Ramadan Recipe: Keto almond cookies

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Updated 19 April 2022

Ramadan Recipe: Keto almond cookies

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  • There are hundreds of cookie recipes, but we are bringing you a healthy version to fit your Ramadan eating pattern

Cookies are some of the most beloved biscuits found in almost every house and offered at social events.

The origin of the sweet biscuits in the Kingdom can be traced back to the 7th century, shortly after sugar became a common commodity in the country.

The recipe of the cookie then spread to the Arab world through merchants and travelers, reaching Europe through the Muslim conquest of Spain. By the 14th century, cookies became common and available at every strata of society, from royalty to common folk.

Cookies were originally produced through a mixture of flour, sugar and a bit of water and oil. But the recipe has been modified over the years and adapted to satisfy every region’s palate. Flavors and toppings such as chocolate chips, sweets and nuts were added to create new, exotic tastes.

There are hundreds of cookie recipes, but we are bringing you a healthy version to fit your Ramadan eating pattern.

To make keto almond cookies, you will need 230 g almond flour, five tbsp of xylitol or monk fruit, three tbsp of toasted flaked almonds, two tbsp of coconut oil, one tsp of baking powder, 50 ml almond milk and a pinch of salt.

Measure and prepare all the ingredients and preheat the oven to 175 degrees Celsius. Mix the almond flour, baking powder, salt, xylitol or monk fruit, coconut oil and almond milk with a spatula until it becomes a smooth paste.

Add toasted flaked almonds and mix gently before scooping the paste with a spoon or an ice-cream scoop — to have equal portions — and roll them into small balls and set them evenly on a baking tray. Softly flatten the balls and put the tray in the oven for about 13 to 15 minutes.

Once baked, let it cool before serving.


London Halal Food Festival opens its gates to 18,000 visitors

London Halal Food Festival opens its gates to 18,000 visitors
Updated 28 September 2022

London Halal Food Festival opens its gates to 18,000 visitors

London Halal Food Festival opens its gates to 18,000 visitors
  • With 150 vendors, festival showcases 25 cuisines from around the world
  • Festival’s mission is to help support halal SMES

LONDON: The Halal Food Festival returned to the UK capital this year for its sixth edition with 25 cuisines on offer at more than 150 stalls.

At least 18,000 people attended the two-day event, which ran from Sept. 24-25 at London Stadium in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

The scale and scope of the festival mean London now hosts one of the largest specifically halal food gatherings in the world, according to organizers. 

Kevin Jackson, director of Algebra Festivals, launched the festival with his partner Waleed Jahangia seven years ago. 

“We created an event that would put food at the heart of the community. There’s no better way of sharing culture than through food,” he said.

After two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, organizers have invested heavily in infrastructure, transforming the festival into an experience that goes beyond food.

The event featured a VIP lounge, shopping stalls, live entertainment, cookery theater, picnic area, kids play area, mechanical bull and fun competitions. 

One of the highlights was a live demonstration by NHS doctor and former “MasterChef” winner Dr. Saliha Mahmood Ahmed. 

Using bread dough to teach women how to examine themselves for early signs of breast cancer, Ahmed aimed to overcome cultural taboos that contribute to low cancer awareness among the Muslim community in the UK. 

The new additions reflect the growing view that halal is more than just about food but is a lifestyle, too. 

Jackson recalled that when he and Jahangia launched the festival, most Muslim events in London were held in community centers or school halls. 

But the London Stadium event shows the Muslim community now has access to some of the most renowned venues in the capital. 

The festival has also evolved into a cultural melting pot, with both its cuisine and its foodies coming from around the globe. 

“We’ve got people from Manchester, Birmingham, people who came on a day trip from Paris yesterday. We’ve got people from Spain. We’ve got people from Scotland. This is such a big event for the Muslim community that they travel for miles to come to it,”  Jackson said.  

Chef Fatima El-Rify of Mama Hayam reported positive feedback from visitors tasting her Egyptian cuisine. 

“They didn’t know what it was completely. They knew a little about kosheri, but now they have a really strong idea. They’re coming back for more. They’re bringing their friends. They really love kosheri and mahshi, so that’s really good.” 

She added: “I think there is nowhere else in London that you can try all these different cuisines and just have this ease of it all being halal.” 

The festival also features the timeless and the contemporary, from Jordan’s traditional Anabtawi Sweets to London’s Lola’s Cupcakes.

Apart from catering to Muslim visitors, it aims to provide an international platform for the halal economy, while helping to nurture halal small and medium enterprises. 

“We’re building business relationships. The traders all trade with one another. The suppliers, our partners here, Tariq Halal, are providing products for our exhibitors,” Jackson said. 

Founder Shahin Bharwani of Mocktail Company, which sells non-alcoholic beverages,  said that she was fortunate to have been able to exhibit at the Halal Food Festival in 2016 within months of launching her business. 

“It was brilliant in terms of being a startup to get the brand exposure needed at this type of event.” 

Festival vendors reflected on the halal industry’s growth in the past decade. 

Bharwani said: “There’s so many variations of businesses here, particularly the food. Years ago you could never imagine halal tacos hell or gourmet burgers, that type of thing, so to have those kinds of halal options now is amazing.” 

Co-partner Abid Haider of Proper Burgers said that the event “just keeps getting bigger and bigger.” 

With the industry now worth billions, the London festival is part of a growing movement placing halal on high street.

 


Bahraini culinary star Tala Bashmi celebrates The Best Chef Awards ranking in Madrid

Bahraini culinary star Tala Bashmi celebrates The Best Chef Awards ranking in Madrid
Tala Bashmi is the chef patronne at Fusions by Tala in the Gulf Hotel, Manama. (Supplied)
Updated 26 September 2022

Bahraini culinary star Tala Bashmi celebrates The Best Chef Awards ranking in Madrid

Bahraini culinary star Tala Bashmi celebrates The Best Chef Awards ranking in Madrid
  • ‘I always saw a gap for a different version of Middle Eastern and Khaleeji cuisine,’ Bashmi previously told Arab News

DUBAI: Bahraini chef Tala Bashmi appeared in Madrid over the weekend to celebrate her ranking among the top 100 chefs in the world.

The culinary star ranked 93rd and is the only Arab on this year’s Best Chef Awards list, as well as one of just 18 women.

The gala dinner was held at the Crystal Gallery of the Palacio de Cibeles in Madrid and saw Spain’s Dabiz Muñoz named the best chef in the world for the second consecutive year.

“I do not feel like the best chef in the world, far from it. But I believe I have the best team in the world,” he said accepting the prize on the stage.

Chef patronne at Fusions by Tala in the Gulf Hotel, Manama, Tala Bashmi hit the red carpet at the event.

Bashmi grew up in Bahrain, and began her career at the Gulf Hotel, before heading to Switzerland to train at Grand Hotel Les Trois Rois and the Michelin-starred Prisma. 

She returned to Bahrain in 2014 and worked her way up through the ranks at the Gulf Hotel to eventually head Fusions by Tala, where she’s determined to reinvent Gulf cuisine. She was recently named Best Female Chef in the Middle East and North Africa by 50 Best.

“I always saw a gap for a different version of Middle Eastern and Khaleeji cuisine,” Bashmi told Arab News earlier this year. “I want to compete on a global scale by elevating our cuisine technically, visually, and flavor-wise,” she said. 


Recipe for Success: Saudi chef Rakan Al-Oraifi shares a dessert recipe for Saudi National Day

Recipe for Success: Saudi chef Rakan Al-Oraifi shares a dessert recipe for Saudi National Day
Updated 23 September 2022

Recipe for Success: Saudi chef Rakan Al-Oraifi shares a dessert recipe for Saudi National Day

Recipe for Success: Saudi chef Rakan Al-Oraifi shares a dessert recipe for Saudi National Day
  • The Saudi chef mastered his culinary skills in California and is now in Paris to perfect his pastry techniques
  • Rakan Al-Oraifi shares a special dessert recipe for Saudi National Day

DUBAI: Rising Saudi culinary star and TV presenter Rakan Al-Oraifi was one semester into getting his masters degree in marketing when he decided he wanted to pursue his lifelong love of food more seriously. A culinary diploma from California later, Al-Oraifi returned to Saudi Arabia to take the local food scene by storm.

Among the many accolades he has received, Al-Oraifi was hailed “Best Saudi Chef” at the 2018 Saudi Excellence in Tourism Awards and has worked in several international restaurants over the years. He has also taken part in several international cooking competitions, including “Top Chef Middle East” season two.

In his work, Al-Oraifi especially likes to explore traditional Saudi cuisine, but infused with modern elements. His earliest memory of cooking goes back to making dolma with his mother. “It is a dish I have been preparing since I was six. It was challenging to prepare it as a young kid, but I would always prepare it with my mom over the years and eventually learned to prepare it on my own,” said Al-Oraifi in an interview with Arab News.

Deep Fried Date Salad. (Supplied)

While he was last executive chef at Maiz in Diryah Gate, the 33-year-old is now in Paris to perfect the art of making pastries.

To celebrate Saudi National Day, Al-Oraifi will feature in an online cooking series for Fatafeat where he will use his experience with Middle Eastern cuisines to share recipes with Saudi flavours at their heart.

Here, Al-Oraifi talks to Arab News about his favorite cuisines, his go-to quick-dinner fix and restaurant faux pas.

When you started out as a professional, what was the most common mistake you made when preparing/cooking a dish?
A common mistake is copying the techniques of other chefs, which could get confusing at some point. You can get inspired, but it is important to find your own culinary style and technique.

Baked Qursan. (Supplied)

What’s your top tip for amateur chefs cooking at home?
It is important for every chef to have a sharp knife. Aside from making the cooking preparation process easier and smoother, it is less likely to injure you. Dull knives are actually more dangerous.

What one ingredient can instantly improve any dish?
Salt is a fundamental ingredient because it enhances and elevates the flavour of any dish.

When you go out to eat, do you find yourself critiquing the food? What’s the most common mistake/issue that you find in other restaurants?
I am usually critical of food temperature because it also indicates the efficiency of the service. For me, the most important thing is getting my food warm and freshly made. I do not like it when I receive the food cold.

When you go out to eat, what’s your favorite cuisine/dish to order? 
Usually, I like French and Japanese cuisine, and some restaurants do a fusion of both, which is even better. French cuisine involves a certain technique while Japanese cuisine requires a particular skill, and I think these just mesh well together.

Meleyaha Wrap. (Supplied)

What’s your go-to dish if you have to cook something quickly at home, say in 20 minutes? 
Pasta is a go-to for me. Even when you create the sauce and pasta dough from scratch, it normally doesn’t take more than 30 minutes. It also offers flexibility and versatility, you can customise it as you want, with your choice of creams and cheese, for example.

What request/behavior by customers most annoys you? 
Because I know the amount of time and effort that goes into every dish, I’m not a fan of customers who dine hastily and do not take the time to enjoy the food. In my opinion, you need at least 60 minutes to appreciate and enjoy your meal, especially if it’s a three-course dining experience.

As a head chef, what are you like? Are you a disciplinarian? Do you shout a lot? Or are you more laidback?
I’m cool 80 percent of the time. Keeping a level head is important in managing a kitchen properly and dealing with customers. You’ll just have better judgment overall.

What’s the most difficult dish for you to get right (whether on your current menu or not)?
Pastry is actually tricky for me. Unlike cooking dishes where you can be spontaneous and rely on your own senses and feelings, pastries require specific measurements and strictly following techniques. Because of this, I am currently in France to study the art of French pastry and improve my skills.

DESSERT ERYKAH RECIPE FROM CHEF RAKAN AL-ORAIFI

(Supplied)

INGREDIENTS
2 cups wheat flour
2.5 cups water
5 gm salt
50 gm ghee
50 gm honey
30 gm brown sugar
30 gm butter
10 gm soft dates
20 gm honeycomb

INSTRUCTIONS
1. In a dough mixer, add the dry ingredients with wheat flour and salt, then mix gently.
2. Pour room temperature water. Keep mixing until thoroughly combined.
3. In a hot pan or flat grill, melt ghee, then pour the mixture using a 200 ml ladle.
4. Let it cook for a few minutes until the front side bubbles.
5. Flip the dough and cook it for a few minutes; the texture must be very soft. 
6. Mix the bread in a dough mixer until you reach a hard, smooth texture.
7. Shape them using your hand, then stuff them with date paste.
8. Melt ghee and honey, then pour it over the bread. 
9. Garnish with a small piece of honeycomb then serve.


Where We Are Going Today: Cafe Bateel - premium desserts

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Photo/Supplied
Updated 20 September 2022

Where We Are Going Today: Cafe Bateel - premium desserts

Photo/Supplied
  • The base is pistachio sauce, and inside the panna cotta is cherry coulis, topped with a cherry jelly cover, decorated with Chantilly cream, cherries and pistachios

This month is the perfect time to visit Cafe Bateel because of their creative menu selection for Saudi National Day, available throughout September.

Their celebratory items include the beef brochette salad using date sauce, and refreshing sparkling cucumber drinks that represent the iconic color of the Saudi flag, made with honey, ginger, lemon, mint, cucumber, and soda water.

The premium desserts include the l’or noir vanilla gateaux, made with a crispy duja base, vanilla biscuit, black vanilla cremeux (active charcoal), and vanilla mousse, and the pistachio and cherry panna cotta, made with pistachios from Sicily, cherries from Bologna, fine French cream and milk, and Tahitian vanilla.

After my first bite of the panna cotta, I was transported back in my mind to the ancient trade routes that traversed the Arabian peninsula, which made the area a hub for cultural exchange.

The base is pistachio sauce, and inside the panna cotta is cherry coulis, topped with a cherry jelly cover, decorated with Chantilly cream, cherries and pistachios.

Cafe Bateel does not forget Saudis’ love for good coffee, either, with which it met my expectations with the coco lavender latte, using coconut milk and lavender syrup — served hot or cold — along with Bateel’s ma’amoul biscuit.

It was a very classy way to celebrate Saudi National Day for me. Cafe Bateel is located at Le Prestige Mall, Jeddah, and has branches in Riyadh and Alkhobar. The cafe also has branches outside the Kingdom, in Muscat, Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

 


Oncologist hails Saudi blood cancer drive during awareness month

Dr. Ayman Alhejazi, Assistant Professor of Hematology/Oncology at King Saudi bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences
Dr. Ayman Alhejazi, Assistant Professor of Hematology/Oncology at King Saudi bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences
Updated 18 September 2022

Oncologist hails Saudi blood cancer drive during awareness month

Dr. Ayman Alhejazi, Assistant Professor of Hematology/Oncology at King Saudi bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences
  • Patients, carers can receive support to ease emotional and financial burdens, says Dr. Ayman Al-Hejazi

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is using Blood Cancer Awareness Month in September to raise awareness about leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma and Hodgkin’s disease, support patients affected by blood cancer and raise funds for research, a Saudi oncologist has said.

According to a GLOBOCAN 2020 report issued by the World Health Organization, Saudi Arabia had 4,326 new cases of blood cancer, including 1,698 patients who were detected with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, 1,676 with Leukaemia, 687 with Hodgkin’s lymphoma and 265 with multiple myeloma.

Speaking to Arab News, Dr. Ayman Al-Hejazi, assistant professor of hematology oncology at King Saudi bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences in Riyadh, said: “Raising blood cancer awareness is becoming increasingly important in Saudi Arabia. There are three main types of blood and bone marrow cancers: Leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma.

“In addition to the disease’s malignant nature, blood cancer treatments and management affect patients and caregivers financially and emotionally. People living with any form of blood cancer are impacted in their ability to perform daily activities. A strong emotional impact on people living with the disease includes worry about their future, their treatment and the possibility of relapsing.”

He believes that there is relatively low awareness about blood cancer around the world.

Al-Hejazi, who also spearheads the Saudi Adult Hematology Fellowship Training Program at King Abdulaziz Medical City and serves as the program director, told Arab News: “Awareness is important, and I believe that the government of Saudi Arabia is making tremendous contributions toward raising it through various programs and initiatives.

“However, I equally believe in the importance of collaborative work between governments, healthcare professionals and pharmaceutical companies that offer innovative treatments in creating the most efficient treatment strategies, disease management approaches, and most importantly, post-treatment care plans designed to extend patients’ remission.”

He said that at least nine major national cancer centers provide treatment to patients in Saudi Arabia.

All types of blood cancer affect patients on various levels, and raising awareness to ensure early cancer detection and treatment can save many lives, and improve the quality of life for those undergoing treatments, in remission or their latest stages of recovery as well as those undergoing repeated therapies.

Dr. Ayman Al-Hejazi, Assistant professor of hematology oncology, King Saudi bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences

While the Kingdom is considered a high-income country, cancer treatment drug shortages remain a significant challenge around Saudi Arabia as well as in other developed countries.

“One of the solutions to this challenge would be focusing on treatments and disease management strategies that extend remission periods and optimize drug admission. Novel agents in addition to the introduction of more convenient initiatives like the on-body drug delivery systems for cancer therapeutics can reduce overall disease costs,” said the oncologist.

Discussing the different types of blood cancer affecting people in the Kingdom, Al-Hejazi said: “All types of blood cancer affect patients on various levels, and raising awareness to ensure early cancer detection and treatment can save many lives, and improve the quality of life for those undergoing treatments, in remission or their latest stages of recovery as well as those undergoing repeated therapies.

“All types of blood cancer are dangerous and patients in the Kingdom are frequently diagnosed with all of the types. Multiple myeloma is considered to be the second most common hematologic malignancy,” he added.

Multiple myeloma — most frequently diagnosed in people aged between 65-74 — is a cancer of plasma cells, which are types of white blood cells found in bone marrow. However, in the Kingdom, many cases are detected at a younger age, with less than 7 percent of population being older than 65.

Commenting on common symptoms and diagnostic strategies in different stages of blood cancer, the oncologist said that some of the common symptoms of blood cancer include weight loss, bruising or bleeding, lumps or swellings, shortness of breath, drenching night sweats, persistent, recurrent or severe infections and high fevers. Multiple myeloma symptoms can also include bone pain that is persistent or recurrent, fractures, persistent tiredness due to anemia or kidney failure as well as nervous system disorders.

Initial blood cancer diagnoses may include a complete blood count test that measures the amount of each type of blood cell in a sample, as well as a bone marrow biopsy to confirm multiple myeloma, Al-Hejazi said.

First treatments are likely to include a formula of different drugs. Chemotherapy is often thought of as the only treatment option, but a range of cancer drugs are also available in the Kingdom.

A majority of people newly diagnosed with blood cancer receive emotional support and care from family, but many patients still feel isolated even when surrounded by relatives and turn to the internet for help, said Al-Hejazi.

Family members are more likely to give multiple types of care, such as helping the patient in their general housework. Carers can often be highly impacted by their role, affecting them psychologically, socially and financially. Meanwhile, cancer patients can develop mental health conditions and most commonly experience depression and fear.

The most important objective, however, should be to extent progression-free periods, with the ultimate treatment goal for multiple myeloma being to minimize patients’ and caregivers’ economic burdens, said Al-Hejazi.

The term blood cancer is a general description of various hematopoietic cancers. Our blood flows through blood vessels to supply all tissues in the body with nutrients.

In about five liters of blood circulating in our body there are billions of blood cells that carry out various vital functions. All blood cells originate from hematopoietic stem cells.

Hematopoietic stem cells are known as mother cells and are able to renew and replace other cells that die.

Blood cancer is an abnormal proliferation of cells in bone marrow, especially white blood cells. Cancer cells flood the blood and drive out healthy cells.

As a result, the blood can no longer perform its basic tasks, such as transporting oxygen and protecting the body from infection.