This post is for the newlyweds, those who’s culinary skills are limited, those who just don’t quite enjoy cooking, and those who are simply in a time crunch.
The Prophet ﷺ said, “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day must be generous with his guest” (Bukhārī).
I grew up in a home entertaining guests. We hosted people from all over the world and from all walks of life, including the president of our country at the time.
To be honest I didn’t particularly enjoy it because it was such an effort from the prepping to the serving to the cleaning. The best part was when the guests left and we got to devour the leftovers🙈😂
Apart from meticulously setting the table including tumblers for water and stemmed glasses for juice, complete with fanned-out serviettes, my job was the dessert, because, what’s a meal without dessert?! And who better to make dessert than the one with the sweetest tooth in the world!
My mother is a gracious hostess who always provides a 3-course meal to every guest, even if we’re just having one person.
I only really enjoyed having guests over when they were my own guests or there were guests I could comfortably converse with. When I learned the hadith about the virtue of having guests over, it was a total mindset shift for me, subhanAllah.
The Prophet ﷺ said, “If Allah wants good for a people, He sends them a gift.” They asked, “What kind of gift, O Prophet of Allah?” He said, “The guest comes with his own provision, and leaves with the sins of the people of the house.”
In my mum’s home, starters in summer is an appetizing Greek salad and the best hummus with pita bread. In winter or Ramadan, it’s heartwarming soup.
I’m going to share my effortless entertaining in “no time” as well as my “in time” version. Enjoy!
Starters in No time
I just leave it out; it’s as simple as that! But a good idea would be to have something in the freezer to pop into the oven, like mini pies or mini quiches. Or even some soup that can be defrosted and then warmed on the stovetop.
Starters in Time
In summer I do a Greek salad or a deconstructed salad. My salad consists of:
1 Iceberg lettuce
Tomatoes: cut into wedges
Cucumbers: sliced in circles
Pimento Stuffed Olives
A Sprinkle of Corn
I got my DELICIOUS soup recipes I got from my dear friend Shafeeqah. I made the chicken and corn soup in Ramadan and one of my guests said “I didn’t think there was anything better than water when you break your fast, but your soup is [better].” I was soooo chuffed!
Another favourite of mine is roasted red pepper and lentil soup . I did my own thing and roasted the red peppers first as well as a couple cloves of garlic.
Main Meal in No Time
When I’m in a time-crunch due to an assignment deadline and Masud decides to have guests over, there’s no need for me to freak out because I’m fortunate to have a lovely Pakistani-British lady live in my building who makes delicious, aromatic Pakistani food. Our go-to order is her chicken tikka biryani with raita, a cucumber yoghurt sauce. If you didn’t know chicken tikka biryani exists then you’re missing out big time!
If she can’t cook for some reason then butter chicken would be my pick. This is my first butter chicken recipe and my husband still asks for this butter chicken but I’m out of my Osmans spice:
Once we had unexpected guests over, and it was supper time. Abdurahmaan and Haneefa had lost the key to their apartment on their way home so they dropped in, as they lived close by to us. Masud and Abdurahman went to get the key sorted out, and I quickly decided to make butter chicken with rotis for when they get back. I don’t usually let my guests into the kitchen but I couldn’t let Haneefa sit on her own while I was in the kitchen. Haneefa was so sweet and helped cut up the chicken for me. She was kinda impressed that I knew this recipe off the top of my head because she said she can’t cook without following a recipe. At the time, this was the only recipe I knew by heart! I served the butter chicken with rotis. If you’re wondering how I made them in the nick of time, I didn’t! I took out some ready-rolled flaky rotis that we brought all the way from Cape Town to Cairo, and fried them in my roti pan. Yes, you can actually buy rotis that are already rolled out and frozen, and they turn out nearly as flaky and buttery as if my mom just made them. What a time to be alive, Alhamdulillah! I‘ve also serve this butter chicken before with the options of rice and pasta.
Main Meal in Time
If I have time, I would make my absolutely divine mince and mushroom lasagne🤤. I used my dear friend Nicole’s recipe as my guideline.
500g beef mince
1 chopped onion
1 punnet of mushrooms, chopped
1 tin of chopped tomatoes or whole tomatoes (you’re going to have to cut them up a bit)
1 small sachet of tomato paste
1 beef stock cube
3 or 4 carrots grated
Mixed herbs or Italian herbs
Fry onion and garlic in oil in pot. Add mushrooms. Add mince once mushrooms are cooked. Add all spices onto mince and stir and allow it to cook. Add spinach (if using; I don’t) and carrots and allow them to cook. Add tomatoes and tomato paste. Add stock cube and a cup of water.
Make a white sauce and assemble the lasagne. I add cheese in-between the layers as well as on top. Then bake until done.
My current go-to butter-chicken recipe
My husband’s latest obsession: Beef Masala Curry
I’ve also tried it with chicken when I had guests over last night and it turned out just as great, Alhamdulillah!!
I served it with Egyptian rice with vermicelli, called roz bil sha’riyya.
Dessert in No Time
Simply order on Talabat, or your version of a delivery service, if available. Or pre-order from a home-based business.
In summer, dessert in no time is a no-brainer: a decadent ice cream, like ice cream with a brownie base that is basically a dessert. We use the Nestle Paradise collection. The caramel one is my favourite.
In winter, I make Boeber using a premix. You simply pour a little of milk into a pot, add the premix, and voila!
Another option I do is koesisters, which I order from a fellow Cape Townian here in Cairo and keep in the freezer. Then I just need to sugar them and roll them in desiccated coconut.
Another idea is to keep cake or cupcakes in your freezer and let them defrost in time for serving. When we had munshid Mohamed Tarek over for lunch, I had carrot cupcakes with cream cheese frosting in the freezer, which I defrosted and he totally enjoyed them. Shoutout to my friend Anaïs for making them.
Dessert in Time
I didn’t have an electric mixer for my first 2 years of being in Egypt, so I couldn’t make the desserts that I usually made back home. I tried out this recipe because it doesn’t need an electric mixer and it is a winner! I don’t have time for individual cups; I just make it in a big Pyrex dish. And I add butter to the biscuits to form a solid base.
I also make a strawberry sauce to go on top:
-1 cup strawberries, chopped up.
-1/2 cup sugar
-1 tablespoon lemon juice
Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and voila!
(Just let it cool down before topping the dessert.)
My cooking has come a long way since I first started when I got married. I’ve had my fair share of flops and feats and through it all I gained confidence in the kitchen. No longer do I need a recipe to whip up delicious food. I enjoy eating the fruits of my labour and sharing it with others. If you’re ever in my neighborhood, you have to come home for a meal; I don’t need much notice!😃
I hope you enjoyed reading this post and try out some of these recipes. If you have any questions about them, feel free to DM me @wasfeeya. Please share your go-to recipes with me as well, and share in the reward every time I make them.
With love for the sake of Allah,