Aside

Our blessed month of fasting instils upon us a calm and discipline like no other time of the year. In the UK, our fasting days are nearing 19 hours as we endeavour to go about our everyday lives to the best of our ability, whilst abstaining from all food and water. During this time we also engage in increased activities of prayer and recitation of our Holy Quran with the aim of receiving more spiritual reward and enlightenment.

Our preparation for ‘iftari’ forms a significant part of the day where we lovingly prepare our evening meal to break our fast at sunset. Much thought goes into the menu which traditionally comprises a variety of offerings, differing widely in the various regions across the globe, but typically including dates, fruit, intricately prepared savoury and sweet snack items together with a main dish and side.

I am no exception to this tradition. Each day I look forward to lovingly planning and preparing an iftari treat for my family. One such dish made earlier this week was this Nando’s style chicken based on a recipe I was introduced to by Cucina Restaurants whom I was employed by as the Cook in a primary school, responsible for feeding 200+ hungry little bellies each day.

I chose to serve the dish as an entrée fusion platter-for-four where tender strips chicken breast were laid on a bed of fragrant pilau rice with steamed herby potatoes.


Here is the basic recipe for the chicken which can of course be presented in any way you feel inspired 😊

Nando’s-style Chicken

Prep time: 10 mins

Cooking time: 60 mins

Serves: 4

Ingredients

2 chicken breasts, approx 250g each

4 tbsp olive oil

4 tbsp lemon juice

1 large onion, cut into eighths

2-3 cloves garlic

2 tsp paprika

1.5 tsp salt

1.5 tsp sugar

1.5 tsp ground cumin

1.5 tsp crushed chilli

3 tsp mixed herbs

1/4 cup tomato purée
How to cook

1. Place all ingredients except the chicken into blender and blend until you have a smooth marinade.

2. Score the chicken and then coat well with the blended mixture. Cover and refrigerate for an 1-2 hours.

3. Heat the oven to a low temperature. Cover tightly with foil and cook for 40 minutes.

4. Turn the heat up to medium and cook for another 15-20 minutes and the chicken is cooked through.

5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before slicing.

Serving suggestion: Serve with roast potatoes or on a bed of lemon couscous or pilau rice. Top with fresh, chopped coriander.

Ramadan Inspirations

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Curried Red Lentil Stew

A simple, nutritious protein rich dish to be enjoyed as a meal in itself or served over a bed of rice. 

 Prep Time: 10 mins

Cooking Time: 40 mins

Serves: 4

Ingredients

1.5 cups red lentils

1 red onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1″ root ginger, minced

1 tomato, chopped

2 celery sticks, diced

2 carrots, diced

1 tsp turmeric

1/4 tsp grounded cumin, preferably roasted

1/4 red pepper flakes or chilli powder

Salt to taste

2-3 cups water

For the tempering

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp mustard seeds

2 cloves garlic, finely sliced

1 bay leaf

6-7 curry leaves

How to cook

  1. Wash and drain the lentils and place in a medium saucepan with the water.
  2. Add the vegetables, garlic, ginger, onions and spices.
  3. Stir well and bring to boil.
  4. Cover and simmer over a low flame for 30 mins or until the lentils and vegetables have softened.
  5. Gently mash using a wooden spoon, add the chilli and salt.
  6. Cook uncovered for another five minutes or until the desired consistency is reached. Remove from the heat.
  7. Place a small non-stick pan over a medium flame and heat the olive oil.
  8. Add the mustard seeds and allow to sizzle.
  9. Stir in the garlic and cook until slightly browned.
  10. Add the bayleaf and curry leaves and stir through.
  11. Pour the tempered spices over the cooked stew and cover immediately to seal the frangrance.
  12. Stir well before serving.