Muslim Aid Media Centre

Celebrity Chefs Send Good Wishes and Best Dishes for Ramadan

Celebrity chefs Madhur Jaffrey, Ainsley Harriott and Saliha Mahmood Ahmed (Masterchef UK Champion 2017) are supporting Muslim Aid's Ramadan campaign this year. To help us welcome in and celebrate the festival of Ramadan they have shared special recipes to help keep you healthy and maintain your energy levels as you fast this Ramadan. 

Ramadan can be a real celebration of food, with a lot of experimenting with delicious foods and flavours, and families enjoying gathering to break the fast at the end of the day for Iftar. These days there is a move away from heavy meals towards healthy eating, with slow release energy foods containing high water content and all food groups and essential vitamins and minerals, to help people last the long days.  

Ainsley Harriott says, "I’m sharing my Smoked mackerel pilaff recipe and sending good wishes to everyone celebrating Ramadan. I think it’s an ideal Suhoor (Ramadan breakfast) dish as it’s great for energy levels and will help people stay healthy and get through the day as they fast this month.”


Serves 4 



250g (9oz) brown basmati rice 

1tbsp olive oil 

1 onion, sliced  

1 garlic clove 

3 tsp root ginger 

2 cardamom pods  

1/2 tsp ground cumin 

1/2 tsp cayenne 

1/2 tsp turmeric  

1 bay leaf 

450ml (3/4 pint) vegetable stock 

250g (9oz) smoked mackerel, flaked 

75g (3oz) peas 

salt and freshly ground black pepper 

fresh coriander leaves, to garnish 


for the onion raita; 

1 red onion 

lime juice, to taste 

pinch of cayenne 



for the minty yoghurt dressing; 

1 tbsp. fresh mint  

100g (4oz) low-fat natural yoghurt 




1. Soak the rice in cold water for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, make the raita and the dressing. For the raita, thinly slice the red onion, place it in a small bowl, add the lime juice and cayenne and mix together. Season with salt, cover and set aside. For the dressing, finely chop the fresh mint and mix together with the yoghurt, then cover and chill. 


2. Prepare the ingredients for the pilaf. Rinse and drain the rice in a sieve. Crush the garlic clove, grate the ginger and lightly crush the cardamom pods. 


3. Heat the oil in a deep sauté pan, add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes, until the onion is lightly coloured. Add the garlic, ginger and spices. Cook for 1 minute, then stir in the rice. Add the bay leaf and stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer very gently for 20 minutes. 

4. Fork the flacked mackerel into the rice, along with the peas, cover and turn the heat off. Leave the pilaf for about 5-10minutes so that the rice is dried out and really tender, and the mackerel has heated through. Scatter with coriander and serve with the raita, dressing and some mango chutney. 


*I prefer to use plain smoked mackerel as the peppered variety is overly peppery. You could use white rice, but brown rice has a much better flavour and is a good source of fibre. Instead of the raita and dressing you could top each portion with a poached egg and a twist of pepper. 

Original recipe taken from "Ainsley Harriott 100 Meals in Minutes" published by BBC Books. 

Madhur Jaffrey  sends "Best wishes for Ramadan" to all of you and has proposed her Chana Dal with Spinach and Tomato - a great dish that can be shared with a large group at an Iftar.  

Chana Dal with Spinach & Tomato - Saag-Tamatar wali Chana Dal 

Serves 6 


285 g/10 oz chana dal, washed in several changes of water and drained 

½ teaspoon ground turmeric 

1½ teaspoons salt 

3 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter) or olive oil or peanut oil, or a mixture of ghee and any oil 

l⁄8  teaspoon ground asafoetida 

½ teaspoon whole brown mustard seeds 

½ teaspoon whole cumin seeds 

1–2 dried hot red chillies 

7–8 fresh curry leaves 

1 large onion (225 g/8 oz), peeled and chopped 

2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped 

1½ teaspoons peeled and finely grated fresh ginger 

2 good-sized tomatoes (about 

285 g/10 oz in all), peeled and chopped 

140–180 g/5–6 oz well-washed spinach, cut stems crossways into tiny dice and chop the leaves into small pieces. ¼–½ teaspoon nice red chilli powder (optional) 

120  Dals: Dried Beans & Legumes 


  1. Put the dal in a medium pan along with 1.2 litres/2 pints water. Bring to the boil, skimming off the froth as it rises to the top. Do not let it boil over. Stir in the turmeric, cover partially, lower the heat and cook for 1¼ hours. When done, mix in the salt. 

  2. While the dal cooks, heat the ghee and/or oil in a small, preferably non-stick frying pan and set over a medium-high heat. When hot, add the asafoetida and, a second later, the mustard seeds.  

  3. As soon as the seeds start to pop, a matter of seconds, add the cumin seeds. Stir for 5–6 seconds, and then add the red chillies and fry until they darken. Throw in the curry leaves, stir once and add the onion. Sauté for about 7–10 minutes or until the onion starts to brown. 

  4. Add the garlic and ginger and stir for another 1–2 minutes. Now add the tomatoes and stir for 5–6 minutes, until they soften, mashing them down with the back of a wooden spoon as you do so.  

  5. Add the spinach and 120 ml/4 fl oz water. Stir and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook gently for 10–12 minutes, or until the spinach wilts and is very soft. 

  6. When the dal has finished cooking, add the spinach mixture and stir well. Check the seasoning and add the chilli powder if you need it. Grind black pepper over the top. If the dal feels too thick, you can stir in a little water 

Credit: Curry Easy Vegetarian by Madhur Jaffrey 

Saliha Ahmed-Mahmood says, "I love this recipe at Iftaar because the whole family can share the meatballs and dips with the pitta bread, creating the most wonderful communal, festive atmosphere at home.  

The British Nutrition Foundation gives some very informative details about what the ideal Iftaar meal should consist of, and the mixture of protein, starch and vegetables in this recipe will certainly nourish your family in this holy month and beyond."  

Turkish Style Almond Meatballs, Almond Muhammara dip with Toasted Pitta Bread


For the Meatballs:  

400grams minced lamb  

180grams almonds very finely chopped by hand  

4 cloves of finely chopped garlic  

1 finely chopped tomato  

½ finely chopped bunch parsley  

½ finely chopped bunch dill  

1 finely chopped red onion  

1 heaped teaspoon red chilli flakes  

1 beaten egg  

2 slices of stale white bread  

For the dip:  

3 large red or yellow peppers  

45grams fresh breadcrumbs  

Juice 1 lime  

1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses  

1 teaspoon red chilli flakes  

2 grated cloves garlic  

50 grams almonds very finely chopped by hand  

2 tablespoons olive oil  

To serve: 4-8 toasted pitta breads  

Optional: salad leaves of your choice.  


1. Place the minced lamb and almonds in a bowl together with the garlic, chopped tomato. parsley, dill, onion, chilli flakes and beaten egg. Season with salt to taste.  

2. Soak the bread in a small amount of water and mash the bread in your hands until it starts to disintegrate when you press it between your fingers. Add the wet bread to the lamb mince and give the ingredients a good mix with your hands.  

3. Allow the lamb mince to rest for 30 minutes in the fridge before shaping into small flat patties and frying in small batches on a medium heat for approx. 2-3 minutes each side.  

4. Rub the peppers with olive oil and place in a 220-degree oven until the peppers have scorched- this will take around 30-45 minutes. Once the peppers have cooled, remove as much of the skins as you can and place the remaining pepper flesh into a food processor with the breadcrumbs, lime juice, pomegranate molasses, chilli flakes and garlic. Blend carefully as you still want the mixture to have some texture. To complete the dip, pour the pepper mixture into a bowl and stir in the almonds and olive oil. Season with salt to taste. Serve alongside the meatballs and pitta breads, with fresh salad of you prefer. 

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