August 30, 2009

My Mission, If I Choose To Accept It

So we were invited to our good friends' house for iftar today and it was really nice. Many many delicious dishes and desserts too. We don't have people over often but each year we both invite each other over for dinner in Ramadan. I don't know what day we're having them over yet but it will be soon and I gotta say, I'm nervous.

My friend has her Egyptian mother in law over so the food was on a whole other level. Now I know it's not a competition but this is how dinner parties are here. You have to be really "generous" and I don't know if I'm up to the challenge. I want to have them over, they are our closest friends and it's something I do once a year so it shouldn't be a big deal. But it is. There is so much work to do. This place needs to be cleaned. I need to plan a menu and start working on the prep. I have to get out the nice dishes and glasses wash them. I'll stop there to spare you the mental play by play.

Just to give you an idea how much food is involved here, this is what they served, Masha Allah.
Goulash Rolls
Rice with nuts/raisins
Kabob Meat
Okra with meat
A big ol' Turkey
Mahshi, Stuffed aubergines, zucchini, peppers and grape leaves.
Chicken fried steak
Jello, (2 color on top of one another)
Fruit salad

I think that's it. I'll probably stick to foods I know I can make well. Tried and true. An American family would make a lasagna and some chicken and a salad and people would eat what's served but here, you need to make a buffet of foods.The good part is you have leftover for the good part of a week afterwards. It's just a different mindset I guess. I will do this. I want to do this, I'm just feeling nervous about pulling it all together, inshaAllah.


  1. Wow, mashallah, that's a lot of variety!
    Hehe, I made lasagna for one of our iftars, sooo good, and I get the no boil pasta so it's not so much work.

    Maybe you can make some things ahead and freeze for a couple days? So that way you're not in the kitchen for quite so long. Or is that a no-no in Egypt?
    I think because we got some cookies from the store my mother in law thought that was bad manners in Turkey one time when we had people over.

  2. I try to get things you can do in advance out of the way the day before, like browning ground beef or toasting nuts etc. Yea it's bad manners here if you don't make a dessert and rely upon their bringing some.

  3. Wow a lot of food, it sounds like a fun challenge but on the other hand it sounds expensive and time-consuming.
    Let us know what you do!

  4. It's a lot of work but it'll be great insha'Allah! We do ahzoomas A LOT around here, so let me give you some tips that I hope will help. Chop up all the onions, garlic, parsley, cilantro, etc. that you'll need the day before the major cooking. Set a time budget for everything the day of (e.g. by 2:00 I'll have all dishes washed and put away. by 5:00 all food will be cooked. etc.) Any dishes that still taste fresh one day old, complete the day before. Clean the kitchen as you go. Start cleaning the house a couple of days before. Have some quick/easy food on hand for the kids the day of so no one is picking at your home cookin'! Good luck! Let us know how it goes.

  5. kudos to all the mothers...i remember being a kid everytime we had dinner parties and not worrying about a thing cuz momma had everything taken care of lol and Alhumdulillah everytime it was wonderful! i wish i could go back in time and help her out with things lol (wierd comment i know)

  6. Salam Alaikum--Even though I'm American I succumb to the Arabic way when we host an iftar. Umm Omar gave some good advice. I usually do the mahshi the day before. I make two to three main dishes like musakhan, bamia, and maqlooba or maybe some kofta. I generally have two salads like a cucumber yogurt and a chopped salad. Sometimes I'll also whip up some hummous or baba ganoush the night before. For dessert I buy a nice cake and then also make one homeade like qatayef or knafa depending on how pressed for time I am (knafa's easier). Yes have your house spotlessly clean the night before so all you have to worry about is cleaning the kitchen the day of. allow yourself plenty of time in case some minor disaster stikes you can still be ready. I wrap up all the hot dishes in aluminum foil and keep warm in the oven while I get myself and the kids ready and start greeting guests. Good luck, I know it'll be delicious.

  7. The Egyptian way of doing things drives me crazy. I cant work like that without fasting, how in the world would I do it if I was? Good thing I have the "foreigner" excuse. I tried to do those things last year, but never again. I literally fall off my feet before my guests even arrive. I am rebel. No hard work for me!

  8. 3uzumaz are so much fun. I enjoy doing them more when it is not Ramadan though. Nevertheless, plan ahead, make a detailed menu plan with steps, tape it on the wall and follow it. If you can delegate the tasks like chopping something or cleaning something then do.

    Also choose as many meals that can be made or semi-made days ahead. Like Goulash, I make that, stick in the fridge then add the milk and eggs the day people are coming. Even rice, I'll fry it, toast the nuts a day before.

    Finally, buy some foil plates so that once people are gone, dish out separate meals in the plates. If there is alot of food left, keep it in the fridge then reheat it the next day and give it out at Iftar. If it is just leftovers then you can eat it at home easily.

  9. Mona, I know that insha'Allah you will do it and it will be FABULOUS sis :-D

  10. Anonymous11:19 AM

    Assalamu alaikum dear Mona,

    first of all thank you for the Freaking Blog award.I will post about it right now.
    I hope the Ramadan is going on well with you and your family.Well,from your post I can see that you had some nice time with your family friends.So much food :)!That must really be something very typical in the Arab world from what I have heard or read.I also must say that I admire a lot women who cook all day in addition to fasting.It must be difficult to have the energy to cook and then also to look at all the food.
    However,I am sure you will manage just fine.For such occasions it is essential to make a good plan.Make yourself a cup of coffee,take a piece of paper and a pen,and start writing down all you will need and do for the dinner party.That extra hour of planning will save you a lot of stress and it will make everything just a big fun.
    Have a nice time and I send you a hug.
    Mwah,mwah sweety :)!

  11. Jaz, Yea it will be but it's only once in a long while we do it.Thanks.

    Umm Omar, Good idea on prepping the herbs early and yea I'm starting to clean already.Thank you.

    Baji, not weird, that's nice.Thanks.

    Stephanie, yea you reminded me about the starter salads. Thanks!

    UmmTravis, It is a lot, I want to be done early and have only the last minute stuff left so I can enjoy myself.

    Jessy, Hmm I didn't know you can do that with Goulash, thanks for the great tips!

    Washi, aw thanks!

    Jasmina, you're right, I'll do that tonight. Thanks!!

  12. ma7shi was okra?! Ugh, how I love 3nab leaves and basically everything else you listed!

    Make what you can, no matter what you make or how you do it. Do it the best. So, if all you can afford (mentally,physically, financially) is ruz, then by all means make rice!

  13. I really admire your intention and desire to show your guests generosity. Keep your intention to please Allaah at the forefront, try not to worry about what others think or say, and everything will turn out right inshaa Allaah. I hope it's a success!

    I certainly hope you don't tire yourself out with all that cooking though!

    You're much better than me though, if it were me I'd be making the default starch/protein/veggies and bil hanna wa shifa it is! LOL!

  14. Perplexin Texan, Thanks,inshaAllah.

    Asiya, Thank you, yea, That's what I do for every day iftars, one starch one veg one protein and salad.

  15. The iftars in Jordan were sooo good, sooo much great food. I miss those.

    Don't worry about when you have it. I'm sure it'll be great.

    Hugs! Anisah

  16. LOL ... these parties are sure a lot of work ... and it has double the work left for afterwards too ... washing the dishes and cleaning the house and alll especially when there's no servant to help .... it's the same in Indian traditions toooooo .... LOOOOOOL your friends menu is still short according to Indian standards :s ...

  17. Anonymous11:10 PM

    Ms.Unique touched on the subject of domestic help.Maybe you can get help for one day.Or perhaps you have other family members to help you[sister,cousin etc.].Also anything that can be prepared and then frozen or bought already made.Also use a carafe to keep tea or coffee hot so you do not have to make it when you are hot,tired after all that cooking.Besides the best part is being together.right?UMASIYA

  18. Anisa, Thanks!

    Ms.Unique,Wow Short in comparison? I guess I'll count my blessings!

    Anon/UMASIYA, You know I thought of having a woman come clean but I'm doing a little each day and my oldest daughter has been especially helpful, almost exited about it even. Alhamdulillah. The carafe is a good idea I have one I never use, thanks!

  19. I meant that the list of items is way toooo much in Indian Iftar parties LOL .... like about 10 to 15 items :s


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