Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Arabic Shortbread

Nochodchi [no-cho-chee] is chickpea flour made into something very similar to Scottish shortbread. So, Arabic Shortbread if you will.

You'll need chickpea flour,

and icing sugar,

as well as cardamon to taste, butter to bind and split pistachios for texture and colour.  Mix all four ingredients together

and then roll up into a long sausage and put it in the fridge for up to six hours:

After it has rested find the cookie cutter,

unwrap the cold sausage of chickpea flour,

and make your cookies:

Bake them in a preheated oven 160 deg C for 30 mins and et voila, chickpea shortbread:

Friday, August 20, 2010

Trifle, with Arabic Influences 2.0

Following last week's Ramadan trifle recipe which wasn't a wonderful success {see wgaw archive: TRIFLE WITH ARABIC INFLUENCES}, I decided to make a different version of the trifle, 2.0. 

This week it's with lemon jelly, so a sweet and a not-so-sweet combination.  I'm still not completely happy with this version, but it was definately edible and come back for more.  Will update later with version 2.1.

I used lemon jelly and dream whip

I soaked the vermicilli in rose syrup and made the pieces of vermicilli smaller with a potato masher,

then I mixed crushed lychees with lemon peel and layered them on top of the lemon jelly,

Then I added the dream whip and covered the trifle with pistach and saffron,

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Ramadan Kareem

Here's a picture of the sun setting, as we're going to the family house for iftar [if-tar] {see wgaw archive: IFTAR}.  Iftar is the meal which is eaten to break the day-long fast during Ramadan {see wgaw archives: RAMADAN}.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Mass Weddings

Not from the GCC, but the Arab world. Mass weddings in Gaza with adult men and child brides,

Somehow the video somehow didn't ring true ... this is what HOAX SLAYER says about the video:

Claims that 450 pre-pubescent girls were married in a mass wedding sponsored by Hamas are untrue
Messages like the example included above are currently circulating via email and have also been posted to a great many blogs, online forums and social networks around the world, where they have generated a flood of often vitriolic anti-Islamic sentiment and very heated debate.

The messages claim that hundreds of pre-pubescent girls were forced to marry adult grooms in a recent mass wedding ceremony in Gaza organized by Palestinian Islamic organization, Hamas. According to the messages, 450 brides, most of whom were under ten years old, were married to 450 grooms most of whom were in their mid to late twenties. The messages accuse Hamas of actively and willfully promoting pedophilia and condemn the act as "bizarre & shameful".

Support for these claims is centered around several photographs supposedly showing tiny "brides" dressed all in white and holding the hands of their much taller, grown-up "grooms". However, while a mass wedding did indeed take place in Gaza in July 2009, the claim that the photographed children were actually the brides in the ceremony is untrue.

These photographs represent virtually the entire "body of evidence" that supports the claims in these indignant protest messages. However, this supposed photographic "evidence" is in fact meaningless because they do not actually depict child brides at all. Instead, they show young family members of either the bride or the groom. At such Muslim wedding ceremonies, it is a tradition for young girls to dress up and play a role in the celebrations in a way similar to how flower girls are used in Western wedding ceremonies. Although these young girls do look like little brides, they are certainly not the ones getting married.

Hamas has vehemently denied that any children were married at the event. In fact, a Hamas official told WorldNetDaily that the youngest girl married at the ceremony was 16 years old while most were over 18 years of age.

These scurrilous and inflammatory reports began circulating soon after the Hamas sponsored mass-wedding took place. A 30 July 2009 AFP news article notes:
Nearly a thousand Palestinians celebrated marriage on Thursday night in a ceremony organized by Hamas in the north of the Gaza Strip.

Hamas dignitaries including Mahmud Zahar, one of the militant group's top leaders, were on hand to congratulate 450 grooms who took part in the carefully stage-managed event.

"We are saying to the world and to America that you cannot deny us joy and happiness," Zahar told the men, all of whom were dressed in identical black suits and hailed from the nearby Jabalia refugee camp.

Each groom received a present of $500 from Hamas, which said its workers had also contributed five per cent of their monthly salaries to add to the wedding gift.

Much has been made of the fact that no photographs of the real brides have made it into news reports about the event. This seeming omission has been seized upon by many commentators as more evidence that the children in the photographs really are the brides in spite of denials by Hamas and others.

However, the absence of the brides is in fact just a reflection of how Muslim public ceremonies are conducted. News reports indicate that "the 450 brides shared none of the glamour, taking seats among the audience" while their grooms actively participated in event ceremonies.

And a SkyNews video report about the mass wedding notes in reference to the brides that "The women are elsewhere". Tim Marshall, the journalist who presented the SkyNews video, was actually there at the mass wedding ceremony. In a blog post about his attendance, Marshall reiterates that the brides were elsewhere, noting that some of them were among the guests. He also writes:

The men and women are sitting, Most ignore the speeches, some even ignore the prayers. Then the fireworks explode, the cheering begins, and in march the Hamas scouts, bashing drums, looking every inch the future Hamas fighters many will be. Then the grooms, aged about 18 to about 28. They are holding hands with their young nieces and cousins, little girls aged from about 3 to 8, made up to the nines, wearing white wedding dresses.

Up they all go to the stage, the cheering and music grows ever louder. The girls were having the time of their lives, but, getting a little bored after a while, came down off the stage to dance with each other and play games.

Our report on this put it into context saying that it took place just a mile from the Israeli border and was a message from Hamas about its strength confidence and future fighters. Oh and that the brides were elsewhere. Pretty straightforward. It never struck me for a moment that the little girls might later be described in the bloggersphere as the brides! How naive I am.

Moreover, the 2009 mass-wedding is not at all unprecedented. An October 2008 New York Times article reporting on a Hamas sponsored mass wedding held in that year, notes that it was the tenth such event held in Gaza. The article also mirrors reports about the 2009 event, noting:

The 300 grooms were dressed in black pants, white shirts and colorful ties but no jackets, because of recent budget cuts. The brides, sitting separately among the women, wore head scarves and black robes over their evening dresses but were easily spotted by their heavy makeup. The couples had all signed marriage contracts before the event.

Ironically, reports about the 2008 event also featured photographs of young girls clad in white bride-like dresses. The New York Times article shows such youngsters dancing in front of the grooms. Apparently, the poison-pen denizens of the blogosphere saw no reason to conclude that the children in photographs of the 2008 mass wedding were actually the brides, so one wonders why they have so rabidly done so in 2009.

Perhaps the 2009 images are a little more compelling and it is, I suppose, at least possible that whoever first perpetrated these inflammatory falsehoods did so out of genuine misunderstanding. What is less forgivable - "bizarre & shameful" even - is that many hundreds of bloggers have gleefully perpetrated such errant nonsense in their publications without taking the few minutes required to check the veracity of its claims.

While free speech is (or should be) a fundamental human right, perhaps even home-based citizen journalists should take at least some responsibility in ensuring that the information they publish is factual and accurate

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Trifle, with Arabic Influences

I had decided a while back I wanted to make a Trifle with an Arabic twist. This is a work in progress and having made Version 1.0 which wasn't fantastic, there are various other options in my head now waiting to be made (with custard, with fresh mangoes, with cardamons, etc., etc.). 

The Bottom Layer
I cut lots of legimart {see wgaw archive: legimart} into small pieces, using scissors and soaked them in date syrup,

Once the legimart had soaked up the juices for half an hour or so, they were put in the trifle serving bowl and covered with strawberry jelly.  This was put in the fridge to harden, and then covered with tinned fruit.

The Top Layer
The strawberry jelly mixture was covered with saffron-flavoured creme caramel,

When the creme caramel was hardened, pistash and saffron were sprinkled on top.  The finished trifle looked like this,

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Pakistan Appeal

Dear Friends,

We are trying to ship used clothes (good condition only) from Bahrain to Pakistan for flood victims.

Gulf Air has graciously accepted to provide free cargo service from Bahrain to Islamabad. We have arranged the collection and distribution in the area worst affected by the recent floods.

In this regard we require the following:

· Ladies Shalwar Kameez
· Ladies Dupata and Chaddar
· Gents Shalwar Kameez
· Children clothes both girls and boys
· Shawls
· Bed Sheets (single and double)
· Utensils only plastic, melamine or aluminum

Due to limitation of time and to save time in sorting ,we will appreciate the following:

· Only above mentioned items are donated;
· The clothes are packed and folded in plastic bags clearly mentioning the clothes in above categories
· Please also provide hard board cartons if clothes are in large quantities
· The clothes can be dropped at the following address from Thursday 12 August 2010 to Sunday 15 August 2010 (Please note the items will be shipped by 17th August 2010):

· House Number 649,Road 1720, Sar 0517. Contact (Mansoora 39266286, Faiqa 17793898)
· Villa Number 5 & 8- Noor Garden Barbar Contact (Tehmina 39188094, Madiha 37774880)
· House Number 1161,Road 6025,Block 360, Zinj (Shaima 39669798)

For any information or clarification, please contact the following:

· Mohammed Haroon 39453561
· Hussain Lalani 39440314
· Rehan Ashraf -39935581
· Saad Asghar Ali - 39441626

Please spread the word and contribute generously for this humane effort.

Monday, August 9, 2010


I first had legimart [legg-ee-maart] several years ago whilst driving through a village, two weeks before RAMADAN [ram-a-dan]. 

It was Nasfat Shaaban [nass-fat sha'AH baan] (direct translation: middle of month eight) and villagers lined the middle of the road, all holding the most enormous oblong plates covered with what looked like doughnut holes. All drivers were being stopped and asked to wind down their windows so the occupants could be given one of these little round balls,

I put one in my mouth and was blown away by the taste. It was the first time I'd ever had date syrup and here it was hot, covering deep-fried, doughy bits. Divine.  We drove along slowly through the village and by the time we'd gotten to the end of the village I was asking my husband to return to the village for more.   

I've been buying date syrup ever since and now use it with all sorts of food: salad dressings, ice cream toppings, in cakes instead of black treacle, on pancakes, etc. etc.