Halal Consumer - Issue 27 - page 14

whether a fried egg, a few pieces of meat, or fish balls. “It’s
very easy to make it in five to ten minutes if you have the ingre-
dients,” says Liu. “You can buy ready-made fish balls in any
Chinese store.”
While she does cook it when she has a craving, “my husband,
Jontie, says it smells fishy.” Luckily for Liu, her daughter Aisha
does ask for it, giving her reason enough to make it.
Ready for the Main Course?
Rachid Belbachir’s co-worker, Hanane El Rhalib, a recent immi-
grant from neighboring Morocco, is raising her kids to love
Moroccan couscous, her comfort food of choice. “I try to make
it at least once a week. It’s tasty and healthy and now my son
is asking me to make it for him. I consider it one of his comfort
foods now!” she says.
El Rhalib’s recipe calls for couscous, onions, carrots, zucchini,
parsnip, pieces of pumpkin or butternut squash, parsley, cori-
ander, and tomato paste. “I consider it a comfort food because
I feel better emotionally and it brings comforting thoughts of
my home and childhood,” she says. “Back home we used to have
couscous for lunch for our Friday traditional family gathering.”
When it comes to dining out, Moroccan imports to Chicago vote
for Shokran restaurant in Irving Park for its authentic taste.
Lasagna is another one of El Rhalib’s comfort foods as she says
it “brings back a lot of memories from my trip to Italy. My elder
sister used to make delicious lasagna and since her husband
is Italian she learnt how to make it perfectly.” Though lasa-
gna originates from Italy, it is often considered a traditional
American comfort food, with layers of hearty meat, robust
tomato sauce, and creamy cheese.
Azima Abdul-Azim, born in Kandahar, Afghanistan, and raised
in “Little Kabul” (Fremont), California, now lives in Sauganash,
Illinois. A busy mother, Abdul-Azim still makes time to make
mantu
dumplings, a popular Afghani comfort food. “
Mantu
is a
delicacy made by few because of the amount of effort required
to make it. Growing up, I only saw
mantu
served at very special
dinner parties,” says Abdul-Azim. “But, once you sink your teeth
into some, you will realize it’s well worth the effort.” A steamer
that can be bought at Asian stores is required to make
mantu
. “It
is a big pot with three tiers. The bottom tier holds water and the
second and third tiers both have holes that hold the dumplings.
Whenever I make this dish it’s for a dinner party, so I make a
lot.” In the Chicagoland area, if you’ve got a craving but don’t
fancy making it yourself, Kabul House in Skokie should be your
go-to restaurant.
Time for Dessert
For Saleha Akhoon of Glendale Heights, Illinois, who moved to
Chicago from Burma (Myanmar) at age seven, nothing beats
tha-gu
, a dessert made of brown rice, oats, grits, flax seeds, tapi-
oca, boiled yams, and boiled sweet potatoes in coconut milk
with brown sugar and a pinch of salt. “Such a comfort right at
home. It’s like a health food and they used to make it in school
in big pots. We’d eat it daily during recess, and just thinking of it
makes me feel hungry,” she says. As for her recipe, “Be creative,
no measurement necessary, just add ingredients as available.”
Her children love
tha-gu
as much as she does. “I used to be the
happiest girl eating this in my childhood or even when I just
smelled its aroma. I wanted to pass that memory on to my kids.
Now, when I make it for them, they are so happy,” says Akhoon.
Prep and cook time is approximately twenty-five minutes and
she makes it twice a week. While
tha-gu
can be refrigerated for
at least a week, it invariably never lasts that long. The colorful
tapioca is available from any Asian mart.
Jontie Karden, Kung Pik Liu’s other half, is of Circassian descent.
For him, nothing spells family, love, and warmth as his Eid
favorite,
haliva
, does. A “Circassian ethnic food, it’s a deep fried
dough with either a homemade Circassian cheese or potato fill-
ing. The cheese is seasoned with salt, pepper and some add
parsley. The potato filling is flavored with onions, salt, pepper,
and some add cayenne pepper and parsley. The dough is simple,
but the use of milk instead of water makes it very soft and fluffy.
Overall, it’s a simple food, but the taste is heavenly! Really, who
doesn’t like deep fried dough?!” asks Liu.
Haliva
is my comfort food for multiple reasons,” says Karden,
“primarily because of the way it tastes. The combination of the
warm, flaky crust and the soft, salty cheese inside is intoxi-
cating. I’m sure there’s a neuro-biochemical reason for this,
probably the same reason deep-fried foods are a comfort food
for many others. I have fond memories of my family sitting
around the kitchen table making these delicious treats from
scratch, rolling out the dough, flattening the circles with a pasta
dough maker, adding the stuffing, folding and sealing it. Then
it’s deep-fried. When you walk into someone’s house, the deep-
fried dough smell puts you at ease.” When he visited family in
New Jersey, each had a version. He recalls them making it a
point to always visit the one relative who made the best version
of
haliva
, passed three generations down from when his family
first arrived to the US, Karden knows how food has its resil-
ience. “It’s about memories of family. Making it together. Now
my daughter, Pik, and I make it together from scratch.” Adiga
Kitchen & Cafe in Wayne, New Jersey, is their recommendation
for the best
haliva
, when they’d rather not make it themselves!
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Winter 2013
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