Today marks the 13th anniversary of dad’s disappearance. However, in this post, I wanted to celebrate my father’s life and honor his legacy by telling the world a little bit about who he was.
His name was Suhail Jany Alnashi, and he was born on November 12, 1944, in the Province of Maysan in southern Iraq. In the late 40s, dad and his family relocated to Baghdad, where they lived in the western shore of the Tigris river, also known as Al-Karkh.
Dad grew up in a big household. He was one of eight children, and he was the second youngest in the family. Dad was in the first cohort of students to attend the University of Technology in Baghdad, where he studied electrical engineering. Right after graduation, he got his first job as an electrical engineer at General Company for Mechanical Industries in 1973, in Al-Eskandaria city.
My dad stayed at that company for the rest of his life. To put it simply, dad loved his job. He was promoted several times, and for a while he was the Director of the Electrical Division at his company. In early 2000s he was awarded the title of an “Expert in Electrical Engineering” which to be honest I’m a little bit jealous of.
My dad was recognized nationally and abroad for leading several projects to design several agricultural tools and machinery. He led many delegations to train engineers in England, Switzerland, Germany, and India. So yeah, he was a pretty big deal.
Work aside, dad was a very sociable Habibi. I always remember him being surrounded by friends and relatives. His smile was infectious, had the best dad jokes, and absolutely loved helping others. He was motivated by the act to helping people live a better life. This reminds me of a quote by Will Smith in which he says “If you’re not making someone else’s life better, then you’re wasting your time. Your life will become better by making other lives better.” Dad fully believed in that and made it his mission in life to make a difference in the lives of those around him.
His number one priority, however, was us: his family. The love that he showed us was unparalleled. Well, maybe he loved my sister a little more and maybe my brothers and I were a little salty about it. Above everything, he loved my mother. Their relationship was something I will forever look up to. The level of support for one another, and passion to nurture their household, is something I truly have never seen in my life.
Dad was a pretty handsome fellow, elegant, smart, always well-dressed, calm, funny, kind, loyal, and trust-worthy. He loved listening to classical music and Um-Kulthum, a legendary Egyptian singer. He was also a great cook, and loved to eat. I guess I got that from him.
So to sum it up, my dad dedicated his life to his family, his community, and his country. Your memory is a blessing to so many around the world. We love you, dad and we miss you.
I was rewatching The Avengers for the 5th time the other night and I realized that probably my favorite scene of the entire movie is the post-credit clip of all the heroes eating shawarma. Think about it: THE AVENGERS are habibis!
But you know, not all heroes wear capes. Some wear aprons. Yes, I convinced myself I was a hero by not only wearing an apron, but also making chicken shawarma. Take that Iron Man!
Best part about this meal is that it is super easy and quick to make. Yalla habibis:
1 -2 lbs chicken tenders
Naan bread. Pita is okay, but naan is better for this
1/2 red onion
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp paprika
6 freshly grated garlic cloves
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Mix all spices in a bowl. Add your olive oil and squeeze half of the lemon in. Then add the chicken in and make sure it is coated evenly. Set aside.
Thinly slice your cucumber, tomato, and onion. Set that aside.
Now heat up some vegetable oil in a frying pan. Let the oil come up to temperature. You will know it’s ready when you see a little bit of smoke.
Add the chicken in and let it sear. Avoid flipping the chicken often. You want to get a nice sear on each side. It usually takes 5-7 minutes per side. Once one side is nice and brown, flip the chicken. Chicken tenders are thin and cook quickly, so keep an eye on them.
Once chicken is done cooking, remove from the pan and transfer to a cutting board. Slice the chicken evenly.
Grab your naan bread. Spread a teaspoon of mayo and a spoonful of hummus. You can adjust these portions as you like.
Add some chicken, then toss in some cucumbers, a few slices of tomatoes, and some onions.
Final touch: drizzle some tahini and squeeze a few drops of lemon juice.
And by now you should have a shawarma sandwich that is to die for.
Shako mako habibis! Really excited to share this new recipe with ya’ll. Also, sorry for being MIA all this time but I’m back, so stop complaining.
Lately, I have been really into braising food. It has become one of my favorite techniques to learn and develop new flavors and dishes. It all started when I made my first coq au vin dinner back in February of this year, which I probably need to write the recipe for. Let me know if that’s something you’re interested in.
Braising simply means you fry something in a pan first, then you add some liquid and let it cook slowly under low heat. It does two things: One it builds incredible flavors, and two everything comes out fork-tender.
A lot of friends have asked me to share the recipe for above braised chicken that I made a few weeks ago. It actually was one of the best chicken dishes I have ever prepared. So I hope you can give it a try! You won’t regret it…unless you don’t eat chicken. Then you’ll be really missing out.
I can’t believe I’m saying this again, but if you don’t have a cast iron pan, GO GET ONE. No need to spend hundreds of dollars, just get whatever you can afford. But cast iron pans are ideal for this dish.
Chicken drumsticks or thighs (as many as you can fit in your pan)
1-2 cups of cubed butternut squash
1-2 cups of mushrooms
1 sliced medium onion
1 cup of red wine
2 cups of chicken broth
1 tsp of all spice
1 tsp of cayenne pepper
1 tsp of smoked paprika
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 tsp of garlic powder
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
Pre-heat oven to 375 F.
Heat your cast iron pan on medium-high, add some vegetable oil and let it come up to temp. Then add the chicken and let it fry until the skin is nice and brown. Remember, if you see things stuck to the bottom of the pan, that’s great. Don’t panic. You want that!
Take chicken out of the pan and let it rest on a plate. Now saute the onions until golden brown. Then add the squash and mushrooms. Cook for about 5 minutes.
Add the red wine and chicken broth and make sure you scrape off all the things that got stuck at the bottom. This will create an incredible sauce.
Add the chicken back in. The liquid needs to cover 3/4 of the chicken. So if you need to add in more broth/wine, feel free to do so. Let everything cooks for 10 minutes until the liquid reduces by about half an inch.
At this point transfer the pan into your oven. Pour you some wine, and go play Mortal Kombat 11 while you wait for 45 minutes.
After a few glasses of wine, and getting irritated by some troll on Mortal Kombat online, your timer goes off! Take the pan out and let it rest a little bit. And that’s it!
Serve this over rice, couscous, pasta, or with salad on the side. You can even just eat it without anything else.
If you liked this recipe, please share it using #habibisknowbest. And if you haven’t already, make sure you follow me on Instagram @wethehabibis.