Here’s a first for ayamstuffed; a book review! Alhamdulillah. Djarabi Kitabs Publishing, a Muslim bookseller and publisher, reached out to me on Instagram to help review Halal Comfort Food. It was a very nice surprise for me and of course I said yes! A few messages back and forth, and the book arrived. It came with goodies from Fofky’s too! Please say a prayer for them!
Halal Comfort Food by M.K Johnston is a cookbook filled with American comfort foods that have been given a halal make-over. The book was written by a revert to Islam to make it easier for other reverts to make that switch to halal eating.
Without much ado, here are my thoughts.
What I Liked
The book starts off with the remembrance of Allah, which was nice (and important).
Whether you’ve been a muslim since birth or not, we all know how there are quite a few differing opinions on what is halal or not. Halal food can be another complicated aspect and in the Foreword, the author states that the recipes follow a stricter guideline due to these differences in opinions. This, I believe, makes the book one that most people can use.
Part 1 of the book enlightens the reader about the halal diet. I, however, skipped most of it as I already have certain ideas about what to eat. Could I have learned more? Most likely. However, I didn’t want to expose myself to waswas. I basically skipped to page 16 which had the halal meat hierarchy. It offered a good summary on meats, although there were some parts I disagreed with.
Some of the pictures the book had were visually appealing, but what did it for me was imagining the recipes coming to life. As I read, I imagined myself preparing some of the dishes and that was pretty fulfilling. My favourites were the French Toast Casserole, Hot Crab Dip, Halal Marshmallow Treats and the Scones. (Chubbydija here: Her favourites give you an idea of what she likes to eat!). These were my ‘want to make!’ recipes.
Speaking of the scones, I made a life-changing discovery in this book: American scones are different from British scones! This was such big news to me as scones are one of my favourite pastries. I believe I have had both versions but I am more familiar with the British one.
A recipe I found interesting was the Pumpkin Cupcakes with Dulce de Leche and Cream Cheese Frosting. For quite some time, I had no idea that pumpkin’s were edible and I thought they were only used for carving lanterns during halloween. I have since tasted a pumpkin and I can say that it’s not bad. However, I wouldn’t say it’s an ingredient that I would readily work with.
Lastly, for some reason I was drawn to the technique for making Turkish coffee and I don’t even drink tea or coffee!
What I thought could be Improved upon
The main issue I had with the book was the quality of some of the pictures. While reading the book, it’s possible that you could be thrown off a recipe because of its pictorial representation. In addition, the editing of some of the pictures provided a harsh contrast to the book’s pages due to their sharp edges. The book could have also done with some full page photos.
There was another thing which to me was a bit worrisome in the drinks section; the definition of instinja in the recipe for Turkish Coffee! No, no! If anything, that should have gone in a glossary.
Finally, this might be a personal thing but I think I may have preferred to have the recipes for drinks featuring last. There were also some pictures, mostly of ingredients in the featured recipes, that I thought were out of place. Personally, I think they would have offered a more cohesive look if they were placed at certain points to depict themes. For example, a picture of ground beef could have been used to start a section of recipes that used ground beef as an ingredient.
Alhamdulillah for this cookbook. Rather than just featuring recipes alone, it educates reverts, and other muslims, about halal food. It’s also a simple cookbook that’s easy to follow. I definitely think that it is a foundation for similar books by the author and could be the beginning of a series! Jazaakallahu khairan to M.K Johnston.
Halal Comfort Food by M.K Johnston can be purchased online at fofky’s.com.
BUUUUT, one of you can win the book for free, thanks to Djarabi Kitabs Publishing! Just leave a comment letting me know what your favourite comfort food is. The winner will be chosen at random.