This quick, simple and nutritious dish was inspired by a friend who is observing the laws of Ramadan at the moment, but can be enjoyed by anyone at any time, but particularly compliments spring and summer eating – even better ‘al fresco’!
France, and particularly the Parisian region, has a very high Islamic population, and I have to admit, that before coming here, that I had no muslim friends or indeed knew anyone who was muslim except for one school friend of my daughter (this is not typical of all of the United Kingdom, but where I lived in North Wales this was the case)
I now have a number of muslim friends and a lot of muslim associates, and a greater understanding of Islam – and in fact, I have a greater understanding and tolerance of many cultural differences in all walks of life.
So around this time of year, I am conscious of the fact that this is the month of Ramadan, and that a lot of my students are observing this and could need a little extra tolerance and understanding and for me to be not quite so ‘exigent’ (It is interesting to note that Ramadan also falls during the time when western countries traditionally have their end of term school and university exams, and that this places an extra burden on muslim students)
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and this year (2015) runs from June 18th for 30 days and nights until 18th July. Ramadan is a month of fasting to commemorate the first revelation of the Quran to Mohamed. Fasting during Ramadan is considered to be one of the 5 pillars of Islam (along with reciting a profession of faith, the five daily prayers, the pilgrimage to Mecca, and paying a ‘charity tax’ to support the poor)
During Ramadan muslims are forbidden from eating between the hours of sunrise and sunset, this does not give them a very large window, as this is the time of the summer solstice with the most hours of daylight in the year. Therefore it is very important to choose what you eat very wisely. I have spoken with a muslim friend and she told me that she favours light, easy to digest, high protein food, with fish being at the top of her list.
With this in mind I have created the following fish recipe that includes, feta cheese and pine nuts for extra protein and fat, and is low in carbohydrates to avoid causing sudden sharp rises in blood sugar levels, which would lead to increased hunger and cravings.
Whether you are observing Ramadan or not, this is a lovely light summer dinner dish and goes perfectly with my ‘salade composée ’ (to follow………)
4 fillest of firm white fish (cod, sea bass)
½ of a block of feta cheese (fromage de brebis) broken into small cubes
A red and green pepper sliced into small batons
A good handful of very lightly toasted pine nuts
4-6 slices of chorizo roughly broken up (optional)
A good glug of olive oil (I used Olivier & Co. Olive oil with mint)
Place the fish in an oven proof dish and sprinkle over the peppers, chorizo, pine nuts and cheese
Pour over the olive oil and cover with a piece of kitchen foil
Bake in a preheated oven for around 20 minutes at 180 degrees/gas 4
Remove the foil for the last 5 minutes for the cheese to colour a little
What could be simpler………
Little postscript – my friend told me after reading this, that it is traditional to begin a meal with Water and dates, which is how Mohamed is reputed to have broken his fast.