Category Archives: Countryside

MARY HAD A LITTLE LAMB…

mary-had-a-little-lamb

Mary had a little lamb
And Mary’s Pakistani
Today it’s Eid, she’s with her fam
Now the lamb is biryani!

Eid Mubarak from the Gingerbeardman and family, Taqabbal Allahu minna wa minkum, may Allaah accept from us and from you.

(original credit goes Omar Haider Bhatti for the rhyme taken from his facebook page)

 

 

 

 

 

THE PALEO-DIET

steak

In an anthropology class years ago, my professor began by stating that paleo-humans (the people living 10,000+ years ago) were the healthiest in human history.  That small fact intrigued me and stayed with me, pushing me to re-imagine our ancient ancestors and the reality of our modern world.  Thus, when recently I heard about the Paleo diet, I just had to find out more about this radical and sometimes controversial diet and lifestyle.

When most of us try to imagine the lives of the first people, back before the Iron Age or the Bronze Age, back before the agricultural revolution when most people were semi-nomadic hunter-gatherers, we tend to evoke a rather bleak image of those people’s lives: hunting giant beasts with rudimentary weapons, collecting a few roots and berries and barely surviving through winter and famine to perpetuate the existence of the species.  Contrary to popular belief, however, anthropologists are increasingly arguing that, based on accumulating evidence such as bones and dental records, Paleo Man was actually more robust and healthy than the average person today and for a variety of reasons, including their diet.

The Paleo diet and lifestyle is based on the idea of eating in a way that is similar to our paleo-ancestors, which works well within a modern context.  It is argued that such a diet best serves the needs of our bodies and leads to optimal health because it provides the right balance of organic foods which we are genetically wired to process, use and store in the most efficient manner. Humans are naturally omnivores; we are able to eat from a wide range of food sources, including many plants and animals and even some fungi. Therefore, the Paleo diet draws not only on anthropology, but on modern research in epigenetics and human development to argue for a diet that is rich in protein, fruits and vegetables and low in grains (carbohydrates) and sugar.

eggs organicPaleo is often considered to be a variety of the low-carb diet, similar to the Atkins diet in that it stresses a reduction in the consumption of carbohydrates.  However, unlike Atkins, it lays more stress on the health and environmental importance of eating free-range and organic meat and eggs and also advocates not eating vegetable oils.

Allah has commanded us, in multiple places in the Qur’an, to eat not only what is halal, but also what is tayyib, which can be understood as what is good, wholesome and pure.  In modern terminology, that could translate as organic, meaning free of poisonous pesticides, hormones, antibiotics and artificial additives. In the case of our meat, animals should have space to roam, be well treated and fed a diet which is consistent with their natural disposition (i.e., not fed the products of other animals or synthetic mixes designed to make them fat). Eating what is tayyib is the heart and soul of the Paleo diet and lifestyle.

spinachDon’t be fooled by the critics’ (and some zealous proponents’) over-emphasis of meat consumption.  In fact, a well balanced Paleo diet will include lots and lots of fresh fruit and veggies.  While the Paleo diet is also by no means vegetarian, the important thing to remember is that, when it comes to meat, quality (organic, free range) is far more important than quantity.

It is for this reason that the Paleo diet tends to demonise grains (which are our primary source of carbohydrates), and particularly processed grain products like flour and its many by-products.  What most people today do not realise is that what we consider to be an average Western diet is actually significantly more carb-dense than the human diet has been for most of history.  Furthermore, once something has been processed to the point that it becomes pure white powder, it has become a nutritional desert and should be avoided (fun fact: the term “empty calories” was actually created to describe breakfast cereal). Some evidence suggests that our paleo-ancestors did eat a variety of starches, particularly from roots, maize and other varieties of grain. Their sources were significantly more nutrient-rich than most modern varieties of corn and wheat and they still did not eat nearly as much of it as the average person today. This diet places an emphasis on freshness, nutrients and minimising the consumption of highly processed foods rather than eliminating grains and starches from our diets altogether.

What also impressed me about this diet is the general lack of branded “Paleo” products.  Unlike many famous diets, it has not spawned legions of extremely profitable bars, shakes, membership fees, etc.  The only people who profit from promoting the Paleo diet, besides a handful of Paleo diet book authors, are small scale organic farms and farmers’ markets.  It’s not being made into a big business because that would be inherently antithetical to the Paleo lifestyle.

The Paleo diet does not argue for us to all go back to being hunter-gatherers, which would be neither desirable nor really possible at this point.  However, the grain (or bone marrow) of wisdom in this diet and lifestyle is that we need a return to purity in our diets; to eat the good of this earth in all its many natural sources.

Tara Alomari is a freelance writer, wife and mum currently residing in Wales.  She has a passion for learning about genetics, anthropology, nutrition and a wide range of other sciences and tries her best to implement the knowledge she gains in her daily life.

RUSTIC EARTHEN KITCHEN CHARMS

clay pot biryani

ARTICLE ORIGINALLY FROM SISTERS MAGAZINE – https://www.sisters-magazine.com/2016/02/07/rustic-earthen-kitchen-charms/

“Are you serious?” my husband looked at me, amazed, as if I had asked for the most unusual thing in the world. I had just asked the waiter, at a fine dining restaurant, if I could take home the empty clay pot that contained the biryaani we had relished minutes ago. My husband had flatly refused to ask the waiter himself, suggesting that he’d buy one for me from the market instead. However, I wanted this biryaani pot because, apart from it being a reminder of the wonderful dinner we had just had, it would also be a good way to recycle.

My interest in clay pots began this summer while vacationing in India. It all started with some cold lassi – a traditional milk and yoghurt drink – served in clay tumblers. While most people would usually just discard the clay container afterwards, I brought it home with me to reuse, and have since been collecting earthenware.

The tradition of pottery in the Asian subcontinent is as old as human civilisation itself and is considered a sensual art form, identified with the feminine qualities of grace and delicacy. During early times, each village had its own potter, who held a respectable place in society because they made a myriad of articles used in the regular household. An example is the clay-made piggy bank that children used to have. This only had a one-way slot for coin insertion so that when the piggy bank was full, the custom was to smash it on the ground and retrieve the collected money.

The main use of clay pottery, however, was for making cooking vessels. These clay pots worked best for dishes that require cooking on a low heat for hours, like mutton curry, goats’ trotters, black lentil curry, etc. Hyderabad, India, is famous for its ‘dum ki biryaani’ that is slow cooked in a huge clay pot. In some parts of India and Bangladesh, there is a special, heavily-spiced fish curry that is cooked only in earthen cauldrons. In Pakistan, women prepare and store pickles in clay jars. Sweets like kheer – rice pudding – is also set, chilled and served in clay bowls.

Cooking in clay pots is a great way to add flavour and reduce fat in our diet. Unlike vessels of other materials, food cooked in clay pots is less likely to stick – thus reducing the need for more oils. The pot is always soaked in water for at least fifteen minutes before use so that it is saturated with water and because clay is a porous material, steam evaporates slowly when it is heated in the oven. During cooking, the food inside the clay pot releases liquid and cooks in its own juices. These juices remain sealed inside the pot until it is completely dry – which is around the time the food has cooked completely – hence adding to the flavour.

With the arrival of modern cooking vessels like non-stick pots, casseroles and pressure cookers, clay pots slowly disappeared from households. Besides, with the fast pace of today’s lifestyle, the slow cooking process in clay pots became quite an inconvenience.

However, it’s nice to see that efforts are being made to rediscover and revive the use of clay pots today, especially in high-end restaurants where food is served in earthenware. There are several advantages to bringing the ancient cooking vessel back: healthy food, being environmentally-friendly, a touch of tradition, jobs for potters and aesthetics (yes, food served in a clay pot is very appealing). In fact, it has gained so much popularity that some restaurants are giving decorative token clay pots for desserts! Finding food served in clay pots in India or Pakistan is common, but I am pleasantly surprised to find them here in the U.A.E – like biryaani, desserts and even tea!

I make an effort to use clay pots regularly because of the health benefits, added flavours and for being eco-friendly. Of course, another important factor is that I take a lot of food pictures for my blog and I know that serving them in traditional clay pots will make the presentation even better. Now, whenever we dine in a restaurant that serves in clay pots, I try to ask the staff if I can take the pot home, and they almost always agree. As a result, I am now the proud owner of six clay cups for tea, two clay bowls for sweets and one gorgeous handi or round-bellied clay pot in my collection – all of them complimentary tokens from restaurants! As much as I love cooking and serving food in them, family members and guests are equally delighted to experience eating out of a clay pot.

Nadia Masood lives in Dubai, UAE and writes about travel, food and photography on her website http://nadiamasood.com.

PURPOSE OF GINGERBEARDMAN SITE

peak district 3“WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THIS BLOG?”

This blog is the random ramblings of a not so angry ginger bearded man, the online diary of a muslamic who most definitely loves Allaah and the way of life which is Islam far more than the country I happen to have been born into.

At the same time however I am British by birth and culture, and feel in this great melting pot that is Great Britain I have as much right to promote, agitate and call for an Islamic vision for these beautiful blessed Isles as anyone else does to promote their own way of life.

Bosnia-Herzegovina-Hajji-Alija-Mosque-in-Pocitelj

I am not apologetic to voice our intentions to take the call towards Islam to ever corner of Britain, to make the village Masjid (Mosque in arabic) the centre of every community, to make the call to prayer echo out over every town and city centre across the land.

So as well as personal musings, I’ll also be posting info, news and commentary about what is happening around us day to day, and maybe even a few of my brave and probably futile attempts to become a writer.

I’ll also be posting information about Islam, especially if it relates to Dawah (the call to Islam) and new Muslims.

I hope you enjoy the site, if not tough. I am writing out of a desire to please my Creator, not the creation but I’ll hope you’ll stick around and read either way and at least you may find it interesting, occasionally humorous, and at times an education.