Part 2 of 3 | Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3
As semi-newlyweds, Sadaf and Sarah realized that life after marriage is very different from their experiences before marriage. Before marriage, Ramadan used to be about constant 'ibadaah and socializing with friends over iftaars before dashing off to taraweeh. After marriage, in addition to doing the above came a huge responsibility: making iftaar. They never imagined spending hours in the kitchen during Ramadan so they asked themselves, “How do we make the most out of Ramadan while still providing healthy and tasty iftaars for us and our husbands?” And, so, the idea behind “Body & Soul: Nourishment” was born! (Although this year's Ramadan is over, we pray that these reminders and recipes will still be of benefit inshā'Allāh.)
It was another one of those days when it was 5 P.M. before I even knew it. Iftaar was a couple of hours away, and although the apartment was cleaned, and dusted, laundry was freshly done and folded, I had yet to embark on a huge component of my day: COOKING. Before stepping into the kitchen, my eyes glanced at the clock and I realized '‘aṣr ṣalāh had just come in. I had the choice of prepping and starting the process, dashing off to perform ṣalāh, and being back to finish cooking before iftaar.
This is a “dilemma” many Muslims face at the time of ṣalāh daily. Should I finish off this project I'm working on? It'll only take 2 minutes, and I will be able to devote more time and attention to ṣalāh. Should I squeeze in another task that's on my daily things to do list? There's still a whole 2 hours left to pray.
The sunnah of our beloved Prophet salAllahu Alayhee wasSallam tells us otherwise. He would hasten to perform ṣalāh at its appointed time. In fact, he stated it to be the best of deeds! Of the wisdom behind praying on time are:
- Showing your Creator, Sustainer, Protector and Rabb, that you are embodying the statement “Allahu Akbar,” Allāh is the Greatest. Everything is secondary to the One Who deserves your attention and focus.
- The peace and tranquility that comes from Allāh after having prayed on time can't be described. It's a shot of energy and a boost of īmān that leaves you in a calm state of mind that is most welcoming while battling daily stressors.
By praying on time 5 times a day, we plan our life around the worship of our Creator. Allotting time for other acts of worship like reading Qurʾān, doing the daily adhkaar, and performing extra nawafil, follow suit shortly.
Like my co-author and close friend Sarah S., cooking has a calming effect on me, one that I welcome after a long day of teaching at an elementary school. However, when I only have an hour or so to cook, anxiety sets in. That's when I focus on making a quick and hearty meal that will also satiate our taste buds. The following recipe was born in my kitchen on one of those days. It soon became one of our favorite chicken recipes due to the tangy flavor produced by mango habanero sauce. I paired it with a spinach-garlic side dish, and vegetable rice. I hope you enjoy it as much as my husband and I do.
- 1.5 pounds of chicken breast – diced
- Salt and red pepper – to taste
- Italian seasoning – a pinch
- Red pepper flakes – half a teaspoon
- Garlic and ginger – if using paste, 1 teaspoon. If using fresh garlic, grate 2 cloves, and finely slice half a teaspoon of ginger.
- Peach mango habanero sauce – 1 teaspoon. I used this sauce because of its slightly fruity and tangy flavor, that makes it the perfect summer sauce.
- Oil – 4 tablespoons
- Water – 2 cups
Squeeze lemon on chicken and let it sit for 15 minutes. It breaks down its smell and adds a bit of lemony flavor to the chicken.
After heating up oil, add chicken and sauté for 5 minutes. Mix in everything else (except the habanero sauce) and sauté for another 2-3 minutes. Add water and cover dish. Leave for 10 minutes.
In the meantime, if you have ingredients ready for the side-dish, you can finish making it in 5 minutes.
Uncover chicken, mix it and let it cook until all the water is evaporated. Add the habanero sauce and give the chicken one final mix.
Spinach with garlic & tomato
- Spinach – 1 bunch, chopped
- Tomato – 1 medium-sized, coarsely chopped
- Salt – to taste
- Garlic – 2 cloves sliced
- Olive oil – 2 tablespoons
After heating up oil, add garlic and sauté for a minute. Then add spinach, salt and tomato. Keep mixing until the spinach doesn't look crunchy anymore, and voila, you've got a healthy and yummy side-dish!
You can serve the above with vegetable rice like I did, or plain brown rice.