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Review: The Bengali Five Spice Cookbook

Several weeks ago I stumbled across a post on Cooking in Westchester through a friends share on Twitter. It’s an Indian cooking blog specifically focusing on Bengali cuisine. I am always drawn to blogs like my own, those who are living outside the country they blog about.  Although I’m not Moroccan I have found that cooking Moroccan food is a way to bring my children closer to their culture and also give MarocBaba a little less homesickness. I also happened to come to this new blog on a post talking about her new cookbook and desire to have bloggers participate in the launch by cooking from the new book and giving away a copy.  I jumped at the chance.

I love Indian food and although extremely reluctant for a long time MarocBaba has come to the dark side and now loves it too. The regional nature of the cookbook is what really spurred my interest.  I have one other Indian cookbook but have more or less stayed away from trying the foods at home. After I read several of Rinku’s recipes on her blog, I knew that the cookbook would be easy for me to manage.  I signed on the dotted line, and soon the cookbook arrived.  With an extra long holiday weekend I took advantage and cooked my heart out, including recipes from this book.

Lentil and Rice Risotto

For my menu I decided to make Lentil and Rice Risotto, Meatballs in Saffron Rice, and Crispy Potato Sticks.  I was worried I wouldn’t have all the spices I needed, but found so many of the spices similar to what I use in Moroccan cooking, there was really only a few extra things I had to get ahead of time. This risotto was made with yellow split lentils but  I think there was something wrong with the lentils I had. Well, maybe not wrong but not the same as traditional lentils.  They cooked way too fast, and well before the rice was done. I was afraid it was going to just be mush but it really turned out good. I cut back on the spicy factor but MarocBaba added it back into his and was happy as a clam.

Saffron Rice and Meatballs

This was my favorite dish and thankfully I still have some leftovers in the fridge. The meatballs in the recipe were made with ground chicken but I used ground turkey. The meatballs themselves are loaded with spices and are very tasty on their own.  The rice is cooked with ghee, onions, garlic, saffron and loads of other delicious spices. I have so far eaten this three times and when reheated it’s equally as great.  The final recipe I made, probably more of a side dish, was crispy potato sticks.  You can’t go wrong with matchstick potatoes that are fried and dusted with salt, pepper, and turmeric.

There are so many recipes in this book that I am looking forward to making.  I think next will be a shot at dessert and maybe a chutney. I wish that every single one of you could have a copy.  (Well technically you can if you pick one up here). But I do have one copy to give to a lucky reader. Follow the directions in the Rafflecopter form and you’ll be entered to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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iPad App: The Story of Fatima al Fihria {Giveaway}

Who is Fatima al Fihria? Chances are you haven’t heard her name. Fatima is the founder of al Qarawiyn, one of the oldest universities in the Islamic world.  The mosque and attached school were built in 859 and have been operational ever since. This spiritual and education center is in Fes Morocco and operates as a state university. iQetab has developed an iPad app that tells the story of Fatima’s life and her eventual building of al Qarawiyn.  The app is available in English, Arabic, or French and includes the story as well as a few games. Check out this short YouTube clip to find out a little bit more.

We downloaded this app for our trip to New York.  I was hoping that my boys would enjoy listening to the story in English and then be adventurous enough to try listening in Arabic.  My initial feelings are this app is better suited for kids a little younger than mine.  M, who is 8, got frustrated because the story read to slow for him (he could read to himself much faster). But with the help of his dad he did listen in Arabic. If your kids can not read in any one of the languages they are listening in they will need help navigating as all navigationals are in the selected language, as you can see below.

Overall I really loved that this story was being told.  It’s great that a positive female, Muslim is showcased for the good works that she did. The illustrations are cute and the app really is well done, we didn’t have any issues with bugs or glitches. You can buy the app on iTunes for $3.99.

The Giveaway – Open until September 11, 2012

  • Leave me a comment below telling me why you would like to have this app!
  • You’ll get an extra entry if you share this giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter just be sure to leave a separate comment for each.

Sample Tweet: “Looking for a great #ipad #app featuring a strong Muslim woman? Enter to win with @marocmama″

Two winners will be selected and contacted individually with instructions on how to redeem their download.  This giveaway is open to anyone worldwide.

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Who’s ready to party? We’re starting to get into the holiday spirit with Eid right around the corner. Last year I did a special giveaway with Silver Envelope, a great online store that offers Islamic stationary such as Eid greeting cards, Ramadan party supplies and everything that you need for a birthday party or other celebrations. I’m excited to again partner with Silver Envelope this year to offer you a chance to win some greeting cards. With Eid only a couple days away this is going to be a quick giveaway. Instead of telling you everything about these cards I’m going to post some pictures to show you how lovely these cards are. There will be a winner for each of the cards, totaling 5 chances to win!


Haji Noor Eid cards


Silver embossed Eid cards


Flying High Eid cards


Zellij kids color-in check-off cards

Blue Diamonds Eid cards

How to enter

– Leave a comment answering: How do you connect with friends and loved ones during the holidays?

Additional entries (leave a seperate comment letting me know which you’ve done)
– Follow Silver Envelope on Facebook
– Follow MarocMama on Pinterest

Gveaway ends at midnight Monday August 13th

Open to US residents. Winner will be notified Tuesday August 14th for shipping address.

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Get out the streamers!  Cue the balloons!

I love my birthday and this year I have even more reason to love it because this year I get to give one lucky reader a gift.  As you know I’m always on the lookout for new kitchen supplies and tools.  I recently had the chance to try out a ceramic knife from Shenzhen and I can honestly say I was really impressed.  When the box first came I was ready to hand it off to M to use in the kitchen – that would have been a bad idea.  It doesn’t look like much of anything and I thought for sure it’s cutting abilities would be minimal.  I was wrong. 

Honestly I didn’t know much about ceramic knives so here are some fun facts;

  • Ceramic knives are rust proof and have a non-stick surface for easy clean-up.
  • They are made with zirconium oxide that is harder than ordinary steel and almost as hard as diamond.
  • Because of this ceramic knives can hold their edge longer than a steel blade.
I had shared this picture last week with a great soup recipe I had made.  It was the first time I’d used the Shenzhen knife.  It sliced through the potatoes with no resistance and the softer zucchini with the same precision.  I have a lot of knives ranging from very cheap steak knives to $100+ knives.  For cutting vegetables this knife was great.  A few things however to keep in mind.  This isn’t the knife to use if you’re cutting through any kind of bone.  This blade (like a steel or metal blade) can get knicks and chips in it.  If that happens you will need to have it re-sharpened.  The directions I got with mine cautioned me to avoid sharpening with a metal sharpening stick.
Onto the good news.  I get to give one of these away!  You could be the lucky winner.  This give away will run from today until midnight on November 15th.  I am using rafflecopter for entries (it’s easier for you and me!) You MUST leave a comment before completing any of the other actions.  If you do not leave a comment but preform other tasks in the giveaway you’re entries WILL NOT count.  The giveaway is open only to US residents.
This is a fast giveaway so get your entries in soon!

  Congratulations to Teri who won this giveaway!!!  Hope you enjoy the knife as much as me.

<a href=””>You need javascript enabled to see this giveaway</a>.

Disclaimer:  I was not compensated for this review, however I did receive a complimentary knife to review.  I was selected to participate in this giveaway through Rafflecopter Blogger Opportunities.  All opinions expressed are my own.  
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Today is the first day of fasting and I hope that suhoor filled you up!  If this is one of the first times you’re fasting, it does get easier as the week goes on.  Because Ramadan is in the heat of summer this year make sure that you are drinking a lot of water in the mornings and at iftar.  Hydration is even more mportant than food.  Remember I’m posting menus one day ahead but feel free to use them as you see fit.

Suhoor:  Omelettes with vegetables (leftover from dinner last night or freshly cut).  You can add cheese and cut up meat as well.

Reminder: The fast is broken traditionally with dates and water.  Make sure to have plenty of dates on hand to get you through the month.  MY favorite are Mejdool but Neglet or another variety is fine. 

Iftar: A lovely soup from Dinners and Dreams (a great website for more Moroccan food ideas). Chicken Couscous Soup, tea sandwiches, and dates.   This soup is not too heavy for summer but has some good lean protein included as well.  Remember protein keeps you full!  Freeze any leftovers for another night.  An easy accompaniment to this soup are tea sandwiches.  Some suggestions are cucumber and cream cheese on pumpernickel bread or roast beef and swiss with a dijon mustard on rye bread.  Reminder: Steam about 2 cups of extra couscous and set aside for suhoor tomorrow.

Dinner: Beef Tajine with Apricots.  A little more time consuming but worth it.  If you start this right after iftar it should be ready to go in a few hours.  Finish cooking the meat and then after isha prayers cook the prunes/almonds and serve.  Of course if you’re like me and iftar is your big meal you can swap the order of these two around.



Don’t forget to join me tonight at 8pm CDT on Twitter for a chat about your favorite summer entertaining ideas!  Use the hashtag #olivesummer
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