RELATIONSHIPS

The Three Most Romantic Words

MAMANUSHKA.com || The Three Most Romantic Words || Marriage || Love Is Spoken Here

The first time I heard them was as a newlywed. We were meant to be stepping out for a small gathering in our honour and as a new bride, I was more than thrilled to dress up in  a carefully chosen outfit and shimmery make-up. But, despite my best intentions and planning, we were running late… no, I was making us late.

The slippery hijab kept escaping from my fingers, the eyeliner kept smudging and each glance at the clock increased my agitation. My husband, completely ready to leave, would check in – find me still fighting with that hijab and say nothing, eventually taking a seat to wait and in the process making me more anxious still. Finally, I heard his voice from the armchair in the corner,

Don’t stress, it’s okay. Take your time.

In hindsight, it seems like a ridiculous thing for me to have stressed over anyways but in that moment those words were transformative. Take your time. I immediately relaxed. The hijab pins fell into place, my cat eyes flicked upwards at just the right angle and in a matter of moments, I was done. I didn’t know it then, but these three words were destined to be amongst the most romantic I would ever hear. A permanent fixture in our own personal love lexicon.

You see, I was a slow child.

Not academically, nor even athletically but in the everyday rhythm of life, I’ve always functioned at a more ‘relaxed’ pace. Growing up, I was consistently running behind the family schedule – the last to get ready, the last to finish eating, the last to leave, the last to come inside.

My Mama, fastidious in her punctuality, was constantly reminding me of the time. An hour till we have to leave Aiysha. Thirty minutes. Fifteen. Five. We’re leaving!  

And despite my best attempts at starting extra early or organising myself better, I was still always rushing at the end. And I hated it. The countdown. The inner panic. That knowledge that I was holding others back. It was an ever present low level stress. And of course, the more I rushed, the more clumsy and forgetful I became, and the longer I took. It was a sad, seemingly never-ending cycle destined to be repeated in every circumstance of my life, from home to school to work to social engagements and beyond.

Eventually I met my future husband and, since ours was a transatlantic romance, he was, thankfully, saved from my leisurely everyday nature as our courtship avoided having to weave in and out of a daily schedule – being instead a more dramatic, jetsetting type of thing.

That is, until we actually were married and, needed to do things according to schedules and plans. Oh no. As the proverbial weakest link, I knew what this meant for me. I would need to finally overcome my slowness. Which brings us to my  initial frantic getting ready and Husband’s calming words.

In that moment, those words felt supportive, thoughtful and kind. I had rarely, if ever, been encouraged to be slower than I was by taking even more time. But the effect was immediate and I thrived in all they conferred upon me.

It’s a funny thing, romance. We expect it to be big and obvious and you know, sometimes it is! Just like in a novel or a movie. But other times? Well… if you’d asked me, a decade ago, what romance ‘sounded’ like, it definitely wouldn’t be take your time and yet, as the years pass, those magical words reappear and each time, their meaning deepens.

A few years after our wedding would see us busy setting up house as working professionals. Our days felt impossibly full and hurried and I was often scrambling through one prayer and then another – constantly overestimating the time between them during the dark UK winters. Then, one evening, with a hand on my shoulder:

Take your time.

And it meant I love you more than this world and our life in it. In an instant, I was centered. Reminded of first principles – that nothing was more important than remembering the One who created time and that giving this moment it’s due would make the rest of our tasks easy. It was an encouragement without judgement, a suggestion without censure and ultimately a reflection of a love that is Sacred.

Some years later still, we became parents and in addition to all the usual changes, I was dismayed to realise that my new role as a mother had little value in the society in which I became one. And so, as I struggled to feed this new tiny being while still trying to entertain visitors and seem “normal” and “recovered”, I heard it again:

Take your time.

Tears pricked my eyes. Sitting for an impossibly long time, with a wailing infant while guests waited in the other room, it meant  I will hold this space for you. We are in this together. Your efforts are worthy.  You are enough. The time I was taking was the time I needed to take to nurture this baby. No apologies would ever be necessary.

And these days? Well, as we snuggle up onto our sofa, Husband looks at me over the cups of tea he’s made. Just one minute I say, attempting to speed read my way through the latest book, I’m almost at the end of this chapter.  He always smiles at this explanation,

Take your time.

With those words a deep warmth emanates from my soul – like a hug from within. I hear them and know that they mean everything they have before and also this: That exactly as I am, in this precise space and at this precise moment, there is no place more important and no person more cherished. And truthfully, could anything be more romantic than that?

MAMANUSHKA.com || The Three Most Romantic Words || Marriage || Love || Perspex Art

DESIGN

Ten Times Vogue Had It Covered

Picture Credit : Inez & Vinoodh For Vogue Arabia

 

Today we have a guest post from my friend Sonia who is a bit of a creative dabbler. I’ve known her since University days, and she always has the best style ideas, with an amazing eye for detail and fun in fashion.  Sonia is the kind of woman who will be sure to notice one  real and special thing about you, and compliment you on it! She  recently bought our attention to a mixed (modern and vintage) compilation of iconic Vogue covers. Read on for  her original take on these images and what inspires her…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Vogue magazine. The rule writer. The institution. The ultimate authority on style and good taste. The magazine I would often pick up in my younger days with mixed feelings of unworthiness, curiosity, admiration and scepticism. Most of the time flicking through it would feel like peeking into the world of rich, white people I had very little in common with.

It was not associated, in my mind anyway, with celebrating culture and modesty along with creativity and design.  In 2017 however, I noticed a more apparent shift in this approach, as did many of us, when the fashion industry finally started giving a tiny bit of official recognition to the modest fashion scene, which had  been steadily growing  for quite some years.

I won’t rehash  the sociopolitical implications of this, as many writers have already done so, and  done it  better than me. Nope. But what I will share is that  these more recent magazine images actually inspired me to delve deeper into the archives of Vogue magazine covers from around the world and uncover (ahem) striking images of women adorned with hats, hoods and head coverings, that resonated with me as an individual, and with my sense of fun, drama and creativity. So here goes gals. In no particular order, ten covers that sparked my interest:

 

I really feel Vogue outdid themselves with this cover. The December 2017 issue actually halted me in my tracks. Adwoa Aboah looks sublime in a way I have never seen her look before. The colours used for the retro styling and makeup are so well balanced. Despite being so fresh, the image still conveys a very classic film star quality of beauty. Bohemian and beautiful. Love it.

 


The lovely Halima Aden. The June 2017 cover of Vogue Arabia had a dynamic sense of movement and flow to it. Halima is beautifully styled, but I found myself craving more colour from this cover.  The hoards of women across the Middle East and beyond however, who specifically choose to fashion themselves in mostly black, may disagree with me on that point.

 

Vogue Deutsch . This January 2012 issue is literally, as blogger Yaelle puts it “scarf heaven”.  The eclectic mix of prints and colours here is fantastic and I like how they combined the sharp tailoring with the Lawrence of Arabia styling for the headwear.

 

The inimitable Naomi Campbell for Vogue Russia, December 2008.  Another stunning cover. Looking regal and rich in colour, I think Naomi makes a big impact here.  Let’s assume the best that no polar bears were harmed in the production of this cover! Does anyone remember when the supermodels took part in the no fur campaign for PETA dozens of years ago and famously declared that they would rather go naked than wear fur? Naomi has since been caught out on several occasions since then. Hopefully  this wasn’t one of them. 

 

March 1960. Flower crowns and hair garlands have had a real revival in the last couple of years, but way before Snapchat filters, this vintage Vogue cover was showing ladies how floral headgear was serious business. Love the flowers chosen for this and the bold lipstick. The temptation could have been to go full on girly with this look, but Vogue were mixing it up even back then with some formal tailoring and a strong and clean makeup look.

 

Vogue October 1956. This vintage cover was interesting to me as I hadn’t seen this style of headwrap or turban sported by women of this era before.  The editors were clearly focused on promoting this accessory as can be seen from their choice to use images of the same model from different angles, wearing different designs of the headwrap. The rest of the clothing has been kept minimalistic and plain in order to highlight the gorgeous brooches they each wear.  The title suggests that this was clearly the manual of the month for how to wear your statement pieces and make impact with your accessories.

 

April 1991. Although Vogue went for a very clean and elegant aesthetic here, the look makes me nostalgic for my youth, taking me back to when we played dress up as kids, nicking our mums all enveloping dupattas and big spangly earrings. The scarf is also draped in a very South Asian fashion for that time period. Model Karen Mulder would have been around 21 years old here and is almost channelling a young Benazir Bhutto!

 

January 1960. As per the March 1960 cover this was clearly a big year for big floral hats. And this one is spectacular.

 

Ok, this one is just out and out fun! Long before google came up with it, Vogue editors were being playful with their trademark font. This 1964 issue fully communicates the light hearted approach the British were now taking to their sense of fashion and style after years and years of propriety. These were the years when bright colours really came into play in the UK street fashion scene.

 

September 1945. By this time Vogue had increasingly made the transition from stylish fashion illustrations, to colour photography for their covers. This one perfectly balances the new image of ‘girl about town’ with the picture of elegance. For generations, wearing a hat or head covering of some sort was considered the sensible and appropriate thing to do when going out and about in public. The hat completed the look and gave a whole new level of dignity, flourish and style to an otherwise humble outfit. Not to mention the fact that for some women it also framed their faces beautifully. This made me feel that the era when Vogue’s ideas about female fashion were not that far away from my own, were actually, not so very long ago.

And there we have it!, I found the process of enjoying these covers an inclusive experience of shared female heritage and proof of the fact that oftentimes  we have more in common than we think. It seems  such a shame that the fashion journey for many Muslim majority cultures is not so well documented – at least to my knowledge. But if anyone knows of any Arab, Asian, Turkish or Persian (or any other ) equivalent publication that has managed this, then please let me know and let me at those archives!

 

Thank you so much Sonia, we loved reading your insight ! Especially the part about your mum’s dupattas! Find me a daughter of the sub-continent who didn’t do that! You can find more of Sonia Malik’s  inpirations here as she documents and promotes variety within modest fashion.

 

FAITH, RELATIONSHIPS

A Bestower Of Blessings

MAMANUSHKA.com || A Bestower of Blesssings || Grandmother || Naniama || Dua || Prayers

 

There is a light in my existence, a comfort I have known, from the earliest moments I could remember till this very day. A comfort I have craved, leaned upon and at times, completely taken for granted. One I knew would be with me wherever I went and whatever I did. Even without conscious appreciation, I knew deep within my being, that I could always depend upon my maternal grandmother, my Naniama and the copious prayers – duas to be precise – that she sent out for me.

We lived nearly half a world away from each other, separated by countries, oceans and time zones. Our physical meetings numbered less than ten, so I sometimes wondered what inspired the fierce love and devotion I was blessed to have.

I always thought it was because I was the favourite granddaughter but have come to realise this is probably not true. I don’t know how she did it, but it seems that all us grandchildren, we each felt the most favourite. Perhaps because she sent her power duas out to all of us and as old age crept up on her, she found more time to make more duas.

It got to be that her and I would have entire conversations which would begin with me saying salam and her responding by making continuous dua after dua for the next fifteen to twenty minutes – for me, my health, my happiness, my spouse, my children, my spiritual state – for just everything. I never wanted to hang up. I never wanted her to stop. I would close my eyes and soak her words in. Imagine them rising like golden orbs from her beautiful, weathered hands up into the sacred realms, where they would then be collected and accepted without question or reserve.

Nothing really ever felt impossible or hopeless because I knew Naniama was there, making those duas like it was her job. The few times I called to request her prayers for something specific, she would listen but also remind me that I was in her duas always – which to me meant, I was in her heart always. What can I give you she would ask other than dua?  But truly, I sit now and wonder, could there have been anything else?

My strong, magnificent, phenomenal Naniama died today. She went with a calm serenity and a passing that was peaceful and gentle. She has gone back to her Maker, whom she loved so deeply and lived for so completely.  I am not sad for her, but I am sad for us. Who now will hold me in their heart always? Whose blessings will surround us at all moments? Lift us at all times? Our unstoppable dua giver has moved on.

And now it’s time for us to give back: Lovely Naniama, best Bari-Amee, what else can I give you other than dua?

Al-Fatiha.

 

 

Also: Your Mother, Your Mother, You

RELATIONSHIPS

That Thing About Snow

What is it about snow that makes people want to ‘announce’ it? Like a surprise visitor, welcome and bursting with the possibility of abundant gifts or a day off from the ordinary… ‘it’s snowing it’s snowing look it’s snowing!’

There is something sweet and special about being the first to see and hence announce the first snowfall of the season.

Like a gift that the whole world can unwrap!

My favourite is the kind that falls slowly in big fluffy flakes as though falling to some deep cosmic rhythm. Profound in its silence.

Then there’s the snow that is faster, more hurried. The flakes meandering here and there and some even rising up instead of falling down as if in their haste they have forgotten the way!

This year snow has come to all my ‘homes’ at the same time. My SM feeds are inundated with snow  pics from friends and family  in Kashmir, England and the USA! Bar a couple of snowy naysayers, it’s brought out the inner child in everyone else and has got me feeling happy vibes. 

My dad was reminiscing about snow times in Kashmir. Nov Sheen (literally ‘New Snow’) was a big deal and as children they would compete to shove a handful of the first snow of the season on to some unsuspecting member of the family! The ‘victim’ would then have to come up with a ‘treat’usually money or candy. I thought that was funny and sweet. 

 

Phone call.

I know it’s you,

Heart.

Skips.

Beat.

You know how it is.

Going to hear your voice.

All the way from

the country without a post office.

I pick up ~

 Hello 

‘it’s snowing here’

Are the first words you say

I wonder why

‘I love you’

is the first thing I hear

(True story )

 

Also, That thing about Rain

FAITH, MOTHERHOOD

Unapologetically Happy: Celebrating The Mawlid With Children

When we were first married, my husband and I thought it would be nice to attempt an annual holiday. However, instead of travelling over summer or during the winter break, we decided that we would set off on our journeys in order to celebrate Mawlid in a new place each year. Everyone is always happy during the Mawlid, I remembering saying, I want to spend time around unapologetically happy people.

Ah, Mawlid, more formally known as Mawlid al-Nabi, is the yearly celebration of the birth our beloved Prophet Muhammad – abundant peace and blessings be upon him. On this day, the 12th of Rabi’ al-Awwal, Muslims from all places gather to share food and sweets with each other, remind themselves of his love for us and send blessings upon him and his family. Not only this day, but this entire month is devoted to renewing our love and longing for him and is a cause for joy around the world.

So, with this greater community in mind, Husband and I enthusiastically embarked upon our global Mawlid-hopping and kept to it for a good few years. From Europe to Africa and beyond, we were graced with uplifting and transformative encounters which helped reaffirm our faith, contributed to our own sense of belonging to the ‘Ummah of Muhammad’ and gifted us a deep and abiding joy for this time of year and the Prophet we honour and unite for.

Even after the birth of our eldest we managed a Mawlid trip or two but then, in a story so familiar, the practicalities increased with each new child and we became more… locally focused. Instead of rejoicing with new friends, we began to gather with old ones and placed our efforts into nurturing traditions in our own home, neighbourhood and community. I gladly admit that, much to my surprise, this new effort has been proven more sweet and radiant than I could have ever imagined in our more footloose days.

This year, we decided to arrange a Mawlid Tree in the house and add something to it everyday which reminds us of our beloved Prophet Muhammad. It has been a beautiful way to remind ourselves of his example and revisit some of our favourite stories from his life.

I found this wool wrapped wire tree second hand and as we were unwrapping it, we spoke about how it reminded us of the tree which cried and how our Prophet was a tree hugger.

MAMANUSHKA.com || Mawlid Tree || Muslim Festival || Muslim Celebration || Prophet Muhammad || Islamic Craft

 

My two eldest then decided to make these paper hearts, in order to symbolise the Prophet’s love for us.

MAMANUSHKA.com || Mawlid Tree || Muslim Festival || Muslim Celebration || Prophet Muhammad || Islamic Craft

 

Over the next few days we made and added lanterns to represent the verse of light, which was revealed him.

MAMANUSHKA.com || Mawlid Tree || Muslim Festival || Muslim Celebration || Prophet Muhammad || Islamic Craft || Lanterns

 

And then a bird with its nest, in honour of the bird which helped cover the Prophet’s hiding cave during the hijra.

MAMANUSHKA.com || Mawlid Tree || Muslim Festival || Muslim Celebration || Prophet Muhammad || Islamic Craft

 

Today, we are busy making and decorating these shapes, which in parts of the Muslim world, are taken to represent those who were amongst the most loved by our Prophet: Hazret Fatima, Hazret ‘Ali, Hazret Hassan and Hazret Hussain.

MAMANUSHKA.com || Mawlid Tree || Muslim Festival || Muslim Celebration || Prophet Muhammad || Islamic Craft || Hand of Fatima

We have many more things to add, and as the month goes on, we will share them on our instagram – so follow us there, if you haven’t already. All suggestions for what would make a good addition to our Mawlid Tree are most welcome and we would love to know how you make Mawlid special in your lives and homes. May we continue to come together in gratitude and be unreservedly, unapologetically, happy.

“God and His angels bless the Prophet – so, you who believe, bless him too and  give him greetings of peace.”
– Qur’an 33:56

 

Also On Promising My Children The Moon and A Childhood Treasure of Prophetic Wisdom

MOTHERHOOD

When Sleep Overs Won’t Do

It’s Friday and the Kids are so excited about having a sleep under today. Do you know what a Sleep-Under is? I didn’t either until my friend suggested it for our annual kid’s-get-together-that’s-not-really- a-Halloween-replacement-thing (but really it kind of is) .

A ‘Sleep-Under’ is a genius idea. Here’s what happens:

Kids come in their pajamas, watch movies, eat popcorn, drink hot chocolate (with halal marshmallows of course) maybe play some board games and then…. go home! Simples. Oh and don’t forget your ‘stuffey anamal’!

I know sleepovers can be fraught with anxiety for many parents and children too, so this can be a sweet middle way. Would you do a sleep-under? 

We hope you have a blessed and joyful Friday.  Jummah Mubarak!

 

Also How to have fifty-two eids a year 

 

Picture Credit : ‘Dino in Pajamas’ Art by mininushka Ismail age 7

 

DESIGN

Smallest Bit Of Sparkle

Tiny Gold Earrings

I was recently flipping through photographer Mihaela Noroc’s new book ‘The Atlas of Beauty’ when this photo caught me unawares –  

The caption read ;

Among the most graceful women I encountered, this Tibetan mother of two in a rural village looked like this the moment she opened the door to me; she had been cleaning her house, and yet was wearing her jewellery. I found that Tibetan women display this kind of style in every moment of their lives.

This stunning lady reminded me of my grandmothers and aunts in Kashmir who even in their plainest of home clothes would always have on the smallest bit of sparkle. Oftentimes  in the form of gold earrings or a Ladakhi* pearl necklace much like the one shown in the photo. My favourite and most coveted piece of jewellery on these women of my childhood was a pomegranate necklace! Not really made of pomegranate seeds but each tiny red crystal-like bead looking exactly like pomegranate seeds on a string.

Wedding rings although exchanged at some point during ceremonies were never a huge cultural must have. In fact I have never seen my grandmothers, aunts and even my mum wear a specific ‘wedding ring’. However, my Mother still wears the same six gold bangles on her wrists, the same ones I’ve seen ever since I’ve needed to hold her hand to cross a road!

Before the kids were born I was huge on statement earrings. Like a funky pair of shoes – earrings were my way of effortlessly transform any outfit. So the thought of wearing the same pair on a daily basis seemed pointless.

Until now. Now, with a baby and morning drop off routines for two other kids, it sounds positively appealing. Seeing this photo and it’s caption brought back some kind of nostalgia. It made me crave a bit of that style and make it my own. So I went looking in my cupboard for just the right pair of earrings for my new understated everyday glamours look!

I wanted something tiny but more than just studs, and when I saw the backs of these ones I was sold.

The back ‘clicks’ into place so there is no chance of snagging on a sweater. I remember when my Mother in Law gave me these – on the birth of my daughter, not for me but for her (yes the baby). Even though she knew that her grand-baby may not have her ears pierced for years – the gifting of her first tiny gold earrings was symbolic. A future gift, never losing its value to be cherished  and use later in life (or to be ‘borrowed’ by her mother!)

It’s surprising what a difference a little sparkle makes. The gold is so warming and just seeing them  when I catch my reflection in the mirror makes me feel a bit more put together.

Do you wear jewellery everyday?

 

Also ~  ‘Pherans’ a Kashmiri Style Inspo

 

*(Ladakh is a region of Indian Occupied Kashmir that shares one of its borders with Tibet)

Top Image Credit Photograph by Mihaela Noroc from her book ‘The Atlas Of Beauty’ (Sichuan Province, China)

 

FOOD

Best Apple Cake

From Tree To Table in 60 Minutes

MAMANUSHKA.com || Best Apple Cake Recipe || No Mixer || Quick || Easy || Delicious

We are up in Scotland this week, spending part of our half-term holidays visiting family. When we arrived, the children’s Dadima (my mother-in-law) excitedly told her grandchildren about how the apple tree in the back yard was filled with tasty apples, some of which she had ‘saved’ for them to pick themselves. The kids were so excited and ran out to pick and munch their apples almost immediately.

Now, this apple tree, planted a few short years ago, is not like the towering orchard trees of my Canadian youth, nor is it a regal English specimen. In fact, the most gracious way I can think to describe this tree would be as a sapling which is doing its best. It stands in the corner of the garden, beside a concrete shed, staked and supported. At times, it looks as though it may snap under the weight of the very fruit it bears.

MAMANUSHKA.com || Best Apple Cake Recipe || No Mixer || Quick || Easy || Delicious || Apple Tree

But oh, what lovely fruit it is! Perfectly red skinned apples with a tangy crunch and the most gorgeously tinged pink insides – almost too lovely to put into a cake. But my children had other plans for them. After eating their fill, they insisted we should make our apple cake with these beauties. Our most delicious, best apple cake! To share! I think they felt that the sharing aspect would tip the scales in their favour and… it did.  Because this is a cake made for sharing. It comes together easily with ingredients you probably already have in your cupboard and is very forgiving of changes and substitutions and little hands putting in a pinch more of this or a tablespoon more of that. You don’t even need a mixer and did I mention it’s delicious?

MAMANUSHKA.com || Best Apple Cake Recipe || No Mixer || Quick || Easy || Delicious || Apple Tree

But the other thing I always remember about this cake is that it was a recipe shared with me and one that I am continually grateful for. First found on a late-night internet search well over seven years ago, it was posted on a personal blog and attributed to the author’s mum. It was a keeper from the first try – so easy and tasty, the kind of old fashioned cake you could have on the table for unexpected guests or bake for neighbours in no time at all.

Not much for printing things out, I would look up the bookmarked recipe every time I needed it. That is, until one day when I went to pull it up only to find that the entire blog had been wiped away. I couldn’t understand it. Where had it gone?! It had even disappeared from the internet archives.  I looked up the author’s name and finally came across a note saying that she would be removing her blog. I felt so despondent. The best apple cake that ever was and now out of my reach forever. In a last ditch attempt to recover this beloved recipe I searched for a contact form or email and wrote the blog author a desperate note about her mother’s apple cake and if there was anyway she would be willing to send me the recipe. And, then, a few days later, to my complete surprise, came a response with a PDF copy of the very blog post I always referenced. Yes, the lovely blog author had sent me the recipe along with a gracious note about appreciating my love for the best apple cake. The best kind of sharing – with nothing held back.

MAMANUSHKA.com || Best Apple Cake Recipe || No Mixer || Quick || Easy || Delicious || Apple Picking

So it is with great pleasure, and in the spirit of which it was given to me, that I pass this recipe on. I’ve made a few modifications over the years but it’s major components remain the same and obviously, it’s not necessary to pick the apples off the tree yourself, that part’s just a bonus. The true joy is in the making – and the eating!

Best Apple Cake
(shared and adapted from Jen Leheny)

2 to 3 Apples, peeled and chopped Use absolutely any kind of apples you have or wish to use.
1 cup (200g) Granulated Sugar We used unrefined cane sugar, but any kind is fine. You may want cut the sugar down to 3/4cups (150g) if using sweeter apples, like Royal Gala etc.
1/2 cup (113g) Butter, melted
1 Large Egg
1 1/2 cups (192g) Flour Almost any kind of flour will work. This time I used half wholemeal spelt and half plain all-purpose flour. The spelt gave a delicious nuttiness to the cake.
1 teaspoon Baking Soda (bicarbonate of soda)
1/2 teaspoon Ground Allspice optional
1 teaspoon – 1 1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
Pinch of Salt
2 tablespoons Sour Cream OR Yoghurt OR Buttermilk Choose one (not all three!), essentially whatever you have on hand

MAMANUSHKA.com || Best Apple Cake Recipe || No Mixer || Quick || Easy || Delicious || Ingredients

 

Butter and flour any dish or tin you wish to bake this cake in. I’ve baked it in 8 inch square pyrex dishes, cast iron pans, in oval casseroles or, as in this case, a 23cm springform tin- the only thing to remember is that it won’t do well as a loaf cake, so don’t use the loaf tin.

Preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C)

Wash, peel and chop the apples and add them to a large mixing bowl.

MAMANUSHKA.com || Best Apple Cake Recipe || No Mixer || Quick || Easy || Delicious || Chopped Apples

 

Add the sugar to the same mixing bowl and stir together with the chopped apples.

MAMANUSHKA.com || Best Apple Cake Recipe || No Mixer || Quick || Easy || Delicious || Chopped Apples

 

Gently melt the butter and crack the egg into it. Whisk together quickly to combine.

MAMANUSHKA.com || Best Apple Cake Recipe || No Mixer || Quick || Easy || Delicious || Butter Egg

 

Add the melted butter and egg mixture into the bowl with sugar and apples and mix well.

MAMANUSHKA.com || Best Apple Cake Recipe || No Mixer || Quick || Easy || Delicious || Apple Mixture

 

Place the flour, baking soda and spices in a sieve and sift over the apple mixture. If you don’t have a sieve, then simply whisk together the dry ingredients in a separate bowl before adding them to the apples.

MAMANUSHKA.com || Best Apple Cake Recipe || No Mixer || Quick || Easy || Delicious || Sifting

 

Stir just enough to mix together.

MAMANUSHKA.com || Best Apple Cake Recipe || No Mixer || Quick || Easy || Delicious || Stirring

 

Add the sour cream OR yoghurt OR buttermilk and gently mix through the batter. It won’t matter if you can still see some white streaks as long as most of it is combined together. Do not overmix.

MAMANUSHKA.com || Best Apple Cake Recipe || No Mixer || Quick || Easy || Delicious || Stirring

 

Spoon into prepared tin and bake for 45 – 60 minute or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean or when it springs back when lightly pressed.

MAMANUSHKA.com || Best Apple Cake Recipe || No Mixer || Quick || Easy || Delicious || Ready To Bake

MAMANUSHKA.com || Best Apple Cake Recipe || No Mixer || Quick || Easy || Delicious || Baked

 

Dust with icing sugar when cool, cut and share!  Although to be honest, you don’t need to wait for it to cool completely, just enough that it doesn’t crumble apart when cut.

MAMANUSHKA.com || Best Apple Cake Recipe || No Mixer || Quick || Easy || Delicious || Decorated

 

 

Also Homemade Bread In An Hour (we do seem to love things that are done in an hour!)

MOTHERHOOD, RELATIONSHIPS

One, Two, Three Times A Mother

I sit in the local cafe: my flat white just arrived and my 7-week old nursing peacefully as I try to peruse the morning papers. The kids are back at school and for the first time I have two children to rally, motivate and drop off every morning. With my eldest in primary and my second starting kindergarten, I get through the morning bustle and am taking this moment to exhale without my usual entourage.

I look up and my gaze meets that of an old colleague I haven’t seen in some time. She smiles as she saunters over and I see her take in the two little feet poking out from under the bottom of my scarf as she exclaims:

Aiysha! Did you have a baby? A new baby?

Yes,  I did!

Your second?

No, my third.

Oh goodness. Isn’t that something, congratulations! How is it? You look really well.

I am well, thank you – third time’s a charm!

A few more pleasantries and she turns back to her table as I to turn back to my reading but I can’t seem to focus as the exchange replays itself in my mind. My choice of words niggling at me.

Third time’s a charm?  Why do I keep using this expression? Whenever someone asks me how it’s going or what it’s like to add another baby to the mix or anything baby related, I come out with third time’s a charm. So cliché and also somewhat meaningless – as if there’s a magical number at which new parenthood suddenly makes sense and everything clicks together without much effort or anxiety.

Could anything be further from the truth?

It’s sometimes said that the birth of a child is also the birth of a mother, but we tend to limit this experience to that all important and golden first born – as though once the label of “mother” is bestowed upon us, it remains as it came and stays exactly the same.

But I am not the same. Not the same person and not the same mother I was two, five or even seven years ago. I can see now that every new child we’ve welcomed into our family has made me a “new” mother. Each one changing the alchemy of our home and transforming us into an updated (and often improved) version of what previously existed.

And beyond the change in basic logistics and other practicalities, comes this cosmic realisation that each experience of my ever metamorphosing motherhood has brought me exactly what I needed, even when I didn’t know what I was lacking.  It gave me what was necessary to, in spite of myself, become better, stronger, happier and more grateful.

Seven years ago, my eldest child arrived after a particularly brutal period at work, where my toxic office environment had me feeling crushed and depleted, my confidence shot and my feelings of inadequacy slowly seeping into everything else. After a lifetime of believing I would be an awesome mother, I suddenly wasn’t so sure. But I needn’t have worried, as my daughter came into this world a cool cat .

She was content and easy to please and came with me everywhere: coffee shops, concerts, spiritual gatherings or meetings, it didn’t matter the time of day or night, she was happy just to be together and observe the world. As I witnessed her grow and thrive, I felt myself do the same, so that by the time my second was to be born I thought I had this motherhood thing down. I was self-assured, upbeat and, if I’m entirely honest, a bit smug. I couldn’t relate to mothers who struggled with their babies, surely they must be doing something wrong.

Until, that is, I became that mother.  My son arrived joyous and exuberant but I didn’t recognise this kind of baby. He seemed to need so much of me all the time. He wasn’t happy with simply being toted along. Sitting still in a coffee shop? Forget it. Attempt to attend a meeting? Ultimate cryfest. Endeavor to play with my eldest? Time to clusterfeed.

At once, all the mums I’d seen looking stressed and rushed made a lot more sense. And as our early years progressed, on many days, I looked like that too. When people remarked that I should “control” my child or friends couldn’t understand why I declined play-date invitations which would keep us indoors, I felt a sinking feeling in my heart  for all the times I had ever thought the same of another parent. How horrible to have been so insensitive and not even known it – my judgey-judge face finally took a backseat.  So, motherhood second time around gifted me with a deep sense of much needed empathy and camaraderie… but also exhaustion. Pure exhaustion.

I was exhausted when we learned we were expecting again (our third!). I was exhausted thinking about the pregnancy and beyond. I was exhausted considering about how it would all work. How we would find the emotional resources to be good parents, the physical resources to provide well and the support we would need to make it through the newborn days. We were totally happy with the news but just plain overwhelmed with everything else.

I didn’t know what to do so I prayed fervently that the exactly right kind of help would come in exactly the way it would be most helpful and that, most importantly, I would be able to accept it when it did. Fast forward a few months and, by the grace of God, that is precisely what happened.

Without even realising it, throughout the years of parenting and friending and learning and growing, we managed to create a village of sorts. The type it takes to raise a child and  one that sprung into action when needed to fill in the gaps and relieve many anxieties. When help was offered, I graciously took it – no longer held back by an absurd need to feel like we had to do it all by ourselves. And though it’s only been a brief couple of months, this time, the experience of motherhood is underscored by the joy of being and belonging.

Our tradition teaches us that every moment is in constant motion, nothing is static or unmoving – the earth itself is continually turning. Why we expect ourselves to stay the same or our experiences to remain unchanged is a mystery. Whether you are a mother of one child or of six, every time, you are born anew and every time should be honoured thus.

As for me, whether it’s third time a charm, seven years a journey or simply the act of life being lived and lessons being learnt, one thing is clear: nothing about this messy, beautiful, exhausting, ego-crushing, heart-expanding experience ever seems to gets old.

 

 

Also Four Best Gifts to Give New Parents & Their Newborns

FOOD, RELATIONSHIPS

This is not Naan-Bread

This is not Naan Bread. This is straight up sisterhood. The sisterhood of the travelling flat bread. A story of a life lesson. A lesson rolled out in a circle of dough.

One I learnt when I was just ten years old and has totally shaped the way I think about ‘giving’. Giving. Giving never depletes you. Giving will never leave you empty handed. Giving will always give you back more. 

It was December ‘93 Mama was expecting her fourth child. We lived in a town near the northern city of Newcastle England and Mama  was taking us to a playdate – way before anybody ever heard of the Americanism- ‘playdate’. She had made a new ‘mom-friend’ and  we, my two younger sisters and I, were to go with her to her new friend’s house – where we would play with Aunty’s daughters while the mom’s did whatever mom’s do. Awesome.

Aunty Ahm. We all got big blue duppata’ed hugs. Her full name was Amtul. A smile that formed apple cheeks and a nose stud that twinkled as if in time with every smile. I might just be imagining that nose stud, some childhood memories can be so mixed up. She reminded me very much of a much loved relative in Kashmir and that made me feel as if I knew her already.

Somewhere between the many visits and play-dates, one day Mama came home with naan bread. Naan bread she had made with Aunty Ahm. I used to ask people all the time for recipes she told me later  And every time they would be reluctant to share – oh it’s just a bit of this and a bit of that.  Apparently not wanting to actually “divulge” anything helpful. But not Aunty Ahm –

Likhna kya? Meraay ghar aajo mai app key samney bannadu gi

‘Oh you don’t need to write it down – come over to my house and I will make them in front of you’

Mama never forgot that. She extolled to me the virtues of a generous hand. See? she said, when she would tell me the story, no pretence – just pure generosity. People think that by sharing some knowledge or a skill that they will lose out – somebody else will gain. They forget that their Rizik is written with Allah and in sharing one only increases their provisions in barakah (blessings).

I later came to know that it was a group of women – first generation migrants, brought together by their husband’s professions. They missed their families, culture and climate but most of all, Aunty Ahm told me ‘we missed our food’. Tired of the somewhat dry pitta breads found in the local stores, somebody had come up with the idea of making naan-bread at home. The recipe was passed on and on in this way and when my mother and Aunty Ahm became friends the recipe passed to Mama.

Aunty Ahm eventually left England and went back to Karachi, where she never did get to make that naan bread again, probably because there was no deficiency of naan in Karachi. But since that first time Mama learnt, she has been the one to share and teach so many others, I’ve lost count. Over the years she has been the one to make batches of them for friends who were expecting. Their children now teenagers and young adults, but the mothers still remember the generosity of time and effort represented by those 30 naan breads that got them through the first weeks of a newborn.

And so recently when Aiysha welcomed her baby, and I was on my annual summer visit to my parents house, Mama insisted that I must take her some naan bread. I figured it was about time I learnt how to make it too. (Yes until now, like so much of  my Mama’s cooking, I just ate, never bothering to ask how it’s made!)

This is not naan bread. This is how Mama freezes her love and keeps it in my freezer at University. Circles of love that I break in un-even halves and pop in the toaster for breakfast, slathered in butter and a drizzle of honey. Mama’s love that I share with my best-friend over midnight gup-shup and cups of hot tea. ‘Don’t forget your mum’s naan bread’ she texts me on my weekend visits home. Years later when we meet up and reminisce about those days she still remembers. ‘Ah man! Your Mum’s naan bread!’

So roll up your sleeves and go buy that yeast already.

 

Ingredients 

Mama made 30 naan at one time but I’m going to share the amounts to make approximately 12, there that sounds more doable right?

900g plain flour

4 teaspoons yeast*

300 ml milk warmed**

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons veg oil

250ml Natural Yogurt

Sesame seeds

 

Method

Take a large bowl and pour in all the flour. No need to sift.

Add all the yeast to the flour. * If you use dried active yeast you will  need to activate the yeast first by dissolving it into the warm milk.

Next add the yogurt, and start rubbing through with your fingers.

Mixture should be crumbly. Make a well in the middle.

* Pour the milk, in increments, into the well and start mixing into a more doughy texture. The actual amount of milk is an approximation – you basically need the milk to knead…

… so it looks like this –

Shape into a round mound and pour the oil over the top, only covering the surface. Cover the container with cling film or anything really and leave it to rise by placing the whole bowl in a warm place and leaving it for a couple of hours. Go work out or have a nap. I think nap.

When you come back you will see the dough has risen satisfactorily and what’s even more satisfying is punching the living daylights out of  kneading it.

Keep at it till the dough is super smooth like this

Roll the dough to form one long baguette shape and cut it in half to form two. then using a knife cut slices from the baguettes.

Heat up a gridle/ frying pan and set your oven on to grill/broil mode and then pretend you’re making one of those cool cooking videos and toss some flour on to the work surface like a pro.

Take one slice of the baguette and roll into a flat bread shape, brush pan with oil and put the rolled naan onto hot pan.

It should only take a few seconds for the top to start bubbling and underside to look like this

Lift and put under broiler /grill for a few more seconds until the top has turned a honey golden brown. Brushing top surface with butter/oil optional.

Tear a piece straight away for that incredible fresh soft warm bread aroma or freeze and eat later for the easiest accompaniment to anything. From frozen just break one in half and pop both halves  in the toaster. Absolutely delicious dipped into hummus, yogurt, soup,  Nutella(!),  this. If you haven’t left chunks of naan-bread in a plate of daal or curry to be eaten in all its soaked up glory you haven’t lived, and go ahead and make this your pizza base, Naan bread pizza is a real thing.

I can’t wait to share this post with my best friend Qurat and show her I finally learnt to make it and now she can too. Please let me know if you try this and don’t forget to spread the love!