In order to feel at home here and to understand what this Tea House is all about, please see my very first post at http://teatimereflections.blogspot.com/2009/09/heya-tea-mates.html

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Sunday, September 6, 2009

a whole day of cooking...while fasting!



It's TEA TIME!!!

*Phew* now I can finally sit here, sip some tea, and type my blog after a FULL day of cooking with mom! My tea for today is: Ahmad Tea flavored with peach and passion fruit. It was my first time having this tea...I just LOVED the smell! But I expected better...what tea would you like to have now? By the way, I really appreciate the blogging tips I've received from my previous and very first post, they were quite helpful! As you can see, I am now implementing one such tip by adding pictures!! xD Hopefully I'll add more some other time...I would like some animation though...

Although it is the Holy Month of Ramadan (the month in which we Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset and in which we believe the Holy Koran was revealed to our Prophet), I am not fasting since I am kinda sick and need my medicine during the day...it's difficult to actually "feel" the holiness of the month in a non-Muslim country, especially when you yourself aren't even fasting. 

Although I already moved into my new dorm, I am now staying at my brother's place during this vacation to spend time with my mom before she goes back to Dubai. Since my brother is quite possessive of my laptop (>,<), you may notice that my posts (and tea sipping) will be slow...hopefully I'll post daily once the vacation ends and I stay at my new place. I also hope to post more general daily reflections as I get pretty distracted here in the living room with my mom and brother (especially when both of them need the internet and when my brother keeps poking me sharing his 3D architectural designs with me! Though I have to admit, I somewhat envy his enthusiasm and constant creative productivity. Would love to share his designs with you tea mates, but I don't think he'd allow me).

Today, instead of deciding to eat from a restaurant during the time of breaking our fast in the evening (known as Iftaar), mom was in quite a cooking frenzy! :-D From 12pm till 5:45pm, me and her were in the kitchen the whole day cooking a variety of traditional Gulf Arabic foods. Actually, I just made the salad and dessert...although mom calls for my help, she tends to do everything herself as she is fast, steady, and gets things done the minute they need to get done while I'm slow and tend to take breaks in between. :-p However, since I'm not fasting and both she and my brother are, I was helpful enough with tasting the food for her, making sure that the salt and herb quantities were right.

Speaking of herbs, it was difficult to find what we actually wanted for our food, even in ethnic grocery stores, so the food didn't turn up the same way as it was meant to. I find it amazing how people can still cook the whole day while fasting despite the tempting aromas...especially from frying samosas (known as "Samboosa" in Gulf Arabic)!!

Anyhow, posted below are the pictures of some of the food we had along with their names, I'll share the ingredients with you once I actually attempt to make them myself. However, I don't feel like these really give the best idea of how Gulf Arabic food is really like. I couldn't take much pictures as mom was zipping around the kitchen and barely allowed me to. I just realized also (and unfortuantely) that I didn't take a picture of the main dish called 'Aish wa Mash (literally: Rice & Mung Beans...the kind my mom makes contains ground beef or lamb rolled into a ball along with other herbs, hers is among my favorite dishes!).

Food from the Gulf region of the Arab world is highly influenced by both Persian and Indian food. It is found homemade so don't expect to find a Gulf Arabic restaurant. I've never seen one myself, not even in my own country. I even read a Gulf Arabic cookbook (called Cardamom & Lime by Sara Al-Hamad) where the author says in the Introduction that she herself has only seen 2 such restaurants in the world (whatever Arabic food you may have eaten yourself from an Arabic restaurant is typically Mediterranean or North African...and no..."Iranian" food or "Persian" food are NOT "Arabic"! Although they both influenced one another greatly).

Left: The dessert called Farnee (rice pudding, also known as Muhalabiyyah...also found in Iran, Iraq, the Mediterrenean, and South America, but this doesn't have the rice grains and has more rose water, thus it is more of a match with the Persian version)
Right: Chicken Kofta stuffed with cheese (in this case Philadelphia cheese, we typically use Kiri cheese back home, but since that's a French brand, we couldn't find it here in America)
Below: Dates (in Arabic, each stage of date has its own specific name, in the photo, this date is called Tamer as it is in its last and most ripest stage. During Iftaar, people begin by eating dates to raise their blood sugar and iron after a day of fasting).


From your Tea Mate,
Reema :-)

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