August 17, 2010

Making Use of Time While Cooking in Ramadan

Q: I would like to know what actions are recommended during this blessed month in order to increase one’s reward, such as dhikrs, acts of worship, and mustahabb actions. I know about Taraweeh prayer, reciting Qur’aan a great deal, seeking forgiveness a great deal and praying at night. But I want to know some words I can repeat during my daily duties such as when I am cooking or doing housework, because I do not want to miss out on the reward.

A: Praise be to Allaah
May Allaah reward you with good for this concern and eagerness to do good and righteous deeds during this blessed month. 

To the good deeds that you have mentioned may be added charity, feeding the poor, going for ‘Umrah and observing i’tikaaf for those who are able to do so. 

As for the words that you can repeat whilst you are working, these include tasbeeh (saying Subhaan Allaah (Glory be to Allaah)), tahleel (saying Laa ilaaha ill-Allaah (There is no god but Allaah)), takbeer (saying Allaahu akbar (Allaah is most Great)), praying for forgiveness, making du’aa’ and responding to the muezzin. Keep your tongue moist with the remembrance of Allaah and seek a great reward with a few words which you can utter. For every tasbeehah you will have (the reward of) one charity, for every tahmeedah (saying Alhamdulillah (Praise be to Allaah)) you will have (the reward of) one charity, for every takbeerah you will have (the reward of) one charity, and for every tahleelah you will have (the reward of) one charity. 

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Every person’s every joint must perform a charity every day the sun comes up, every tasbeehah is a charity, every tahmeedah is a charity, every tahleelah is a charity, every takbeerah is a charity, enjoining what is good is a charity, forbidding what is evil is a charity, and if you do two rak’ahs at duha time (the forenoon), that may be sufficient.” Narrated by Muslim, 720. 

And he (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Two words which are light on the tongue and heavy in the Balance, and beloved to the Most Merciful: Subhaana Allaah wa bihamdih, subhaan Allaah il-‘Azeem (Glory and praise be to Allaah, glory be to Allaah the Almighty).” Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 6682; Muslim, 2694. 

And he (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever says ‘Subhaan Allaah il-‘Azeem wa bi hamdih (Glory and praise be to Allaah the Almighty),’ a palm tree will be planted for him in Paradise.” Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 3465; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi. 

And he (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever says ‘Astaghfir Allaah ul-‘azeem alladhi laa ilaaha illa huwa al-hayy ul-qayyoom wa atoobu ilayh (I seek the forgiveness of Allaah the Almighty, beside Whom there is no other god, and I repent to Him),’ will be forgiven even if he fled from the battlefield.” Narrated by Abu Dawood, 1517; al-Tirmidhi, 3277’ classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Abi Dawood. 

And he (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “There is no Muslim on earth who prays to Allaah for something but Allaah will grant him it, or divert an equivalent evil from him, so long as he does not pray for sin or the severing of family ties.” A man among the people said: “Then we will pray a great deal.” He said: “Allaah is most generous.” Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 3573; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi. 

And he (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “When you hear the muezzin, say what he says, then send blessings upon me, for whoever send one blessing upon me, Allaah will send ten blessings upon him. Then ask Allaah to grant me al-waseelah, which is a position in Paradise which will be attained by only one of the slaves of Allaah, and I hope that I will be the one. Whoever asks for al-waseelah for me, intercession will be granted for him.” Narrated by Muslim, 384. 

And he (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever says when he hears the call to prayer, ‘Allaahumma rabba hadhhi’l-da’wat il-taammah wa’l-salaat il-qaa’imah, aati Muhammadan al-waseelah wa’l-fadeelah wab’athhu maqaaman mahmoodan alladhi wa’adtahu (O Allaah, Lord of this perfect call and the prayer which is about to begin, grant Muhammad al-waseelah (a station in Paradise) and al-fadeelah (a rank above the rest of creation), and raise him to the praised position that You have promised),’ my intercession will be granted for him on the Day of Resurrection.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 614. 

See also the answer to question no. 4156 
May Allaah increase us and you in beneficial knowledge and righteous deeds. 
And Allaah knows best.

August 10, 2010

Ramadan Mubarak!

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem

“The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance and the criterion (between right and wrong)”
[al-Baqarah 2:185]

In an effort to minimize the worldly distractions for myself (and you all, too!) during this special month, I won't be posting any new recipes. Yes, I'll still be cooking here at home but I rather not take time from this valuable month in documenting and posting each new recipe, and I know you all, my dear sisters, will understand.

The site will remain open and I will be available via email if you have any questions or comments, other than that, the (virtual) Muslim Wife Kitchen will be closed for the month of Ramadan. I pray everyone has a great month full of extra worship. I ask Allah to accept from us our deeds and make us from amongst those who enter jannah thru the gates of Ar-Rayyan, ameen!

August 8, 2010

Roasted Fennel and Red Potatoes

Bismillahir Rahmanir

So far, this summer is proving to be The Summer of Vegetable Experimentation and I couldn't be happier with the results, alhamdulillah. I went a little crazy with some new (well, new for me, at least) produce a couple weeks ago. The newbie in my kitchen this time was..drum roll please... fennel.

I cook often with fennel seed or we chew on the seeds as a digestive aid after meals, but the plant itself is very different from the seed I'm more familiar with. It has almost a licorice taste but becomes quite sweet after roasting.

I cut up a fennel bulb (discard the stalks or save it for some stock) along with some red potatoes and fresh dish. A slight drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and some salt and pepper to taste and roast until tender, and voila, a perfect summer side dish! I can't wait to get my hands on some more soon and try some new things, insha'allah. But for now, I wanted to at least any readers out there who may be hesitant to try new or different foods: say Bismillah and go for it!

"Best" Carrot Sheet Cake

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem

Remember that BBQ I went to a while back? We decided the cupcakes wouldn't be enough on their own so I frantically searched for an appropriate summer-y cake to bake at the last minute. I'm not sure if it was just my own personal craving or the idea of orange carrots somehow reminding me of the late sunsets of the summer, but I went with a carrot cake. While searching for a recipe I came across at least a dozen that promised to be the best! the moistest! the greatest all time carrot cake ever!

This is only the 2nd carrot cake recipe I've made and in my very limited recipe, I feel it's The Best so far. And judging by the reaction of the other party-goers, they did too, alhamdulillah.

Best Carrot Sheet Cake
(I originally found this recipe online, it has since been removed but my printed out version has a reference to Southern Living, March 2003)

2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil (I used canola)
3/4 cup buttermilk (I used regular ol' 2%)
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups grated carrots (I added another 1/2 cup or so to finish up my carrots)
8 oz crushed pineapple (drained)
3 1/2 oz can sweetened flaked coconut
1 cup pecans or walnut, chopped
Cream Cheese Frosting

1. Stir together first 4 ingredients

2. Beat eggs and next 4 ingredients at medium speed until smooth. Add flour mixture, beating on low speed until mixed. Fold in carrots and next 3 ingredients.

3. Pour batter into a greases 13 x 9" baking pan (this will bake right up to the top into a thick cake)

4. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Then cover with foil loosely to avoid over-browning, and bake 13 minutes more or until a tester comes out clean. Cool completely in pan before icing.

August 6, 2010


 Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem

If you like Mexican food, if you liked the tomatillo salsa, if you lasagna or if you like anything that just taste good, then this is the meal for you.

Originally a way to use up old tortillas and left over meats, chilaquiles are a Mexican masterpiece. Feel free to use fresh tortillas (I used the whole wheat flour that I had in the pantry) and whatever left over meat you have from last nights dinner. 

It sounds a lot more complicated than it is but trust me, if you can make lasagna then this is gonna be a cinch. It comes together in no time and the hardest part of the whole meal is waiting long enough for it to cool down before diggin' in. And like its Italian counterpart, the leftovers only get better the next day. 


Tomatillo Salsa
3 cups shredded cooked chicken, turkey,or 2 teaspoons, or as needed, fine sea or kosher salt
Vegetable oil
Ten 6-inch corn tortillas (I only had flour tortillas), cut into 2-inch wide strips
1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan, manchego or cotija (I used mozzarella because, again, its all I had)

1.Make your sauce per recipe directions. Then pour the liquid into a saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, then adjust the heat so the sauce is simmering. Cook until the sauce is thickened slightly about 20 minutes. Set aside 1/2 cup sauce.

3. Stir the shredded chicken into the remaining sauce. Add the salt.

4. Heat the oven to 350° F. Pour about 1/4 inch of vegetable oil into a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Dip a corner of one of the tortilla strips into the oil; when it gives off a lively sizzle the oil is ready. Add to the pan as many of the tortilla strips as fit without overlapping. Fry the tortillas, turning once until golden brown on both sides, about 4 minutes. Remove and drain on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining tortilla strips.

5. Butter a 9 x 11-inch casserole or baking dish deep that is at least 2 1/2 inches deep. Make a layer of the fried tortilla strips over the bottom. It doesn't matter if the layer is perfectly even or not, just be sure to cover the bottom. Spoon half of the sauce and chicken over the tortillas. Top that with 1/3 cup each of the Monterey Jack and Manchego or Parmesan cheese. Make another layer of the tortillas, sauce and cheeses. Top with another layer of tortillas and spread with the remaining sauce. Top with remaining cheeses.

6 Bake until the edges of the casserole are bubbling and the top layer of cheese is golden brown, about 35 minutes. Let stand 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

August 5, 2010

Tomatillo Salsa

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem

Everyone once in a while, you just fall into a rut with cooking. You find a few meals you can make well and keep repeating them. And while I personally feel there's nothing wrong with that - heck, I have one night designated a week for one of our family favorites - it can be exciting to try something completely different and new. Cue the tomatillo: from the outside it looks like a ball of leaves, from the inside it looks like a green tomato. From the taste of it, it can be nothing farther than leaves or tomatoes. It's vibrant and fresh, firm-fleshed with runny seeds, small but boy does it pack a punch.

Few things can really showcase the beauty of the tomatillo like a salsa. Keep things simple, just a dash of lime juice, jalapeno for spice and cilantro to play off the brightness of it all. I've made a version with and without the onion and personally I would leave the onion out next time, just to make sure our star ingredient really shines. Make a good sized batch of this and keep it in a bottle in your fridge. It's perfect for dipping chips, serving alongside quesadillas or something a little more interesting that I'll fill you in on tomorrow insha'allah.

Tomatillo Salsa
adapted from Daisy Martinez

  • 1 pound fresh tomatillos
  • 1 large Spanish onion (about 12 ounces), cut into large chunks (about 3 cups)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 packed cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 jalapeno (seeds and all if you like heat)
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
  • Kosher or fine sea salt

Pull the husks from the tomatillos and wash them under cool water until they no longer feel sticky. Cut them into quarters and put them into the work bowl of a food processor. Add the onion and garlic and process until smooth. Add the cilantro, jalapeno and lime juice and process until the jalapeno is finely chopped.

Scrape the mixture into a small saucepan. Season lightly with salt and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid is boiled off and the salsa looks relish-y, about 15 minutes. Cool before using. The sauce can be refrigerated for up to 1 week. If refrigerated, you may want to add a little salt and/or lime juice to the salsa before serving.

August 2, 2010

Feta and Spinach filled Puffed Pastry

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem

What's with all the fried, fatty foods to break your fast with? After going 12+ hours without food or drink, the last thing your body needs for fuel is a deep-fried something or other with a side helping of oily whatchamacallits. Yet it seems that each traditional table set for the iftaar (the meal served at the time to break the fast) is decked out in these exact things. Here's a good alternative that is light, easy and even healthy.

You'll see so many variations of this idea of pastry stuffed with a savory filling, but spinach and feta are my favorite. Feel free to substitute for whatever leftover meat you have (chicken, beef, fish) or go all veggie with potatoes and peas.  No matter what filling you choose, I can assure you it won't leave an oily, deep-fried after taste!

Feta and Spinach filled Puffed Pastry

1 box of puffed pastry, defrosted
1 small tub of feta
1 box of frozen spinach, thawed
1/2 onion,diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp pomegranate syrup or molasses (the latter is stronger, use less) * this is optional. It gives it a nice tart/tangy taste but you can leave it out*
salt and pepper to taste

1. Saute the onions and garlic for a couple minutes, until fragrant. Then add the thawed spinach. Cook until all liquid has dissolved.

2. Add the pomegranate syrup and salt and pepper. Allow to cook for a minute or two. Remove from heat and allow filling to cool.

3. Cut puff pastry into 9 equal squares. Place 1 tsp of spinach filling, topped with sprinkle of feta, in the middle of each square. Carefully fold horizontally to make triangles.  Use water to seal shut. Using a sharp knife, cut a slit on the top of each triangle to allow steam to escape.

4. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes or until golden and puffy.