“Ramadan Nights”: Cookbook Review & {Giveaway}

Image: stu_spivack (Mulligatawny)

Ramadan Nights Cookbook

One of Multicultural Familia’s contributors just happens to be an amazing chef! Amanda Mouttaki (MarocMama.com) is best known for exploring Moroccan cuisine through recipes passed down from her husband’s family. Amanda’s food explorations bridge many other cultures as well and the recipes she creates and reinvents show her passion for food and the bridge it provides to the cultures of the world.

In the spirit of Ramadan, Amanda has crafted a cookbook containing recipes from various cultures around the globe. Ramadan Nights: Iftar Ideas for Busy Moms and Dads is a “special collection of recipes, most which are fast and easy.” Some of the recipes included are:

  • Haleem
  • Seafood Briouats
  • Koshari
  • Date Bars
  • And Baklava

I was thrilled when Amanda offered me the chance to test out some of the recipes from this amazing cookbook. As the wife of a Muslim husband, I have to admit that I really have no clue about cooking during Ramadan. Amanda’s cookbook is a great way to share in my husband’s culture while learning how to create some truly delicious dishes.

Ramadan Nights is very well written. Amanda has included some great tidbits of information with most of the recipes and I felt like I was not only learning how to make a new recipe but also learning valuable information about the origins of the recipe as well as its importance. This gave me a deeper connection with the food. The recipes are all extremely easy to follow. You can be the most inexperienced cook and still have success with most of the recipes. (I say most because recipes like Baklava can be a challenge if you have never worked with Filo dough). However, the novice to the expert will enjoy Amanda’s directions as well as her tips and tricks.

What I really enjoyed about Amanda’s cookbook is how simple it was to convert her recipes into gluten-free dishes. My daughter and I are on a gluten-free diet and cooking two different meals is such a hassle sometimes. My husband often ends up eating gluten-free, but complains that they are “just not the same.” After creating several of Amanda’s recipes and handing them over to my husband for taste testing, I only heard positive reviews and no mention of “yuck – gluten free.” This is solid evidence that the flavors found in Amanda’s creations meld together well even when modified to accommodate strict dietary restrictions.

I decided to tackle four recipes and share my experiences with you. Two were dishes I had never tried and two were favorites of mine. I choose to make Baba Ghanoush, Haleem, Mulligatawny, and Date Bars.

Baba Ghanoush

Baba Ghanoush is one of my favorite spreads. I love it on crackers, on sandwiches, and to dip vegetables in. My two year old is a huge fan of it as well. I feel good about eating it because it is made with eggplant and tahini so I am getting both a vegetable and a protein source at the same time. I had never thought to tackle making my own Baba Ghanoush but Amanda’s recipe looked simple enough so I dove in!  The results were nothing short of amazing. Honestly, this recipe produces the best flavors I have ever had in a Baba Ghanoush!  The basic tastes were there but Amanda’s recipes add a little something extra that gives this recipe a wonderful zing! I will never purchase Baba Ghanoush again! The most time consuming part of the recipe was waiting for the eggplant to cook. Otherwise, this is a very quick dish to make!

Haleem

I had to tackle Haleem because my father-in-law is always talking about “the best Haleem he ever had.” I had not tried it myself and figured that it was about time. My husband has had it on numerous occasions so I figured he would serve as my official critic. I substituted rice couscous for the cracked wheat to make the recipe gluten-free and crossed my fingers that my husband would enjoy it. This recipe is easy to make but a little time consuming. It certainly is not something to make when you are in a rush. Having said that, it is worth the time spent! Wow! The flavors are incredible and it is a FILLING dish. We ate it for several days. The spices mix so well with the lamb and yogurt and the rice couscous turned out to be a fabulous substitution. The husband was impressed!

Mulligatawny

Mulligatawny was a dish I had never heard of and the name intrigued me. This soup looked fairly basic insofar as the ingredients were concerned and I was reminded of the good old fashioned chicken and rice soup my mother made when I was ill. This dish uses curry and heavy cream, taking it to a whole new level. The flavors are complex and each bite provided a hint of something different. This is a full-bodied soup, but one that is not heavy. I actually ate several bowls. It was also very easy to incorporate gluten-free substitutions.

Date Bars

The final item I prepared were date bars. I love, love, love dates and have not tried to make my favorite date bars before.  They look simple enough but I have not come across a recipe I liked.  Amanda’s looked pretty easy and the ingredients matched up to the tastes in my favorite date bars. The results were fabulous and I devoured pretty much all of the date bars. Oops.

I highly recommend that you invest in Ramadan Nights. The small price tag will produce some big results in your kitchen. Even if you do not celebrate Ramadan, these recipes will surely become favorites! Plus, what a wonderful way to experiences the tastes and foods of other cultures.

Amanda is generously offering one lucky reader a copy of Ramadan Nights!  Enter the giveaway here!

The giveaway:

Leave a comment below about why you’d love to win Amanda’s Ramadan Nights eCookbook, your favorite Ramadan recipe or share your stories with us!

The Rules: Submit your comment by midnight on July 31 (Ramadan Eve) and we’ll be announcing the winner on August 1, 2011!  You must have a valid U.S. address to enter.  The winner will be selected using Random.org, will be notified via email and will have 48 hours to reply and claim their prize.

 


Comments

  1. says

    What an excellent review! My mouth is watering a the thought of Baba Ganoush! We have a couple of Middle Eastern restaurants nearby, but I have never made Baba Ganoush on my own. I would love to try! Thanks for this great review!

  2. Mary Wolf says

    A wonderful friend shared tips on what types of food to consume during Ramadan that will sustain me through long hours – but I need fast/simple recipes.  I work long hours and am tired anyway when I get home at night. I discovered I truly prefer and enjoy this cuisine.  I will enjoy Amanda's e-cookbook Ramadan Nights! Thank you for the wonderful article on it!

  3. Melissa says

    Oh Im enjoying this so much!! Id love to learn how to cook especially with ramadan coming up soon.  thanks 

  4. says

    Jennifer, are stuffed grape leaves part of the cuisine featured in Amanda's cookbook? These dishes look really flavorful. Of course I zeroed in on the date bars and baklava! Great review. Looking forward to trying some of these and learning more about the ingredients and spices. : D

  5. domestic diva says

    The food sounds delicious — is there a better reason to want a cookbook?  I'm already drooling.  :-)

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