Chawan Tea House: Experience a piece of Japan in the heart of the desert

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“Teaism is a cult founded on the adoration of the beautiful among the sordid facts of everyday existence. It inculcates purity and harmony, the mystery of mutual charity, the romanticism of the social order. It is essentially a worship of the Imperfect, as it is a tender attempt to accomplish something possible in this impossible thing we know as life.”
Okakura Kakuzō, The Book of Tea

Avid tea drinkers know what I am talking about here. So do coffee drinkers. Drinking smalls cups of tea or coffee mugs of elixir make a bad day seem bearable and it allows you to take upon the world with more courage. Sometimes, it is hard to look upon tea and coffee as mere beverages. They take upon a larger meaning where they lend that support, balance and beauty that we truly deserve. Such was my experience at this exquisite Japanese tea house called Chawan at the Amwaj Lagoon. 

DSC_0015A concept based around «Hanami» a Japanese tradition of drinking tea under the cherry blossom tree, Chawan ( meaning Tea Bowl) surprises you with its tranquil and aptly designed interiors. The display cases were adorned with hand-made and hand-painted tea cups. Every inch of the restaurant seemed to have been thoughtfully done and embellished. 

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 The entire evening was spent listening to fascinating trivia about Japan’s esoteric culture and sipping on Cherry Blossom tea from Ms. Budoor, who is the owner cum chef cum everything of Chawan. Dressed in a flowery Kimono and looking like an absolute doll, she took me through her cultural experience of living in Japan. Having studied her masters and worked in Japan, Budoor found herself falling in love with the language, food and cultural nuances. She visited auctions and collected an enviable range of hand made tea cups, cushions and other genuine Japanese artifacts which she proudly displays in her Tea House.

image courtesy : Chawan

image courtesy : Chawan

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Ms. Budoor

Budoor makes all the snack -type food all by herself and you could have pleasure of watching her as she quickly shapes the ‘Onigiri’ – Japanese rice balls with her deft hands. Further into our conversation, I was quite surprised to find out that Budoor holds a job as an on-air graphics designer for Al Arab News channel. Running a restaurant with such finesse at such a young age with a day job – now that is really something!

My Japanese experience began with Budoor presenting the hot towel to clean my hands. Then she politely offered me the Tea House’s menu. I was a bit confused and asked her to help me out. She picked out a few very authentic Japanese snacks and asked me to try the Cherry Blossom Tea. 

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Every sip felt like a moment out of time.

Some sort of a balance was being restored.

Hot and fragrant, the tea nuzzled my throat and the cheer of the cherry blossom was doing its trick. As I was still enjoying the lingering taste of the tea from my last sip, Budoor presented the “sampler bento ” that included kani salad “crab salad with Japanese mayo and fish roe”. The crackers were dutifully served with Chawan’s signature Wasabi Hummous. There was two bites of Shrimp and crab dumpling “ebi and kani gyoza” too with a soy based sauce. The flavours were striking and tantalizing.

It felt like my taste buds were lighting up!

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Next item was Onigiri –  Japanese rice ball. A carb -fest with sticky rice moulded into a petal-shape, supported by a seaweed.  A quintessential Japanese snack served to school-going children in their bento- lunch boxes. 

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Onigiri picture courtesy – Chawan

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Dessert was a non-fussy and utterly delicious -Mochi ice cream and Matcha pudding “Japanese green tea”. 

After such a beautiful food experience, I wanted to know more about Budoor and Chawan. Budoor explained, she wanted to bring back the essence of Japan to Bahrain and share the quiet exquisiteness of the Japanese culture and heritage via her dainty tea house. She practices the famed Japanese tea ritual in Chawan and helps people like you and me experience the heart of Japan. She even allows you to borrow beautiful Kimonos to authenticate the experience.

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After my elaborate dine-in experience at Chawan, Budoor showed me gracefully to the door bowing humbly and saying – Arigato ( thank you). Well, I would say, Arigato, Budoor for this elevated experience. Find your own piece of Japan and head to Chawan and treat your senses. 

The outlet is open 6 days-a-week, except on Monday, from 5pm to 10pm on weekdays and 5pm to midnight on weekends.

For details, follow them on instagram @chawanbh

and check out this extensive menu here.

This post was a sponsored one but all the views expressed were mine.

All pictures are mine, except where stated by Chawan. 

{ Review} Pie matters : Pies & Bakes

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I remember very clearly, one of my very first bakes was an apple pie. It was quite nice, though the crust wasn’t exactly even. I couldn’t agree more with Jane Austen when she said, ” Good apple pies are a considerable part of domestic happiness”. The humble apple pie set the foundation for me in baking and gave me the confidence to carry on with my other baking trysts. 

Pies have such a rustic appeal to them that there is no way anyone can resist them. Fruit based pies are just as popular as the chocolate, custard and savory ones. When it comes to pie, I pretty much enjoy all kinds of pies. So when the opportunity came my way where I was sent some pies by the generous folks at Pies & Bakes to taste, I couldn’t be happier. 

Pies & Bakes is run by the baker extraordinaire, Mohammed. Completely self-taught and immensely talented, Mohammed started Pies & Bakes as a home baking business several years ago. He says, he began by treating his family and friends who enjoyed his creations so much that they encouraged him to share his creation with the rest of the world. 

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I was intrigued why was he is particularly interested in pies. To this, Mohammed had this to say, “With everyone baking cakes, pies set me apart from the crowd.”

Which were Mohammed’s favourite pies to bake and eat? 

“The more complicated the order the more I enjoy the task. As for eating. so far I have not tasted or made a pie savory or sweet that I have not enjoyed eating. But I tend to lean more to sour pies than sweet ones.”

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Personally, I enjoy all kinds of pies and apple pie is my absolute favourite. Mohammed and his team were kind enough to send me an apple and a cherry pie. Both these pies were more about the fruit and the crust was buttery, crumbly and just right. It takes years of experience to work a pastry like that and I have nothing but admiration for this self-taught baker.

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Check out Pies&Bakes delectable menu and the very special kind of pies they bake – sugar free, cholesterol-free, gluten-free and so on.  

The Apple pie was absolutely delicious and wasn’t overly sweet. While the Cherry pie was so much cherry that for a moment it felt like it was spring. To order, all you need to do is call and pies can either be picked up or home delivered.

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On being asked, whether he teaches pie baking professionally, Mohammed said, ”  So far the only students I have are my nieces and nephew. I spend time with them in the kitchen during weekends and I give them ingredients to create their own mixes.” Sounds like an interesting exercise many of us would like to be a part of.

To get in touch with them and to order their delectable pies and other bakes ( they special in healthy breads ) you can save their co-ordinates here

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If you are a fan of savoury pies, you can order for a custom pie ( off the menu) as well. 

Mohammed enjoys choosing one kind of pie from each country and reading its literature. He starts with trial and error adding his own touches and once  he is comfortable with the taste, it goes to the menu. So far he has several success stories in savory pies such as the chicken mushroom pie, cottage pie, Bastilla, Butter pie, Fisherman’s pie and so on. 

I know where to get my pie fix from each time I crave a seasonal pie. Thank you Mohammed, my family, friends and I loved your pies and we think they are top notch. 

The Rendezvous spread at Bahrain City Center

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Let us begin this review from the very end. This is how I ended up after my food review at Rendezvous in Bahrain City Center.

Rendezvous is a restaurant that serves continental, Arabic, and fusion cuisine and you’ll spot it very close where all the Cineco movie halls are. They have both the buffet and the ala carte to choose from. I have been to Rendezvous before for office lunches with colleagues and each time, I felt so spoiled for choice. Rendezvous food makes a bit nostalgic because they are perhaps one of the few fine-dine restaurants in Bahrain that serve – Indo-chinese  and Indo-Italian style food which I grew up eating in India. It is spicy, sweet and savory – all in one that is simply lip smacking good. 

I visited Rendezvous during Ramadan and the spread was generous as always. The spread was a fine balance between Arabic, Indian and continental. 

Warning: long photo essay ahead.

Starting with the desserts first because that is my favourite course. The desserts section was simply splendid. There was so many desserts that children are sure to enjoy like this jelly which was a pure delight. No restaurant serves jelly on its own these days and that makes Rendezvous very special. At times, savouring spoonfuls of cool jiggly jelly can be heavenly. 

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creme caramel slices

creme caramel slices

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That was the dessert section but not limited to what I have shown here.

Seen enough? Not yet.

Let graduate towards the main course now.

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Then this happened3640b2d99dde2f999e2d910cfb3e1fca

 

But let us persevere and plough on, in the true spirit of culinary adventure.

Next come the appetizing appetizers 

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That brings me to the close of the food review. After to so much food, it is natural to be in a food induced coma. I would recommend Rendezvous if the sight of different kinds of spreads entices you. I enjoy being spoiled for choice and hence I would keep visiting Rendezvous to experience more incidences of food coma. 

Per person charges : 5.5+ taxes

This is a sponsored post but the views expressed are entirely mine

 

Date Cake with Toffee Sauce – story of a simple man

It is said that people change over time and that impacts a relationship as time passes. But Amit, my husband, hehasn’t changed at all over the last 10 years that I have known him. He is the same guy who enjoys being at home, catching up with his favourite TV shows, reading history books and eating simple food. His choices, his habits and his behaviour reflect the simple thoughts and a way of life.DSC_1649

 

Each year for my husband’s birthday, I plan for a party not because he insists because I know he is too uncomplicated to want one. This gives me an excuse to plan for the party as well which is a process I enjoy a lot. This year, I thought of making homemade pizzas and some simple appetizers for a bunch of close friends. I asked him his choice of cake and he said wanted something very simple like a tea cake or a date cake. Thankfully, I found a wonderful recipe from a friend to fulfill this wish of his. 

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Sometimes I wonder, how is it possible to remain so simple at all times. Earlier I fought with him a lot about not doing enough exciting things, not going out too much and living such a plain life. What I failed to understand was he had already been there and done that. We were at two different places in life. While I was always in the hurry to do something or the other, he was more about being relaxed and being in the moment. First 5 years were spent in fine tuning and the next 5 in acceptance. 

DSC_1653In these 10 years, I have come to appreciate his way of life, though I cannot completely shift gears and lead a simple life like he does.  What I have understood is that simple tastes are just as attractive as the multi-faceted ones. This date cake falls just in line with my husband’s philosophy and was just right as his birthday cake.

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But then I had to add my touch to it and thought a luscious toffee sauce would be just right to complement the taste. The toffee sauce is so easy to make! Had I known this earlier, I wouldn’t have waited this long to make it because it has so many uses and stores well too.

DSC_1650He loved the date cake by itself which is not surprising at all. But he did try a piece with some toffee sauce for my sake and liked that too. 

Date Cake with Toffee Sauce
Serves 6
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Prep Time
25 min
Cook Time
35 min
Total Time
1 hr
Prep Time
25 min
Cook Time
35 min
Total Time
1 hr
Ingredients
  1. for date cake
  2. 1 +1/2 cup / 210 g pitted, chopped dates
  3. 1 cup / 250 g boiling water
  4. 1 tsp of baking soda
  5. 100 g, butter chopped
  6. 3/4 cup / 135 g sugar, light muscovado
  7. 2 eggs
  8. 1 cup/ 150 g self -raising flour
  9. 1/2 cup almonds, chopped finely ( without skin)
  10. for Toffee sauce
  11. 150 g butter chopped
  12. 1cup/ 250 ml single ( pouring) cream
  13. 1 1/2 cup ( 265 g) light muscovado sugar
  14. chopped pistachio and whipped cream for garnish (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C/ 355 F
  2. Place the dates and baking soda in a bowl and add boiling hot water to it. Let it soak for a 10 minutes. Post soaking, pulse the date mixture and turn it into a coarse paste.
  3. Beat the sugar and butter and cream it. Add eggs to this and beat well.
  4. Add the date mixture, almond bits and flour and combine well with the egg-butter-sugar mixture.
  5. Pour the batter in a bundt pan that has been greased well.
  6. Bake it in a preheated oven for 35 minutes.
  7. Take it out of the oven and allow it to cool before cutting
  8. For the toffee sauce
  9. Place butter, cream and sugar in a pan on medium heat. Allow the butter to melt and bring the mixture to boil. After that, let it say on the heat for 5 more minutes. Golden, caramel coloured toffee sauce is ready to use on the cooled date cake.
  10. Serve the date cake with warm toffee sauce, whipped cream and chopped pistachio
Sliceofmylyfe - a Food blog based in Bahrain http://www.sliceofmylyfe.com/

Rant & a soya mince – peas stir fry

Rant alert! 

You know that feeling when everything is spinning out of control despite your best effort? We all go through our fair share of troubles in our personal and professional lives. Then you try harder to control it by switching gears, changing direction and honking constantly, yet the derailment is imminent. What do you do, when it is all flailing arms, despair and utter confusion? 

I understood two simple things-Wait for the storm to pass and life goes on. 

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Come to think of it, there are so many struggles and choices we face everyday. The struggle of striking that work-life balance, of finding that balance between finding time for yourself versus rest of the world, choices relating to eating healthy etc.

Life of an entrepreneur is extremely demanding and I always find myself struggling to balance my time for everything. I feel I am rushing all the time and sometimes ( well, most of the time) it is quite overwhelming. Food choices suffer because of this rushed state of mind. Not to mention all the food tastings and restaurant reviews I have to do. I keep making resolutions about cutting down sugar, exercising and I find myself steering away from it quickly. I fall for what is convenient and NOT what is beneficial. The most worrying part is, I do not feel guilty anymore. I find some excuse or the other to justify my indulgence and complete lack of discipline. Eating at odd hours has become a norm and desserts are an every day affair. I have sort of developed an addiction to sugar which is very, very disturbing. When I do not get my fair share of sugar each day, I grow irritable and cranky. An immediate infusion of sugar in any form quickly transforms me from a maniac witch to a fairy godmother. The transformation post sugar, is remarkable.

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One of my recent pictures was an eye-opener for me. I rarely spend time in front of the mirror to assess my deteriorating state. But it caught me off-guard when I saw a random picture of mine clicked my someone else. I could see how different I was in my head vis-a-vis for real. Hence, I knew I have to act fast before it was too late. Plus coming from a family with all kinds of medical history, doesn’t help.

So I have decided to officially end my hedonistic food lifestyle and really take a closer look at how I am going to transform it. I believe I need to do this not just for my sake but also for my daughter who is absorbing everything that she sees. 

I have started  gym schedule with a trainer that is more endurance focused. I also have a diet plan. Mind you, it is not for the weak of heart – this diet plan. It is quite extreme and I need to be on it for 6 weeks. Usually I don’t write about my exercise or diet here because I am insecure in my head about not keeping up with it. But this time, I am going to be confident about it and I have no qualms in sharing this diet with anyone who reads my blog. 

My diet for each day shall be as follows:

Starting 15th of July, up until 30th of August, 2015 ( 6 weeks) with 6 small meals

Only 1 liter of water through out the day.

Meal 1 

100 g chicken + 100 g rice + 50 g almonds

Meal 2 

100 g chicken + a portion of vegetables 

Meal 3

2 whole eggs + 50 g quinoa

Meal 4

2 whole eggs+vegetables

Meal 5 

100 g chicken + 3 rice flakes + 50 g almond

Meal 6 

100 g chicken + a portion of vegetables.

Work out – 1 hour 15 minutes with the trainer in the evening

After one of this diet, I will try and including some cardio in the morning along with training in the evening with the trainer.

I really, really hope to stick with this plan and see it through. It is a matter of 6 weeks and it will be huge test of my will power especially because I am so addicted to sugar. 

Before I sign off on a healthy note, here’s the recipe of a delicious soya mince- peas stir fry which is wonderful with chappatis and even just by itself.

Soya Mince + Peas stir fry
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Ingredients
  1. Soya mince - 1/2 cup
  2. peas - 1/2 cup
  3. onion - 1, sliced
  4. tomato - 1/2 a piece, chopped
  5. green chillis - 2 , slit or can skip
  6. salt - as per taste
  7. Cumin powder - 1 tsp
  8. turmeric - 1 tsp
  9. coriander powder - 1 tsp
  10. chaat masala - 1 tsp
  11. juice of lemon - as per taste
  12. coriander leaves- 2 tbsp, chopped
  13. oil - 2 tsp
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in the pan
  2. Once the oil is hot, add the chopped onions.Fry until pink/translucent.
  3. Add the chopped tomatoes to this and let it cook
  4. Add peas and allow it to cook.Peas are done quickly.
  5. Meanwhile, which the cooking is happening on the side, boil some water in the kettle. Remove the boiling water the bowl and soak the aforementioned quantity of soya mince for 3-4 minutes. Run the water and soya mince through a sieve and let the water drain completely. Once the soya mince is a cooled down a bit, use your hands to squeeze out all the extra water.
  6. Add masalas to the cooked vegetables and finally add the softened soya mince.
  7. Towards the very end, add the chopped coriander leaves and juice of lemon. check for salt and add more if required.
  8. Serve it hot with or without bread.
Sliceofmylyfe - a Food blog based in Bahrain http://www.sliceofmylyfe.com/

 

Iftar experience at Sheraton

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Recently, I was asked to attend an Iftar at Sheraton at their Awali Ballroom. I had looked up the list of top Iftars in Bahrain and Sheraton featured on it. So I definitely wanted to try it and was really looking forward to this.

From the moment I stepped into the ballroom, I could feel a wonderful vibe with so many people; families, large groups of friends and the hotel staff serving their patrons. It was colourful and slightly louder than most other places I had been to before. A lavish buffet was laid out before us with international dishes and live cooking stations. We felt completely spoiled for choice. What you are about to see if you scroll down further is plenty of appetizing food pictures.

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The Awali Ballroom has been decked up and it is a sight to experience. 

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The buffet had traditional dishes like shawarma, and all kinds of biryani. The salad station had a wonderful selection of salads, dips and other starters. The main course had a few vegetarian options as well. I particularly enjoyed the palak dal and rice with some pepper -lemon chicken (highly recommeded)

Lemon and pepper chicken

Lemon and pepper chicken

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Fish cooked Arabic style

Fish cooked Arabic style

The dessert station had a live crepe making station which was hit among all the kids and adults alike.

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Mahallabiya with nut brittle – simply delicious

traditional Arabic sweets

traditional Arabic sweets

The meringue centerpiece

The meringue centerpiece

The highlights of my Iftar experience at Sheraton are;

1. Huge variety that not only caters to traditional tastes but also international ones as well

2. Desserts were simply outstanding and so delicious. The chocolate mousse was absolutely addictive.

3. Very friendly staff who go out of their way to make sure the guests are well attended. 

I am sure, these pictures would have really whet your appetite. So if you plan to have your Iftar at a restaurant, you should definitely give Sheraton a try. 
Iftar: from sunset, BD15.9++ on weekdays and BD16.9 on weekends. Children four to 12: BD8.5++; under fours go free. Sheraton Bahrain, Manama (1753 3533)

(This is a sponsored post but views expressed are solely mine)

{Restaurant Review} Paul’s Iftar Set menu at Bahrain City Center

That Paul Restaurant & Bakery in Bahrain has been my favourite place to eat lunch or dinner is no secret. When my friends and family look at me to pick a place to eat out, I almost instantly choose Paul. I love everything about Paul. Its rustic finesse,  the crockery, the French desserts, the homemade rye and other breads and last but not the least, their food. It is funny why I haven’t already reviewed Paul Restaurant on my blog. 

If you haven’t been to Paul Restaurant before, this is a short introduction to the one of the finest, coziest restaurants in town. Paul Restaurant & Bakery is a French chain of restaurants that specializes in serving French -style bread, soups, salads, sandwiches and desserts. If you ever visit France, you will find a Paul’s cafe at stone’s throw from anywhere you stand. They are that ubiquitous.

But this review is about the Paul Restaurant in Bahrain City Center. I was invited to review their Iftar set menu by the mall and they didn’t have to say it twice. Iftar is a fast-breaking meal that is eaten during the Holy month of Ramadan and most of the restaurants in the middle east develop a Ramadan special menu. My hubby and I ordered an Iftar meal each at Paul’s.

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 Paul’s Iftar set menu offers you :

1. Traditional Lentil Soup 

A thick lentil soup with a wedge of lime is nourishing but the portion size is a tad too much considering the set menu has several other items. Nevertheless, I enjoyed it with a slice of homemade bread and butter ( from the complimentary starters that I so love)

2. The next course was a salad course where we ordered two salads – one for me and the other for my hubby. I went for a Quinoa salad with dates and the Watermelon and Feta Salad

Quinoa Salad with dates

Quinoa Salad with dates

Both the salads could be meals by themselves, with portions so generous. The Quinoa and date salad was refreshing and full of flavour. The pieces of artichokes were such a delicious surprise, which worked well with the quinoa, the pomegranate, cherry tomatoes, cucumber and fresh rocca leaves. All this goodness is topped with croutons and splashed with a tangy balsamic dressing.

Watermelon and Feta Salad

Water melon and Feta is such a wonderful combination. The salad look so soothing to the eyes. A perfect summer salad, really. 

3. In between, we cleansed our palate with Jallab – a type of fruit syrup, with carob, grape molasses, dates and rose water. This was served chilled with ice and floating pine nuts and raisins.

Jallab

4.. The Main course was  a delightful stew of chicken and vegetables in a light broth served with lemon -zest rice. The other options in the set menu are the beef stew with vegetables and a mixed sea food stew. 

Chicken and vegetable stew with rice

5. Finally my favourite course – Dessert – Dates eclair / dessert of the day/ raspberry panna cotta

We opted for Dates eclair and Creme brulee(dessert of the day)

Date eclair & Creme Brulee

Date eclair & Creme Brulee

Both the desserts are quintessentially French except the Dates eclair which was customized as per the theme.

The set menu costs 9.900 BD per person is quite substantial in portion and variety.

These were my thoughts after the meal

1. Generous portions and great variety.

2. Kept its French essence with a little Arabic twist keeping with the Ramadan theme

3. Healthy food options in the set menu. This I think is a great highlight of the Iftar set menu which otherwise can be very oily and unhealthy. Paul’s has devised this healthy menu keeping in mind the health conscious diner. If you avoid the dessert ( which I think would be blasphemous), the meal is unconditionally healthy.

So if you are looking to eat out tonight, make sure you definitely try Paul’s Ramadan menu before the season is over.

Bon Appetite.

(This was a sponsored post but the views are entirely mine)

Icflix & Uber: A true moment of interconnectedness

I recently had been to Dubai for a business trip. Having tried Uber in India previously, I got my first ride with Uber Dubai there using my smartphone. I am happy to note the high level of safety and comfort using the Uber cab experience, and am already a fan of their enterprise. As a single business woman traveller, safety and comfort are of utmost importance to me, and Uber has always made me feel comfortable and safe.

But what really pepped me up was that getting a first ride with Uber also got me a month of subscription to ICFLIX absolutely free! This was absolutely wonderful news for me, because it meant I could catch up on all the Bollywood and Hollywood movies without having to spend time to go to the movie cinema halls to watch them. With my tight schedule in business and blogging, I can barely spare the time to go to a cinema hall to catch up on the latest flicks. But with ICFLIX, I can watch these movies in my hotel room or at home on my phone or tablet or laptop, whenever I wanted to!

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Now, for those of you who have not been following my blog from the start, I have, in my past life, been a movie critic and reviewer, and many of my reviews have even been published in online and print magazines and newspapers. I am an absolute movie buff and love movies across genres right from rom-coms to suspense, action movies to thrillers and even the odd dabble of horror and chills. My husband and daughter too share this love for movies and we enjoy watching movies together, both at the cinema and at home.

icflix and Uber join hands towards technology and innovation

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This is a true moment of interconnectedness. Yesterday, the world would have gawked if two industries like entertainment and logistics shook hands and became business partners. Today, icflix and Uber have joined forces, and shifted the paradigm of how businesses can collaborate in this world of increased access and mobility. In the words of Carlos Tibi, the founder and CEO of icflix , “We like to think outside the box”. This is innovation in collaboration at its best.

I also came to know that even the opposite deal holds – so if you get a month of icflix subscription, you get 80 AED credit to your Uber Dubai account. Now this is a truly innovative way to enhance user experience – leveraging technology and innovation and creating a killer combination.

ICFLIX is Middle East and North Africa’s first unlimited streaming platform that provides Jazwood (Arabic content), Bollywood and Hollywood movies, TV series, cartoons and documentaries, all of which can be watched on any internet connected device. By providing all this entertainment content in one place, ICFLIX serves as a unique video on demand platform that can be enjoyed by its subscribers. ICFLIX is even equipped with social media features that allow users to comment, rate and share what they’re watching.

The ICFLIX service offers HD content, a large selection of titles, simplicity and convenience. Subscribers can access icflix on the go via their smart phone, tablet or laptop, or at home via their computer, smart TV or gaming console. With ICFLIX, you can be assured that you can watch whatever you want, whenever you want, and enjoy a commercials-free movie or TV show.

One more feature that I love about ICFLIX is that it has special screenings of movies or TV shows very frequently as well. Right now, as a Ramadan Special, ICFLIX is screening the 1001 Arabian Nights TV series, which has many rave reviews. Although language would be an issue but seeing familiar tales with modern production values would be an experience.

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 Ramadan 2015 icflix Exclusives

In case you wish to access this offer the following code need to be entered while ordering- UBERUAE  for the UAE, UBERKSA for the KSA, UBERBAH for the Bahrain, UBERLEB for Lebanon, and UBERQAT for Qatar.

And enter the code when you sign up to icflix , or if you are already a member go on , “Your account” , “Manage subscription” and enter your promo code.

So get onboard and enjoy the ICFLIX experience.

(This is a sponsored post but the views expressed are mine)

Get your movie fix from Viva’s Spuul Service

Some days, I just want to stay in bed. I send my daughter and hubby off to their respective work places and claim the bed all to myself. As a digital marketer, I find myself working hard over the weekends and so I choose one day during the working week, as my off day. Okay, not the entire day, just half a day or maybe a few hours. But this is my me-time. I read, I laze, I gaze outside my window watch food movies. I am obsessed with watching food -related movies, so much so that I have a list that I tick off. So far I have finished watching nearly  21 food movies in different languages. While there are so many food movies made in English and other languages, there aren’t many that are made for the Hindi audience. Very recently, I caught up with a few that I really enjoyed. 

1. Lunch Box -‘The Lunchbox’  shows the ritual of a meal prepared in a domestic kitchen. Office lunches are a ritual and I, for one, take the ritual very seriously. So I could completely relate to the story. From elaborate paneer curries to fragrant dals, this movie made me very nostalgic. It is heartening to see that the Hindi movie industry is experimenting with off-beat themes and trying to get them to be more commercial. Though I am no movie critic, I would recommend that you watch it (even if with subtitles)

2. Cheeni Kum- Amitabh Bachchan and Tabu render such fine performances in the rom-com. Amitabh as an elderly bachelor and a snooty,professional chef made his way into my heart. Tabu’s character is lovable and witty to the core. Such a fantastic cast and  story that sends out a subtle yet powerful message that love knows no age. All this drama ensues around an A – star Indian restaurant in London. 

source : google image search

S: google image search

3. Luv Shuv tey Chicken Khurana- A story that revolves around a desperate search for a once much-loved family recipe of chicken curry. I did get bored once or twice in between because it stretches too much and there are one too many fart jokes. The movie feeds off the larger -than -life personalities of Punjabis and their love of food.

4. Dawat – e- Isqh – This is a story that revolves around a girl who wants to con a restaurant owner by pretending to be interested in marrying him. There is nothing much in the story line and logic is definitely not its strong point. But what I found interesting is the mention of the famous kebabs and biryanis from Lucknow – what a treat! This would be my least liked movie among all of the above.

All the movies I wrote about above were viewed on ‘Spuul’ – Viva ( Bahrain’s Telecom operator) live streaming service. Viva extended a 1 month free subscription of Spuul’s  premium service, which I was very happy to use. I watched some latest movies that I had missed due to work commitments. 

Bollywood movie buffs and fans of Indian TV sitcom can now tune into the latest blockbusters with the new Spuul App. Introduced exclusively by VIVA Bahrain for its customers, this Bollywood App allows iOS and Android users to enjoy a range of Indian movies, TV shows and other streaming content online, on their smartphones or tablets.  

Spuul has added a ‘ Stars’ section to its homepage to help users find content from their favourite Bollywood actors and actresses, and discover new films and other top stars.

What I found utterly useful was that Spuul includes subtitles and allow users to resume watching movies from where they left off via their desktop, iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad.

google image search

google image search

Not just that, subscribers can enjoy watching their movies offline, where movies could be downloaded to be watched at their own convenience without the need for internet connection.

Movies on SPUUL offers content in Hindi, English, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Marathi, Bengali, Kannada, Punjabi and Bangla. Additionally, depending on genres, customers can browse through various movie categories.

To activate the premium SPUUL subscription, VIVA customers should text ‘ON’ to 98019 to enjoy streaming their favourite picks of the movies online.

For more information please call VIVA on 124 or visit www.viva.com.bh.

(This was a sponsored post, but the views expressed were solely mine)

{Review} Where there’s tea, there’s hope : Assam 1860 Black Tea

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I never thought of myself as a tea drinker or any kind of beverage drinker. But off late, I have been fancying a lot of flavours in green tea. A green tea mid-morning or early evening really helps me rejuvenate. Alongside, I have been really enjoying my cup of black tea that the good folks from Assam 1860 sent me from the tea gardens of Dibrugarh, Assam. 

I have my cup with fresh mint and a dash of honey. The flavour is smooth, strong and so refreshing. With the cup of Assam 1860 in my hand, I savour my quiet time with a book or simply listen to the sounds of life outside my apartment.  This special brand of tea has really brought out the hibernating poet in me.

Today I would like to sit and read
With a cup of life in my hands
My strong black tea.
The colour is black with a tinge of gold
 did I just see a whirl of hope?
 Life's just passing by today
 and I don't have a care
 Is it the tea that I sip that makes me dare?
People say, where there's tea, there is hope
 I have reason to believe that is true
 And I give all the credit to my brew.

A bit about the brand : James Warren Tea Limited, a company with history dating back to 1858, has launched a premium tea brand  named ‘ASSAM 1860” . This tea is available through our site  www.assam1860.com, and delivered currently localy in India. The packing of the tea bags variant is in innovative nylon bags while they also have loose tea in different sizes in a zipper pack to ensure freshness. The tea is all from Thowra Tea Estate in the Moran Circle.

DSC_0001  James Warren Tea Limited, a company with history dating back to 1858, has launched a premium tea brand  named ‘ASSAM 1860” . This tea is available through their site  www.assam1860.com, and delivered currently locally in India. The packing of the tea bags variant is in innovative nylon bags while they also have loose tea in different sizes in a zipper pack to ensure freshness. 

James Warren was a retired army general and who later became an entrepreneur. He planted his first tea estate near Dibrugarh and then a few years later settled back in the United Kingdom. He gave the reigns to his 2 nephews who planted several more estates like Dhoedaam and Deamoolie. It is said that these 2 boys were very fond of music and would play late into the night making a “dum dum” sound so locals renamed the region “Doom Dooma.

(Information courtesy :Asssam 1860 marketing team)

DSC_0010I am already nervous that my sachets are dwindling from everyday use and soon I will be left with none. But then I shall have the memories safe in my taste buds of the the afternoons spent with alone in the company of my strong brew and my favourite book.

Indulge your senses at Rimal Spa, Movenpick Hotel

lifestyle | March 24, 2015 | By

While health is the state of the body, wellness is the state of being. Day to day stress of work, managing a house, keeping up with social commitments takes a toll. Going to the gym may feel like an act of taking care of the body, but the lifting of weights, running on the treadmill stresses out my muscles and I find myself constantly complaining of some ache or pain everyday.

The mind commands the body to keep pushing but the body seems to saying the exact opposite. It is important to keep observing what the body is telling us. People say that wellness is a state of mind but at times, that state of mind needs to be induced. How can you do that? The easiest option would be to go to a spa. Once in a while, I stop everything that I am doing, push my meetings to another day and dedicate a few hours of a day, once every quarter to restore my balance.

This time around it was special because my husband and I were invited by Rimal Spa to try their spa and wellness packages at the Movenpick Hotel.  

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 We happened to visit Rimal Spa on a weekday morning and were quite looking forward our time of R&R. On reaching Movenpick, we were guided to Rimal Spa, where we met with the Spa Manager. The Manager, first explained the concept of the spa where she told us that Rimal Spa is a European-style spa with Arabic influence that aims to provide result-driven treatments to its clients. We were seated in the waiting area as our masseuses prepped for our massage. We were offered a rejuvenating herbal drink that really helped us relax. The Spa Manager then took us around explaining the different types of treatment rooms, the services and the different types of treatment products.

What stood out in all the explanation was the attention to detail.

During our short yet detailed tour, we were told that Rimal Spa features 12 treatment rooms, including single treatment suites, one double female suite and two traditional Turkish hammam suites with their own steam rooms and heated wet tables. All treatment rooms have private showers and to ensure privacy, the wellness facility offers segregated male and female wings with relaxation lounges. 

There are different kinds of treatments to choose from at Rimal Spa. There are the regulars like the Aromatherapy massage, the Swedish Massage, the Hot Stone Massage and then there were the very special Hammam treatments, the Well-Being Massage and the Signature Jewels of the Sea Massage. Apart from the massages, there are also body treatments, facials for both men and women. 

Hammam/ Turkish bath suite

Hammam/ Turkish bath suite

 

Turkish Hammam Pot

Turkish Hammam Pot

After our brief tour, we were asked to choose our treatments. I chose a ‘Deep tissue’ massage while the hubby opted for an ” Asian blend”. We were housed in the same suite with double beds which felt very special and private. In my head I was thinking about this being a perfect anniversary or a Valentine’s day gift. 

A Deep Tissue Massage – I chose this one especially because this is a massage that uses firm pressure and friction. Going to the gym 5 days a week and training had really made my muscles tight. This massage promised to relieve stiff, tight and fatigued muscles and joints by releasing tensions and knots on the back, neck and shoulders. I requested my masseuse to also focus on my calves in particular. My masseuse’s deft hands worked their magic and after an hour + 30 minutes of massage, my body felt light and relaxed. It felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders and calves and I felt fresh and full of energy. 

The Asian Blend – The hubby tried the Asian blend which uses Thai massage combined with aromatherapy oils, acupressure and special stretching techniques. This 90 minute massage was meant to relax, increase flexibility and boost the immune system. After the treatment, I heard him humming a tune on our way home which proved that he was in a great mood.

Hot stone massage

Hot stone massage

What stood out for me?

1. Great attention to the customer’s comfort

2. Great choice of treatments and products that not are not restricted to body massage. There are special kinds of non-invasive treatments for face and body lifts. There are special treatments meant for pregnant women as well. I wish I could have got one when I was pregnant!

3. The ambiance is very relaxing with soothing music and that herbal tea really caught my fancy. I wish I could have a cup now!

4. The staff is very courteous and knowledgeable. All doubts are dispelled promptly and every request is catered to with great warmth. 

The Rimal spa experience for me was one of a kind that helped me unwind and forget about my tensions. When I caught up with the busyness of life yet again, it felt like I had a new- found source of energy inside me. I certainly look forward to trying the Hammam experience during my next visit.

To book an appointment with Rimal Spa, call 17460051 or go to their website

Photos : The Movenpick Hotel

This was a sponsored post but the views expressed are solely mine.

Doe a Deer : One-stop-shop for elegant baby shopping

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Looking for something elegant for your baby to wear? Something festive and one of a kind? Then you really should check out Doe a Deer in Hamala. An exquisite boutique for children-wear from the age of 0 – 6 years. I had the opportunity to visit the store a month back and I was spellbound by how elegant and gorgeous it was on the inside. The decor is classy, minimalist and in a beautiful gold, white and beige. This says a lot about the thought given to bring all the elements like the look, feel of the store to match the product, thereby making the shopping experience very harmonious. 

 DSC_0037 With decor so classy, the product on the shelves is bound to be just as splendid. I was obviously more interested in the collection meant for five-year-old girls. Beautiful azure-coloured summer coats, short frilly frocks in beige, whites, gold and all versions of pastel. The collection at display was ‘elegance’ personified. I made Mimi try out a beautiful mediterranean – inspired summer coat and her whole look changed from casual to celebratory.

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Doe a Deer was born from the want of a boutique where mothers’- would-be and new could find something festive and one of the kind, just like their babies. The name, which evoked in me plenty of flashbacks from one of my favourite movies – The sound of music, made me hum the song – Doe a Deer endlessly. 

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FotorCreated4Stylish prams, cribs, baskets, baby essentials like bottles, bibs, sterilizer kit etc. are available at an affordable price. Soft toys made with child -safe cloth and material is definitely worth buying for your tiny tot. 

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I was so tempted to buy all the tiny baby clothes but was reminded that I didn’t need them anymore. The boutique is spread out on two floors with clothes and baby accessories on both. With sophisticated decor and a pleasant staff to assist, shopping at Doe a Deer is nothing short of a wonderful experience. 

FotorCreated2I enjoyed my experience at Doe a Deer and I would recommend that you should definitely check it out if you are looking to buy the prettiest stuff on the island for your little one. 

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If you want to take a look at their collection, you ought to follow them on Instagram : @DoeaDeerBahrain. They have their new summer collection being unveiled in a few days.

So if I have to describe Doe A Deer’s collection in 3 words, I would say:

1. Elegant

2. Effortless

3. Unique

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{Restaurant Review} Ninos Restaurant, Seef

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You walk into Nino’s restaurant in Seef’s Aali Mall, in the afternoon, you will be greeted with a scene of busy office – going lunch goers hurriedly yet enjoyably having their lunch. The servers at Nino skillfully glide through the aisles between the tables with guests, juggling plates of piping hot food and colourful drinks. It is a typical scene at any restaurant, you would say. But to me, there was this sense of harmony, in every bit of activity that went on while my food review exercise progressed. Perhaps the only awkward spot would have been me and the commissioned photographer who unsuccessfully tried to get one shot of me without my mouth full of food. 

The restaurant review at Ninos was a planned one with Obai & Hill and the O Talent group of lovely people. A planned review is a misnomer. Food, as we all know, attaches to itself that element of discovery and surprise. Even if you have been to a restaurant many times or if it is your first time, the food and the overall experience can always be something you not have expected.  I have been to Ninos several times before this and each time I rapidly jumped the menu to order something from their ‘weight watchers’ section (with a side of my favourite fries)

This was my opportunity to sample Nino’s best and see if they stood up to their promise. Nino’s serves Japanese and Italian crowd-pleasing dishes to its patrons. To some, this may come across as grossly mismatched but I do not mind ordering a platter of mixed Maki and edemame with Italian favourites at the same time. Good food, after all, is good food. 

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Chipotle chicken and avocado sliders

The Restaurant Manager, Mr. Amit was very gracious and excitedly explained about the food served at Ninos. His passion for his work and food shone through the entire conversation, as he explained ingredients, methods of cooking and other finer details. 

First came the soup – Zuppa de Funghi – a mushroom soup enriched with herbs and cream. A soul-satisfying soup that will fill you up with warmth, spoon by spoon. I thoroughly enjoyed this soup and I must warn you that all the portions at Ninos are American-style – HUGE.

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Chicken avocado salad

 The Avocado and chicken salad was the next dish served as a side, which in my opinion, could very well be the main. Thinly sliced chicken breast, avocado, mixed lettuce, pomegranate, toasted pine nuts tossed with Chicken jus – white vinaigrette. I enjoyed the mildly seasoned chicken and the slight bite from the avocado and the pine nuts. Felt that this salad came together beautifully with the dressing. ( Highly recommended)

As the review progressed, I was also served a rejuvenating cold drink which is Nino’s specialty. I must tell you, it is just the kind of drink that I needed to awaken all my senses. A tangy, sweet, peppery lemonade that was laced with the flavours of ginger cordial, coriander, mint, lemon, lemon grass and cranberry juice. This is called the Igano ( not in the picture).  This is a must-have because it isn’t a drink like any other. 

If bite-sized meal is your thing, then the next on the list to- order should be the chipotle chicken and avocado sliders. This is why I like Ninos. There is avocado in every other dish and avocados make everything taste amazing! These bite-size wonders are flavour bombs and quite filling. 

Just when I thought, this is where I should really end my meal, I was served a platter of food from heaven. All bite -sized morsels, deep fried, filled with cheese and served piping hot, have the power to heal all your emotional problems. Every bite was a warning that I did not heed because during such times in your life, you just ought to follow your heart. The deep fried morsels were Fritto funghi – crumbed white mushrooms, filled with chicken fontina, parmesan and herbs and Chicken Tenders- crumbed chicken breast tenders served with parmesan dip

A platter of Fritto funghi, chicken tenders and other such divine deep fried morsels

A platter of Fritto funghi, chicken tenders and other such divine deep fried morsels

 To me, Nino restaurant represents quality, fantastic tasting, tummy-warming food served consistently and not to mention there is something for everyone at Ninos. If you come here with your family, there wouldn’t be question about whether any one of you might not get what you are craving to eat. Nino’s caters to all palettes, continental cuisine -wise and Asian cuisine-wise too. 

That is why I did not find it out of place to have a sumptuous crab and prawn Maki admidst my Italian fare.

Nino’s just makes it work!

In the end, when I was doubly sure, that dessert was simply not an option, I was presented with a warm date bread pudding with ice cream  ( not in the picture). In between some curses and swears, I savoured my date bread pudding, not minding that I was bursting at the seams. 

For this divine date bread pudding alone, I would urge you to go to Nino’s and while you are enjoying it mark my words –

Happiness is … a warm date bread pudding from Ninos.

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Nino’s also does home deliveries so make sure you order-in on a hectic week day and enjoy the awesome food from Nino’s from the comfort of your home

Location: Seef, Aali Mall

Tel: 17 566 555

Times: Open daily 11am-midnight

Price: BD 10-25 / person

This review was sponsored but all the views expressed are mine

 

Taking my passion for food to the next level

My obsession with food has been life – long. It is very evident if you follow me on Twitter (@sliceofmylyfe), Instagram (@sliceofmylyfe) or if you are my Facebook friend. In real life too, it is no different. Each day is about cooking different kinds of food, going to food tastings, restaurant reviews. attending special food nights at hotels, reviewing brunches, writing, discussing, recipe testing, recipe development, trying new food/ cook ware products, ingredients and the list goes on.

There is this other element of food that I started to enjoy particularly after I started taking my food blog seriously; food photography and food styling. Mostly what I have learnt is by observing what other amazing food photographers and stylists do on their blog and videos. Sometimes, these professionals put out tutorials which are very helpful and that has helped me improve my skills in the food styling department to an extent where I have begun to do this professionally. 

To do this professionally for clients I have teamed up with George Matthew, who is an incredibly talented food photographer with a great passion for his craft. You can check out his Instagram feed ( @greyimagefood) and I bet you won’t stop drooling. George and I have done some food photography and styling assignments together with great success. Some examples of which you can see below

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The thing about doing creative work is that you want to constantly push your boundaries and today, we bring to you a video we shot of a Chocolate Lava Cake with molten caramel center. Check the video here and let us know your feedback

For the recipe, check this recipe card out

Chocolate lava cake with salted caramel filling
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Ingredients
  1. 170 g milk chocolate. finely chopped
  2. 170 g butter, cubed
  3. 170 g light brown sugar
  4. 85 g plain flour
  5. 6 eggs , beaten
  6. For the salted caramel
  7. 150 g sugar
  8. 150 ml double cream
  9. 1 tsp fleur de sel or coarse sea salt
  10. For the ramekins
  11. 30 g soft butter
  12. 30 g unsweetened cocoa butter
Instructions
  1. Prepare 6 ramekins by brushing them with butter and dusting with the cocoa powder and tap out the extra powder
  2. Melt the chocolate with the butter in the microwave in small bursts. Make sure you mix the butter -chocolate mixture after every burst so that it doesn't burn
  3. Combine sugar and flour in a bowl. Mix the melted chocolate with the eggs followed by the flour and sugar. Divide the mixture between the ramekins only 3/4th full.
  4. Now make the caramel for which sprinkle a thin layer of sugar over the bottom of a heavy-based pan and place on a medium heat. Once the sugar starts to melt, add some more sugar. Repeat couple of times until all the sugar has melted.
  5. Continue heating the caramel, swirling it around in the pan. Please do not stir the caramel with a spoon.
  6. When the caramel is amber or coco cola colour, add the cream and salt. Be careful about the hot caramel bubbling as it gives the nastiest burns.
  7. Cook until the temperature reaches 108 C or until the caramel coats the back on the spoon, then pour into a dish and leave to cool a little.
  8. Once the caramel is cool, transfer it into a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle. Pop the piping nozzle into the middle of the chocolate mixture in each ramekin and squirt the filling. Watch the mixture rise to the top.
  9. Refrigerate for 5-6 hours.
  10. Remove from the refrigerator and bake it for 25 mins when you find the edges are firm and the centers are slightly runny.
  11. Test by inserting a toothpick in the center - it should come out wet
  12. Leave to rest for 2 minutes before turning out the cakes on small plates. Serve immediately with vanilla ice cream or berries and clotted cream
Adapted from Rachel Khoo's "My little Paris Kitchen
Adapted from Rachel Khoo's "My little Paris Kitchen
Sliceofmylyfe - a Food blog based in Bahrain http://www.sliceofmylyfe.com/

5th blog anniversary & winner of giveaway #4

giveaway, This and That | February 23, 2015 | By

Today, 5 years back, I started my blog with no specific objective. I didn’t know I could write. I didn’t know that written words would actually help me express better than spoken ones. Today, I understand, how much succour writing has provided me and the innumerable opportunities it has given me. Truth be said, writing and blogging have opened my mind’s eye and when I write, I see, what I saw much better and clearer, though back-dated. Reflection through writing is meditative and therapeutic at times. 

I owe a lot of my happy moments to my blog – Slice of my lyfe 

One such happy moment is today when it completes its 5th year. 

 

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I hope to keep writing and keep wondering. 

Before I forget, let me announce the winner of my giveaway #4 

Mayuri Vivek Guralwar

Congrats Mayuri! You win yourself Rachel Khoo’s – My little Paris Kitchen. I hope you enjoy this book as I have.

It was a wonderful 4 weeks, celebrating my blog anniversary and making a big deal about it. And why not! Both my blog and I deserve it. Thank you to all the readers of my blog who participated in the giveaway. There will be more giveaways in the future so don’t be too disappointed. 

Baked Alaska + Worldwide giveaway #4

Food Chronicles, giveaway | February 19, 2015 | By

Four challenges, four giveaways – this has been a great blog anniversary celebration series. I feel good about giving this well-deserved attention to my blog. It has been quite interesting because after I completed my culinary challenge in 2013, I didn’t try anything new or exciting. These 4-part culinary challenge where I attempted making the raw cake,  set- up a table for my first date  and made some pasta and sauce from the scratch have given me such a sense of accomplishment. The last of my culinary challenge was about making a Baked Alaska, given to me by my husband. 

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Again, I did what I do best. I procrastinated until I did not have a choice. It wasn’t really half as difficult as I thought it would be. But working with meringue can be tricky at times. But before I get into the details of how I made the Baked Alaska, I would like to announce the winner of my giveaway #3. It is Gehna Purohit! Congratulations Gehna, you win yourself a copy of Paul Hollywood’s – How to Bake. Thank you for always reading my blog and helping me with polishing my piping skills and much more. 

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Now for my final giveaway that I call Worldwide giveaway #4

I am giving away yet another cook book this time. Rachel Khoo, the food creative, TV host, cook book author and talented illustrated is my absolute favourite. I dote on her every post, tweet and instagram picture to the point of being obsessed. That is why final giveaway will include her cookbook called – The little Paris Kitchen. I have tried several desserts and appetizers from this book and my absolute favourite is the chocolate lava cake which I have covered previously on the blog.

To win this book, all you need to do is –

1. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram – @sliceofmylyfe

2. Subscribe to my blog via email

3. Tweet about this giveaway and 

4. Leave a comment on my blog saying that you did all of the above. 

And voila one of you stands a chance to win my favourite cook book author’s book!

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A Baked Alaska consists of layers of icecream ( different flavours and colours to make it interesting) and it is topped with layers or single layer of sponge cake. Finally, it is covered with meringue and I used an Italian meringue recipe which didn’t require me to bake the Baked Alaska in the oven. The Italian meringue involves cooking sugar and water at a very high temperature (240 F) which then is poured into the meringue mix. The heat of the sugar cooks the egg whites and the meringue becomes stiff and ready to use. This stiff meringue is applied to the dome – shaped icecream and cake layer and then burnt artfully with a blow torch. 

There is nothing more beautiful then the sight of burnt meringue. 

I looked at this video to make my Baked Alaska and used vanilla and chocolate ice cream inside with a vanilla pound cake ( Sara Lee’s) to create layers for my Baked Alaska. 

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This is the end of my culinary challenge series and I will announce the winner of giveaway #4 on the 23rd of February which is when the blog celebrates its 5th year anniversary. 

Homemade spelt pasta and sauce +worldwide giveaway #3

Food Chronicles, giveaway | February 12, 2015 | By

If the previous challenge was wonderful, this one was so meditative and entertaining. I was intimidated by the first challenge but I was more intimidated by this one. Making pasta from the scratch is something I have seen on MasterChef. The equipment looked intimidating and the process too. I wasn’t sure if I would even get a pasta machine in Bahrain. But again, what use will it be after my challenge is done and dusted?

All these questions swirled around in my head and I procrastinated doing it till the very end. Finally, when I felt, there as no way out and even if I failed, I had to attempt it to be fair to my brother who gave me this culinary challenge.

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His challenge was for me to attempt making pasta and a sauce from the scratch. Searching for good pasta recipes lead me to understand that a grade ’00’ flour is used and that a pasta making machine is handy. Rolling out pasta sheets is definitely the other resort but it is very tedious. I, more or less, made up by mind to buy a pasta machine. After procrastinating this challenge to the best of my ability, I finally set out to get the ingredients and the apparatus. Neither did not get the grade of the flour I wanted, nor the machine. Then I searched for alternate flour recipes to see that ‘spelt flour’ is widely used and is a healthier option compared to the other one. I have never tried Spelt before but I had no choice but to go with it. Also, without the machine, the only option left was to use the pizza rolling pin to roll out the pasta sheets. So that is the back story. 

Before I set out to explain the recipe and the modus operandi of the pasta and sauce, let me announce the winner of my giveaway #2. Devi Ranjit has won herself Wilton’s 12 cupcake decorating set. Congratulations Devi. Well done and thank you for reading my blog. 

Now I shall get on with the announcement of my World Wide Giveaway #3. One reader of my blog will win this awesome baking book by Paul Hollywood called – ‘How to bake’ . I have used Paul’s recipes to make different types of breads and most recently, the cinnamon rolls. It is a wonderful, wonderful baking book that I think every home baker should have. 

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To win this, you need to do the following:

1. Tell me in the comments, which blog post of mine on ‘Slice of my lyfe’ would be your favourite and why

2. Follow me on Instagram and Twitter – @sliceofmylyfe

3. Tweet this giveaway 

This giveaway closes on Wednesday, 18th of February. Good luck!

Thank you to all those who have participated and I hope you will continue to come back to my space to read my posts. 

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Now back to the challenge. The picture above shows a step-by-step method. I was anxious of using spelt flour but to my pleasant surprise, it came together rather easily. The important things to remember with Spelt is that once you make the dough, make sure you cover it with cling wrap to avoid drying. Using dried dough will make your pasta break when you are boiling it. My kitchen is really quite tiny and the work space, tinier. To roll out pasta in big sheets wasn’t possible. So I made 6-7 round balls and flattened them out one by one with the rolling pin and cut pasta strips. 

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For those who would like the recipe, here you go:

Homemade Spelt flour pasta and tomato sauce
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Ingredients
  1. For the pasta
  2. Spelt flour - 2 cups
  3. Eggs, at room temperature - 3
  4. A pinch of salt
  5. Olive oil - 2 tablespoons
  6. Tomato sauce
  7. 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  8. 1 medium onion, chopped
  9. 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  10. 3 large tomatoes
  11. basil leaves, fresh (4-5 leaves)
  12. or
  13. dried basil herbs - 2 tsps
  14. crushed pepper - 2 tsp
  15. chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
  16. sugar - 1 tsp.
  17. salt to taste
Instructions
  1. For the pasta-
  2. Sift the flour and salt.
  3. Beat the eggs very well with the oil, using a fork
  4. Make a well in the flour and then stir in the eggs and oil with a spoon.
  5. Mix well with your hands and then knead on a lightly floured surface.
  6. Cover in cling wrap and allow to rest for 20 minutes. Even if you are not making the pasta immediately, you can allow the dough to rest in a cool, dark place, tightly wrapped in a cling wrap
  7. Make dough ball - this quantity will give you atleast 6 dough balls- pick one and roll it out like a roti/chappati/flat bread and as thinly as possible with a rolling pin. Spelt really allows you this freedom
  8. Cut the flattened dough into long strips and peel them off the floured surface, one by one and keep them aside.
  9. Roll out all the dough balls like that one by one and cut pasta strips and keep aside.
  10. To cook the pasta
  11. Heat a big pot of water and bring it boil. Add salt and olive oil.
  12. Add the pasta strips into the boiling water, little by little.
  13. Let it cook until your liking. I like my pasta cooked a little more than al dente.
  14. Drain the water and let the pasta run under cold water to stop cooking further.
  15. Tomato sauce
  16. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Make cuts at the bottom of your tomatoes for easy peeling.
  17. Place them in the boiling water for a minute and then remove with a large spoon. Peel the skin off. Cut, core and de-seed the tomatoes.
  18. Heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the onions. Cook until translucent. Add the minced garlic
  19. Add the tomatoes and salt and simmer for about 20 minutes. Add any dried herbs your like, red chilli powder, sugar. Let everything simmer well.
  20. If you are using fresh basil leaves, you can tear them up and dunk them in the sauce at this point.
  21. Simmer for another 2 minutes.
  22. Mix the pasta with the sauce and serve it topped with generous shavings of parmigiano reggiano
Notes
  1. Keep the dough covered all the while even when you are working with a part of the dough. Dried out dough make the pasta strips break into pieces while cooking
Adapted from Tomato sauce recipe adapted from Purple Foodie
Adapted from Tomato sauce recipe adapted from Purple Foodie
Sliceofmylyfe - a Food blog based in Bahrain http://www.sliceofmylyfe.com/

First date setting challenge + worldwide giveaway #2

Food Chronicles, giveaway | February 5, 2015 | By

I love a good challenge. 

Even if I am not actively thinking about it, it is still running at the back of my mind. My mind is picking and putting the pieces of the puzzles, gauging and then trying another several set of iterations before, it more or less knows that a certain iteration will work. I have really enjoyed working on my challenge no. #2 because this is the first I was focusing more on the setting than the food. If you do not know what I am talking about, you should read this post

My challenge #2 was given to me by Modesty Blaise aka Ruchi. 

A romantic first date with the hubby – She wrote, “They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. I disregarded this always but now I have discovered it is quite true. Cook something that you would have on the first dinner date at home, with your husband (when he was your fiancé) – be it a dish from his native place or some exotic foreign cuisine. Mention the course items (appetizers, main course, dessert, drinks) and post a picture of the table setup.”

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But before I get on with the details of the table setting and the food for my first date, I would like to announce the winner of my first giveaway- Meghna Garg. Thank you Meghna for participating and for your support all these 5 years. She will receive a copy of Nigella Lawson’s – ” How to be a domestic goddess” Hope you enjoy baking and cooking from it like I have all these years. 

It is time to reveal the worldwide giveaway #2. This time again it is something exciting for baking enthusiasts. I love baking cup cakes and decorating them. Until last year my frosting skills were less than stellar. But with some guidance from a baker friend, I have managed to learn the basics and since then enjoyed frosting my cupcakes. So this giveaway includes a cup-cake decorating set from Wilton.

giveaway

 

All you need to do is – 

Follow @sliceofmylyfe on Instagram & Twitter and share this post with your family and friends.

Simple and easy!

Now back to the challenge…

When I had met my husband for the first time, he did not believe me when I told him I knew how to cook. He thought I must be a cup-a-noodles maker! Imagine his astonishment when I whipped up a curry, chappati, a vegetable side and raita. Being a newly-married, I was very excited about showing off my culinary skills and my hubby was a willing guinea pig. 

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It took me some time to realize, my hubby was of simple tastes and didn’t really enjoy my elaborate spread. I was a bit disappointed but when life got busy, I started to appreciate a non-demanding husband. Our first date was at Delhi Haat over fruit beer and momos. That was also the day when he proposed marriage to me. 

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While attempting this challenge no. 2, I asked him if he wanted me to do a lavish spread and he made a face. He is still the same person who doesn’t really fancy anything lavish. He is also a breakfast person and wanted me to do something simple and an Indian-style French toast was his choice.

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Getting the entire table setting outside, was my idea because I wanted to re-create the Delhi Haat outdoors setting. Only this time it wasn’t an evening date but a breakfast date. I had plenty of flowers that I used in my table set up because I love flowers and am amazed by how they lift a simple setting to  fairy tale-like. 

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Apart from flowers, colourful fruits and simple coloured linens really work towards creating a home-style setting. 

I really enjoyed doing this challenge and thank you Ruchi for giving me this opportunity. This experiment has taught me a lot about breaking of colours, composition, placement of elements from a food styling perspective. I will be using this new-found knowledge going forward. 

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We, Indians enjoy a savoury breakfast more than a sweet one and that is the reason why we also have a savoury version of the usually sweet French toast. It is very easy to whip up this French toast with just a few ingredients to make it filling and hearty.

Indian - style French toast
Serves 2
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
5 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
5 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 large eggs
  2. 3-4 bread ( white is preferred because it keeps better texture after cooking compared to the brown ones)
  3. 4-5 tbsp of whole milk
  4. salt as per taste
  5. 1 tsp pepper
  6. red chilli flakes - as per taste
  7. 1 green chilli - finy chopped
  8. 1/2 cup fresh coriander leaves, chopped finely
  9. 1-2 tsp of oil
  10. Cherry tomotes - to serve on the side ( optional)
  11. spring onions finely chopped (optional)
Instructions
  1. Break the eggs in a bowl and lightly beat with a fork.
  2. Add the said quantity of milk and beat again
  3. Add the chopped green chilly and coriander and mix well.
  4. Finally, add salt and pepper and beat well.
  5. Heat a pan with a tsp of oil or two
  6. Meanwhile chop off the sides of the bread and dip it in the egg batter and place it on the heated pan to fry.
  7. Sprinkle red chilli flakes on one side while the toast is cooking.
  8. Cook on both sides until well done. Use tongs to cook the sides of the bread in case you find that it is still under-cooked.
  9. Place it on a plate. Serve it by garnishing it with chopped spring onions and lightly stir fried cherry tomatoes on the side. Serve hot.
Sliceofmylyfe - a Food blog based in Bahrain http://www.sliceofmylyfe.com/

A Persian Dream Cake ( Raw Cake) + A Worldwide Giveaway

Food Chronicles, giveaway | January 27, 2015 | By

I was supposed to post this yesterday but I happened to have a terrible first experience of making a raw cake. I always make it a point to follow the recipe to the tee but if the recipe isn’t great, the outcome is always not what you expect. So I had to trash the first raw cake and attempt another one to successfully render my first culinary challenge given to me by my friend Emilia. 

Raw Cakes – These are quite a rage these days. These desserts use absolutely no processed ingredients and rely on natural flavours and colours for the taste and the desired texture. There are vegan diet followers who are more enthusiastic about having desserts that use no butter ( but really! what is life without butter. I wouldn’t ever want to know) or eggs.  Anyhow, people do what they do and to me it is always interesting to try out different types of ingredients, cooking methods etc. 

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So here I have completed my first culinary challenge and I  am on the fence about the result. But if you ask me about making raw cakes a norm, I’d say – that is not happening. I love my cakes for the butter and all that unhealthy stuff that actually goes into making it. It would take some time and several raw cakes to develop a taste for these kinds of dessert. I would also go on to say that, while I feel happy about putting all healthy ingredients in this dessert, my mind refuses to feel satiated. 

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This cake takes plenty of nuts such as cashew and pistachio. It was requires fresh coconut, olive oil, rose water and honey. The original recipe asked for saffron which I did not have on me so I skipped it. Instead I opted for yellow food colour to give it the yellowish tinge. 

Now that the culinary challenge is out of the way, here are the giveaway details. I am celebrating the completion of my 5 years of blogging with a worldwide giveaway. There will be 4 giveaways over 4 weeks and I will choose one winner every week.  These giveaways will include things that are my absolute favourite and I have loved using them.

The first giveaway starts today and I am giving away my favourite food author’s book – Nigella Lawson’s – ‘How to be a domestic goddess’ 

I adore Nigella, her writing, and her cookbooks. Her recipes are thoroughly tested, easy for an amateur cook or a baker to use and find success. How to be a domestic goddess was my first ever cook book and even today, I go back to it for cakes and other dessert recipes. 


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In order for anyone on this planet to win this cookbook, all you need to do is to enter this giveaway. To enter this world wide giveaway, you would have to do the following:

1. Follow @sliceofmylyfe on Twitter

2. Follow @sliceofmylyfe on Instagram

3. Subscribe to my blog via email

4. Comment here on this blog post that you are interested in this giveaway and that you have done all of the above.

5.  Spread the word by tweeting this — –>

One lucky winner will be announced next Monday – 2nd of February!!

Now for the recipe. I have adapted this raw cake recipe from here

Persian Dream Cake
This is a raw cake that uses cashew, pistachio, fresh coconut, rose water, honey.
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Prep Time
30 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
30 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. Crust
  2. ¾ cup pistachios
  3. 1 cup shredded coconut
  4. 3 tbsp honey
  5. 5 tbsp olive oil
  6. Olive oil for greasing pan
  7. Filling
  8. 3 cups raw cashews
  9. ⅔ cup olive oil
  10. ⅓ cup honey
  11. ½ tsp rose water
  12. 2-3 drops yellow food colour
  13. Garnish
  14. Pistachios, chopped
  15. Rose petals
Instructions
  1. Place the 3 cups of cashews in a large bowl, cover with water and allow to soak for 24 hours.
  2. When you're ready to prepare the cake, begin with the crust. Grease an round spring form cake pan and set aside.Line the bottom with parchment paper and grease it too.
  3. Crust - Pulse the ingredients for the crust until it forms a loose, sticky paste then press into the bottom of the greased pan until it is evenly packed. Deep freeze it covered while you make the filling.
  4. Filling -To prepare the filling, blend the ingredients together, and process until smooth and a creamy texture is obtained, then transfer to the chilled greased springform pan. Smooth the filling over the chilled crust with the back of a spoon, then top it with some chopped pistachios on top.
  5. Allow to chill for several hours in the chiller
  6. Before serving, top with rose petals.
Notes
  1. The original recipe asked for coconut oil but I substituted it with olive oil since I am not a big fan of coconut oil. Perhaps that could be the reason why my chilling times and methods had to be varied. I had to deep freeze the cake to get the required consistency.
  2. Within 20 minutes of getting the cake outside of the freezer, the texture starts get to very soft to almost a molten state.
Adapted from Grokgrub.com
Adapted from Grokgrub.com
Sliceofmylyfe - a Food blog based in Bahrain http://www.sliceofmylyfe.com/