What’s With The Controversy? A Desi Turkey Recipe With A Story

Image from tabasco.com

Okay so it’s Thankgiving in Canada this long weekend. And, well over a decade ago I started a bit of controversy when I began to make my traditional desi turkey on these weekends.

Once upon a time before Mina Halal came along, we only had halal turkeys available this time of the year…and they would finish really soon and were only available by special order so you had to grab one fast if you really wanted to try halal turkey that year. We liked our bird fresh and not frozen, so I would marinate it for a few days as soon as we would get it and we would just so happen to roast it on thanksgiving weekend (because, well, you cannot let it sit in the fridge too long before it spoils..).

The controversy started when the “haram police” came along asking us why we’re making turkeys and couldn’t it have been another time…? Well, like I said, we like our turkeys fresh. We actually went to a farm over an hour away every year, picked out our turkey and had it slaughtered by hand. There was no reason to go and freeze it when we could just have it in a few days, fresh. So, despite the flapping of wings of some upset folks, my husband and I would host a grand turkey dinner – gravy, stuffing, sides galore, homemade pies and all the good stuffsss

It’s really the intention. We simply intended to feed people (we’d get 60+ people coming over at once) and get together for a wonderful time on a cold autumn evening. Well, alhamdulillah, those same individuals who protested upon my turkey dinners, now enjoy them…lol. I guess times change, people change I had the same reaction when I began bringing home pumpkins for homemade pumpkin pies in autumn, too…lol. (What’s up with this anti-western thing…??)

Anyhow, I’ve been getting a lot of requests for my desi turkey recipe so here it is. The reason it’s “desi” is because I loaded it with masalas and robust flavours It was inspired by my dear Guyanese friends who first taught me to make turkeys (and not be intimated by it’s size), plus a punch with our traditional paki spices.


NOTE: This recipe is made for every 2 lbs of meat. So, if your turkey is 14 lbs, you’ll need to multiply this recipe 7 times to get the right proportions. An oven bag is a genius product found in most local grocery stores (No Frills, Loblaws..). It helps cut the roasting time by more than half. I never roast without it and always keep spare packages in my cupboard for thick cut meats…

1 1/2 tsp garlic powder, granulated
1 tsp ginger powder
1 tsp black pepper, ground
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp red chili powder (optional)
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp chili garlic sauce

1 oven bag
1 roasting pan or large foil pan

1. Clean your turkey and remove any excess fat. Loosen the skin from the meat using a wooden spoon and carefully make deep cuts in the breast, thighs and legs. (This will allow the spices to get into the meat really well).
2. Mix all of the above ingredients in a bowl except for water. Slowly add water until all spices become a uniformed, thick paste.
3. Using your hands, apply the paste under the skin and into the slits and cuts. Rub the paste on the skin as well. Rub it in well.
4. Cover and place into the refrigerator overnight.
5. When you are ready to cook the turkey, remove it from the refrigerator and let sit.
6. Preheat oven to 350 F.
7. Prepare your pan and place an oven bag in the center. Carefully open the bag and slide the turkey into the oven bag. Follow manufacturer’s directions and seal closed with the provided tie. You will have to cut a few tiny slits on the top of the oven bag for steam to escape.
8. Place in the oven and roast according to the manufacturer’s directions. (Note: it usually takes a 14 pounder to roast to perfection in about 1.5 to 2 hrs, HONEST!).
9. Place the roasted turkey in a nice pan, cover and place on the side.
10. Remove the excess turkey juice from the roasting pan, discard the fat drippings and place in a sauce pan. Let simmer on stove on medium.
10. In a small bowl, add some cornstarch with cold water. Mix until uniform.
11. While stirring, add the cornstarch paste into the sauce pan. Cook until the gravy becomes thick and dark. Serve with your turkey!

Have a great weekend!

(photo from tabasco.com)

My 500 Words For 31 Days


Deep Breath.

I’m going to take on a new challenge. I’m not very good at these things as they require steadfastness.  And, well, in my world of unpredictable surprises, I rarely am able to do this. However, I figured, I’ll give it a try. Despite all my grammar mistakes and frequent typos, no one will shoot me, and if they are sincerely offended by my errors, they can simply turn the other way. No harm. So here it goes. I’ll give this 500 Words for 31 Days challenge a try. If you find it worthwhile, come join us and we’ll make mistakes together. I’m sure it wouldn’t feel as bad then.

(that’s 110 words already! woohoo!)

The reason why I’m going into this little personal project is to simply get my noggin churning, and get my flow of writing and ideas moving. This year has been an incredibly blessed one as I have had numerous opportunities to write for various publications I look up to so very much – My Halal Kitchen, Productive Muslim, Halal Foodie and others. When 2014 began, I had this strange little premonition that this was the direction my year was going to go. This was going to be the year of writing for me. I think I had even make a small public declaration of that somewhere on social media. I didn’t know how it was going to materialize but I was quietly excited to see what fate would throw at me. So, as the opportunities began to roll in, I took them in wholeheartedly. At times, I was a little worried my lack of grammar skills would lead me to my ultimate mortification, but I carried on.

I invite challenges. I love risks. Besides, you’ll never know if you can do something until you try. So, when I plunged into writing, I realized how much I love it!

Writing for me is intended to feed my soul. It’s my calm within the storm of my life. Being a full-time mom, wife, and businesswoman & artisan, I needed something that would force me to slow down and actually become an observer for once. It was a time for me to stop all my craziness and just make observations, make connections and put those thoughts down on paper…or computer for that matter.

I have always loved writing but I never took it seriously as something I could do for an audience. I didn’t think I was capable of doing so. Plus, I didn’t know how to go about finding an outlet. Nearly 14 years ago, my husband urged me to write. I guess he saw something in my writing I never did. He said I had a power in my words but I didn’t really believe him. He said I had a passion when I wrote which, again, I didn’t believe. Even when I didn’t have faith in myself, he did. Every so often, he would nudge me to start with cycles of me denying it. Finally after years of ignoring his encouragement, opportunities began to knock on their own and I realized this was my silver lining. I am truly grateful for everything that has transpired since the beginning of this year. Alhamdulillah.

So as I wrap up my first set of ramblings, I’ve actually reached nearly 550 words already. Not bad. You know what? I may actually enjoy doing this!

(560 words!)


Seeing is Believing – People Watching and Observations

When I heard that I was going to Australia and British Columbia, I didn’t know if I should believe it or not. I didn’t want to get overly excited and jinx myself so I carried on my days prior to the trip as if I wasn’t really going. Deep down, I worried that something would happen and I would not be able to make it. Surprisingly (and not so surprisingly), only 3 days before the flight, I found out that my visa to Australia hadn’t been accepted yet. We applied a while ago and my husband’s came back almost instantly but mine decided to take a painstaking long time. Figuring that it was a smart move that I didn’t announce it to anyone, I planned to just stay back…sad and disappointed.

However, great news came the day before the flight and the visa finally came.  I still didn’t want to let the thought of this trip materialize at least until I was finally in the passenger seat and the plane takes off. So, until then, I held my breath.

When the flight did finally take off, I expelled all the fears and worries I had accumulated in my mind 2 months prior to the flight.

E . X . H . A . L . E . . .

Flying over the Pacific Ocean.

Flying over the Pacific Ocean.

We were on our way to the land “down under” – to a place I only dreamed of and read about. I was overjoyed but still in disbelief. Was I really going?

Welcomed by the beautiful coasts of south Australia

Welcomed by the beautiful coasts of south Australia

After nearly 21 hours in flight alone (plus the 2+ hour stop-over in Vancouver), the shores of Australia finally came into view. It was gorgeous…and well worth the anticipation.

View of Sydney Harbour from the plane.

View of Sydney Harbour from the plane.

Soon enough, the Sydney Harbour came into view. I could even see the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Bridge with boats going about their morning business.

Patience, dear heart, patience.

Trying to take it all in...

Trying to take it all in…

We didn’t want to miss a moment once we landed and found ourselves living according to Sydney and Toronto time zones simultaneously. I’m not sure if it was adrenaline or jetlag to blame but we hadn’t slept for 2 days straight. I was trying to take it all in without a blink of an eye. Every image before me was seeming sharper than the average eyes can see, every colour seemed more vibrant as though it were jumping at me, every new sound seemed so much louder…

I was overstimulated – it was time to slow down.

Cafe in Sydney

Cafe in Sydney

It’s great to have a blast but there comes a time we need to slow down. Running on overdrive doesn’t last too long and we were also running on empty. So busy for the first few days, we realized we hadn’t eaten a proper meal aside from the first one we share with a friend when we first landed. We needed to refuel…and breathe.

Manly Beach winter surfing

Manly Beach winter surfing

Once we gained some perspective, we went to Sydney Harbour for the day and in the late afternoon took a ferry to Manly Beach – a lively surf suburb. By the sands, it was so calming and cool as the winter waves gently washed up the shore. Despite the cold waters however, we saw a handful of faithful surfers in their wet suits riding the low tides.

After a long day out, it still hadn’t quite kicked in that we were on the other side of the planet – far, far away from home. It wasn’t until we visited some friends at a farm one day, when the realization came.  As we left their home late at night, I look up to the skies and what I saw finally let it sunk in. I saw was a completely unfamiliar set of constellations scattered across the dark heavens. There was no Big Dipper or Orion’s Belt in sight. It was then and only then I realized I was in a very different part of the world’s hemisphere. I was in Australia.

The thought was overwhelming…

True guardians of the galaxy...

Watching the real guardians of the galaxy.

True guardians of the galaxy...

True guardians of the galaxy…

However, what moved me most was this elderly couple in Melbourne. The dear woman was standing in front of her husband, holding what seemed to be folded newspapers by his face successfully blocking the mid-afternoon sunlight from his strained eyes.  As she stood there with her cane, she lovingly rubbed his back while the bus arrived. Their unconditional love and kindness at such an old age made them the true “Guardians of the Galaxy” in my eyes. It is love like theirs that makes the world turn. We have so much to learn about true love…

Whirling Dervish graffiti in Auburn.

Whirling Dervish graffiti in Auburn.

And as Mevlana Rumi says,
“Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere.
They’re in each other all along.”

‘Til next time,



Inspiration from Australia and Beyond

Recently, I went on a whirlwind of a trip to Australia and British Columbia, Canada. With all the sheer beauty surrounding me, I had plenty to photograph.  After editing the photos, I found common themes running through most, so over the course of a few days I’ll post the photos accordingly. Please mind you, I am not a “photographer” and just do this as a hobby so you will definitely find flaws and rules being broken – but that’s all good!

Great Ocean Road.

Great Ocean Road.

I don’t have fancy-shmancy equipment.  Just a simple point-and-shoot. Maybe one day, I’ll reward myself with a cool camera but I don’t feel I have exhausted the features on this little one to abandon it just yet. Until then, this loyal camera stays by my side and has been with me through all my major travels since 2010. It has served me well.

So let’s start here.  The one behind the camera.

Me at The Twelve Apostles, Australia

Me at The Twelve Apostles, Australia

I like to shoot photographs left, right and center.  Whatever inspires me, I shoot.

Snapping "one last shot" at The Twelve Apostles Marine National Park.

“One last shot” at The Twelve Apostles Marine National Park.

I’m not sure how my dear husband puts up with it. But he’s been ever so supportive, alhamdulillah.

There's something about long train tracks and vanishing points that gets me every time, especially if there's a mountain at the end.  Near Whistler, BC.

Near Whistler, BC.

Then there’s awe-inspiring moments when you somewhat lose yourself by the mountains…

Less than 1 minute later, a train comes speeding by the same spot I was sitting...

Speeding train near Whistler, BC.

But a minute later, find this in your tracks. Whoa, that was close! I look back at this moment now and am freaked out even thinking of what could have happened. But when you are surrounded by so much nature and mountains, you just lose your fear of everything. Everything.

Lesson learned.

My camera goes flying out of the truck window and onto the highway on route to Whistler, BC.

Rescued camera near Whistler, BC.

Well, sort of. Soon after that thrilling brush with the train, I somehow let my camera fly out of the vehicle and land in the middle of the highway on our way to Whistler, BC, Canada.  I ran back barefoot to the middle of the road and reclaimed it. Luckily no cars were speeding past. I took this shot walking back to the truck just to make sure it was still working from the terrible impact. I guess this little guy made it, minus the nicks and scratches. Phew. I blame it on the ecstatic nature. Honest.

There’s something about nature that brings out the childlike wonder in me.  I also flew my smartphone off the roof of a car after shooting photos by the Dandenong Ranges in Australia – that too survived.

Well, that’s a little behind-the-scenes of my so-called photography. Tune back for more photo sharing.

Until then,

Keep Smiling!



Photoshoot With My Soaps!


Today I did a little photoshoot with my new soaps. I’m so excited with the summer fragrances being listed next week in my Etsy shop.

Sweet Grass
Sea Island Cotton
Citrus Pomegranate
Hawaiian Plumeria
Men’s Alchemist Collection (FIRE, AIR, WATER, EARTH)
And so many more!

What is your favourite fragrance for the summer?



failure quote 1

“Failure is delay but not defeat. It’s a temporary detour; not a dead-end street.”
William Arthur Ward

Remember to get up after every fall.  It’s not over yet.  You have a long way to go and may it be a pleasurable journey for you.


Guest Post: Beginner Card Making 101 by HafsaCreates

Handmade cards can add such a meaningful touch to a gift.  It means that you took the time out to make something personal just for the recipient.  I know I feel extra special when I receive a handmade, handwritten card!  So today, I’m so excited to share with you a quick and easy way to create your very own card!  This tutorial is by the creative Hafsa Taher of HafsaCreates.  You should also check out her Etsy shop for unique handmade cards which she makes herself.  They are beautiful!

So, I’ll hand the mic over to Hafsa to show us this beginner cardmaking project that anyone can make…


If you’ve done any crafts – any at all- then you already know how to make cards. A lot of the techniques you used in school crafts can be used in card making.

To make cards, the basic supplies you’ll need are:

  • paper (card stock, patterned paper) 
  • glue 
  • scissors 
  • (optional) embellishments, like rhinestone, ribbon and stickers

Here’s a quick card tutorial using some promotional flyers I found.


1. Cut strips of paper from the papers you like.


2. Glue on them on a scrap cardboard


3. Punch or cut out a circle and cut the circle in half


4. Cut card stock at 5.5″ x 2.75″ and score at 2.75″. Hand Write the
sentiment. I used “thanks”.


5. And stick the half circles above and below.

Your mini notecard is ready to be given away to someone special. You can repeat the same template for any shape – a square, a diamond, or triangle.

Pin image

For more card ideas, follow me on…

My blog: http://HafsaCreates.com
Facebook: http://facebook.com/HafsaCreates
Twitter: http://Twitter.com/HafsaCreates
Pinterest: http://Pinterest.com/HafsaCreates/

And visit my Etsy shop:

Not All Soaps Are Created Equal


Not all artisan soaps are created equal…

Did you ever read the ingredients on your bar soap? A common inexpensive ingredient found in bar soaps is TALLOW which is rendered from animal fat such as beef or mutton but could also contain lard (from pork) according to industry standards (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tallow). Although, many people speak of it’s moisturizing benefits, it is not considered vegan.

If tallow is not your cup of tea – which isn’t mine either – please read your labels!


There are several names used for tallow which could be hiding in your bar soap, the latter being less apparent than the first 2. Here’s what to look for in the list of ingredients:

Beef Tallow
Sodium Tallowate

So, if you are looking for pure vegan luxury soaps, keep your eyes open for these animal-sourced ingredients. At The Olive Tree Soap Company, I use only high quality vegan oils and butters to nourish your family’s skin.


Happy Cleansing!



Creamy Chicken Vegetable Soup

Creamy Chicken Vegetable Soup

Creamy Chicken Vegetable Soup

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1/2 lbs chicken, cleaned (legs/thighs)
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 carrots, cubed
  • 1 medium potato, cubed large
  • 1/2 cup green peas
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • pinch ginger powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt, or to taste
  • pinch black pepper, freshly ground
  • pinch Italian seasoning (Club House)
  • pinch Greek seasoning (Club House)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

  1. Place all the ingredients except for potatoes in a pressure cooker without the lid and bring to boil.
  2. Once boiling begins, reduce heat to medium, add cubed potatoes and cover with the cooker lid.  Continue to boil until the cooker begins to whistle.  Then reduce to med/low heat for 10 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and allow the cooker to release its pressure before opening.
  4. Then open to see if the meat tender.  If so, add heavy cream and boils for 5 more minutes. Then turn heat off.

Serve warm with bread or garlic bread.