One fine morning, I received a message from Papatia, who runs Djaribi Books, which specializes in Islamic books for kids and adults in the USA. They have launched a new book called “Halal Comfort Foods” and she asked if I would be interested in reviewing it. I was more than happy to do it and hence responded back with a “yes”. Couple of weeks later, I received a pretty parcel which actually had more than the book itself! It came with some nibbles, which were thoroughly enjoyed by ourselves over tea. 🙂
Why the book? USA is said to have the most number of reverts into Islam. More than the inclination to the Shahadah (the Oneness of Allah and accepting that Prophet Muhammad SAW is His messenger), it entails a total change in lifestyle for reverts. That change includes in food as well. Food as a total is Halaal or permissible, however there are certain sections of food that are not permitted, ie. pork, alcohol and meat slaughtered in a name other than that of Allah. From a position of being able to eat and drink anything without restriction, a revert will need to go through several checks in their eating habits. The book is a perfect guide for reverts living in the West as to how to look into their eating options.
The book explains in detail about what is Halal, and what to look for while searching for Halal food. The book then goes on to provide various sections of recipes – breakfasts, beverages, appetizers and snacks, breads, entrees and desserts, prepared with Halal ingredients. What I loved about the book is that it does focus on certain American recipes converted to a Halal format. For example, making sausages out of beef mince and making beer bread by replacing the beer with club soda! The book is a perfect example of how to make a revert feel assured that it is not all about giving up on comfort food that they grew up with. The book is with very simple prints and easy to follow. I have a few already bookmarked like the few mentioned above, the Broccoli Salad, Old Fashioned American Biscuits, Red Beans and Rice and Lemon Sponge Pie. From these names, you can understand how much the book concentrates on food that comforts and consoles. The book ends with details about the author M. K. Johnston, who is a revert herself as well as her interview which was featured in the Hayati Magazine in 2015. This is followed by an index and a little article on Ramadan.
While going through the book, even though I marked a few recipes like my eyes fell on the custard pie recipe. As impulsive I can be, I pulled out all the ingredients and started whipping it up, only to realize that I needed to make a pie crust and that process would take time. 🙁 Still, I went ahead and baked them in my thin flat tray. Once bought to room temperature, I allowed it to cool. Like the author mentions in the book, the waiting part was really difficult, but it was really worth it. Within minutes, the little portion I made vanished off! It was really delicious and definitely something I would repeat it in a pie crust next time, InShaAllah. Off to the recipe…
- 2 large eggs, slightly beaten
- 3 tbsp sugar
- A pinch of salt
- ¼ tsp vanilla extract
- 1¼ scalding (hot) milk
- A dash of cardamom and cinnamon powders
- Preheat oven to 160 degrees. Keep a small flat pan ready.
- Whisk the eggs with sugar, salt and vanilla till pale.
- Slowly pour the hot milk and keep whisking till you have a homogeneous mixture. Ensure to keep whisking to avoid curdling.
- Pour into the pan and sprinkle the spice powders.
- Bake for 40 minutes or till a skewer comes out clean and the top looks set.
- Cool completely, before chilling it till fully set.
The author used a sprinkling of nutmeg, but I substituted with cardamom.
And I have a good news too! The publishers are giving away a copy of this book and a little hamper for those who read this post! All you need to do is to comment on this post by answering,
“What according to you is comfort food?”
The giveaway is open for two weeks and once back, a winner will be chosen from the best responses. So keep typing in your responses below, I would love to read through them. May the best one win!
JazakAllah Khair to Papatia for including this little space of mine for the launch and promotion of this informative book. InShaAllah, it will definitely benefit new reverts to make easy decisions and be stress free with regards to food.
The book was received for review. Opinions expressed in this article are totally mine and without any bias.