Reconstructed Roohafza: Pink Rose Chia Pudding

Roohafza. The ridiculously sweet rose flavored syrup that’s a staple in desi homes particularly during Ramadan. Shout out to Pakistan helping India out during the dire Roohafza shortage. Roohafza is often mixed with milk, sometimes mixed with water. And sometimes, like in falooda (another desi dessert), it’s paired with tukh malanga otherwise known as basil seeds which swell up in liquid just like chia seeds!

Cooking in Ramadan can be quite challenging. That's why I thought to make a reconstructed Roohafza drink using chia seeds.

This pink overnight chia pudding is perfect for preparing at night for next morning’s suhoor, or preparing in the day for iftar later! It’s quick and easy to make, and the hardest part is the wait.

Roohafza Rose Chia Pudding

Recipe

Pour the milk (or whichever liquid you’re choosing to use) into a container that will hold 2-3 cups of liquid. Stir in the Roohafza. Keep stirring. Stir until your carpal tunnel flares up. Then switch hands and continue stirring. Once the Roohafza syrup has dissolved completely, pour in the chia seeds and stir gently until thoroughly combined.

Tightly seal the lid or plastic wrap it and then pop it in the fridge for at least 4 hours. I left mine overnight and they were perfect in the morning. You don’t have to stir the pudding for evenness; just stir thoroughly before you serve!

Snap. Crackle. Popcorn on a Stove!

Leena’s Childhood Home — Late Afternoon

Pop, pop, pop!

Popcorn Kernels for Stovetop Pop Corn

That’s the sound I would often hear from the kitchen on any given weekday finishing up my homework and watching the newest episode of Pokemon on Kids WB. Throwback, anyone? Skip to the recipe.

We had a cool popcorn maker (similar to this one) that had a little tray on top for butter. The steam from the popping popcorn would melt the butter which you’d then pour onto the fresh, hot popcorn. SO. GOOD. My parents loved having popcorn as a late afternoon snack, so when my dad would get home from work, my mom would pour some kernels into the machine and let ‘em pop! It was really fun watching the popped corn rise and fill up the spouted head and then pour out and onto the floor.

Just kidding. I wanted to see if you were still paying attention.

Anyway, that machine either broke (after, like, 20 years of use) or my mom donated it. Our popcorn consumption went down because of my dad’s carb-consciousness, and we would just buy microwave popcorn when we wanted it.

With Avengers: Endgame coming out tonight, I’ve been marathons of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. So I got the urge to make fresh popcorn and decided to learn how to make stove-top popcorn. It’s much easier than you might think and, like all popcorn (all food, really), the only warning is don’t burn it. I’ve paraphrased Bon Appetit’s recipe below because their recipe is melded into a story/text which I know many of you hate:

Stovetop Movie Popcorn

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup olive oil or butter

  • 1/4 cup popcorn kernels

  • sea salt, for seasoning

  • a saucepan (like 2 quart?) with a lid

Directions

  1. Put half of the oil/butter in the pan and turn on the stove to medium heat.

  2. Add the kernels and stir to ensure they’re thoroughly coated with the oil/butter.

  3. Once you hear the kernels sizzling, put the lid on the saucepan.

  4. Pretty quickly, you’ll hear the popping (and get excited)! Wait until the popping slows down a bit and grab your oven mitts. While holding the lid down/closed, carefully shake the saucepan around and listen for unpopped kernels. If you hear them, place the pan back on the stove for a few more seconds.

  5. When you don’t hear any unpopped kernels, you’re in the endgame. Open up the lid and quickly pour the remaining oil/butter onto the freshly popped popcorn and then close the lid and shake it all around. Then open it up again and sprinkle with sea salt or any seasoning you want and then shake, shake, shake!

  6. Serve!!

Cha-Cha-Cha-Chia Pudding

chia pudding with dates and almonds

Date: the day of the month/year as specified by a number; or a social or romantic appointment.

Thanks, Google. You left out my #1 favorite kind of date. The fruit that grows on some palm trees (which I also happen to love).

In recent years, dates have become common in trendy recipes tagged “healthy” and “paleo.” I’ve been eating dates since I was a kid, as dates are highly regarded in Islamic tradition mostly for the simple fact that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) loved and recommended them. I did some digging regarding the health benefits of dates and, turns out, there are many!

First thing’s first—why am I writing/talking about dates if this post is about chia pudding?

  1. This is my blog, and I do what I want.

  2. Chia seeds are more popular than dates and I tend to root for the underdog.

  3. I’ll write about chia seeds in another post.

  4. Why are you still reading?

dates

I’ll try (and inevitably fail) to make it quick so that you don’t have to scroll past a bunch of text (which I put time, energy, and love into writing) in search of a recipe you might not find. 😏🤣

  • Low Glycemic Index: Though they are extremely sweet and very useful in naturally-sweetening all kinds of desserts, dates have a relatively low glycemic index. This means they won’t affect your blood sugar + insulin levels much.

  • High in Fiber: For a fruit, dates have a good amount of fiber. Two dates have roughly 3 grams of fiber, and let’s be real here…no one stops at two. Anyway, dates contain a type of soluble fiber that helps lower cholesterol. The fiber also slows the rate at which your body absorbs the glucose (tying back to the first point here).

  • Vitamins + Minerals: Namely potassium + copper.

  • LABOR: I put this in all caps because the thought of giving birth kind of terrifies me. Some recent studies show that eating dates in the last month of pregnancy result in more favorable labor conditions. These include but are not limited to: cervical ripening (dilation + effacement), lower likelihood of having to induce labor, and a lower chance of a membrane rupturing pre-labor.

I'm not even going to delve into the pain + trauma of childbirth, but I'd like to go back to the Islamic tradition of eating dates. I recall two situations in which dates are encouraged to be eaten: when breaking your fast and before/during labor. It is sunnah (a tradition of the Prophet) to break your fast with dates. The second instance points to verses in the Qur’an in Surah/Chapter Maryam (Prophet ‘Isa’s/Jesus’ mother)—

And the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm tree. She said, “Oh, I wish I had died before this and was in oblivion, forgotten.” But [Gabriel] called her from below her, “Do not grieve; your Lord has provided beneath you a stream. And shake toward you the trunk of the palm tree; it will drop upon you ripe, fresh dates. So eat and drink and be contented...
— Al-Qur'an 19:23-26

I don’t really have a grand conclusion to this post. My intention was to connect the facts + resources I know of regarding dates. I find it fascinating that dates are beneficial to one’s health (in many ways) + that its benefits were hinted at and laid out in a holy text almost 1500 years ago + recent scientific studies also indicate as such.

I’m too lazy for a proper conclusion, so…recipe time!


Chia Pudding

  • 6 tbsp chia seeds

  • 1 1/2 cups almond milk

  • 6-8 medjool dates, pitted

  • almonds, chopped/slivered (optional)

Directions: Pour the almond milk into a blender cup and add the dates to it. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes to allow the dates to soften. Blend the milk + dates until smooth. It’s okay if there are little pieces of date skin.

Pour the blended mix into a sealable (is that a word?) container; stir the chia seeds into the container. Seal the container and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Take it out, stir it again (you’ll notice the chia seeds have already begun to absorb the liquid and are beginning to puff/gel up). Pop it back in the fridge. Take it out 15 minutes later and repeat.

You can eat it after about another half hour or so (consistency-wise; health-wise you can consume it whenever because there’s no cooking involved), but I recommend letting it chill and sit for about 1-2 hours at least. Top with chopped or slivered almonds for a little crunch (I love contrasting textures in food, as you’ll soon learn) and serve!