I was initially going to post a picture of the (triple layer cheesecake with brownie crust topped with chocolate cake) cake, but I thought that this was way more appropriate.
I was initially going to post a picture of the (triple layer cheesecake with brownie crust topped with chocolate cake) cake, but I thought that this was way more appropriate.
And the Sun runs to its resting place. That is the decree of the Almighty, the All-Knowing. And We have decreed set phases for the Moon, until it ends up looking like an old palm spathe. It is not for the Sun to overtake the Moon nor for the night to outstrip the day; each one is swimming in a sphere.
(Surah Ya Sin, 38-40)
Earlier this year, Brother S wrote of his bucket list and included his wish to visit Culpepper Island, Barbados. He did so visit, and in late August organised a family & friends trek to the Island with himself as guide. Ok, I use the word ‘trek’ (which is what it turned out to be) but Brother S’ invitation said ‘walk’. Amongst the items to be brought on the trek was a 50 foot length of rope. That alone ought to have warned me.
My photos end with the trek, and not with our scaling of the Island and not planting a flag atop. Why? Because the terrain became ….. rough, and I needed both hands – threw my phone to NoS who along with BH acted as my anchors along the treacherous path. Treacherous? Well, yeah – at one point I fell to my knees, and had to settle myself because I could not arise immediately – I could not find my left foot which had been placed on a deceptive clump of grass which apparently was growing aerially outwards and not upwards!
The walking journey began in Skeetes Bay, then uphill, onto a plateau with fantastic windy views. Next we began the trek along the hilly terrain, with marl and mud. At one point, my only way down was to brace myself crab-style on my hands and feet and slide down a gravel filled basin with BH bracing himself to help me. (Others slid down that basin like skateboarders on feet).
We made it to the small beach and I stood while my legs trembled. Brother S was first into the water carrying with him one end of that 50 foot length of rope. It ought to have been 60 to 70 feet because the other end (on the beachside) did not reach land. His initial invitation said walk to Culpepper Island. To be fair, his expanded invite said “Walk cross the beach and then wade out to Culpepper Island..” I think I missed the ‘wade’ part and saw ‘walk’. Anyway, by the time I had reached the beach, Brother S was in the water, up to his neck (and he and BH are roughly the same height). Trepidation – I have to remember that I can swim and I really prefer my feet to be firmly planted on solid.
BD told me I had misled her – she had flat-ironed hair and she is the shortest in our family. Her friend S/ha didn’t walk with wet clothes. (We all thought we were walking through the water – at not less than knee high). Nevertheless, we all proceeded to cross the water, holding onto the rope, BD behind me and reminding me he can’t swim when I stopped suddenly having lost traction and indeed, touch with the seabed. At the Island end, I put my footwear back on, and negotiated the very sharp rocks, did not clamber up the side but made it to just about 5 feet below the top of the Island. There faced me a chasm about 1/3 of my width (I could hear the wondering voices from the acme – how was I going to get up that?). BH literally had to haul me vertically up that final Island face. When I topped that Island, everything except my head was a-tremble. The views were panoramic. From every side of the 100 x 70 square foot top of that Island. And watched villagers run down the path we had walked and jump off a ladder into the sea.
And then we had to make our way down.
I stood and wondered. And pondered. And finally had to make that step of fate/faith by grasping Brother Y’s shoulder and getting off the plateau. Made it down, and across the sea. (NoS carried BD on his back across that water – Youngest had long abandoned us in disgust at the puny figures we posed.) And then back to Skeetes Bay.
Surat Aale Imran: “And to Allah belongs the dominion of the Heaven and Earth, and Allah is over all things. Indeed, in the creation of the heavens and earth, and the alternation of the night and the day are signs for those of understanding.” [189-90]
Surat Ghaafir: “It is Allah Who has made for you the earth as a resting place, and the sky as a canopy, and has given you shape and made your shapes beautiful and has provided for you sustenance.” [40:64]
Don’t be misled by the Title to this post – visiting it wasn’t on my bucket list (not sure I have one) but we are grateful to Brother S for his invitation, and for having been there, done that.
My posting has indeed been sparse this year, but I was going through my photos and voila – we have a post. Sister H ever so often has specials on imported strawberries, blueberries & cherries. This year, these played a major role in our Eid ul Fitr celebrations – part of the usual impromptu potluck buffet for the post-Eid salaat, part of the food gifts for various friends. I think BD baked a pineapple upside down cake or three, but memory is a little hazy on that part this year. Sawine (boiled and sweetened and spiced vermicelli pasta) is part of my Trinidadian heritage. Each year at Eid ul Fitr, my mother, whose culinary extents were limited by herself but whose flavours remain my favourite, cooked up and distributed pots of sawine to the neighbours on our street. Elaichi (cardamom), clove, raisins, sweetened milk (condensed milk), and the vermicelli. And at every Muslim home sawine was a given, and expected. Some added finely chopped nuts, some boiled with the fruits, some put out individual little bowls of the fruits & nuts so that you could garnish to your taste. My middle maternal uncle made the sawine in his house. My children expect it, and sporadically over the years, I have been prescient enough to obtain it and prepare it. Nowadays, you can purchase already parched sawine in the supermarkets in Trinidad. (Already parched (or is it patched?) sawine means that some ghee or butter or oil has been heated in a wide bottomed pot, the elaichi and sawine added and sauteed, then removed from the heat, allowed to cool, and bottled until ready to boil on Eid morning. Ah ha – it is toasted, or braised!) This year, I had to check with my Trini sources on what to add as my trusty Naparima Girls’ High School cookbook (the staple of Trini cooks:)) suggested cinnamon sticks – I did not remember that as an ingredient my mother added, and she either forgets or pretends to forget her recipes since she has happily given up cooking since my father passed away. And neither of us could get to her recipes – handwritten from her two extremely domesticated friends who wrote down the recipes for her when she moved to live independently of her parents – and which are kept in a clasp purse in one of the kitchen drawers.
So this year, Mum brought up a packet or two of already parched sawine, and I proceeded to prepare one on Eid morning. So BD, NoS, Youngest and I, partook of the sawine, and probably Aunty D. too. I added strawberries (now you see the link between Sister H’ specials and my post, don’t you?:). Enjoy. (I see that some cooks add grated ginger to the parching process as well – may try that – and we use a thicker (as if that were possible) vermicelli than the rice vermicelli or mung bean vermicelli. Some trivia – vermicelli is Italian for ‘little worms’, is thinner in diameter than spaghetti, is sometimes referred to as angel hair. Some cultures include sago in the sawine mix as well.
On Saturday morning, I prepared for a workshop on Interviewers & Writers, and an appointment at 7a.m. In the kitchen preparing what would turn out to be crudites and tuna with tamarind dip, post fajr, I could hear my phone pinging, and then ring off after 1 ring. (I am a checker of my phone messages in the mornings). I delayed checking. When I did, it was to see news that made me check again. Several sources reporting the same thing.
Qalloo nafsin za aqatul mawt – my friend, Maulana Mohmad Kholwadia had passed away. Stunned by its unexpectedness, I checked BH who was awake enough for me to share that news. And later on, BD. And even later on, while at my appointment, and with reddened eyes from various involuntary spurts of weeping, I shared with another friend that I could not go to see the family yet. But this post is not about me. This is about my friend.
We met Maulana almost 14+ years ago, when he became the first teacher of our first child who attended madressa. Our female child who attended madressa at a masjid which did not facilitate female attendees. Maulana was recommended by another friend of ours, who knew of his gentleness with children, his command of English, and his ability to teach Arabic without the urdu influences. Alif baa taa and not alif bay tay. Our second child started with him a year later. Then our eldest and Maulana’s youngest wound up in the same class with each other, and formed a fast friendship that lasted them throughout primary school.
From then until his death, we moved along the path of friendship – this Maulana who always wore white (with occasionally a grey trouser), who always wore a white topi and who I can visualise even now pushing that topi up on his forehead and settling it back into place. A Maulana who when he saw me walking with a child (or was it children) from the doctor’s office, years ago, stopped to give us a lift. A Maulana who was quiet and reserved and who I often teased about stepping up and speaking in public, and who agreed that he should. A Maulana whose elementary schoolteachers thought was mute but whose parents knew otherwise. A Maulana who introduced my family to his family and whose home became a frequent stop for us and the second stop for us on almost every Eid day over the last decade. A Maulana who frequently took my children home with him or dropped them to my office from school or madressa. A Maulana who I think was a foodie – never in excess, but he seemed to like trying new foods, and who was able to share recipes and flavours. Last year, BH was able to let him taste baked turkey, and he thought we should try caviar. A Maulana who was my go-to for contacts for cooks in the community, for questions on inheritance, for easy access to answers on fiqh. A Maulana who smoothed the way for BD when I was traumatised by the early onset of her menses and no one was ready for any of the girls in her class to experience that. A Maulana who was surrounded by family – his parents, his wife, his daughters, his sons, his sisters and all of their families, and to whom we were introduced. A Maulana whose wife and elder daughter now say to BD and me, that when they see us, it brings Maulana to mind strongly. A Maulana, the walimah of whose offspring we attended. A Maulana who allowed his daughter to accompany BD and our family to outings because he felt she should experience them before the expected strictures settled. A Maulana who began teaching BH how to read Arabic and who continued to wish to continue to do so. A Maulana who often said that he wished he could show us India, the birth-land of his parents and spouse. A Maulana who was known for his gentleness with children – and sometimes berated for what was seen as his softness – but whom children loved. A Maulana who I have since come to know was one of the first three Barbadians to travel abroad to undertake Islamic studies. A Maulana who introduced his students to the essay (possibly as punishment). A Maulana who loved Trinidad and who accompanied his youngest daughter there just weeks ago to enrol her in school. A Maulana whose father was a Maulana. A Maulana who has sired three haafiz, and one aalimah and was grooming another. A Maulana who was an obedient son. A Maulana whose doors were open to Muslims from all walks of life, and all ethnicities, and backgrounds. A Maulana who always encouraged and did not admonish/discourage. A Maulana who attended all of the programmes we invited him to. A Maulana who encouraged me by saying some years ago, that soon, my sons would be able to make public Quranic recitations and du’as at events held in our home. A Maulana who embraced email and whatsapp. A Maulana who at one time feared that he was forgetting. A Maulana who was interested in legal matters. A Maulana who was friend to my husband. A Maulana who my office staff knew by sight. A Maulana who was allowed by BH to drive his car. A Maulana who was brisk but never brusque with us. A Maulana who walked or drove to masjid. A Maulana who was humble and self-effacing. A Maulana who performed the Hajj with his beloved wife last year. A Maulana who earlier this year, offered with his wife to make gulab jamoon for us to share out when Youngest completed Qur’an . A Maulana whose suddenness of death and whose return to Allah swt, have made both BH and me cry. A Maulana whose friendship we are grateful to Allah swt to have experienced. A Maulana who was our friend and who is and will be missed.
Allah swt says:
To Allah we belong and to Him we shall return.
(Qur’an Surat Al Baqarah 2:156)
“Every soul shall have a taste of death, then to us you will be ultimately returned.”
(Qur’an Surat Al Ankaboot 29:57)
“Truly! The Muttaqun (pious and righteous persons – see V.2:2) will be amidst Gardens and water-springs (Paradise). “(It will be said to them): ‘Enter therein (Paradise), in peace and security.’ “And We shall remove from their breasts any sense of injury (that they may have), (So they will be like) brothers facing each other on thrones. “No sense of fatigue shall touch them, nor shall they (ever) be asked to leave it.”
Quran 15: 45-48
Truly, Allah will admit those who believe (in the Oneness of Allah Islamic Monotheism) and do righteous good deeds, to Gardens underneath which rivers flow (in Paradise), wherein they will be adorned with bracelets of gold and pearls and their garments therein will be of silk. Quran 22: 23
Verily, the dwellers of the Paradise, that Day, will be busy in joyful things. They and their wives will be in pleasant shade, reclining on thrones. They will have therein fruits (of all kinds) and all that they ask for. (It will be said to them): Salamun (peace be on you), a Word from the Lord (Allah), Most Merciful. Quran 36: 55-58
And those who kept their duty to their Lord will be led to Paradise in groups, till, when they reach it, and its gates will be opened (before their arrival for their reception) and its keepers will say: Salamun ‘Alaikum (peace be upon you)! You have done well, so enter here to abide therein.” And they will say: “All the praises and thanks be to Allah Who has fulfilled His Promise to us and has made us inherit (this) land. We can dwell in Paradise where we will; how excellent a reward for the (pious good) workers!”
Quran 39: 73-74
Verily! The Muttaqun (pious – see V.2:2), will be in place of Security (Paradise). Among Gardens and Springs; Dressed in fine silk and (also) in thick silk, facing each other, So (it will be), and We shall marry them to Houris (female fair ones) with wide, lovely eyes. They will call therein for every kind of fruit in peace and security;
Quran 44: 51-55
The description of Paradise which the Muttaqun (pious – see V.2:2) have been promised is that in it are rivers of water the taste and smell of which are not changed; rivers of milk of which the taste never changes; rivers of wine delicious to those who drink; and rivers of clarified honey (clear and pure) therein for them is every kind of fruit; and forgiveness from their Lord. (Are these) like those who shall dwell for ever in the Fire, and be given, to drink, boiling water, so that it cuts up their bowels?
Quran 47: 15
Verily, The Muttaqun (pious), will be in the midst of Gardens and Rivers (Paradise). In a seat of truth (i.e. Paradise), near the Omnipotent King (Allah, the All-Blessed, the Most High, the Owner of Majesty and Honour).
May Allah swt forgive Maulana for any wrongs which he may have committed, and may He grant him mercy in the grave and on yawmul qiyyamah and may He grant him his Book of Deeds in his right hand and grant him entrance into Jannatul Firdaus, and may He guide his family and keep them on the path of those whom He has favoured. Ameen.
Photo compliments SAJPICS
Photo compliments of SAJPICS
Unfortunately no photo. But that may be intentional – I have sort of decided to refrain from snapping photos of food for a bit.
Last Saturday, we joined brothers and sisters at Masjid e Quba, in Barbados, to share in the breaking of the fast. A centipede or two also joined us! Masjid e Quba is set along the base of a hillside and amongst cultivated gardens of vegetables. There are few trees, if any, and the …. easterly seaborn breezes (I wanted to use zephyr but apparently that is a westerly wind) sweep across those fields (pastures would be a more Barbadian colloquialism albeit rooted in Her Majesty’s English) with pure majesty to perpetually cool the masjid. Well, the brothers’ section and the L shaped patio at any rate. We have adequate sisters’ space (almost equal to the brothers’) but the partitions are to be modified to give us more air:). At this time, we are less green but adequately compensated by whirling fans electric.
While in the past, we have sat at dustakhans (sheets of newsprint unfurled in long lengths and set on the floor) of the masjid to share in the breaking of bread, this Ramadan we have utilised tables set along that L shaped patio.
So, you remember the mixture of ethnicities and nationalities in my family. What type of menu emanates from that melting pot of persons? (I have a non-Muslim friend who was horrified that the menu was not ‘Indian’ and I had to laugh – Islam and Ramadan span across all races). I had a Muslim friend who was looking forward to Trini roti and red beans. And we had a brother and sister who were allergic to milk (I have not quite classified their allergy – evaporated milk and coconut milk but not mayonnaise or cheddar cheese). You see the dilemma.
So, dinner yielded:
Post-maghrib, we had:
This really sounds like a lot, but really, portion sizes were reasonable, variety was good, and there were enough leftovers to share.
I am 4th generation Trinidadian of East Indian extract, married to a Barbadian who at some time in his genealogy must have had Caucasian interspersed with his African heritage. We are Caribbean.
Persons who see me expect me to know how to make dhalpuri & curry. (I can hear my children snickering in the background). I can talk the talk but I don’t always do the walk.
Because of the majority of visible Muslims in Barbados being of Gujrati descent, the cuisine with which we have become familiar is theirs. Hence, gohst. A most delightful disturbance of the palate and olfactory senses. BD has tried making it, as have I. BD rewrites recipes, I do some times. We have captured the scent, but not quite the taste. We believe the missing ‘ingredients’ are the quality and perhaps quantity of spices which we are using. (I have to teach my nose how to know the difference between the spices, and to discern freshness or strength).
Below is a recipe for Punjabi gohst (from daring gourmet) which I have used (minus the spinach as BH is known for his anti-vegetables stance, and I was not cooking 2 pots, and minus the yogurt as BD insisted (rather emphatically) that none of the recipes which she has gotten from her local culinary Gujrati-extract experts show yogurt).
Sometime yesterday I read a comment on one of sheenmeem’s posts on Perfume, that unexpected gifts are much more appreciated than expected gifts (think birthdays, anniversaries). I don’t necessarily agree but I know that unexpected gifts received in Ramadan make me very grateful to our Lord.
Yesterday, BD whatsapped (is that a recognised verb as yet?) that Brother S was passing by to drop off haleem for her from his mum, Sister Zulie. The excitement conveyed in her whatsapp message was evident. What is haleem?
Haleem is a stew composed of meat, lentils and pounded wheat made into a thick paste. It is originally an Arabic dish and was introduced to the Hyderabad State by the Chaush people during the rule of the Nizams (the former rulers of Hyderabad State).
When I got home from work in time to take BD to work, the haleem was there and dished for BD to take with her as her iftar. Off, NoS and I went to drop her off, returning immediately after BH & Youngest returned from Youngest’s football practice (while fasting – insert omg emoji here). Sped up the front steps, hurrying NoS to unlock the door to allow me to pray Asr, and there on a chair on the patio is a blue plastic bag with a food container – BH insisting it was the haleem, we trying futilely to explain that Brother S had been and delivered. We pick up the package and take it into the kitchen. Its contents reveal hot gohst. What is gohst? Wikipedia says:
Gosht refers to tender meat, cooked for a long time, and used as an ingredient in a number of Indian and Middle Eastern dishes. Several South Asian languages have adopted the Persian word gosht گوشت (also spelled ghosht), meaning “meat” or “flesh”, especially that of goat
The number of persons who could have dropped off the gohst (never for a moment did we think it was not meant for our home) were limited, but …………….. nobody had whatsapped us, think, think, think………….. Post iftar and in that post iftar moments of rest between iftar and leaving for isha & taraweeh salaah, BH reads his phone and the gifter is revealed!
The Messenger of Allah (saw) said: He who gives food for a fasting person to break his fast, he will receive the same reward as him, except that nothing will be reduced from the fasting persons reward.” [Ahmad, at-Tirmidhee, Ibn Maajah, Ibn Hibbaan, Saheeh].
May Allah swt reward the gifters, the gifts, and the recipients this Ramadan.
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