Category Archives: food

Curry for Christmas

 

snowy days in Huddersfield

snowy days in Huddersfield

A curry for Christmas, that’s what I’ll be having for Christmas lunch along with a roast chicken, Brussels sprouts, carrots, parsnips, potatoes, gravy and cranberry sauce and if we’re really lucky we might have a turkey instead of the roast chicken! So this is what you call an Asian Christmas. Don’t get me wrong we love Christmas dinner, Christmas decorations and in all, the Christmas spirit (apart from the rush of the shops) so where does the curry fit in? Well, we always have a curry don’t we? In my household not so much, it’s mainly pasta, wraps, rice pizzas, but the older generations still do and if they don’t, on Christmas day you will be guaranteed to have some chilli piled on one of the veggies!! This is what you call the best of both worlds and dual cultural heritage. I can’t wait to get the crackers out and have the kids wake up knowing its Christmas. As Muslims we have had our religious celebrations and the kids were inundated with presents on Eid which still seem to be coming out of the corners of the house, but they still hold onto the idea of Santa Claus and Rudolf, know about the birth of Jesus and participate in Christmas concerts. With two cultures they understand both and are happy having the opportunity to have both, so a curry it will be for Christmas, with all of the trimmings of course…and if we’re really, really lucky we might even get snow!

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Oral history and what it means.

So far, the Asian Voices project has interviewed many people from the South Asian community and documented their experiences and memories about coming to England.  It has been an eye-opening, fascinating experience to take part in and it will provide an invaluabe archive of the thoughts and feelings of those who experienced this important period in British history first hand.  This, however, is not the sole purpose of Asian Voices or indeed oral history as a whole.  Looking at some parts of various transcripts it is easy to see why.

“We got Saturday and Sunday off, but we had to go shopping and clean the house.  We were tenants but we had to clean the house, and cook for ourselves.  We used to cook fish but there wasn’t an awful lot of fish around.  We used to put curry powder into it and make a sort of curry.  After a few years, there were a couple of shops where we could get halal meat on George St. There was a Pakistani shop there, but we used to kill our own chickens.  We used to go to a farm to get chickens and halal them ourselves.” – Sabir Hussain

This part of Mr. Hussain’s interview shows clearly how and why oral history is such a relevant tool for more than just the cataloguing of events.  For a community such as South Asian immigrants, particularly in Britain, oral history serves to give  people a voice where, in many cases, they haven’t had one before. 

South Asian immigrants to the UK possess some of the richest, most diverse and most interesting cultural history, yet in a historical sense it is an aspect of our country’s history which has been overlooked.  With oral history, the very people who participated in this movement are able to say what they feel about it themselves before it is too late.

When the British Empire collapsed in the late 1940s due to Britain’s heavily weakened state after World War 2, Britain needed workers.  Men like Sabir came from their homes in Southern Asia to aid Britain at a time when their labour was invaluable.  Asian Voices has given these people the chance to say what it was like to come to Britain and find work, mostly in industrial jobs, and form a community that has remained strong and secure ever since.

“The first job I did, the name of the firm was TA Corckings.  They used to make hydraulic rings for aeroplanes and ships.  Technically I was very good and I made many  rings and I checked rings and could say whether they were good rings or bad omes.   That’s why the firm owner was very taken with me and thought I was a real asset to the firm.” – Sabir Hussain

The purpose that men like Sabir served in those early days of South Asian immigration to the UK is what oral history and the Asian Voices programme is all about.  It aims to show the community how and why these men and women came to Britain, and tell the fascinating stories they have about their experiences in doing so.

Diwali

Diwali is the Hindu festival of lights which will start on the 17th October 2009. Here are some recipes to get you cooking for Diwali:

wheat laddo

Wheat Laddu
Ingredients:
1 cup Wheat Flour
1/4 cup Gram Flour
11/2 cup Sugar Powder
1/4 cup Grated Coconut
1/4 cup Dry Fruit almonds, raisins, kaju etc
1 cup Ghee

Preparation:
1. Heat the ghee.
2. Put both the flours in the heated ghee.
3. When nearly roasted put coconut and sliced dry fruit in the mixture.
4. Now put the ground sugar in the mixture and stir thoroughly.
5. Take off from the heat quickly and make laddus. You may also put the mixture in an oil based thali & make small pieces.

 

kheer Kheer

Ingredients:
1 litre milk, 1 tbsp basmati rice(washed), 1 cup sugar, 2-3 bay leaves, 1/4 tsp cumin seeds, 5 cardamoms, 4 cm cinnamon, 4 cloves, a pinch of salt, 1 tsp ghee.
For Garnishing:6 almonds(sliced), a handful of raisins, 8 cashewnuts(chopped), a little ghee.

Method:
Heat ghee in a pressure cooker.Add bay leaves and cuminseeds.When they splutter add 2 tbsp sugar.Lower the heat and stir the sugar.When it caramelises to a dark brown colour, add milk, When the milk comes to a boil, add rice.Stir well.Pressure cook for 10-15 minutes.When cool, mix the rice and milk well with a hand beater.Add sugar and simmer for 5 minutes.Remove from heat.Powder cinnamon, cardamoms and cloves finely, and add to the milk.Stir well. Heat a little ghee and fry the raisins, cashewnuts and almonds lightly.Add to the milk and serve.

The month of fasting

Cresent moon

Cresent moon

Ramadham is the month in which the Holy Quran was sent down from heaven by the angel Gibrael (also know as Gabriel) for Muhammad to read and is the month in which all Muslims fast from sunrise until sunset. There are exceptions for the sick, elderly and young, but many will observe the month of Ramadham (pronounced Ram-zaan) for the complete 29-30 days. Muslims go with out food and water during the daylight hours and this year they have been starting their fast from 4am to 8pm, to remember the poor and go through a process of self purification. Fasting enables Muslims to feel sympathy for one another and be grateful for what they have through the process of prayer and abstinence.

Ramdham is the ninth month in the lunar year and starts at the sighting of the crescent moon and continues for up to 30 days. This month is very special for Muslims as they believe the gates of heaven are open and they persevere with good deeds to gain self control and purification. During this month there is a ‘night of power’ on the 27 day of fasting; Muslims pray from the Quran during this night as they believe this night is better than any other, as during the time of the Prophet Muhammad angels were sent down to level one of heaven to pray for mankind. 

The full moon then signals the celebration day of Eid-ul-Fitr in which Muslims start the day with Eid prayer from which celebrations commence. The day is often filled with feasting and visiting relations. The moon is used throughout the Islamic calendar to count days which was the Arab method during the time of the Prophet Muhammad.

Displacement – Swat

Clashes are continuing in the Swat, Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province with many women and children left homeless and seeking shelter in camps after becoming displaced by the conflict. The severity of the conflict which has destroyed homes and families and left young children parentless is just part of the problem; the rest is the infection and disease in which it is leaving the country. Babies are dehydrated and malnourished while the lack of facilities is causing disease to spread rapidly in a population which has no other choice but to remain where it is and do the best that it can.

War and conflict is often the root of a population’s migration to another country and many from the Swat Valley are fleeing to neighbouring areas to try and find peace. This is why compassion for migrants becomes so important as we need to understand the reason for an individual leaving their home. Often the assumption is that they are intruding on another country but who would leave their home other than for sheer reasons of desperation? This is what is happening now in Swat. It is what has happened before in many countries and will most likely continue to do so all over the World for the foreseeable future.

 

Eggless – Food and Religion

Food is an important aspect in many faiths and many religions have specific requirements. Religions from Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Judaism all have religious requirements. Depending on the how strictly you follow your own faith influences the extent to which you will follow these regulations. Christianity includes the faiths of Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant and each of these faiths have varying food influences and requirements. Catholic and Orthodox Christians observe several fast and feast days during the year and Protestants celebrate Christmas and Easter. Even the ritual communion celebrated by Christians involves food and drink which represents Jesus through bread and wine.

But imagine coming to live in a country where you are alien to the culture and language and then having to maintain your religious food requirements. In Islam, Judaism and Hinduism, all of these faiths have foods which are forbidden. In Islam the concept of Halal and Haram is applied. Halal means ‘lawful’ or ‘permitted’ and this concept is applied not just in food, but all aspects of a Muslim’s life. Halal foods are allowed and those prohibited are Haram meaning ‘not permitted’ which includes pork and alcohol.

Judaism follows a similar requirement with regards to food and Kashrut refers to laws permitting food in the Jewish religion. Kosher means food ‘fit’ or ‘permitted’ and foods which are not permitted include pork and shellfish. Kosher and Halal foods have specific religious requirements at the time of slaughter and it is this which differentiates Halal and Kosher meat from other meat.

To access Halal food in the 1960’s in Yorkshire was a challenge and many people resorted to undertaking the preparation and animal slaughter at home just to be able to eat meat once a month and maintain their religious beliefs. Now walking about in Huddersfield, Bradford, Dewsbury, Leeds and many other Yorkshire towns, you will be hard pressed not to be able to find any Halal meat shops or grocery stores catering to the needs of the South Asian community, but there are still some gaps in the food market that are not being met and are still not catering for all religions or faiths.

Hinduism believes in the interdependence of life and people who practice the Hindu religion don’t eat meat from any animal or any food that is involved in the taking of life. Many Hindus are vegetarian, which is not compulsory and most Hindus do not eat beef or beef products, as the cow is sacred. This belief in life means that many Hindus do not eat eggs. So if you were celebrating an event, where would you go to get an eggless cake? London, Birmingham, but what about locally? Why do you have to undergo challenges to maintain your faith? Understanding the role of food in cultural and religious practice is an important way of showing respect and responding to the needs of the people from religious communities, from which we will be able to avoid assumptions about a person’s religious beliefs and culture.

How to cook a Traditional Chicken Curry

                                
   
Traditional chicken curry recipe   

 

 

 Place roughly 3 tblsp of oil in a pot and add the         

1lb chicken boneless1tsp chopped ginger1tsp chopped garlic (4-5 cloves)½ tsp Chilli powder1tsp Salt1 tsp Garam masala

¼ tsp Turmeric

½ tin chopped tomatoes

2 fresh green bell chillies

Fresh coriander

½ green pepper

Squeeze of lemon

3 tbsp Oil

2-3 medium sized onions

ginger and garlic and heat. Dice the onions and pepper into cubes and add to the heated oil, lightly brown and add the spices and salt. Mix through then add the chopped tomatoes, a squeeze of lemon and green chillies (pierce chillies to stop them bursting) heat the mixture until the onions have become soft and the tomato sauce slightly thickens now add the chicken. Mix through and place the lid on the curry. Keep the curry on a low heat stirring every so often to make sure the curry doesn’t burn. Once the chicken has sealed add 2 cups of water and replace the lid.

Let the curry cook for 20 minutes, stirring every now and then. Once the curry has a texture to your taste, dry or with a thick sauce, take of the heat and add roughly 3-4 stems of chopped fresh coriander.

Enjoy with naan or freshly boiled rice.