Yvonne Maffei’s Halal KitchenBy Lavina Melwani • Mar 24th, 2010 • Category: Food
Yvonne Maffei’s ‘My Halal Kitchen’
We know about halal chicken and kebabs but halal pasta and salad dressing? Halal Guacamole and halal Swedish Crab Canapés?
Leave it to a woman to have her cake and eat it too! Yvonne Maffei, who is from a Sicilian and Puerto-Rican background, embraced Islam but certainly didn’t give up all the many cuisines she enjoyed eating – she simply started preparing them in the halal way, which, as she explains, “ is pure foods ordained for mankind by Allah in the Holy Qur’an and Hadith.”
It’s not always easy because Islamic dietary restrictions mean no pork and no alcohol is to be consumed, and all chicken and meat which is not prepared according to halal rules is also a no-no, and that makes eating out at restaurants that don’t observe halal restrictions difficult. Even products like marshmallows or jello, which contain gelatin are forbidden. She says, “I’ve had to master my own chicken parmesan, beef tacos and veal stew because there isn’t a halal restaurant I know of which will serve it up the way I’m used to eating it.”
The reality is that Muslims are not only from the Middle East or South Asia but from many parts of the world and so there is a diverse table of many different foods enjoyed by the followers of Islam. Maffei, who lives in Des Moines, IL, has come up with an innovative blog, My Halal Kitchen which has wonderful international recipes and shows that people don’t have to sacrifice variety in the name of faith.
She says, “I wanted to create a platform where I could share recipes that encompass a wide variety of world cuisines, prepared with halal substitutes and ingredients.” The result is recipes ranging from Italian stuffed mushrooms to Frittatas, to Blood Orange Olive Oil Brownies.
Maffei, who lives in Chicago with her Mexican/Italian husband, loves the challenge of experimenting and interpreting new cuisines. She traces her passion for wholesome food and her curiosity about the foods people eat to growing up in a home which was culturally diverse and where food and family were important factors.
Do most people surfing the Internet know what halal means? She says, “It seems that most people who come to the site are already somewhat familiar with halal because they’ve done a search on halal food and have been directed to my site. For those who aren’t as familiar with the terminology, they enjoy the recipes because of the healthy ingredients used in preparing them.”
Asked if she gets a lot of South Asian visitors, she says, “Yes, I do and it’s nice to get their feedback on how they like the site and the recipes offered. South Asian cuisine is fascinating to me, so I’m always eager to learn more about the unique cooking techniques and ingredients that stem from this part of the world.”
She plays a lot with different ingredients and one of her creations is Indian Spiced Shrimp in which she uses spices and coconut milk. “We enjoy the taste of shrimp in my family. I like to prepare it because it’s so quick,” she says and adds, “I know some people don’t like to eat shellfish like shrimp, so this recipe can easily substitute out the shrimp for tilapia or even poultry, like chicken. Cooking times will vary, however.”
So whether it’s North African, French or Mexican cooking or dishes for Eid and special occasions, Maffei has you covered. Here she shares a few of the recipes:
Recipes and photos courtesy My Halal Kitchen
Five Minute Frittata
This is the quickest oven-baked frittata to prepare. Normally I would add flour and milk to a dish like this, but on the day it was made, I was in such a hurry there was no time to think about accurately measuring the two. It resulted in one of the fluffiest and most delicious frittatas we’ve ever had-simplicity at its best.
Use whatever veggies you have and make a meal of it with soup or a side salad. If you have leftovers, cut squares of the frittata and place on your favorite bread for a tasty panini and a cost-effective brown bag lunch!
- 10 eggs, preferably cage-free brown eggs
- 1 cup arugula
- 1/8 cup shaved carrots or thinly julienned carrot strips
- 1/8 cup shaved broccoli stems
- white, extra sharp cheddar cheese (I prefer the Tillamook brand)
- Parmesan cheese
- 1/8 tsp. black pepper, or to taste
- ¼ tsp. salt, or to taste
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Put all ingredients into an oven-safe dish and whisk together well.
- Bake for 20-30 minutes or until top is evenly browned.
Italian Herb Stuffed Mushrooms - Halal
My family has been making stuffed mushrooms since I can remember eating savory foods. They look tedious to make, but I promise you they are super simple. I only cut off the stem to use in the stuffing, not the core of the mushroom. I think it makes the recipe easier, less messy and I don’t have to worry about cracking the mushroom core. This is perfect for parties, but works great as a side dish to steak, fish or chicken dinners.
Makes 2 dozen mushrooms
- 24 oz. crimini or any large cap mushrooms
- 1 small yellow onion or 1/2 large yellow onion
- 1-2 garlic cloves
- 1 Tb. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 Tb. unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup bread crumbs, unseasoned
- 2 Tb. dried parsley
- 1/2 tsp. dried basil
- dash black pepper
- pinch salt
- 1 Tb. grated parmesan
- Preheat oven to 325°.
- Remove stems from mushrooms.
- Mince onions, garlic and mushroom stems.
- To a large sauté pan, add butter. When it begins to froth, add the olive oil.
- Add the minced onions and sauté until translucent. Add garlic and mushroom stems and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring often.
- Add bread crumbs and stir thoroughly into the mixture.
- Add parsley, basil, salt and pepper. Continue to cook until soft.
- Remove from heat and add parmesan. Mix well. Allow to cool 5-10 minutes.
- Using a small spoon, fill each mushroom cap with stuffing, but do not overstuff.
- On a parchment-lined baking sheet, place each stuffed mushroom about 2 inches apart. (You will need two large baking sheets for this recipe)
- Bake for 15 minutes or until stuffing has set.
- Serve while warm.
Indian Spiced Shrimp
- 2 lbs. large Gulf shrimp, peeled and de-veined
- ½ tsp. ground annatto seed
- ½ tsp. dried basil
- ¼ tsp. black pepper
- ¼ tsp. chili powder
- ¼ tsp. dried cilantro
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ¼ tsp. ground cumin
- ¼ tsp. ground fennel
- ¼ tsp. ground ginger
- ¼ tsp. juice of 1 ½ lemons
- ¼ tsp. paprika
- ¼ tsp. dried parsley
- ½ tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. ground turmeric
- 4 Tb. coconut milk
- 2 Tb. + 2 Tb. more of Grape seed oil or any other unflavored oil
- To a large bowl add shrimp, all the spices, coconut milk and 2 Tb. of the oil for at least one hour or up to 24 hours in the refrigerator.
- When ready to cook, remove shrimp from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature, about 15-20 minutes.
- In a large sauté pan, heat oil. Add the shrimp slowly, but do not crowd the pan. If your pan isn’t large enough, cook in two batches.
- Cook each side of shrimp for about 4-6 minutes, or until shrimp is opaque on each side.
- Serve hot with a side of rice or noodles. Enjoy!