Friday, July 20, 2007

What jihad for dinner?

The above is not a typing error but is meant to be said in a Geordie accent. Normally I do some serious surfing and read websites like the excellent Jihad Watch written by Robert Spencer but the question posed by my post today offers some light relief.

I was reading the Daily Telegraph today and if it was the 1st April you may have dismissed the story as a hoax. I take an interest in global conflicts and jihad but I also have a strong interest in food. This story links these two interests...

An illiterate Afghan fruit seller has offered a rare insight into the world of Osama bin Laden.

Today, Akhtar, who is 65 and uses only one name, enjoys a quiet retirement tending his orchard near Kabul. But he claims that for five years he was the personal valet and cook for bin Laden.

Akhtar was not a formally trained cook, but the job required little skill beyond the ability to prepare bin Laden's favourite dish of mutton korma, for both lunch and supper. Breakfast would typically involve scrambled eggs.

"If he was here today, then of course I would prepare him a mutton korma," said Akhtar, sitting under one of the apple trees in his Kabul orchard. "It was his absolute favourite, with a pilau full of almonds, orange peel and raisins."

Akhtar claimed that his Saudi employer, who often grumbled about his health and was a picky eater, rarely let anyone else prepare his food, mainly due to worries about being poisoned.

Life in bin Laden's cave close to the Pakistan border was predictably austere, dominated by prayer and talk of jihad. Bin Laden slept little, rising at midnight to fit in an extra set of prayers on top of Islam's standard five cycles.

Akhtar claimed he shared a room with bin Laden and Abu Maz, his Palestinian assistant. There was only one bed and bin Laden gave this to Akhtar because he was the oldest.

Every afternoon bin Laden delivered lengthy lectures to his followers offering Koranic justification for holy war. But he had a lighter side to him.

"He was always making so many jokes," claimed Akhtar. "He was always happy before he went home to Saudi Arabia and would say 'Uncle, I have four wives waiting for me. It's time for some fun'.

"We Afghans do not talk about our wives in this way."

... thanks to Tom Coghlan in Kabul for bringing us this story.

I do enjoy a curry and a lot of Middle Eastern food. The story made me smile and I will never look at a Lamb Korma the same again. I also like the little snide about Afghan women.
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