fried onions I put oil in the pan and put about a half a cup of fried onions let them sizzle a bit then continue on with the GG paste and follow the rest of the recipe.

I have used store bought fried onions in aloo gosht, nihari, haleem and simple currys.

 

There are a few recipes that will always need freshly fried onions, these include rice dishes such as biryanis and pilaus which require the fried onions to be placed on top of the rice. Also freshly fried onions are ideal for all baghars for daals and other similar dishes.  For recipes that require you to crush/grind fried onions,  you should also use fresh onions.

So next time that your cooking  a meat curry don’t be afraid to use store bought fried onions. Happy Cooking and  please share!