I wrote this Meatless Monday post earlier this year after the Pulse shootings in Orlando. Since then, there have been more gun deaths and bombings than I care to count. Today, Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, I call upon us all to start sweet, start fresh, start again and start together. Originally posted on 06/27/2016 for Huffington Post.
Meatless Monday: Family Meal
My husband and I live down the block from Muslims. And gays. We have Jamaicans, Swiss, Colombians, Cuban refugees, Catholics, Protestants, Jews and a few undecided. As my neighbor puts it, we’re the United Nations in one city block. Sometimes we all mystify each other. But we always tolerate each other. As another neighbor says, we are like family.
The people gunned down at Pulse in Orlando were like family, too. How do you parse — let alone process — such a devastating thing? It’s a gun control issue. It’s an LGBTQ issue. It’s a terrorism issue. It’s a hate issue. It is as many things as we are. This is not the first time a mass killing has happened during Ramadan. I pray it is the last.
We’re all very different, not just on my block and in this city, but in your city, on your street and across this country and in every country — you, too, UK. I’ve always been more interested in the ways we are the same.
Maybe my Muslim neighbor is, too. He came by yesterday and gave me some mangoes off his tree. This is not about him trying to make right the horror of Pulse, this was a pure act of reaching out, of trying to bridge our differences. It’s about sharing what we have — food — and honoring what we have in common — humanity. (Here is my favorite Mango Salad Recipe)
As diverse as we all are, we are all citizens of the world. We live together. And since we do, it helps to do so with compassion (a big vegan concept) and forgiveness (a big Muslim concept).
Together, we are family. Together, we are stronger than walls, stronger than guns, stronger than hate. Wherever you are, whatever your beliefs, I wish you Ramadan Mubarak — blessed Ramadan.
There are many versions of this traditional and beloved Arab dessert, and it goes by many names — sutlac, muhallabeya, and I’m probably missing some. I developed this vegan version and served it this Saturday night as part of my EatWith dinner. I owe a debt of gratitude to Claudia Roden , a gifted, generous cookbook author. Her dedication to preserving the unique flavors of the world inspires me in delicious ways.
Malabi — Rosewater Pudding
- 4 tablespoons corn starch
- 4 tablespoons rice flour
- 5 cups unsweetened oat milk or almond milk (the richer the better)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons rose water or 1 teaspoon rosewater extract
- organic rose petals and chopped pistachios to garnish
- In a small bowl, whisk together corn starch and rice flour.
- Add 1/2 cup of the oat or almond milk, and stir until the milk thickens and everything comes together without cornstarch clumps.
- In a large pot, heat remaining plantbased milk over medium-high heat and bring to a low boil.
- Pour in the cornstarch-thickened milk and stir like your Valentine’s Day depends on it.
- Reduce heat to medium-low, stirring constantly for 15 to 20 minutes to avoid nasty clumps. Mixture will thicken.
- When it’s thick enough to coat the back of the spoon, pour in sugar and rosewater. Cook another minute or so, stirring so sugar dissolves.
- Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
- Pour into a large serving bowl or individual cups. Cover and chill for at least 6 hours before serving.
- Garnish with rose petals and chopped pistachios — so romantic.