Ramadan is sadly coming to an end, but we still have amazing recipes to share with you all. Today we have Nabeela Ismail of Beela Bakes sharing 4 recipes with us! We hope you enjoy this interview as much as we did!
Can you please tell us a bit about yourself and how you started Beela Bakes?
I was born and raised in London and moved over to Dubai with my family about 8 years ago upon finishing my degree in Art History. Art has always been my first love and I have always been creative, so as a young girl with a big sweet-tooth baking became a natural hobby as it gave me the freedom to experiment in the kitchen arena!
My blog didn’t start until late 2012 however when I was living temporarily in Zanzibar after getting married. I was naturally spending more time in the kitchen and the Pinterest era had just taken off so I enjoyed searching for recipes, making them my own and then taking pictures to share primarily with friends and family. I realised I really loved the photography and styling process especially and wanted to be able to showcase my culinary creations, so with encouragement from my husband I decided to start Beela Bakes. Most of my earlier blog posts were typically desserts and baking recipes, but I now post all kind of recipes. It’s been great because it’s led me to the occasional opportunity to photograph for food businesses, as well as to assist established food stylists and photographers in the region.
My artistic background has also been put to use though as I paint and sell art prints on a professional basis under the name of Biha Designs.
You moved to Dubai some years ago and lived in Zanzibar, what would you say is the best thing about Dubai, and what do you miss the most about Zanzibar?
The best thing about Dubai for me personally would be the scope for opportunity, especially as a creative. The market here is a lot more open to ideas, and it is easier to bring to the table a unique or new vision. Dubai is an extraordinary and dynamic city where everything is possible. That and the fact that it’s sunny all year around!
I definitely miss the little things about Zanzibar that come with living an island life – going to the market stall to buy your groceries, drinking fresh coconut water on the roadside, the sea breeze, the steep culture and history, and so forth. It is a world away from the busyness of big cities – there are no shopping malls, cinemas or bustling venues and so I was forced to slow down my pace of living, and to appreciate the beauty of simplicity in the every day.
A balance diet is momentous, especially during the month of Ramadan. What would be your advice on having a balanced food pattern during the month and beyond?
Hydration is really key during Ramadan, especially while fasting in a hot region like the Emirates. Once I’ve broken my fast with dates and water, I have a small bowl of soup followed by a light and refreshing mini salad. I try and have my main meal a little while after, and I then make sure I keep drinking fluids regularly up until the early hours. It’s easy to get swept away by the lavish hotel iftars and food giving spirit which comes with living in Dubai, and though craving fried foods or sugary treats on an empty stomach is natural I know if I keep these to a minimum I feel all the more better for it. Rather than eating larger meals in one go, its better to split your evening into three to four smaller meals which includes healthy snacks.
Eating the right foods at Suhoor time is definitely important too as it can define your energy levels for the following day – a combination of protein, fruit and vegetables for fibre, and light carbs will ensure you eat a balanced meal without overstuffing yourself. One of my favourite Suhoor snack’s is peanut butter and honey on toast topped with sliced banana and chia seeds as it’s quick, easy to make and combines all the ideal components to help me get through my next fast. Eggs and healthy fats such as nuts and avocado are also very good, and so are smoothies as you can change them up every day.
Ramadan teaches us a lot about how to discipline ourselves and it’s a good time to develop diet habits which can be observed even after the month has ended. There’s no reason why you can’t enjoy a balanced diet and indulge in your favourite comfort foods or treats at the same time (I know I do!), as long as you are mindful and don’t overindulge.
What is the future for Beela Bakes?
I hope to continue to post recipes and food related adventures for as long as there are still interested readers visiting my blog! I also aim to continue practicing and hopefully get better at the photography and styling process.
Could you please share two of your favourite recipes that would be for iftar?
2-Way Beef Mango Wraps with Hoisin Peanut Sauce
Light and fresh, whichever way you choose to serve these two-way beef mango wraps they are perfect to serve as an appetizer at Iftaar, or you can make many and eat as they are! Make sure to make the hoisin peanut sauce as well, as the sweet nutty flavour makes a heavenly pairing.
Ingredients to prepare the beef:
200g beef (flank or sirloin work well), cut into thin strips
1 tsp garlic, minced or finely chopped
Half tsp ginger, minced or finely chopped
2 tsp soya sauce
2 tbsp vegetable or sesame oil
1. Mix the beef with the rest of the ingredients in a bowl, and leave to marinate for 1-2 hours, or at least half an hour.
2. Heat a little oil in a frying wok, and add the beef. Stir fry for 5-10 minutes making sure the beef has cooked through, or is cooked to your liking.
3. Keep aside to cool.
Beef & Mango Rice Paper Rolls (Serves 2)
Beef strips, cooked
Half a medium mango (less than fully ripe is better), peeled and sliced thinly
6-8 whole lettuce leaves, Boston or Bibb
Vermicelli noodles, large handful, cooked
Half cup pomegranate arils
Lime, to taste
6-8 rice paper sheets
1. Heat water in a pan, and once slightly hot (not boiling) pour into a heat proof bowl, large enough to soak your rice paper sheets.
2. Keeping all your ingredients at hand, take a sheet of rice paper and soak in the warm water for 20-30 seconds or until soft.
3. Place on a surface and add a little of each ingredient along the centre of the roll, horizontally. Start with one lettuce leaf, then 2-3 beef strips in the centre of the leaf, a few mango slices, vermicelli noodles, and lastly a sprinkling of pomegranate arils. Squeeze a couple of drops of lime if desired.
4. Fold the ends in if preferred, and/or carefully roll up the rice paper roll to enclose the filling.
5. Repeat again with the other rice paper rolls and filling.
6. Serve with the hoisin sauce for dipping.
Beef & Mango Cabbage Wraps (Serves 2)
1. Repeat ingredients as above, minus the rice paper.
2. Taking the lettuce leaves, fill each leaf with ingredients, layering as with the rice paper rolls.
3. Drizzle a few teaspoons of hoisin peanut sauce over and serve immediately. Enjoy them rolled up or with a fork is preferred!
Hoisin peanut sauce
4 tsp smooth peanut butter
2 tsp hoisin sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
Half cup water
1 tbsp brown sugar
Peanuts, crushed for garnish
1. Combine all the ingredients, except for the crushed peanuts, in a small pan over low heat.
2. Mix well for about two-three minutes until smooth and thickened.
3. Take off heat and serve straight away as a dip or over lettuce wraps.
Rose & Saffron Cream Kunafa Nests
Inspired by the traditional kunafa or knafeh, these individual sized nests are easy to make ahead and assemble at the last minute for your Iftaar guests to enjoy. They look very pretty too! (Makes 12 nests. Preparation time 45 minutes.)
250g kunafa dough, defrosted
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup caster sugar
2 & half tsp rose water
1 tsp orange blossom water
5-6 strands of saffron
250g tub of mascarpone
40g icing sugar
Pistachio slivers, for decorating
Dried rose petals, for decorating
Persian fairy floss, for decorating
1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C, and using a cupcake tray shape and roll the kunafa strands into each mould of the tray. Bake in the oven for about ten minutes, keeping an eye out until they are golden in colour. Remove and leave to cool.
2. Meanwhile make the sugar syrup by boiling the water and sugar together for about three minutes, until the sugar has melted. Leave to cool slightly and then add one teaspoon each of the rose and orange blossom water. Add the saffron strands and mix to get a yellow tint.
3. To make the cream topping, combine together the mascarpone, icing sugar and remaining one and a half teaspoons of rose water.
4. To assemble, drizzle one teaspoon of the sugar syrup over each of the kunafa nests, and leave to soak for five minutes. Now using a teaspoon, dollop the mascarpone cream mix over each nest, and drizzle a little more sugar syrup over. Decorate with Persian fairy floss, pistachio slivers and rose petals before serving.
Healthy Chocolate Peanut Butter Breakfast Smoothie
Full of all healthy ingredients for a nourishing yet delicious drink which you can throw together and blend at Suhoor time. (Serves 1)
1 cup milk of choice (I use Coconut Dream Unsweetened drinking coconut milk)
1 medium banana
1 tbsp peanut butter (I use Whole Earth Crunchy Organic)
1 tsp raw cacao powder (I use Superfoods Organic Raw Peruvian Cacao Powder)
1 tsp ground flax seed
Pinch of cinnamon powder
A few drops of pure coconut oil (optional)
Put all the ingredients together in a blender and blend till smooth. Adjust consistency with more milk if preferred. Pour into a tall glass and enjoy immediately!
We would like to thank Nabeela for her time and cannot wait to see more recipes over on Beela Bakes. We hope to have her again on Haute Arabia in the future.