Sunday, 31 January 2016

Lamb Curry Recipe

I posted the recipe for my simple chicken curry a while back and I got positive feedback from sisters who had tried it.  This is my version of a simple lamb curry.  I usually make this when I have a bit more time or for special occasions and I always get lots of compliments for it alhamdulillah.


1kg lamb or mutton - washed
2-3 onions - chopped
3-4 tomatoes – pureed or chopped
1-2 tablespoons tomato puree
½ tablespoon ginger paste
1 tablespoon garlic paste
½ teaspoon cumin powder
½ teaspoon coriander (dhaniya) powder
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
2-3 green chilli's – chopped
½ to 1 teaspoon red chilli powder or Pakistani style bassar masala (if available)


Add all of the above into a cooking pot with 3 glasses of hot water.

Let it cook on full heat until the water has evaporated and the meat is tender enough to break with a spoon but not falling off the bone. This will take 1-2 hours approx depending on the meat. Lamb cooks quicker (about an hour), mutton takes longer (2 hours or so) but I think it has more flavour.

If the water evaporates and the meat is still not cooked through, add another half a glass of water at a time and cook for longer.

Once the water is dry, add a little oil and fry/saute (or as we call it bhun) the meat for about 10 minutes until any smell of raw meat disappears. If you like at this stage you can add half a spoon of ready-made masala such as Shan or Laziza achar ghosht for added flavour.

Once the meat is cooked through, add 1-2 cups of water and simmer for about 10 minutes on medium heat (1 cup for dry curry for roti/nan, 2 for saucy curry for rice.

Once the sauce is done, shut off the heat and add a handful of chopped coriander and leave the lid on for 5 minutes for the coriander to infuse through the curry.

This dish is fairly easy and you initially just put everything into a pot and let it cook, it is just a little time consuming, but I think worth the time and effort.  The secret to getting it right is to make sure the meat is bhunna/fried properly once the water evaporates.  This tastes lovely with rice, naan or roti.

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Fan Mail

I often receive very warm or interesting e-mails from sisters who have read my blog. Yesterday I received this:

Asalam ulaikum sister, I am a huge fan of your blog, happy muslim mama. Please write a article on your amazing daughter. You could write about all the times she washed the dishes for you, hauls the laundry up and down the stairs, changes stinky nappies and helps potty-train ungrateful siblings, or maybe even how she goes downstairs in the middle of the night when shes tired just to switch the lights off or get some more toilet roll for someone *cough*you*cough*.
Yours faithfully, just another fan.

I didn’t have to wonder who my daughter had been complaining to, because I recognised the cheeky tone of the complaint straight away.

I have been giving Little Lady a bit more freedom with using my laptop for school work, her art work and leisure when I think she needs more down time (she works hard like her mama, so I encourage her to play and rest a bit more when she can). She recently asked me if she could create an e-mail address to e- ail a friend who had moved to a different school. I agreed as long as I have the password and she is okay with me keeping an eye on her account. She e-mailed her friend, then me and them her aunt Fashionista. I was surprised at how different her tone was in each of the e-mails, she adapted it to her audience and was warm and friendly (except for her fake fan-mail above, which just sounds bossy).

Anyway I’m still not going to stop asking her to go switch the light off downstairs at bedtime after someone has gone down for a drink of water and left it on again. She’s the only one of the kids not scared of the dark  :)

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Thrifty Haul January 2016

It has been quite some time since I found a good thrifty haul (like this, this, this or this amazing craft haul), especially as the boot fairs I enjoy so much don't start until near the end of March. So instead I made do with a trip to my local charity shop to hang out by the book shelves and see if anyhting caught my fancy.

I found a few treats for myself and the children and came away happy.

The books below were £1 each and two of them: Social Butterfly by Moni Mohsin and Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston were ones on my reading list. The Leapfrog Leappad toy was discovered by Litte Man for Darling. It usually costs about £25 with the books for about £8, this one cost £3 with the batteries included. I am a big fan of this brand and she has really been enjoying playing with it.

The rainbow box sets below caght my eye immediatey and turned out to be Coaching Academy training DVD's (costing £3 per set).  I have long had an interest in coaching, so if I can make the time to sit through these, insh'Allah I hope they will benefit me personally and also help to determine if this something I want to pursue in the future.

The little set of books was new and nice for Darling and Baby to share.  I usually avoid ornaments or anything that is slightly chintzy or has no function, but this little bowl of fruit caught my eye and just enchanted me as I love miniatures.  The fruit is made of stoneand I can't tell if it is dyed in some way or the marble is coloured.  I have found a few similar on the internet (Etsy, eBay and antique shops) variously described as vintage Italian alabaster, onyx marble or dyed quartz carved fruit and selling for anything from £15 to £50. This little set cost £3.

I was quite happy with my finds and I am thoroughly enjoying the Social Butterfly book, this should keep me happy until the boot fairs start again.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

New Blog Design

If you visited this blog in the last few days you may have noticed some silly business with the blog header changing and the words on it dissappearing.  This was my attempt at trying out a few different things in an attempt to update this space a little.  I have felt for some time that the design was outdated and some of the format and content of the sidebars had outlived their use.

I initially spent a few weeks looking at branding, blog themes, designs for headers (that's where the title is at the top) and fonts.  Despite searching I could not find what I wanted even if I was prepared to pay for it - the colours were not right, or the image looked great, but once up, didn't look right.

After hours of searching for the right colours, themes, images and almost going mental and wanting to throttle someone out of frustration, I gave in and got the kids watercolours out to experiment.

With a little help I painted some washes of colour and some swatches.

I simply took photo's of these and cropped and edited them to create my new header and elements

The swatches I used to crop and create labels like the ones below.  The whole process took about half an hour from painting to cropping and resizing the image.

I really enjoyed making my own and it has really inspired me to try out other things like posters with quotes and blog design elements.

I would love any feedback on the new look and any ideas on what else could be changed or added.  Your thoughts and ideas are really important to me!

Harlequin Sister: Keeping Our Hijab

I enjoy reading my youngest sisters two blogs - Curly Fries for the eye candy and colour and Harlequin Teaset for the art, humour and quirkiness.  Her most recent post: Keeping Our Hijab was a lot deeper and darker, exploring what it is like to wear hijab in todays world and the perceived change in people's attitudes towards women that wear hijab or niqab:

"In the last few months, or even perhaps year or so, I have felt a little unease – not with my own self-image or internal struggles, but with the external pressures – world events which have increasingly put the spotlight on us, the attitudes of people around us and even the growing islamophobia and fears a lot of us have begun to come across.

These days, I’m feeling a little differently. I think the recent Paris attacks, the ‘Charlie Hebdo’ incident and various terror incidents around the world have caused some sensational headlines and reactions, which is understandable but also a little scary. I’ve noticed it, as I have said, in the small things – the rude comments when going home on the train from white, male strangers, the dirty looks from an older couple who don’t know who I am or what kind of person I am, even the younger generation who have perhaps heard their parents talk about ‘Pakis’ and what we ‘do’, and feel that it is okay to call someone a name. It doesn’t happen a lot, but it has happened. I think my sister described it best – sometimes these people think that it is okay to treat someone like this because they don’t know how to express themselves, and they don’t know how to say to someone ‘I am scared of you because you are different.’ Perhaps too many of them have read dramatic headlines from The Sun and think that because it is printed, it must be right, and perhaps, some of them just need an excuse to channel their frustrations."

You can read the whole article here.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Ease After Hardship or My Best Friend’s Wedding

I often get comments and e-mails from sisters which reveal the hardship they are going through. This has included violence, emotional abuse, loneliness, empty or dysfunctional marriages and problems with in-laws. Sometimes I feel so unqualified to respond in a way that is helpful and not patronising. Recently I watched my bestie, my beloved soul sister go through something similar – alone with two small children and minimal help, I saw some of my deepest fears – being alone, having to handle work alone with no childcare, struggling with money present themselves in her life. I listened to her pour her heart out as she had to find the strength each day to plough through the practical and physical difficulties as well as navigating the casual cruelty of family and community in such situations: unkind remarks, blame, cold shouldering and petty comments.

I watched her go through the darkest days of her life with one problem after another pile up on her and I prayed to Allah SWT to find a way out for her, to give her the peace, security and love this big-hearted sister deserves. I still wondered though, how things could better, it seemed impossible, everything that could go wrong had gone wrong and it was hard to imagine her in a the life that I wished for her: wealthy, happy, successful and in love. Yet Allah’s promise is without doubt:

"Verily, with hardship there is relief" (Qur'an 94:6)

I had one message from her that broke my heart and left me bereft for her: talking about how sad and alone she was and how hard things were. I had a message shortly after telling me that she had found someone wonderful and that she was about to marry. I have to say I nearly had a heart attack when she told me. But I was overjoyed for her. She has had her nikah (Islamic marriage ceremony) and has two beautiful stepchildren to be big brother and sister to her beautiful little boys. She always wanted a daughter and I always prayed she would be blessed with one but used to worry that her body would not be able to handle another baby. Allah (SWT) has blessed her with a daughter that is crazy about her and has yearned for a mum for so long.

Another thing that made me happy was the flipping enormous ring on her finger mash’Allah. Not because I have any love of gems (my husband knows that food and books and good company are the way to my heart), but because it tells me that her husband was serious enough about her to firstly gather together his family and do the nikah and secondly to spend the money. I remember also that she never had a nice ring before like all of the other girls and I knew she would have liked one.

So alhamdulillah instead of seeing my friend in distress and worn into the ground, I am seeing her navigate her new life with a kind man who cooks for her and two new children she adores. She is learning to fit into another family and another culture (she is Moroccan and he is Bengali). It is still hard, there is still so much to sort out – accommodation, difficult parents, a wedding reception. But married life is not about ease and contentment, but about facing the hard things as a team and not feeling as if you have to deal with everything the world throws at you alone.

I used to see what a loving person my friend is: affectionate, tactile, big-hearted and full of praise and kindness for others and think what a waste for her to be alone when there are so many people who need love and kindness. Now I am so happy to see her with a man that adores her and kids who needed a mum. I am so looking forward to meeting them this weekend and I am excited about her reception.

The point of sharing what she went through was to offer hope to sisters (and brothers) who are suffering right now. I could not see how my friend would find a way out of her agonising situation. When she did, it all happened so quickly. It was such a reminder for me that Allah (SWT) can change our situations whenever he wants, no matter how bad things are and how impossible a solution appears alhamdulillah.

"...Bear with patience whatever befalls you...." (Qur'an 31:17)

"Be not sad, surely Allah is with us." (Qur'an 9:40)

"So do not become weak, nor be sad..." (Qur'an 3:139)

"And grieve not over them, and be not distressed because of what they plot." (Qur'an 16:127)

Our Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "Verily, if Allah loves a people, He makes them go through trials. Whoever is satisfied, for him is contentment, and whoever is angry upon him is wrath." [Tirmidhi]

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Growing Up Online: Pinterest Story

Little Lady was using my laptop this week and she wandered onto my Pinterest page where she had a board.  Her immediate reaction was embarrassment at what she hah pinned in the past.  She immediately set about deleting her old pins.  I stopped her to take some screen shots before she got too far.  Her oldest pins are from about two years ago and a world away from what she has been pinning recently.  Another reminder of how much she has changed and grown.

Her oldest pins seem to have a lot of pink:

Then she had this fascination with Faberge eggs, she didn't delete these, she still likes them:

Still lots of pink, but a bit more emo/manga, a little edgier (oh my gosh, she's still about 11, not 16 here):

Then suddenly madam gets all glam:

She remembered having  a cat phase:

Her joke phase, she still got the giggles when she saw the fart joke and says its her favourite, I suppose her goofy sense of humour hasn't changed at least:

Her recent pins reflect her fascination with art and design:

I think I have a 12 (almost 13!!) year old hipster/trendy Generation Y-er on my hands

I am just so blown away by how much she has changed and grown in such a short time.  I am reminded that 13 year olds today are nothing like what 13 year olds used to be like when I was a kid, 13 today seems more like 23.  Of course I am handling this in the same manner I have been since Little Lady was about 9.  Completely freaking out, trying to protect her, trying to hold onto her childhood, worrying away while she rolls her eyes and tells me to chill.  Alhamdulillah I can't believe how quickly she has turned into a young lady.  I am so proud of this girl and so in awe of her alhamdulillah.

She has spent today deleting pins and splitting her board into two new boards for the things she loves and for art and design inspiration.

Friday, 8 January 2016

Burger Party

During the Christmas break, I had about two weeks off work to coincide with the children.  So before the holidays started I tried to do some planning and work out what we could do on different days including visiting family on alternate days.

We agreed we would visit my sister in law on one of the days for burgers and cartoons.  That then turned into a Burger party for all of of the women and kids in the family.

We arrived at my brothers home to find a stack of take-away boxes but my glamorous sister-in-law cooking burgers and frying onions.

While we chatted and Sister-in-law cooked, the kids entertained themselves by testing just about every toy in the house regardless of the age it was for.

It soon became what clear what the take-away boxes were for - part of the burger party theme.  I really liked the flag details, labels and the fries boxes.  It is just so nice when someone puts time and efort into something nice for you - especially when its something tasty :)

The food was delicious, home-made burgers, chilli rings, fries and home-made coleslaw.  I had to restrain myself from a second hepling which would have gone down easily.

We were also treated to home-made milkshakes - strawberry and chocolate (which I saw Nutella being added to - yum).

After everyone had been well fed, we watched Cinderella with the children and then split into two teams to play Pictionary.  I always think I'm going to be bored playing this and always have so much fun, even if we lost by a point this time.

Winter Wonderland 2015

Last year we went to Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park in Central London with some guests that were staying with us for the Christmas holidays.  We had a lot of fun, so when I saw it was on again this year, we decided to take the children again.

Last year I spent too long in the market and the kids got annoyed they didn't get a turn on the rides because the attraction was shutting down.  This year we managed to split up and take turns queueing with the kids for the rides and managed to get round both markets there too.

 I really liked how the place was decorated and set up.  As well as the pretty lights there were the tons of different, sometimes strange, exhibitions and decorations: barns, Bavaraian villages, statues of snowmen, penguins and all sorts of other things

Some of my work colleagues had been reccommending churros to me which I had never tried before.  I found some and of course had them with chocolate.  They were nice hot, but maybe not my favourite thing ever.

Of course, my favourite thing were the two markets full of stalls.  This jewellery stall just had me bedazzled, I couldn't decide what I liked and ended up not choosing anything and wishing later I had.

I love these druzy-style rings, but I have never seen them with the sparkly stones around the sides.  Does anyone know what this is and where I can find some? (note - I have been googling and I think the effect is called crystal pave druzy)

Little Lady had her eye on these Swarovski sets.

Just the colours...

There was a stall I was looking for that we saw last year and we managed to find it.  It was full of tiny glass sculptures.  Last year we bought a little colourful glass sweet.  This year I was after a glass starfish, I meant to come back and buy it later and couldn't find the stall again :(

Of course it being winter and such long hours of dark, there were lights everywhere:

There was a whole stall full of paper art:

These handmade journals caught my eye:

I did end up buying the kids these pencils, they look like regular pencils, but are about a foot and a half long.  Gorgeous complained afterwards that he couldn't fit his one into his school bag to take to school which was a bit of a relief.

There was also a heck of a lot of sweets, including the traditional of bags of pink candyfloss.

We had a good time, the kids went on all of the rides that I thought were too scary, I got to try churros.  I enjoyed window shopping all of the beautiful stuff in the market and wished I had bought something for myself.  Darling's favourite thing as soon as we go anywhere is to announce "I wanna go hooooome!", this time round she loved it, wanted to stay and for the first time ever didn't want to go home after a short while.  She has been asking when we can go back.  That will be next Winter break insh'Allah.

The other favourite to mention is this picture below taken by Shutterbug Sister which I loved and which was picked as picture of the day on the Winter Wonderland instagram. You can see more of her pictures (many of which I have used), here.