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A festive mix


Hawaiian fruit salad
1 fresh Mandarin oranges
1 fresh crushed pineapple
1 jar maraschino cherries
1 pt. sour cream
1 fresh water melon
3 fresh apple
Drain Mandarin oranges, pineapple, apple, melon and Maraschino cherries. In a large bowl, combine pineapple, mandarin oranges, cherries and coconut. Stir in sour cream, add fresh cream and mayonnaise. Mix well. Add salt for taste.

Beef bhuna
800g diced lean beef steak
1 cup/300ml water or beef stock
2 small white onions, finely chopped
2 tsp ginger puree
2 tsp garlic puree
200g groundnut oil
1 tsp turmeric powder
4 tsp mild curry powder
1 tsp chilli powder
2 tsp garam masala powder
1 tsp whole toasting seeds
1 tsp almond paste
1 tsp cashew nut paste
100ml natural yoghurt
4 tsp tomato puree
100ml pureed onion
1 Small onion, 2 deseeded tomatoes, chopped, for garnish

To make the onion puree, bring a small pan of water to the boil and add some chopped onions. Boil until soft, drain and puree with a hand blender or in a food processor. Freeze any extra you make for next time.

Heat a large saucepan on a high heat. Once it is hot add the whole seeds and toast them until they sizzle and crackle. Now add the oil and then add the chopped onions and reduce the heat to low. You can optionally add 1 or 2 Whole Star Anise which help bring out the sweetness of the onions and imparts a subtle aniseed flavour but remove them once the onions are cooked. Cook the onions gently and slowly until they turn a golden brown color.

Make a paste of the ginger puree, garlic puree, curry powder, turmeric powder, chilli powder, with a little water. Add to saucepan and stir in well and fry for a couple of minutes.

Now add your 800g diced lean beef steak stir in well.

Mix the yoghurt, tomato puree, onion puree, together in a jug with the water or stock and pour into the saucepan and mix in well. Turn up the heat until the sauce begins to simmer and leave to simmer for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Finally sprinkle in the garam masala, almond paste, cashew nut paste and stir in well for the final 2 minutes of cooking. Garnish with the 1 small onion, 2 deseeded tomatoes, chopped into a very fine dice and serve.

Vine leaves
1½ cups onion, finely diced
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup short-grain white rice
3 tbsp pine nuts
2 cups water
3 tbs cinnamon powder
3 tbsp flat-leafed parsley, finely chopped
2 tsp fresh mint, finely chopped
2 tsp dill, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Juice of 1 lemon

If using fresh vine leaves, blanch for at least 3 minutes to soften, then refresh under cold water.

If using preserved ones, rinse under cold water to remove the brine, and drain.

In a pot, add 1/4 cup of olive oil and fry the onion until translucent.

Add the rice and pine nuts and continue to fry for a couple of minutes. Stir in a cup of water, herbs, cinamon and a generous amount of salt and pepper.

Cover and simmer on a low heat for 15 minutes until the water has been absorbed.

Set aside.

Place the vine leaves smooth side down on a clean surface and heap a teaspoon of filling into the centre, then fold the stem end and sides over the filling and roll into a cigar shape.

Line a heavy-based pan with some unfilled vine leaves, then tightly pack and layer the rolls, seam side down. Douse with the remaining olive oil, water and lemon juice and invert a plate over the pan to keep them packed firmly.

Cover the pot tightly and simmer on a low heat for one hour. Remove from heat, allow to cool and leave for up to two hours to absorb the juices.

To serve

Carefully lift out dolmades and refrigerate before serving. Serve with chilled yoghurt.

Arabic rice
2 cups of Basmati rice
1 cup vermicelli (broken into 1-inch pieces)
3 1/2 cups hot chicken broth or 3 1/2 cups hot water
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp cinnamon powder
200g lamb mince meat

Saute vermicelli (thins noodles broken into 1" pieces) in oil on low heat, stirring constantly until brown.

Add rice, salt, meat, cinnamon mix, add hot chicken broth or hot water, stir once, and bring to boil.

Cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until rice is tender and broth is absorbed.

Ready to serve. Excellent with any stew recipe or any main dish.

Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed
Recipes and food prepared by Mainul Islam, Executive Sous Chef, Radisson Blu Water Garden Hotel, Dhaka.


An ode to the ever young

By Maheen Khan Fashion Designer, Mayasir

Islamic art defines artistic enumerations of a certain characteristic style created by Muslim artists and supported by Muslim patrons. The art and architecture attained new heights and fostered the development of a distinctive culture with its own unique language that reflected a new grammar.

It was considered modern and mirrored the lifestyle and culture of the Muslim world. The lands and territories conquered by the Muslims on most occasions had in practice an existing artistic tradition for example Byzantine or Persian styles of the pre-Muslim era.

When the Muslims arrived they initially relied on the earlier techniques in classical decorative themes of the earlier periods. It is evident that during the first Umayyad patronage such as the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem the design is an amalgamation of Greco-Roman, Byzantine and Persian elements. The transformation in Islamic art was a gradual intervention that emerged throughout the dynasties.

The Umayyad Caliphate (661-750 A.D.) is considered to be the formative period in Islamic art. The art evolved divided into and interceded by the various periods beginning with the Umayyad and Abbasid dynasties that ruled vast and unified Islamic nations and concluded with the more regional powerful empires such as the Safavids, Ottomans and the Mughals.

The geographical landscapes and long history subjected inevitably a wide range of regional and even national styles within many periods of development. The most remarkable fact even under such conditions is possibly the fact that Islamic art always retained its inherent quality and integral identity.

It is important to note that just as the religion of Islam embodies a lifestyle and serves as a unifying force among ethnically and culturally different people, the art produced by and for the Muslim society has basic identifying unifying forms of elements. The primary and principal theme of surface designs in four basic components is calligraphy, vegetal patterns, geometric patterns and figural representation.

The Muslim rulers in public were exemplary propagators of the Islamic faith and personification of religious piety and fervour. As a consequence there is, from both a religious and a cultural perspective, a strong impact of the religion of Islam upon the Islamic artistic accomplishments.

Firstly, it is imperative to mention there is virtual absence of large-scale public painting and culture through much of Islamic cultural history. A second and far more important impact of Islamic religious thought in the artistic realm is the theological primacy of calligraphy among all the arts. This fact reflects the special place that beautiful writing occupies in the Islamic theological work as the tangible artistic embodiment of the words of the Qur'an -- God's spoken revelation to mankind. Its result in Islamic society was to add tremendous prestige to the practice of the art of writing which in time acquired certain symbolic meanings and practical usage.

Apart from the dominance of calligraphy there is an exceptional equality of genre in Islamic art. There are no “minor arts” or “decorative arts” outside the lofty sphere of “fine arts” such as painting, sculpture and architecture as associated in Western understanding. This distinction opens up vast new horizons of artistic accomplishments to our eyes.

The dignity of status that practice any artistic form, from the potter and the coppersmith to the calligrapher and the miniature painter conveys in Islam a sense of equality that was further enhanced by a particular religious movement unique to the Muslim world.

It is said that artists sought to honour God and to follow His will to produce beautiful and useful products. Therefore in a Muslim world it is fair to say, that artistic genius knows no boundaries of genre. As a consequence, when we traverse the history of Islamic art, the work and innovations of the calligrapher, the sword smith, the ivory carver, the potter or the court designer are fundamental to an evolution of the style.

In this respect the moral values of painting and sculpture is questioned and we are left to evaluate a wider and more inclusive definition of what art is and a more comprehensive understanding of what art can be.

In Islamic art there is the predominance of calligraphy and the beauty of the many versions of the Arabic alphabet. The impact of art can be seen in two often-overlapping areas, those of function and symbolism. In the former realm Islam encourages the art of writing. These include the beautiful implements for writing, such as lovely gold inlaid knives, carved ivory reed holders for sharpening of reed pens, elaborate crafted ink-making tools, sharp steel scissors, desks and containers meticulously crafted to hold the calligrapher's art. It also led to the flourishing genre associated with the making of books.

Papermaking, gilding, illuminating, miniature painting, drawing, and the multifarious crafts of the bookbinder, including leather embossing, paper marbling, paper mache and resin varnish that constitutes the Islamic variation of lacquer painting.

The particular artistic demand form the aesthetics of the architecture lies with the practices and customs of the Islamic faith. The carpets for the prayer halls are for the comfort of the worshippers. For the lighting of the pre-dawn and post-sunset prayers the artistic response may be beautiful lamps to illuminate the interiors. To define the purpose of the building artists may create beautiful inscriptions displaying texts appropriate for the entrance, the mihrab or niche denoting the direction faced during prayer.

It is also customary to calligraph the names of God, his Prophet and the rightly guided Islamic community leaders. Beautiful pulpits, carved from stone or wood and often inlaid with semi precious stones, ivory or mother of pearl serve as platforms from which the sermon is given after the noon-day prayer on Fridays or from which he Holy Qur'an can be read out aloud.

The central metaphor of the Qur'an that has given birth to the richest artistic legacy however is that of Paradise, the reward promised by God to true believers in the world to come.

Islam focuses on the rewards of an eternal heavenly life to be attained through a pious earthly life. Not surprisingly for a religion that originated in the arid Arabian wilderness, the Islamic Paradise described again and again in the pages of the Qur'an is a place of flowing streams, flowering trees, green meadows, silk cushions and carpets together with angel like chaste companions Therefore it is not startling that any artistic depiction of an idyllic landscape or of flowers or any silken cushions, whether intended for religious or secular purpose, inevitably assumes the religious symbolism of Paradise.

This in fact is a crucial part of the symbolic environment of Islamic art and one of the most powerful influences of its genesis and evolution. In this art form finally it is reasonable to say the colours of nature and the environment combine to reflect the vividness of paradise. Here it is the everyday world of art and life thus it is full of metaphors and eternity. The earthly and heavenly gardens intermingle in meaning, just as they do in questions about the motivation of these beautiful works of art.

All these factors played a powerful role in the development of the ceramic art. The intense colours of the ceramics convey the vision of a flower-filled Paradise better than any other medium. Fine ceramics, especially ceramics that reflect the major developments in the arts were an important part of the Islamic traditions for centuries. Ceramic architectural decoration began to become important in the Islamic world as early as the 12th century and was an important medium for surface ornamentation. The use of ceramics has continued and flourished as an iconic symbol for the achievements of Islamic artistry through the domains of Islam and its culture.


Mayasir's master pieces

Maheen Khan presents semi-precious gemstones that sparkle and rock. The designs are both contemporary and traditional in pearl and other gemstones. Striking and spectacular, the range of jewellery is engaging and a glamorous fit for a majestic look. The styles vary in shapes and sizes patterned with beautiful ornamentation. The collection is an original design and inspired by rooted age-old Bangladeshi folk traditions.


Hand crafted jewelled evening purses paired with matching footwear is another offer. The festive collection has a powerful statement and aesthetically put together by Maheen Khan. The colours in gold, bronze and muted ivories work well for most ensembles. Embellished with stone and beaded embroidery the brocade silk accessories are simply divine.

The Festive Collection is a wide range of designs that clearly reflects Khan's unique original style. She continues to recognise and masterfully execute home-grown crafts and textiles. This season, she harnesses traditional techniques to create modern silhouettes. A pioneer in the fashion industry she was one of the first to identify the true potential of Bangladeshi strength in inventive motifs and our own rich heritage.

She has delivered many collections over the past twenty year but she truly believes this is probably one of her finest.


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