Figs & Lemon

My Culinary Adventures

Mujaddara and why I don’t like going to Mosques.


Here’s me confessing straight up that I don’t like going to Mosques. Most mosques that is, on a regular basis (and by regular basis I mean for Friday prayers and like, during Ramadan and stuff).

Now don’t get me wrong, I once went to the Sheikh Zayed Grand mosque at some God awful hour in the middle of the night when there was hardly anyone there. It was absolutely sublime! And you won’t find me wandering the streets of Istanbul some day saying to myself “Nope. Not going into that gorgeously beautiful structure right there coz I hate mosques. Hmph!” That is totally the opposite of what I am trying to say. I am talking about going to your neighborhood mosque, or even that mosque that is wayyy outside your neighborhood but your family likes going to it because the friday sermon is in English so hey, atleast we won’t be bored out of our minds staring at the butt ugly pattern on the carpet because we couldn’t get what the Imam was saying but coming to Friday prayer was an absolute MUST.

At this point you are ever so slightly chuckling on the inside all the while saying “Oh, Yusra you Kaafir you!” Those of you who love me just said a little prayer asking God to forgive me. Continue reading…

This is what my problem is with going to a mosque at any time when there is a “congregation” of people. There is a particular mosque in Abu Dhabi, in Bateen where the Friday sermon is in English. Therefore it is very “in” with the South Asian crowd here. And a couple of possibly Irish converts. And by a couple I literally  mean like only 2 people because heck the flock of annoying Pakistani muslims that gather here have successfully managed to put off people like me who have been muslim for years, so these cute white folk don’t stand a chance.

I’ve de-railed. Sorry. I tend to do that. My problem with the mosque is as follows:

It’s all the conversations. I mean the minute the prayer is over, you see these little cliques forming. And if you’re stupid enough to think that you could stay sitting contemplating life and death and the many wonders in between, THESE CLIQUES WILL CONGREGATE ABOVE YOU, having you serve as the totem pole representing the Lets-talk-about-the-keratin-hair-treatment-I-am-hiding-underneath-my-smelly-Burqa Party. Also, if it isn’t the thick Pakistani/ borderline Indian accents that give you an instant headache, it’s the constant returning of Salam to every individual PRE and POST every conversation and that too in FULL. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against saying Salam …but there is such a thing as over doing it at which point you only look like a pretentious prick.

And theeennn…as if that wasn’t enough, between the Salamalaikums and the Walaikum salams there’s the Subhanallahs and the Alhamdulillahs which again, don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a problem with it but when you’re publicly announcing these things as opposed to silently acknowledging them I immediately want you to take yourself and your smelly Burqa atleast fifty feet away from me.




And chances are I would still be able to smell your Burqa from fifty feet away!




“Salam alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu sister. How are you? Oh me? I’m good  Alhamdullillah I am good. Alhamdulillah the husband just died but Subhanallah I baked a cake to mourn his loss but Mashallah, Mshallah dem eyebrows on fleek gurrrlll!!!  Salam alaikum, Walaikum salam, Subhanallah, 7amdella, Allah u akbar!”

Also, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; People with young kids just shouldn’t come to the mosque, or any spiritual gatherings for that matter! Period! Like it baffles my mind how moms can’t explain to their child the difference between a mosque and a friggin PLAYGROUND! Instead I am pretty sure their conversation with their snot nosed kid must’ve been something along the lines of :

” Beta, feel free to run around the mosque, bumping into people’s butt’s, trampling over their iPhone screens, crushing their fingers under your dirt covered shitty little feet. Just know that I am going to pretend to not be related to you while we are there.  In fact I am going to completely ignore you while you are laying on the floor scratching your butthole in front of some lady, who in the middle of praying is now busy calculating the amount of space left for her in which she can contort herself into something that can barely pass as prostrating. Mazel tov!”


There’s a special place for mothers like that. H………………..ome. It’s called home. Stay at home with your kid instead of disturbing like 50 other people.

End of PSA. Thankyou, Subhanallah and Salam alaikum!


In other news, I tried my hand at making Mujaddara, an Arabic rice dish made with lentils and topped with heavenly crispy caramelized onions. There’s this Syrian chick I work with who has treated us to this amazing dish enough times for me to realize that I need to be able to make this bad boy myself! So here goes nothing!


  • 1 cup Rice
  • 3 cups Water
  • 1 cup Lentils
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil
  • 1 tbsp Cumin seeds
  • 1  tsp Cinnamon powder
  • 1 tsp Nutmeg powder
  • 1 tsp Turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp Coriander seeds
  • 2 onions finely sliced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

What to do with all that:

Grab a pot. Actually no grab a saucepan. Dump your lentils in them and cover with water until there’s about  at least an inch of water above the lentils. Bring to a boil, then cover and let it simmer until the lentils are cooked through. Once cooked, drain any excess water and set aside so they’re ready to be added to the rice. Noowww grab a pot. Drizzle some olive oil in and get the cumin seeds and coriander seeds crackling in there. Before this next step you should have your rice, rinsed and pre-soaked ready at hand to throw into the pan. So after you’ve got the cumin seeds and coriander seeds crack a lackin’, put in all your spices and swirl around for literally like 5 seconds. If there’s anything I hate it’s the smell of burnt turmeric powder. Blekh! But it is nice to have the spices become all toasty, which is why give them 5 seconds in the oil and then immediately stop their cooking process by tossing your rice in there. Give it a good swirl, add your cooked lentils to the rice and then top off with 3 cups of water. Adjust any seasoning right now. Bring to a boil and then cover and reduce the heat to like a medium low for about 5 minutes. Once you can see that the water has been absorbed from on top of the surface of the rice, stir the rice, reduce the heat all the way down to really low and cover and let it cook for another 20 to 30 minutes. DO NOT OPEN BEFORE THEN!

In the meantime caramelize the onions that will be used for the garnish. Very essential to the recipe! Finely slice some onions. Heat up some olive oil in a skillet and fry the onions until they’re golden brown in color and nice and crisp. Use a slotted spoon to take out the carmelized onions and lay them out on some paper towels to soak up some of that excess oil. After your rice has been cooking for about 20 minutes, give it a little peek to see if the rice is cooked through. Leave it covered and on low heat for 10-15 more minutes if the rice still needs more time.

Once done, sprinkle the crispy caramelized onions on top before serving. I also garnished with some coriander leaves. Devour while it’s still nice and hot.





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  1. Sajjad Haider

    I wandered here from a smartphone app you’re on, which said you’re a writer at figs & lemon, and, since I write for a living, I was naturally curious. So I googled and found myself smiling at this tale of burqa-clad overseas Pakistani women and their snot-nosed kids scratching their buttholes in your face. (I imagined that. Are the burqas really that smelly?)

    I’m not much of a chef. I do try my experiments with eggs, cheese, mushrooms, and sausages, but that’s about where my culinary skills end.

    This post, however, was possibly the first food blog I’ve read in its entirety. I think I’m gonna start following. Perhaps I’ll even try my hand at this recipe. Sounds delicious! (What kinda lentils?)

    I’m not very religious, but I like what you said. There’s nothing more sublime than some mosques at god awful hours in the middle of the night. And I guess that’s what got me reading till the end :)

    Hope to continue reading. Would be absolutely delighted if you respond!


    …Or rather, Assalam alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu! :D



So, what do you think ?