06 May 2022

5 Halal restaurants in Manchester to visit this summer

Friday, May 06, 2022 0 Comments

This post has been written in collaboration with SquareMeal, which helps you find and book a table at your favourite restaurants.

With another Ramadan behind us, it's good to be back to a more normal eating routine. Don't get me wrong, of course, the spiritual benefits of Ramadan are huge, but it's physically taxing. For some reason this year felt tougher than usual, even though the fasting times weren't that bad (particularly in the beginning), and the kids were off school for their Easter break for the majority of it as they got a whopping 19 days off.

Anyway, we're now looking forward to family meals at regular times, meeting up for BBQs, and of course, eating out! Ramadan tends to be a really busy period for visiting halal places because everyone who wants to eat out does it at the same, specific time in the evening, but now we can plan the outings during the day again, so it should be easier to plan something.

After having kids off school for so long, we're also looking forward to having some adult-only outings! My husband and I are already planning some child-free lunches for when we're both free and the kids are at school, so I complied a list of 5 halal places in Manchester that I think would be worth visiting.

1. Tampopo

With four locations across Manchester (Albert Square, Corn Exchange, and two in the Trafford Centre), Tampopo serves the flavours of East Asia. You can choose from a selection of exciting street food, or signature dishes from Japan, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore. While they're not fully halal, their website offers a separate halal menu where the dishes are either vegetarian or cooked with certified halal chicken. However, some of the dishes are cooked in the oven that is also used for pork, and some contain mirin (Japanese rice wine) - these are clearly marked for you to make an informed decision. There are still plenty of dishes on the menu that are fully halal though, like my favourite Pad Thai.

2. Zouk Tea Bar & Grill

As they describe themselves, "Zouk is a true melting pot of the very best in modern and traditional cookery". Founded by two brothers who wanted to share their love of authentic recipes with a modern twist, this contemporary restaurant truly has something for everyone. It combines the best of Lahore's fun street food with all the traditional dishes of Indian sub-continent. Whether it's a karahi, biryani, or even lobster Thermidor that you're after, this is the place to go. They even do the Sunday Roast! All the meat is halal, but bear in mind that alcohol is served.

3. Jasmine

Based in the suburb of Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Jasmine is a casual Lebanese restaurant. With reasonably priced food and relaxed atmosphere, it seems to be a firm favourite among the locals. They offer a selection on small sharing plates, as well as larger mains. You'll find anything that you'd expect from a Middle Eastern restaurant: from hummus and baba ghanoush, to koftas, moussaka or lamb chops. They also have fresh bread on the menu, which is honestly always my favourite part of eating in a Middle Eastern place! They are also one of the restaurants that accept SquareMeal gift vouchers, so if you try them and like it enough to share the love with family or friends, Jasmine is one of the places that will let you buy a meal for them.

4. Dishoom

Paying homage to old Irani cafes of Bombay, Dishoom is another Indian restaurant that needs visiting. The all-day menu includes all the favourites, like their charred lamb chops, intensely flavoured daal or the family recipe of chicken tikka. You can also pop in for an afternoon cup of chai, and they serve their signature tipples to those who do drink alcohol. They even have a special dish just for Manchester, their exclusive Nalli nihari biryani - tender lamb shank layered with rice, under a pastry blanket. Sounds like a biryani lover's dream!

5. Evelyn's Cafe Bar

This one has been on my list for a long time, just never really got round to it! Evelyn's Cafe Bar in the Northern Quarter seems to be THE halal brunch place in Manchester, serving a variety of options: from bircher muesli, to shakshuka, and even steak and egg. It definitely sounds like a perfect place to have a lazy start to the day. Or, if you're an earlier breakfast person, they offer lunch dishes like fish & chips or a cheeseburger, and then the dinner menu from 5pm. 

So, these are my top five restaurants that I've had my eye on for a while, and hoping to finally try this summer! They all seem quite popular and have loads of good reviews, but as always I would love to hear anyone's opinion about them, or recommendations for other halal places around Manchester that you think are a must!

25 January 2022

Islamophobia in Britain - a middle class prejudice?

Tuesday, January 25, 2022 0 Comments

Disclaimer: The following text does not necessarily reflect my own opinion. It is published for informative purposes only, as received via the University of Birmingham. Relevant sources are linked in the text.

A recent survey, led by the University of Birmingham, in conjunction with YouGov, shows that people from the middle and upper class (social group ABC1) are more likely to have prejudices about Islam and Muslims than those from working class backgrounds (social group C2DE). 

The survey was presented in a report titled 'The Dinner Table Prejudice: Islamophobia in Contemporary Britain', a research study conducted by Dr Stephen H. Jones and Amy Unsworth, published by the University of Birmingham - full report available HERE

There were six main findings in the survey:

  1. Of people identified as the ABC1 social group, 23.2% have prejudiced views about Islam, compared to 18.4% of those from the C2DE group. However, asked about views about Muslims and other religious and ethnic minorities, it emerged that generally it's older people, men, working class people, and Conservative and Leave voters, who are consistently more likely to be prejudiced.
  2. Muslims are the UK's second 'least liked' group, after Gypsy and Irish Travellers. Over a quarter of the British public (25.9%) feel negative about Muslims, with 9.9% saying 'very negative'. That's significantly more than 8.5% for Jewish people and 6.4% for black people.
  3. More than one in four people, and almost half of Conservative and Leave voters, believe in so-called Sharia 'no-go areas'. 26.5% of the British public think that there are places in Britain where non-Muslims are not able to enter, as they are ruled by Sharia law. This belief was expressed by 43.4% of Conservative and Leave voters. In addition, over a third of British people, agree that 'Islam threatens the British way of life'.
  4. Support for prohibiting all Muslim migration to the UK is 4-6% higher than for other religious and ethnic groups - 18.1% of people said they support a ban on all Muslim migration, with 9.5% declaring a  'strong support'.
  5. The British public is almost three times more likely to have a prejudiced view of Islam than other religions. 21.1% of the British public believe (wrongly), that the followers of Islam are taught to read the Quran 'totally literally', compared to 7.5% for Judaism and the Hebrew Bible.
  6. British people are more confident making assumptions about Islam than other non-Christian religions, but these assumptions are much more likely to be incorrect. The respondents of the survey acknowledged that they have a certain level of ignorance about non-Christian religions, with 62.7% stating they are 'not sure' how Sikh scriptures are taught, and 50.8% admitting the same about Judaism. However, in the case of Islam, people seem more confident that they have a good knowledge of it, with only 40.7% being unsure. That's despite the above point, that 21.1% of people wrongly assume that the Quran is to be taken 'totally literally'.

Dr Stephen Jones from the University of Birmingham, lead author of the survey, says:

“Prejudice towards Islam and Muslims stands out in the UK, not only because it is much more widespread than most forms of racism, but also because prejudice toward Islam is more common among those who are wealthier and well-educated.”

He recommends that there should be more acknowledgment from the Government and public figures of how Islamophobia stands out compared to other forms of prejudice. Furthermore, the civil society organisations and bodies concerned with discrimination and prejudice should acknowledge the systemic misinformation about Islam being common in British society. Educators should provide guidelines clarifying when acceptable criticism can become harmful, and religious literacy should be made part of any large-scale equality and diversity campaigns. Dr Jones says, however, that he doesn't call for any law regulating the criticism of religion, rather calls for recognition of the fact that "the British public has been systematically miseducated about Islamic tradition" and steps should be taken to remedy this.

02 January 2022

02/01, World Introvert Day - what makes an introvert

Sunday, January 02, 2022 0 Comments

 Happy World Introvert Day!

A hand holding a cup. Text on the cup says busy introverting. 

It might seem weird that someone blogging and active on social media, hence exposing at least parts of their life on life, can be described as an introvert - you'd probably assume that an introvert is simply that antisocial person, who stays in their own bubble and doesn't share anything with anyone.

While partially true, the term "introvert" along with its opposite of "extrovert" has been devised by psychologist Carl Jung in the 1920s, and refers more to the way we use our energy. While extroverts get their energy from social contacts, introverts would recharge through time alone with their minds.

If you're not really familiar with either term and might only just be looking to define yourself, here are some general behaviour patterns common for introverts:
  • Needing quiet space to concentrate
  • Taking time making decisions
  • Often escaping into their imagination, daydreaming
  • Feeling tired and overwhelmed by large social gatherings
  • Not having a large social circle, but staying very close to those you do befriend
  • Feeling comfortable being alone for longer periods 
  • Preference to write rather than talk
  • Preference to work alone rather than with a group

That feeling of dread when you have to make or take the phone call - sounds familiar? I'm terrible for it! I'm fine talking to my husband, parents, and maybe a couple of friends. And I can do school office and GP appointments. Otherwise please text me or send an email, thanks. If I can sort something out online rather than on the phone, trust me to do it! And if not, I have to psych myself up before making that phone call and will postpone it as long as possible. Took me a week to make a hospital appointment for a dental referral last time, although that had the fear of dentist added to it to be fair.

Introverts tend to be a part of a wider spectrum, and often can have some extroverted traits. Like I hate meeting new people and will not go out seeking friendship myself, but once I'm familiar with someone I sometimes feel like a bit of an extrovert comes out, I open up and might talk a lot. And I like busy places, will take a big loud city over the quiet countryside any time!

In 2011, a study found there are four basic types of introverts: social, thinking, anxious, and inhibited. There are also varieties according to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, which outlines characteristics of 16 personality types -  you can find various online tests based on their theory, that can help you find out more about your own type. According to the one I did and found crazily accurate, I'm an INFT-P personality, the "Turbulent Mediator" - quiet, often lost in imagination, looking for a fulfilling career that I'd genuinely love, sometimes lonely and isolated as struggling to reach out to people. Read HERE and you'll get a pretty good insight into me I'd say.

One misconception that most people have is that all introverts are shy. In most cases they just prefer peace and quiet, small groups over crowds, and simply enjoy the alone time to recharge. There are, however, the "anxious introverts" mentioned above, who feel awkward and shy around people - I suppose that would be me then. I'm fine with basic interactions, like shops, cafes, etc, and with people I'm already familiar with, but try to introduce me to a new crowd and I'll be freaking out. Invite me to a party, I'll just hang out with people I already know. 

Also, although it might sound strange, it can get lonely. While as a Mediator type I value the friendships I do have, and like for them to be long-lasting and meaningful with a handful of people rather than having a large social circle to hang out with, I also tend to withdraw and often find it hard to reach out to people, especially after a longer break in contact. 

To conclude - introversion is a really broad subject. There are different types of introverted personalities, with varying needs and traits. It doesn't always equal shyness, although it can, and while we like being alone we still can be upset by the loneliness. 

That's just briefly touching on the main idea - for more visit, for example, https://www.healthline.com/health/what-is-an-introvert, where you can also find links to some studies about different types of introverts, or learn more about the difference between introversion, shyness and social anxiety. To find your own personality type, check out https://www.16personalities.com/ for super accurate (at least for me) analysis.

01 January 2022


Saturday, January 01, 2022 0 Comments

Hello, and welcome or welcome back! 

It's been a funny couple of years... I have actually taken a step back from here for the whole of 2021. In 2020 I did try to get this blog back on track, did a few things that were in line with what I originally wanted it to be, but it sort of flopped. Not gonna lie, that was massively discouraging and made me think whether there was any point in me trying to run it anymore. I wasn't really feeling it in the past year, I accepted the fact that my life just isn't particularly exciting and maybe there's just not enough in it to blog about.

But you know what? I thought I'd give it another go. I've done a little bit of work on the website's look, went through the old content deleting irrelevant posts, put a few back into drafts for some little updates, and have a notebook filled with new ideas - it's now just a matter of me actually converting them into digital content!

In the meantime, especially if you happen to be new here, do check out my refreshed "About Me" page as your starting point, and I'd love it if you would check out my social media (all buttons on the right) and maybe follow me there :)