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Breaking the fast in a Blackburn burger joint as the streets come to life during Ramadan’s ‘Nights of Power’

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We’re into the last 10 days of Ramadan, and the sun is going down on Blackburn.

Moments ago, Randal Street was near-deserted. Now there’s a buzz about the road – a stone’s throw from the A666 as it makes its way around the north of the town.

The area, home to a large Muslim community, is slowly filling up with cars, families and shoppers, each on their way following a day of fasting. While a lot of premises have closed completely for the holy month, some open their doors when the sun goes down – allowing locals and visitors to meet and break their fasts together.

One such takeaway on Randall Street is B’s Burgers and Shakes. Owner Abusina Qurishe, or Tarik as people call him, hasn’t opened yet – but welcomed LancsLive inside with open arms. His fast food burger restaurant sits on the corner of Randal Street, and tonight, all his tables are booked up.

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The immediate impression is that this isn’t like your usual fast food or burger restaurant. No neon sign or gaudy bright lights in sight, it was more tasteful and well-thought out.

B’s Burgers and Shakes. Owner Abusina Qurishe

In the corner, an armchair and bookshelf give the impression of a ‘gentleman’s club’. On the other side, a large map of the world covers the wall, foreshadowing Tarik’s intention that B’s Burgers and Shakes is all-inclusive, a place where everybody from all walks of life can visit and nobody is unwelcome.

Placing ourselves at one of the new tables, we sat with Tarik to discuss what life is like during the Holy month and how exactly this place came to be. Turns out it only opened its doors five months ago.

“This is our fifth month now, a lot of stuff got held back from when we wanted to open,” Tarik explained. “Brexit happened and when the lorry drivers stopped coming in, we got tables about four months after we placed the order.

“The chairs took ages to come, the wallpaper took ages and some of it is still missing. We’ve just not got round to completing it all. However, we do have some great customers and we try and make it for everyone.

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B’s Burgers and Shakes has only been open five months – and is already trying to give something back

“There’s a lot of Asian people around here, but when you travel a bit further, there’s Polish people, English people, all sorts of nationalities and we’ve tried to make it inclusive here. It’s been really good, the response that we’ve had so far.”

While closed for Ramadan, Tarik has opened his doors for families to visit and eat together. The Holy month is observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting, community, prayers and helping other people. Although the date changes every year, this year it is taking place from April 2 to May 1 in the UK. Muslims will not eat or drink during the hours of daylight, otherwise known as fasting.

Typically, areas like this come alive when the sun sets and families come together to enjoy feasts. We visited B’s Burgers and Shakes during the last 10 nights of Ramadan. Some Muslims describe these as the most important nights. Tarik, for example, has vowed to donate a percentage of his business profits to charitable causes all over the world.

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Typically, areas like this come alive when the sun sets and families come together

Tonight, a total of £400 raised was to help people in Gaza. Tarik said: “The last 10 days of Ramadan, in our culture, are the best 10 days of the year – we call it the Nights of Power. On one of the nights, it is when the Qur’an was revealed but we are not sure when.

“For the 10 nights, we will pick 10 different places in the world to donate, where there’s food shortages, health problems, medicine problems, orphans – wherever they are in need of our help. We’ll just look where there is a crisis, like right now there’s the crisis going on in Ukraine. So, we’ll look at what is going on and send over a percentage out there.”

“We thought you know what, we’re going to make money, we’re going to lose money, that’s life, but when you give to people that need it, it makes you feel good and makes them feel good. And it makes God feel good and God looks after you.”

Originally from Manchester, Tarik moved to Blackburn with his wife for a quieter life, and a place where his three children can grow up. His parents moved to the UK from Bangladesh when his mother was 15 and his father moved over when Tarik was seven years old.

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The delicious Ifthar platter

Tarik continues: “I moved to Blackburn because I wanted a change in environment and mainly for religious purposes. I have a very spiritual side to me and there was a bit of a void in Manchester and I wanted my kids to experience the spiritual side of stuff.

“Where I grew up, it was very gang-related, a lot of violence and drugs and I just didn’t want my kids around that. Here it is a lot quieter and the streets are a lot safer. The community is also a lot tighter and everyone all knows each other a lot more. Whereas, city life is a bit different and everyone is doing their own thing.”

Tarik opened up B’s Burgers and Shakes after living in Blackburn for around three years, when he decided to quit commuting back and forth to his job in Manchester. He was a chef cooking burgers and learning the trade that he would eventually end up using for his own business, telling LancsLive burgers are what he’s good at making.

“We just thought after two years of driving up and down from Manchester that we should just give it a go and see what happens,” Tarik explained. “There is nothing like this, food wise, around here. “You’ll see food places like ours when you go to the city, but around here there’s nothing. We thought we would open here to be a part of the busy area and see what it’s like.”

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“It’s typical to break your fast with family and have a meal together”

The ingredients used at B’s Burgers and Shakes are sourced locally, with the beef from a local butcher who Tarik calls to see when a fresh order is arriving. He will then physically go there to see which beef he wants to buy for his stock. He also explains that he doesn’t leave any of his ingredients overnight and prefers to close the shop when stock runs out.

He says he ends up buying beef three or four times a week. However, he does also lament on the fact that since opening, sunflower oil has almost doubled in price. On tonight’s menu, LancsLive opts for the aptly-named ‘Ifthar platter’. Ifthar is the name of the meal Muslims dine on directly after sunset, which for us, was around 20 minutes past eight.

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Tarik opened up B’s Burgers and Shakes after living in Blackburn for around three years

The contrast between when we first arrived and to when the sun set was stark. The streets were empty, shops were shut and people had gone back to their homes to spend time with their families, break the fast and visit the local mosque to pray. However, B’s Burgers and Shakes began to come alive and our fellow diners for the evening arrived. A family and a group of friends joined us to break the fast, bringing more life to the takeaway.

Juaaid joined us to dine at B’s, he said: “I live in Accrington and Tarik invited us down here today because we come here quite a bit anyway, probably every other week. It’s a new thing that Tarik is doing where he invites people down to break the fast. Around here, it’s generally quite quiet during this month because everyone breaks the fast with their families. I’ve never seen this sort of concept done before, like B’s, especially during fasting by having a private place that you can rent out and have it with your family. It’s completely different to lots of other takeaways around here.”

Before the food was served, we were given a dish of four dates and Zamzam water which had a distinctive taste, washed down with water unlike any we’ve ever had before.

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Turns out it is blessed holy water, taken from the Zamzam well which is situated within Masjid-al-Haram in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Tarik tells us about the scientific properties and benefits of the water, as well as how Muslims believe it to be ‘miracle’ water that has in fact, never dried up.

A family sitting opposite us, comprising of a married couple, and their children also sit down to enjoy their evening meal. Sadek, the father of the group said: “We are regular customers here, it’s proper food and if you’re hungry, you know where to come. It’s typical to break your fast with family and have a meal together and this kind of food is a bit different but it’s really good.”

Sadek’s daughter, Ammara, a travel agent with her own business on Instagram, @a.m.endeavours also said: “Around here during Ramadan there’s a lot of unity, everyone’s happy and it really feels like the community really comes together. I found B’s on Instagram and thought we should try it because the reviews are really good. Ever since we tried it we’ve been coming every other day, it’s really nice.”

Our Ifthar platter, consisting of the restaurant’s signature beef ‘Smash burger’ the infamous chicken ‘hot bird’, loaded fries which were followed by waffles and a chocolate cake. The food is simply delicious, lovingly made, with portion sizes perfected. The beef was juicy, well-seasoned with a healthy dollop of burger sauce, lettuce, tomato all encased in a perfectly-matched bun. The loaded fries were crispy, with nacho cheese, chicken, onions and peppers.

The dessert, waffles and a slice of cake looked a lot more decadent that it actually was. In fact, it was light and well-portioned, exactly what you need to end a meal like that and a day of fasting.

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