Hajj for most, as they say, is a life changing experience. And I can vouch for this myself as well. Four years ago, when Mr A and I decided to venture for this concrete pillar, we realised how it was a combination of all the other pillars together, where you believe in Tauheed (oneness of Allah), perform salah (prayer), fasting and zakat (charity) in some form or the other.
With all the blessings, tears, inner resolve and strength, our 10-day trip was not without its frivolities. It was certainly a life changing experience when Mr A and I in full ihram had to hike a ride back to the hotel on a motorbike. A scene no less than an Indian movie, where my ihram was flying in the air, while I clung on my mehram in fear of falling and sprawling on the well-lit roads. Or me sneaking my way in an Iranian tent to find solace in a cleaner bathroom.
it was also a life changing experience when Mr A enjoyed four days of complete silence as the spouse caught the Hajj flu and remained voiceless for the concluding part of the trip. A 17-hour long wait at the Jeddah airport, which saw me making useless attempts to sleep on the floor in the midst of a thousand other hajis trying to make their way home.
But now when I think back, all I can remember is how the Almighty, the Gracious and Merciful held us in complete safety and made us perform this pillar with complete dedication and fervour, apart from the above pleasantries of course.
A happy Eid Mubarak to those who have been through this life changing experience this year, and to all of us who have fond memories to relate. As Eidul Azha is closing in, I would like to share a couple of recipes that you might want to make at home and share with your loved ones.
Given the time constraints, the two dishes take minimal effort, while the main course might take time to cook, it is worth the wait and right after, if you fancy a sweet inkling, you can always whip up the dessert which takes less than five minutes to prepare and cook.
The main course is a dish called Tagine with a Moroccan descent. This one pot dish is abundant with flavours and spices, simmered gently for over two hours or until the meat is pillowy tender and the gravy is thick, oozing with seasoning both piquant and honeyed.
Traditionally, this dish is made in a clay pot called the Tagine, however, any heavy bottom-based is good enough. Ideallym this dish is served with rice or couscous, however, I decided to serve it with a loaf of freshly baked French bread, where you can pull apart the bread and dunk in the thick gravy.
This recipe is followed by a mug recipe with any leftover French bread you might have. Thick chunks of bread are soaked in yolky custard, zapped in the microwave oven for about two minutes, resulting in a soft, fluffy bread and butter pudding.
Ingredients: (Serves two to three hungry fellows)
Mutton – 500 grams (You can use lamb or chicken as well)
Olive oil – 2 tbsp
Onion – 1 (medium sized, finely chopped)
Tomatoes – 1 can
Salt – 1 tbsp
Paprika – 1 tbsp
Turmeric powder – 1 tsp
Cumin powder – 1 tsp
Ginger powder – 1 tsp
Garlic – 1 tbsp (minced)
Saffron – few strands
Lemon – (small sized, sliced)
Prunes – 4 to 5
Honey – 1 tsp
Vegetable stock – 500 millilitres
Coriander – chopped
1. Take a heavy bottomed pan or a tagine and heat some olive oil on medium heat.
2. Tip over the meat pieces and brown them all over. Once done, spoon them out of the pan and set aside.
3. Add in the onions and fry them until transparent. Tip in the tomatoes, all the spices, lemon slices, prunes, honey and stock and stir well.
4. Add the meat pieces, bring to a boil. Lower heat to simmering and cover with a lid.
5. Let the dish cook for about two hours, checking occasionally and stirring.
6. When the meat is soft and tender, switch off the heat.
7. Garnish with coriander and serve with warm bread.
Bread and butter pudding
Ingredients: (Serves one)
French bread, pulled apart roughly
Egg – 2 yolks
Almond Milk – ½ cup (You can use regular milk as well)
Sugar – ⅓ cup
Cream – 2 tbsp
Butter – 1 tbsp (melted)
Cinnamon spice – ½ tsp
Dollop of cream
1. Fill up a regular sized mug with pieces of stale French bread.
2. In a jar, whip up the egg yolks, milk, sugar, cream, melted butter and cinnamon spice.
3. Once mixed well, pour it in the mug filled with bread.
4. Microwave for two minutes. Take it out, sprinkle with some cinnamon spice, plop on some cream and your dessert is ready to eat.
Eid Mubarak everyone!
All photos: Saadia Tariq