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.
Write a review
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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/

 

5 years of blogging celebrations with world – wide giveaways

Food Chronicles | January 24, 2015 | By

5 years of blogging may not be a great deal these days. Each day, I cross virtual paths with bloggers with more than 10-14 years of blogging experience which I think is a testimony of their discipline and passion. Standing at the 5th year milestone of my own blogging career, I wouldn’t hesitate to say that blogging is a craft that takes time, passion, energy and a lot of dedication. Today, if I run a fledgling digital marketing business in Bahrain, is because of blogging. It all started with the first blog post 5 years ago on a certain 23rd of February 2010. On that particular day when I wrote my first blog post about love, I wouldn’t have dreamt of being able to do so many things around blogging such as restaurant reviews, baking, trying different cuisines, meeting so many interesting people and developing recipes. 

To celebrate this landmark event of my life, there shall be a series of giveaways on my blog. The giveaways will be all world-wide unless if stated otherwise. There are about 4 weeks to go before my 5th blog anniversary and that is why I choose to have 4 giveaways for the readers of my blog. These giveaways would be very simple to enter and I am giving away gifts that I have truly enjoyed over the years to the readers of my blog. 

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The first giveaway announcement will happen on Monday, the 26th of January, 2015. The winners of giveaway 1 will be announced the following Monday, 2nd of February, 2015.  Likewise, every Monday, until the 23rd of February, a giveaway winner will be announced. 

To make it more interesting, I will be taking up 4 culinary challenges given to me by my friends on Facebook. So along with one giveaway there will be one challenge either conquered or lost in each of the 4 posts until the 23rd of February.

The challenges that I have undertaken as are follows:

1. A raw cake – Challenge from Emilia Asmin who is intrigued by the whole raw food trend and wonders what a raw cake make look and feel like. This is something I haven’t tried making before and would be interesting to see how I pull this one off.

2. A romantic first date with the hubby – This is from Modesty Blaise aka Ruchi (@thewordcoiner) “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 (appetisers, main course, dessert, drinks) and post a pic of the table setup.”

3.  Home – made pasta and sauce from the scratch – This one is from my brother – Vinay and I think making my own pasta has been on my to-do for a long time so I will be attempting this for sure. 

4. Baked Alaska – This one is from my husband who really knows what gets me going. One of the toughest desserts to make, Baked Alaska features on the top 10 most difficult things to bake list. 

So these are my culinary challenges for the next 4 weeks that I am looking forward to conquer. 

I would like to thank all my friends on Facebook, who took time out to give me different challenges but I had to pick only 4. Maybe I could try the other challenges a little later down the line. 

Please share this post so all your friends can participate in the giveaway that starts on the 26th of January, 2015.

If you are on twitter, you could tweet about it too.

A beautiful bubbly brunch at Le Meridien – a review

Restaurant Reviews | January 21, 2015 | By

PUB QUIZ

 

The idea of a Brunch evokes a series of emotions and visuals – laughter, the company of friends, wafting aroma of butter and spice, the live music in the background that is oblivious to the cacophony of the arena and a feast. We live our lives in the fast lane, juggling work, families and other obligations. An opportunity to attend a brunch gives one the window to relax, breathe and have fun. The island is known to have a brunch culture which are big family affairs. Children, uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews, mums, dads, grand parents gather around a big brunch table to share their stories from the week that went by. Well, that was the scene, I was greeted with when I attended the Le Meridien brunch on a Friday morning. 

The dessert display

The dessert display

Upon entering the Baharat brunch area, I was greeted with the tantalizing sight of the dessert display. Exquisitely crafted pastries and local sweets adorned the dessert cart. I was tempted to start my brunch with dessert first. Luckily, I had wonderful, engaging company of  Deepa kisore ( Red House Marketing) and Jayashree Sabhlok ( The Director of Marketing at Le Meridien). To me, it didn’t feel like it was the first time I was meeting these ladies. Their vivacious company put me at ease and we had a sparkling time.

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At our table, we were promptly served our glasses of bubbly which we gratefully sipped as we introduced ourselves to each other. The atmosphere at the brunch was perked up by the lone pianist who entertained us with beautiful musical pieces. After we were comfortably settled with our drinks, we stepped out to get our food. I was glad, I didn’t start with the dessert first. I was enthralled at the sight of the beautiful sushi display which to my eyes felt like art -work. I topped my plate with different kinds of cooked sushi, carefully avoiding the salmon and other sea food varieties that I am allergic to. The staff was very cordial and explained to me the ingredients so that I didn’t end up with the wrong kind of sushi. 

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Sushi with the different kinds of sauces and the pickled ginger is my absolute favourite and I would have been content, restricting myself to sampling sushi, if it wasn’t for my company. I was prodded to try the excellent selection of breads and spreads, succulent roasted meat, hand made pasta freshly tossed in sauces, the grilled fare of chicken, lamb, fish and other delicacies.

for the sea food lovers

for the sea food lovers

 Bread selection

Bread selection

meat cuts and roasts for the meat lover

meat cuts and roasts for the meat lover

Shrimps in a light sauce

Shrimps in a light sauce

After second and third helpings of the sumptuous fare, we felt the need to rest ourselves a bit and enjoy the music before we could think of trying anything else again. I took the time to stroll around the area where they had food options for children. It was interesting to note that the brunch had  wonderful, healthy food options for children that were decked up to look appealing to children. 

Cute food for children

Cute food for children

Now the live music score had changed and the beautiful pianist was replaced by the soothing sounds of Bahraini jazz duet belting out jazz masterpieces. 

A quick survey around also told me that all the cooking stations were busy prepping different dishes which meant that people at brunch were eager to try out splendid world cuisine at display. 

May my plate always have sushi in it

May my plate always have sushi in it

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After several helpings and the best of my gregarious company, we met with the talented, hard working team behind such a successful brunch at Le Meridien. Always smiling and ever-ready to help, explain and assist the brunch crowd, this team of super talented chefs and servers is fantastic.

The dream team behind the Fizz & Fare - A sparkling brunch at Le Meridien

The dream team behind the Fizz & Fare – A sparkling brunch at Le Meridien

I held a misconception of brunches at 5 stars being pompous and showy but contrary to my belief, this brunch at Le Meridien was warm, hearty and so homely where there was something for everyone to enjoy and relax. On my way out, I picked up a macaron stick and enjoyed the burst of raspberry flavour in my mouth. All in all, it was a brilliant few hours spent enjoying the glorious food and the wonderful company at Le Meridien.

So now you know what to do if you are thinking of spending a Friday without a care in this world. Stop by Le Meridien and enjoy their Fizz & Fare – A Sparkling Brunch.

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

{Travel Post} Oman – Muscat

Travel Diaries | January 9, 2015 | By

When I think of Muscat, I admire the resilience of the Capital of Oman. With one foot firmly poised forward, embracing development and modernity, Muscat as the other foot placed stubbornly backward; rooted in tradition and culture. A fine blend of best of both the worlds

Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque

Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque

Simply put, Muscat is beautiful, set against the mountains and the ocean side by side. The lashing waves, the sometimes sunny and sometimes cast by shadow skies keep the setting interesting. We were lucky to be in Muscat on one such cheery day when we drove down to the Grand Mosque ( Sultan Qaboos Mosque). The mosque was closed to outsiders because it was prayer time but the outside view was good enough proof  of the grandeur that was inside. Surrounded by lush gardens, the  shimmering lattice dome of the mosque and the descend of calm with the gentle flutter of the wings of birds, made it a perfect moment. 

jebel akhdar

jebel akhdar

 Jebel Akhdar was a 5 hour trip from Muscat and back which we chose to make because everyone who had been to Oman before had recommended it to us. We started in the morning with great spirits with our faces pressed against the car windows looking at the jagged mountains with scant flora. It wasn’t romantic like everyone promised it would be. It wasn’t cool either despite the altitude. It just seemed like an unending journey with no destination in sight. It was dispiriting and a complete waste of time. The only conclusion I came to was that it may be off-season and hence the landscape did not provide any entertainment as promised. So if you are planning a trip to Jebel Akhdar during a time that is not spring or monsoon, you might as well utilize that time exploring the intriguing Muttrah Souq. 

Souq Mattrah

Souq Mattrah

 

old coins at the souq

old coins at the souq

 

turtle silver earrings from the souq

turtle silver earrings from the souq

Mattrah Souq is all kinds of wow. You can slip from one shop to another, the display and its wares have a different story to tell at each shop. To the untrained eye, the wares may look near about the same. But for a prop aficionado, it is a paradise. The sellers seemed laid back to me. If this souq existed in India, the sellers would have swarmed the tourists with stories and enchantments. But here, the tourists were the only ones excited while the owners/sellers at the shop were quite nonchalant. I could have spent the entire night, combing through each of the exquisite treasures from daggers, crowns, coins, ornaments and semi precious stone studded jewellery. I bought myself a pair of silver turtle earrings which I wear almost every single day. 

We walked around the souq and moved out of the busy part towards the sea. The souq is by the sea which is called the Muttrah Corniche and it would immediately take your thoughts back to a time when Muscat was a mercantile port participating in trade around the world. We spotted a ship at the dock, bobbing slightly, each time it was nudged by the choppy waters. Leaning over the ledge, we were drenched time and again by cantankerous waves. It was a teasing game that went on for as long as we walked close to ledge where the waves crashed against the ledge threatening to drench us completely. We took a long walk along the Mutrrah Corniche and then headed back to the souq. 

The Royal Palace

The Royal Palace

We also took a quick trip around the royal palace which for some reason looked completely deserted. We took some quick pictures around the beautiful buildings and called it a day.

Well, not before meeting my friend from school and her family. Meeting Ronak was definitely a highlight of my entire trip. The happiness I felt meeting someone from my childhood days is something I can’t express. 

Ronak and I

Ronak and I

The other highlights included visiting Star Bucks outlet by the corniche which is probably a place I could spend all my waking time sipping coffee and enjoy looking the foamy waves. Overlooking the corniche, this Star Bucks outlet has an enviable location. But the wifi is terrible everywhere. This was a common complaint through out the trip alongside the fact that food was less than exciting as well. 

corniche outside Star Bucks

corniche outside Star Bucks

All in all, our trip to Muscat and the places around it was full of adventure. Figuring out places, soaking in the local sights where at certain times you feel that the time has stood still, Muscat, Sur, Jebel Akdhar were all just fantastic. 

traditional cap designs

traditional cap designs

While in Oman it is difficult miss how every single Omani is dressed in their traditional attire. I was particularly taken by the Kumma- the Omani cap and the Mussar – the turban donned by the Omani men. Embroidered in beautiful designs and colourful threads it’s a great work of art bobbing up and down the streets of Muscat. 

What I loved 

1. Muscat – the Capital of the Sultanate is just gorgeous. I wish I had more time to spend exploring the city

2. Muttrah souq and the precious treasure cove that it is

3. The Star bucks by the corniche and the experience of sipping overly bitter Flat White, yet enjoying it.

4. The grandeur of the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. Wish I could see it from inside

 

What could have been better:

1. Should have avoided the Jebel Akhdar trip

2. Terrible wifi everywhere

3. Terrible food or maybe we chose to go to such lack lustre places. 

This part 2 of my post about my trip to Oman makes me wonder when I would get the opportunity to travel again. I wish it should at some place that is just as fascinating as Oman. 

(http://www.omantourism.gov.om/)

{Travel Post} Oman – Sur

Travel Diaries | December 27, 2014 | By

Season’s Greetings to the readers of my blog – Slice of my lyfe. 

Another year’s leaving us. A new year beckons with exciting new prospects on the horizon.  I hope to travel to a few places that I have so longed to visit and I hope the new year makes it possible. Meanwhile, I will get down to detailing my visit to Oman in this post.

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It is quite possible to underestimate something that is easy to access. Just as I did, when we planned a trip to Oman. Something this close of a neighbour held little charm as a vacation destination. But during the last short-long Eid holidays, Oman seemed like the ‘optimum’ choice for a vacation destination.

To my pleasant surprise and later my unsurpassed delight Oman was just splendid with its natural scenery, pristine beaches and rugged mountainous terrine. It was all that a vacation package should ideally be. Also, it was starkly different from Bahrain. It was modern yet had maintained its traditional vibe.

In this post I shall share some pictures of the places I visited in Sur in Oman with my family and friends and will try and fill in details from my memory. . We landed in Muscat late in the night and then checked into the hotel to rest. The next day, we checked out and got ourselves a car on rent from the airport and set out on our way to Sur. 

 

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Wadi Dayqah Dam

 On the way to Sur, we stopped by the Wadi Dayqah dam which has breathtaking views. This is is the biggest dam in Oman and is surrounded by mountains from all sides. It was heavenly to see the clouds descending down on the mountains and the weather that day was lovely. It is an ideal place for a picnic with family and friends. 

Wadi Dayqah Dam

Wadi Dayqah Dam

From there, we travelled for several hours before we reached Sur. It was quite late in the night before we reached our resort – The Turtle Beach Resort.  The resort is a rustic setting against the seaside with shacks and huts fitted with all modern amenities. After a restful night, we made plans to spend the day exploring the resort and the places around Sur. 

The turtle beach resort

The turtle beach resort

The turtle beach resort

The turtle beach resort

The next day, we spent the day cruising along the coastline in Sur, where the rough beaches with their choppy waters made us stop every now and then to admire them. 

PicMonkey CollageOman has many ‘Wadis’ / Valleys which are natural water bodies flanked by mountains. Most of these wadis have sweet water and make great picnic spots.

Dhows (in Sur)

Dhows /boats(in Sur)

Every few kilometers of anywhere in Sur  is endowed with natural beauty. This coastline is worth a visit. Looking at the Dhows bobbing up and down in the waters, one can only marvel at the simple life.

Wadis in Sur

Wadi AlShab

Wadi AlShab is located in Tiwi. Its characteristic is fresh water cascading from tops of the mountains meeting the salt sea water on its banks, creating a unique natural diversity. We took a boat ride along the water body and enjoyed the sights of the green water shimmering in the afternoon sun.

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Sinkhole

The other attraction apart from the wadis was the Bimmah Sinkhole. This sinkhole in Oman is so stunning it has been turned into a tourist attraction where people come for a swim in its waters. The beautiful limestone hollow, in Bimmah, has many legends and unbelievable stories surrounding its creation. The locals believe that a large meteor fell and created this crater so huge that all the land sunk and the water beneath it came on to the surface. But it has been scientifically proven that the ground beneath the holes is made of easily-dissolved rocks such as limestone and carbonates and when the groundwater flows through these rocks, it erodes away at the rock, leaving behind subterranean holes and caverns. When the roof of one of these caverns collapses, the land above it falls in too, giving rise to a giant sink hole.

The biggest attraction apart from the Sinkhole in and around Sur is the Turtle reserve. 

The Ras Al jinz Turtle reserve was the highlight of our Oman Trip. This is one of the best kept secrets of Oman and a must – see for all nature and animal enthusiasts. Rightly named the The Circle of Life, this reserve is the safe haven for turtles to lay eggs. We weren’t allowed to click pictures and so I have none of the actual turtles. We saw a 65 year old turtle digging a large pit to lay eggs. We also saw baby turtles scampering off to meet the sea and being devoured mercilessly like ghost crabs on the shore. Such is the truth of life and death that we were witnesses to, on a full moon night at the reserve beach.

Turtle reserve

Turtle reserve

Some of the highlights of our trip to Sur were:

1. The Wadis/ valleys

2. Pristine coastline

3. Stunning weather 

4. Helpful locals

5. With little wifi connectivity even in the hotels, which ensured that we really experienced everything through our eyes rather than our lenses. 

Some of the downers of our trip to Sur were:

1. Food was less than palatable even in the hotels. We were looking forward to great food moments and were met with none. This was unfortunately the story throughout our trip.

2.Very few signs on the roads. Without a GPS, it is absolutely impossible to reach anywhere. You can keep going round and round in circles and you wouldn’t know one spot from the other. Expert navigators such as my husband would disagree but for an average navigator, road signs and directions were absolutely inadequate.

Sur, was beautiful and seemingly untouched by the human hand. When I close my eyes, I can still feel the early morning wind in my hair. 

In my next post, I shall share some pictures of places in and around Muscat – the capital of the Sultanate.

 

 

 

A small update and a decadent chocolate lava cake recipe

Should I start with the cake recipe first?

I feel some people come to my blog only for the recipes and it is quite unfair that they have to wade through so much rant and literature before getting to what they want.

Rachel Khoo is my absolute favourite food person on this planet after my mother and Nigella Lawson. So far all her recipes that I tried have been fail safe that encourages me to keep trying more of her recipes. I have  her cook book – The little Paris Kitchen – which is a visual delight to say the least. I made this decadent chocolate lava cake for a set of friends who came to dinner last night and the result was near perfect. Choice of bakeware made a huge difference in the texture of the cake and that is a new baking lesson I learnt. 

The cake was soft and moist while the center was a chocolate mess. Topped with vanilla ice cream it is a show stopper dessert. I do not have great pictures of the lava cake and here I share with you the one I took with my iPhone.

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 Here’s the recipe.

Molten Lava Cake
Serves 5
Write a review
Print
Total Time
1 hr 40 min
Total Time
1 hr 40 min
Ingredients
  1. 170 gm dark chocolate, finely chopped
  2. 170 gm butter
  3. 170 gm light brown sugar
  4. 85 gm plain flour
  5. 6 eggs, beaten
  6. 30 gm soft butter to coat the ramekins
  7. 30 gm unsweetened cocao powder to coat the ramekins
Instructions
  1. Prepare 5 ramekins by brushing them with butter and dusting it with cocoa powder. Make sure the that you tap out the excess cocoa powder.
  2. Melt the chocolate and butter in a microwave safe bowl for a minute and take care not to burn it.
  3. Beat the eggs in a bowl
  4. Sieve the flour and mix the light brown sugar
  5. Mix the melted chocolate and butter with the beaten eggs and the flour and sugar with a whisk.
  6. Fill out the ramekins up to the brim ( or little more than 3/4th)and refrigerate for minimum 1 hour.
  7. Preheat the oven to 180 C. Bake the cakes for 15-20 minutes or until the edges are firm and the centre looks soft and slightly runny.
  8. Test with a toothpick in the center and it should come out very wet.
  9. Take them out of the oven after the bake them and let them rest for 2 minutes before turning them out of plates.
  10. Serve it immediately topped with vanilla ice cream
Adapted from The Little Paris Kitchen by Rachel Khoo
Adapted from The Little Paris Kitchen by Rachel Khoo
Sliceofmylyfe - a Food blog based in Bahrain http://www.sliceofmylyfe.com/

 Now that the recipe has been shared, I would move on to share with you a few interesting things that have happened and will happen in the near future.

1. Citibank Fact Restaurant and Dining Awards:I was asked to be one of the jury members in judging the best restaurants in Bahrain by the tCitibank- Fact Restaurant and dining awards. It was an interesting experience and I got to know the new ways of looking that what makes a restaurant the best in its category. Ironically, it also made me realize that I haven’t ever given myself the opportunity to go an enjoy a brunch at the best places in town and I would like to correct that immediately. The award function was in the timeless La Fountaine ( French restaurant) in Bahrain and was very well organized. So kudos to the organizers and the La Fountaine staff. 

Also, congrats to the winners in each restaurant and dining category. Some of my favourites won and that made me very happy.

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 2. More of my Beautiful Bahrain: The other bit of exciting news is that More of my Beautiful Bahrain has released within which you’d find my contribution covering – The top 10 things to do in Bahrain. It is always an interesting experience to pen down my thoughts about living on this island for the past 5 years. You will find similar stories that talk about living and life on the island from and expat’s perspective ( mostly). It is available on Amazon and you can download it on Kindle. Go here. I for one, can’t wait to download it.

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3. Social Media editor at Food and Travel Arabia Magazine – I run a digital marketing agency out of Bahrain and the last six months have been a roller coaster ride that is normal for any start-up to experience. I have been a social media editor for the Food and Travel Arabia magazine for the past 6 months but to see my name in the flannel panel was exhilarating. 

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4. Judging the Masterchef competition at Cucina Italiana ( Italian restaurant in Bahrain) – I was a judge last year for one of the heats and it was a fun experience. This year I was invited to be the judge again and dare I say, I enjoyed the experience even more. It has more to do with the other members of the judging panel who made the experience really memorable.

We had our moments of utter hilarity when one of the contestant brought forward a sauce that was so salty that one of the judges nearly barfed in front of the contestant.

Then there was another contestant who made a Spanish dish for an Italian cooking competition and when we asked him why he did not bother following the rules, he quipped, he used olive oil in his cooking and so it was perfectly Italian in his opinion. 

Huh!

Anyways, the deserving one won the contest with a little disagreement among the judges but it was a whole lot of action and drama which was made more entertaining by Chef Yusef from Bahrain TV, Marie Claire ( local RJ) and Peter Lyons ( GM – Cucina Italiana)

I am looking forward to attend the finals on the 9th of December with a group of foodie friends.

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5. The Dilmun Odyssey – an illustrated novel  – It has been two years that I have been on the look out for an illustrator for my fantasy fiction for young adults called The Dilmun Odyssey. Finally, after a long and a painful search, I managed to convince one of the best illustrators in the region – Ashraf Ghori. And what is more, he has started his work on the illustrations and I cannot contain my excitement! Need plenty of prayers and blessings for this project to come together quickly and succssfully

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… and with that I am done with the update and will be back with a travel post about Oman.

Almond, Lemon and Ricotta cake and a note on why ‘me time’ for mums is an important thing

November 16, 2014 | By

It is true and I am sure most of the mums would agree that the first three years of raising a child belong to the child. Only after they turn 3, that we can look at reclaiming our old selves i.e. if we manage that. Most of us don’t. Some of my friends have changed beyond recognition and I am not even talking physical appearance. 

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I do not say this with any malice. We all change with time and more so after the birth of a child. We throw ourselves at the nurturing of our children and it is nothing but sheer privilege. But does it have to come at a price of losing our identity to the point that we don’t recognize the reflection we see in the mirror. It has happened to me. It is an unshakable feeling. There were days when I would simply shrug my shoulders and get on with my tasks for the day and on certain days, I would feel myself falling in and out of depressive spells. Not healthy, right? Something so joyful  as nurturing your child shouldn’t at any point in time feel like a burden. But then why do we feel like this ? And we all know it ends in us feeling terribly guilty for thinking so selfishly about ourselves. 

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If you continue to feel bad inside for neglecting yourself, your needs and desires, there is no way you can be your best for the people you love. Your child included. 

Three years is a long time and our habits harden and it is difficult to fall back into any kind of discipline that involves doing something about yourself. Again, even if you feel like doing something to change the way you feel, without adequate support from your partner it is quite impossible to lift yourself from this atmosphere of despair. If the partner refuses to see the use in all this need for discipline then he plays a huge rule in the act of negligence. He has a big role to play in the process of deterioration. I am sure, our partners love us too much to see us in any kind of uncomfortable state. Perhaps the only thing they need is a conversation explaining why looking after ourselves is just as important as looking after the children and them. 

What qualifies as ‘me time’?

I do not consider going to the beauty parlour, couple of hours in a month or in 6 months as me time. Well some of my friends complain that they don’t even get the time to get a hair cut! 

‘Me time’ are  those precious hours in the day where you get to do your thing – which could be reading, learning a language, meeting friends for coffee, attending baking classes or even watching back to back episodes of your favourite sitcom. 

You may be doing this in breaks – 15 minutes of reading here, purposeful baking for someone’s birthday, meeting friends at common dinners. But that in my opinion is not ‘ me time’. 

‘Me time’ should feel selfish and hence good.

Intentionally doing something because you want to do it without any interference or the burden of tasks or responsibilities. That constitutes as satisfying ‘me time’.

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Once you establish the ‘me time’ rules, see how much vigour you experience in projecting the best of yourself to others. The energy, the zeal and the enthusiasm towards all chores increases manifold. 

I had been a firm believer of spending this ‘me time’ from the very beginning and for that reason I started writing and created this scared space on the blogsphere. It is an extension of me where I shareas  much as I feel comfortable sharing.

I have and always will exercise – whether it involves going to the gym or simply going for a walk in the neighbourhood park.

Once a week – on Fridays – I watch back to back episodes of TV series that I enjoy or obsessively try and finish a book.

To me, ‘me time’ is about being shamelessly selfish and not caring whose judging you.

For all this to happen, you definitely need your husband and to some extent, even your child to understand that this is important to you – the mother and the wife.

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Baking, out of turn, just because I felt is also something that I think of as ‘me time’ and this Almond, lemon and ricotta cake was a result of such a labour of love. Only very slightly sweet and dizzying tangy, this cake a perfect treat for tea time. A drizzle of honey on top or a even citrus-y sugar syrup can make it decadent. Without any syrup or honey, you can taste the ricotta as an after taste only after you have recovered from the slight shock of the abundance of lemon goodness. The almond adds to the beautiful texture of this cake.So the next time life gives you lemons, make sure you make this almond Lemon, ricotta cake. 

Almond lemon ricotta cake
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Ingredients
  1. 250 gm fresh ricotta
  2. 2 eggs, at room temperature
  3. 1 cup caster sugar
  4. 90 gm butter, melted
  5. 3 lemons, juiced and rind finely grated
  6. 225 gm self –raising flour, sifted
  7. 60 gm almond meal
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Brush a 22cm (base measurement) springform cake pan with the melted butter to grease and line it with parchment paper.
  2. Place the ricotta, eggs and sugar in the bowl and beat well with a hand held beater or a food processor. Process until well combined
  3. Add the butter, lemon rind and lemon juice, and mix well.
  4. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Add the self-raising flour and almond meal, and use a spatula to fold in until combined.
  5. Spoon the cake mixture into the prepared pan and bake in preheated oven for 35-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
  6. Set aside for 5 minutes, then remove the side of the pan and turn onto a wire rack to cool completely
  7. Decorate with candied lemon slices and fresh berries. Alternately, this cake tastes amazing with a drizzle of honey
Notes
  1. The original recipe asked for 2/3rd cup of sugar but that is quite less and makes it a bland and a sour cake. So I increased the sugar to 1 cup.
Adapted from Taste.au
Adapted from Taste.au
Sliceofmylyfe - a Food blog based in Bahrain http://www.sliceofmylyfe.com/

The best of both worlds – Rose and Cardamom Pannacotta with Pistachio Rabri

November 8, 2014 | By

Don’t we wish, that we should have it all; true love, fame, happiness, peace of mind, money and everlasting friendships. But it is difficult and probably impossible to have it all. This is primarily because our logical minds refuse to accept contradictions. If you have plenty of money, you are busy making money and hence you don’t have time to nurture your relationships. Likewise if you have peace of mind, most likely you are only moderately well -off and not stinking rich. 

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If I have to believe what I shared in this poster above, I would be trying to break – free from all the conditioning that has happened for the past 34 years.  This undoing of notions and habits is a difficult job since we all have been made to believe that though contradictions exist, we must not condone them. Somewhere in our heads, contradictions are considered  ‘wrong’ and not a part of normal course of things. But funnily, contradictions exist everywhere in life, in nature and is the very essence of the universe we live in. Yet we fight against it. 

 But as I grow older, I have started to believe in contradictions and have begun to accept it as a way of life. I have also begun to believe that even if it may not be possible to have it all, contradictory or not, it is quite possible to have the best of different worlds. 

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Lately I have been thinking about the different ways in which I have allowed contradictions to seep into my life and how they have naturally turned into the “best of different worlds”. 

- I wanted to work with more freedom and flexibility but being in a corporate profile didn’t allow that. I wanted to spend more time with my daughter, but the fast-paced consulting life left me with no time at all. Somehow, life just beautifully unfolded and now I enjoy the best of both worlds – that of being an entrepreneur (flexibility and freedom) and working from home so that I can be with my daughter all the time. 

- Being a South Indian ( I come from Kerala) and being married to  North India had always posed many challenges, culturally. Over time, I have understood that focusing on dissimilarities can only aggravate the divide. I’d rather focus on grasping the best of both worlds and offer them to my daughter, who is yet to comprehend the difference and similarities 

– Since childhood I have been educated about which contradictory food to avoid. Don’t have milk and onions together, don’t have acidic stuff with milk and so on. But I have inadvertently had these contradictory foods and nothing has happened. In fact, I quite enjoy my onion soup with some milk that allows me to skip cheese.

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I was compelled to think about contradictions and the important role they place in helping us grow when I made this gorgeously flavoured Rose and Cardamom Pannacotta with Pistachio Rabri. Rose and cardamom flavours pair excellently with the Italian cream dessert. Topped with pistachio rabri ( condensed milk), the pannacotta is a perfect example of how opposites become fuse well when we bring together the best of both worlds. Indian flavour and an Italian dessert come together to create a culinary fusion that successfully brings the best of both worlds together in this dreamy combination.

I made this show stopper of a dessert at the Diwali party where I had my close friends over. We had the most exquisite time over food and rose and cardamom pannacotta.

The leftover rabri, I froze in popsicle and kulfi moulds to have later.

Contradictions exists and to accept them is to keep growing like the poet Whitman has so eloquently stated. Contradictions can become beautiful fusions and fusions are nothing but the best of different worlds that come together. And we all have to agree, there is nothing more beautiful or harmonious than that.

Rose and Cardamom Pannacotta with Pistachio Rabri
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. For the Rose and Cardamom Pannacotta
  2. 2 cup heavy cream
  3. 5 tbsp sugar
  4. 2 tsp gelatin
  5. 1 tsp ground cardamom
  6. a little more than 1/4th cup of hot water water to dissolve the gelatin
  7. 2/3 cup mascarpone cheese
  8. 2 to 3 tsp rose water + 1/2 tsp of rose essence
  9. 2 drops of red food colour
  10. For the Pistachio Rabri
  11. 4 cups of Milk
  12. 1/3 cup of Pistachio ( chopped very very finely)
  13. 1/3 cup of sugar
  14. Condensed milk - 1/3 cup
  15. Saffron threads - two pinches
  16. Cardamom - 2 tsp ground
Instructions
  1. For the Pannacotta -Place a sauce pan on medium heat and add heavy cream and sugar into it. Bring it to simmer while constantly stirring until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat.
  2. Meanwhile in a small bowl add hot water and gelatin, stir to dissolve and let it sit for a couple minutes for it to soften.
  3. Then add the hot cream and sugar mixture into the gelatin while stirring for the gelatin to dissolve.
  4. Whip the mascarpone in a bowl until it has a smooth texture, strain this cream and gelatin mix into the mascarpone and stir well.
  5. Add rose water and rose essence and finally the colour. Give it a thorough mix and keep it aside
  6. Pour this mixture into cups or glasses or ramekins or even moulds.
  7. Place the pannacotta mixture in cups in the refrigerator to chill for atleast 5-6 hours
  8. When you are about to serve, just take them out and run a sharp knife around the edges to loosen them up and then flip it over on a serving plate or if you find yourself lazy or terrified to do it, simple serve them in those cups itself with pistachio rabri
  9. For the Pistachio Rabri - Boil the milk in the heavy bottom vessel and let it boil until it reduces to half its quantity.
  10. Lower the heat and add sugar.
  11. Let it come to one more boil and the chopped Pistachios and cardamom powder
  12. Add saffron and cool it aside. Refrigerate before serving
  13. To assemble
  14. Once you have your chilled and set rose and cardamom pannacotta on a serving dish, simply top it with the chilled pistachio rabri. Serve immediately.
Adapted from Martha Stewart
Adapted from Martha Stewart
Sliceofmylyfe - a Food blog based in Bahrain http://www.sliceofmylyfe.com/

The Diwali Post and a Panchmael Dal recipe

October 23, 2014 | By

diwali

Diwali always rehashes special memories of my home town Mithapur. Mithapur is a teeny tiny township in the western state of Gujarat, India. I grew up in a close-knit, safe environment of a township where we celebrated every Indian festival with much gusto. My fondest memories of Diwali go like this:

During Diwali we would have a 20 day holiday in school with assignments from school which I would do in the last 4-5 days only before the end of the vacation. However hard my mother would coax, I would always finish my assignment at the last minute which is a habit I continue to practice shamelessly even now.

Diwali would be a time when friends would huddle around for afternoon chit chat sessions or a quick game of street cricket. I didn’t enjoy playing cricket too much but I enjoyed the company

The township would host myriad of events to celebrate Diwali. One of them was a Rangoli competition. I was a witness to some of the most spectacular Rangoli  art work done by very talented friends in Mithapur.

We used to wait for Diwali evenings to light lamps and to burst crackers. These days there is plenty of propaganda against bursting crackers but in the good old days, it was a much awaited event. If you would ask me now, I wouldn’t like to burst crackers but lighting lamps is still one of my favourite traditions that I uphold.

There wouldn’t be a spot in the dark night, which won’t light up with colours from different kinds of crackers. It is a sight that is so deeply entrenched in my heart and I miss my childhood days even more.

In Gujarat, the day after Diwali is the New Year which everyone celebrates by wishing each other ” Saal Mubarak” . Visiting friends’ homes for sweets and savouries is a highlight of this tradition. By the time it was evening, we would be so stuffed only to start gorging on sweets by night fall.

My mother always made some savouries for Diwali that never lasted even until Diwali and the more I write, the more I feel this strong pull of nostalgia. So I shall shop here with the memory trek and write about this beautiful mixed lentil dal recipe called Panchmeal dal which literally translates to a mix of 5 kinds of dal.

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Having this dal with a dollop of ghee gives you satisfaction of all kinds. It is wholesome, healthy, hearty and nourishing. Five kinds of lentils cooked in spices  lend a flavour that is rustic and homely. Keeping it simple this Diwali, we had a lunch of hot piping rotis, Dahi Bhindi ( deep fried Okra in a tangy gravy of coconut, cashew and yogurt) and some soulful, saffron laced Kheer ( sweet rice milk pudding).

The recipe is as follows ( since this was an unplanned post, there was no time to make a recipe card)

Panchmael Dal recipe

(Serves 5)

Ingredients

The dal mixture

50 gms tuvar dal ( pigeon pea lentils)

50 gms channa dal (bengalgram split lentils)

25 gms urad dal (vigna mungo lentils)

50 gm moth dal ( matki or dew beans)

75 gms moong dal(mung bean/ green gram lentil)

salt to taste

1 tsp of tumeric

Water to boil the lentils

 For tempering 

2 bay leaves

a pinch of asafoetida

2 cloves

2 cardamoms

1 stick cinnamon

1/2 tsp mustard seeds

1/s tsp cumin seeds

The masala

1 tsp chopped ginger

1 cup sliced tomatoes and onions

1 tsp chopped green chillies ( optional, if you like it spicy)

1 tsp dry mango powder ( amchur)

1 tsp coriander powder

4 tsp chopped coriander leaves

For garnish

Chopped coriander leaves and fried red chillies

Preparation

1. Clean and wash the lentils and soak in water for 2 hours.

2. Add turmeric powder, salt and enough water in a pressure cooker and cook until 2 whistles. If you do not have a pressure cooker, boil your lentils with turmeric and salt in a pan full of water until they are cooked well.

3. Heat the oil in a pan; add the asafoetida, bay leaf, cinnamon, cardamoms, mustard seeds, and cumin seeds. Once the mustard seeds have spluttered start adding the ingredients in the masala

4. Add the green chillies ( if using ) and ginger. Fry well.

5. Add the sliced tomatoes and onions and keep stirring until they are fried well. Add the dried mango powder, coriander powder and let the masala fry for a few minutes.

6. Add the cooked dals and mix. Add water to get the desired consistency. Simmer for a few minutes.Add coriander leaves and let it simmer some more.

7. Serve hot with rotis or rice after garnishing it with fresh, chopped coriander leaves. In case, you want it more tangy, squeeze some lemon juice and mix the dal well. Serve in bowls with a tsp of  ghee to enhance the taste.

This dal is sure to fire a trail of your favourite childhood memories of having spent Diwali with your parents and relatives. I managed to relive a huge portion of it by making sure my family had the meal together today without the distraction of mobiles, television or even books. We spoke to each other and enjoyed the food for its taste and simplicity.

Happy and safe Diwali to you all.

{Travel Post} The Doha Diary – Katara Cultural Village and the Torch

Travel Diaries | October 16, 2014 | By

Thank you to all who enjoyed reading the last  post and felt they were able to extract the essence of Qatar’s purposive balance between the old and the new. It is important for any culture/nation to refurbish the diminishing coat of traditional ethos in order for the generations of the future to enjoy and take lessons.

Katara cultural village overlooking the Doha skyline

Katara cultural village overlooking the Doha skyline

A single day is quite enough to change perceptions and this epiphany happened every step of the way on the trip. Primarily known for welcoming working immigrants, Qatar’s other facets fascinated me no end. After our enchanting visit to Souq Wafiq, I have strong doubts whether anything else on this excursion was going to trump that. But I was proved wrong in no time, when Mr. Jamal our guide took us to the Katara Cultural Village.

The Katara Cultural Village – Katara is a cultural hub that allows the interaction of myriad cultures through theatre, literature, music, visual art such as paintings and photography. A splendid celebration of all the human senses, Katara Cultural Village is a great place for families to come and enjoy a day in appreciation of arts and crafts. I noticed there  were  some workshops that take in students, young and old, temporarily to give them a feel of the different art mediums. The cultural village houses the Qatar photographic society which is to support the growing photographic movement in Qatar.

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Vintage doors are such an attraction

Fanar - the lighthouse / beacon - to act as a guiding light to whole of mankind, and to help all non-Arabs to have a better understanding of Islam and culture of Qatar.

Beautiful Turkish lamps adorn the ceiling/ Fanar (right) – ( literally translates to the lighthouse / beacon)  a center to help non-Arabs to have a better understanding of Islam and culture of Qatar.

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Passed by The Royal Tandoor in Pearl Qatar (left)/ ornate tap in the Katara Cultural Village(right)

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Mr. Jamal , our tourist guide, the Doha skyline and the model of the solar system at the Katara cultural village

Katara Cultural Village was such a visual treat with interesting dimensions to it. This is where we had our sumptuous lunch at the L’wzaar Seafood Market( highly recommended) where we tried different kinds of seafood dishes ( risking my allergies). Gorgeous food and gorgeous servers!

There two most striking features about Katara Cultural Village which I enjoyed the most:

1. Amphitheater – This Grecian inspired space is stunning with a seating capacity of 5000. This gargantuan amphitheater has played host to several celebrities such as the renowned actor Jeremy Irons and Angela Gheorghiou, the soprano.

The amphitheater overlooks this statue of an Abaaya – clad Arab woman, wielding the world in a piece of cloth representing the country’s forward thinking attributes.

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2. Gandhiji’s three monkeys in the modern world – This is a series of sculptures created by Indian artist Subodh Gupta, representing Gandhiji’s the principle “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” There were two things about the sculptures fascinated me. One, all of them were in military gear and second, they were made from stainless steel cooking utensils, aluminium buckets and such. One of the sculptures had glasses portraying ‘see no evil’, the other wearing a hood expressing ‘hear no evil’ and the third one wearing a gas mask signifying ‘speak no evil’. The underlying theme of this triad were – war and peace, public and private, global and local.

See no evil/ Katara cultural village

See no evil/ Katara cultural village

Hear no evil

Hear no evil

Speak no evil

Speak no evil

From here, we went back to our hotel with our senses full with the sights of the city and the gorgeous food making us drowsy. I took that time to explore the hotel which by far is one of the most beautiful properties I have ever seen.

Sharq village and spa

Sharq village and spa

By dusk, we dressed up for dinner which was at the Torch. We were booked for dinner at the Three Sixty which is a revolving restaurant unlike any other. Located on the 47th floor, the restaurant offers a panoramic view that simply makes your heart skip a beat. The food, needless to say, was top notch. The dinner and the spectacular view was a fitting end to my  wonderful sojourn.

The Torch, Doha

The Torch, Doha

I had to cut short the trip by two days because it was my daughter’s 5th birthday the next day. But a whole day was spent in Doha, exploring the city like I had never done before. I am glad that I took this time out to attend the Qatar Summer Festival for which I have only the Qatar Tourism Authority to thank. On my way back to Bahrain, at the Hamad International Airport, I was mesmerized by the efficiency of the airport. The only bit I was disappointed with was that the duty free section was very minimal. The range and the choice I expected was not available. Maybe with some more time, when the newly opened airport is developed further, more duty free outlets will be available to delight the customers.

Hamad International Airport

Hamad International Airport

{Travel Post} The Doha Diary – Souq Waqif

Travel Diaries | October 8, 2014 | By

Here are 3 facts about Qatar, that you may not know:

1. In 2022, the World Cup final will be played in a city in Qatar that does not exist yet – This future city will be called Lusail,

2.Al Jazeera – The satellite known for its controversial reporting is broadcast from Qatar

3.  Every single building in the Doha Skyline is a completely different design from the other and there are about 40 such buildings as per this source.

To me, until a month back, Doha was a place for work; of strict project deadlines, meetings that went on forever and countless hours at the airport. My work as a business consultant took me to Doha for 3 sweet months where, there was only the work-face of Doha that I saw, understood and felt. But a month back, I was invited to see Doha with a fresh pair of eyes, of that of a tourist. The generous folks from the Qatar Tourism Authority invited me and two other bloggers to a 3 day visit to Doha. Of the 3 days, I was able to participate for a day but it was enough to give me the glimpse of the culturally vibrant and modern contemporary world-city that Doha is. I started this post with 3 interesting facts about Qatar just to put into perspective, how strongly Qatar is poised on the growth vector. Before I go into the beautiful stories I experienced in the single day I spent in Doha, I would like to mention a few things that were my biggest takeaway from the trip.

Souq Waqif

Souq Waqif

1. Primarily, known more for the work opportunities for immigrants,  Qatar is now shifting its energies towards making it a tourist – friendly nation in the lieu of the 2022 World Cup event;

2. Being a proud Islamic state and the one that really values its cultural integrity, Qatar has spent a lot of time planning and maintaining its cultural hubs such as the Souq Waqif etc.

3. Qatar knows it is a perfect confluence of the east and west and is not afraid to show it. This is very evident from the way its construction industry and other related industries are booming with government support.

The Qatar Tourism Authority ( QTA) made sure we were well taken care of and for that they arranged for us to stay at the most popular address in town. – The Ritz Carlton’s Sharq Village and Spa. Located by the their private beach and overlooking the spectacular Doha skyline, Sharq Village and Spa is luxury, redefined. We were lodged in independent villas with a sea-view which was such a delight to say the least.

Sharq Village and Spa

Sharq Village and Spa

Sharq Village and Spa/ room

Sharq Village and Spa/ room

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Sharq Village and spa

The spectacular Doha Skyline at dusk as photographed from the hotel

The spectacular Doha Skyline at dusk as photographed from the hotel

When you are in such a wonderfully encouraging and comforting environment, it automatically puts you at ease.  The night I landed, on the 15th of September,I met up with the other bloggers – Reem Taufiqi ( Bahraini blogger) and Anamika Arun ( food blogger from Dubai). We were ferried around the town by our enthusiastic guide Mr. Jamal.  The Doha tour was to begin next morning of the 16th of Septemer. That night, I slept like a baby and the next morning, I woke up feeling fresh and happy.

The falcon shop  at souq waqif

The falcon shop at souq waqif

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We set out on our excursion, after a sumptuous breakfast at the hotel. Our first stop was the Souq Waqif.

Fascinating stories from Souq Waqif:  A souq is a local market place and Doha’s Souq Wafiq  is special because it houses the poshest of restaurants in an Arabian Nights set up. As modern as its restaurants might be, the souq has some intriguing shops such as this Falcon Shop we visited. There is a great interest among Arab nationals to have Falcons as pets. There is a lot of science and money that goes behind having aFalcon as  pet. The shop had a whole line up of Falcons on display for customers to pick and choose. What is more, there were pretty leather and loom accessories that one could buy to adorn these majestic birds.

It is said that a Falcon needs to forget their previous owners otherwise they won’t accept the new ones. For that, they are made to wear eye patches covering both their eyes for 20 days which ensures they have no memories of the previous owner. The other reason why they have eye patches and are restrained by chains on their claws is they get overwhelmed when people come to the shop to buy them and risk flying and hurting themselves. Somewhere, I couldn’t help feeling sorry for them. Apparently, there seems to be a lot of preference for white Falcons from Russia and the bidders bid for amounts as high as  QAR 70,000 ( approx $ 19,220). What is more astonishing was that, there was a hospital for falcons! Not birds. Not animals.. but falcons alone. They had specialists who solved falcon ailments which goes on to show how much these birds are revered by the locals.

D2The Souq has its own police galloping around on their horses in traditional uniforms to keep up with the traditional flavour of the place. The Souq is a vibrant place with vendors selling different types of wares starting from Turkish lamps, to tiles, to clothes, shoes, bags, spices to name a few.

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Biryani spice

Biryani spice

souq waqif

There is a story behind why it is called the Souq Waqif. It has been in existence for the past 100 years or more and since those days, they had a traffic policeman directing traffic in the souq, standing on his feet, the whole day long. Waqif – that translates to ‘standing’ is what gives the souq its name. Quite fascinating how places get their names!

DSC_0526All these men you see in the picture are waiting for shoppers to come by to shop so that they can ferry their wares in these trolleys much like in the Memsahib era. No young man is allowed to take this job which these elderly gentlemen do, ensuring that this means of livelihood is not taken away from them.

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Architecture in the souq

Turkish lamps hanging from traditional ceilings; The Fanar- lighthouse

Turkish lamps hanging from traditional ceilings; The Fanar- lighthouse

While Jamal (our guide) kept us busy with all the beautiful anecdotes relating to the souq, he rounded us up to the AlDama Council in Souq Waqif . Dama that is played by two players was brought to Qatar from Turkey. It has taken the place of a traditional indoor board game which is now being promoted by the Government in their attempt to revive the popularity of  the game and encourage youngsters to take it up. Anybody can drop by the AlDama Council and play for free. I had quite a lovely time defeating my opponent who was an elderly Qatari gentleman.

Dama - board game

Dama – board game

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After the board game adventure, we travelled a bit around the souq, admiring the ornate doors, the rustic buildings, the pristine blue skies and trying once in a while to forget how hot it was.

We were then taken to meet the most incredible man ever - Saad Ismail – the oldest pearl diver in Qatar

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This septuagenarian, has seen and done it all. He has been touted the strongest man in Doha and a man incapable of feeling pain. He has tested his physical endurance by lying down on broken glass pieces and has deep dived into the sea with minimal equipment in the search of the most exotic pearls. He has met the Kings and the Queens of many lands and gifted them exquisite pearl ornaments as mementos. When you see him, you know Ismail has truly lived a full life that many of us can only dream of.

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Visiting the souq can be an eye- opener and an experience, I won’t forget in a hurry. There were many things, that I wanted to explore and take pictures if we weren’t so short of time. It was amazing to see how beautifully everything was preserved, restored and created to ensure that the souq’s sanctity was maintained. The first part of the day was spent reveling at the cultural history of Qatar. My sojourn in Doha was just beginning to get exciting when we headed next to Katara Village for lunch and an afternoon full of art and photography appreciation. But for that you will have to wait for my next post.

Eid Mubarak

This and That | October 4, 2014 | By

Wishing all the readers of Slice of my Lyfe, a lovely Eid and happy holidays.

 

 

Slice of my lyfe poster (1)

 

 

I  intend to break this long blog silence with a beautiful, picture – heavy travel post which will include the glorious touristy details of my visit to Doha ( Qatar). Cheers

A broken wheat and lentil soup and what I learnt from my father

August 27, 2014 | By

Each time I meet my father, I am astonished. At the age of 68, he seems to be exuding more vitality than me or my husband or anyone considerably younger.  The last three months were a ball. I had my parents visiting us and that gave us ample amount of time to spend with each other. My father spent hours playing with my 4-year-old every single day and at times it was difficult to figure out who was having more fun. He was the one who took her out to the park and ran around with her for hours in this high heat- humidity situation in Bahrain. Where did he draw that kind of energy from?

I always knew my father was energetic and had tremendous zeal for life. I have never seen him pull covers over his head and sleep until late in the mornings. He is always up at the crack of dawn and some times even before that and by the time we wake up, he is already done with his morning rituals and could be seen chanting the Saraswati Sahasranama. Post which, he would have his breakfast and was ready to  ‘carpe diem’.

Muthashan and Mimi

Muthashan and Mimi

Of all that I know about my father, there is this youthfulness about him that I admire the most.  Oftentimes, I have wondered how he managed to not let life sap this from his being. We all know how life just slowly sucks away our enthusiasm even without us noticing and suddenly we are caught in a moment while looking up our picture on Facebook, wondering - When and how did I change so much!

In one such similar moment, I thought about this and found several insights into my father’s personality and his view on life.

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So these are few secrets to how he manages to remain youthful and energetic:

1. Be creative – My father, who is a Pisces, has a natural inclination to being creative. Be it writing emails, to ironing clothes ( yes! he is very handy around the house), to keep the house clean and in order or even his conversations radiate with his creative genius. He finds more efficient and interesting ways to do banal things in life to keep it exciting. The loveliest trait about him is he always encourages everyone around him to be creative –  to be the best possible versions of themselves. Easy as it may sound, it is quite difficult. But I have seen him practice being creative and over years it has become a habit. He is retired now but when he was an employee of a large and an esteemed organization, he was known for his creative approach to everything in his Department.

Nourish your creative side to stay young

2. Appreciate beauty- Usually in life, we get carried way by the routine and forget to appreciate the beauty around us. Somehow, most of us are not even gifted with good observation skills unlike my father. My father is very aware of everything around him and is quick to appreciate its unique beauty. How beautiful and grand do the date palms look swaying in the wind, especially when laden with ripe dates, how beautiful do the crottons look and how the building’s reception with its black marble looks majestic and so on. This is stuff that I pass by every single day of my life but I never have the intention, inclination or the time to appreciate it. Beautiful people, beautiful things, flowers, gardens, fountains, beautiful buildings and the list is endless – fascinate my father.

Appreciate beauty to stay young

3. Connect with people- It has been a year since we moved this building complex but I haven’t had the chance or the interest to know my neighbours or make friends around the building. In three months time, my father managed to make more friends just by going to the park with my daughter. He knows the names of the attendants in the supermarket below our building and also the names of the plumber, repairman, the water guy to list a few. I see him giving them personalized attention and taking care to ask them about their lives. They are ever so happy to serve him.

Connect with people and try to bring smiles to their face to stay young

4. Maintain a child – like wonder – Even at 68 years, my father is intrigued about everything. He reads up a lot and follows anything that is trending – be in music, news and opinions, culture etc. Lately he was asking me about Timbaland and a few recommendations that I could give him about the tracks that he has composed and sung. He is genuinely curious and that shows in the way he explores the books that my brother and I read. He has a soft spot for young adult’s fantasy fiction as well.

Be genuinely curious about the world around you to stay young

5. Be addicted to the idea of being in love – Being in love is a feeling different from all others. It gives you that spring in your step, that colour to your cheeks and you feel like you are walking on clouds. Well, that is the feeling we should have in our hearts all the time. Unfortunately, it seems so difficult in this fast paced life to feel that light – hearted,  and enjoy the finer moments of life. My father, an eternal romantic at heart, always seems to be joking and having a time of his life. He seems to be addicted to the idea of being in love – no not with any person as such except, of course his wife, my mother – but generally in love with the feeling of love.

Be in love to feel young

These are his five strategies that contribute towards his youth-like demeanour. I think, there may more but I may take some time to explore them and eventually imbibe them.

BLS2This recipe here is not my father’s favourite by any means but it is my way of showing how I have begun to learn all his secrets to staying young. Over and above his secrets, I am trying to develop a few strategies of my own such as eating healthy and exercising well. The diet- exercise combination keeps in a good mood and hence productive. When I feel productive, I know I am on a creative pursuit and that leads me to be curious. I do have to work on my ‘connect with people’ area where my skills are tremendously deficient. And  feeling light – hearted, like being in love is still a work-in- progress.

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This light and hearty soup made of broken wheat and brown lentils is a complete meal. I feel completely satisfied after having this for lunch (preferable) as I find that my cravings are reduced drastically. I have had this soup, 3 days in a row for lunch and did not get tired of it – it is that good! It also got featured in a Dubai based culinary magazine called “The Chef’s Special” for their Ramadan special issue along with my Falooda recipe. I wrote about how Ramadan, when planned properly can be an enjoyable experience by finding the balance between fasting and feasting.

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Do try this soup and if you do, please let me know how you enjoyed it! The recipe is as under:

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Here’s wishing everyone a fantastic few days of the working week and a wonderful weekend!

{Restaurant Review} Jim’s Restaurant, Adliya – Good old Jim’s is back!

Restaurant Reviews | August 22, 2014 | By

Three years ago, I completed a project. No, it wasn’t of any national interest but it was important for me as a food blogger and a restaurant reviewer.It was called the Restaurant Review project  on the blog, where I had taken up the task of reviewing 24 restaurants in Bahrain in  6 months time in 2010. Many obstacles came my way, but I did finally finish it, not it 6 months but it took me 12-14 months to finish. Today, I have nearly 29 restaurants reviewed on my blog and you can check them out here. The very first restaurant I reviewed was Jim’s Restaurant in Adliya.  It was a great evening with friends and family and I went home from Jim’s Restaurant feeling wonderful from all the good food.  In between now and the first time at Jim’s Restaurant, I did pay it a visit a couple of times, but was disappointed by the food and the service. It was then I got to know Jim’s has changed hands twice and the new team wasn’t able to create the ‘ Old Jim’s magic’. I decided to avoid Jim’s until now, when I was invited to review them two weeks back. I was reluctant but then the new management at Jim’s were really persuasive.  The new management of Jim’s Restaurant informed that their old Chef Firdaus is back and with him the restaurant is back to being the ‘good old Jim’s’ 

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Jim’s Restaurant in Adliya was always known to be a fun place for a great night with friend’s on a weekend. With food that draws inspiration from Anglo- Irish to Indo- Persian cuisine, Jim’s Restaurant has always promised it’s diners a sumptuous meal in a fine yet casual set up.

I was quite intrigued to see if I would witness the old charm of Jim’s Restaurant after 3 years.

Upon entering the restaurant on a Thursday late evening, after a hard day’s work, I only had one thing on my mind – relaxation. I wanted go to a place where I could put my feet up and feel the casual vibe around me. It seemed that my wish might just come true when we were welcomed inside the  restaurant by the restaurant’s staff  with broad smiles. We ordered our drinks as it was extremely hot and humid that evening. The chilled and refreshing drinks provided the much needed succor. It was a matter of time that I felt very relaxed and was genuinely looking forward to my dinner at Jim’s. We ordered some starters which I realized were the same that I had ordered three years ago. It is funny how our memory points us to migrate to everything that is familiar and comfortable. My taste bud memories immediately got to work and I recalled the contrasting tastes of the salty brie against the tangy sweetness of the blueberry coulis. The Deep fried brie wedges in blueberry coulis was everything that my taste buds remembered and loved. I was nearly convinced that I could forget the past and imagine that good old Jim’s was really back. Now I was very excited to see how the other courses turned out.

Deep fried brie wedges with blueberry coulees

Deep fried brie wedges with blueberry coulees

To accompany the starter, we also ordered for an appetizing oriental chicken salad.  The salad was refreshing because it was made from all the seasonal and local produce such a locally sourced chicken, cucumbers, beetroot, crispy lettuce, onions and coriander leaves. The satay style marinated chicken was delicious while the tangy peanut dressing made it very addictive. I had many helpings of this salad which I found genuinely filling and would recommend it just as highly as I would the deep fried brie wedges with coulis.

Oriental chicken salad

Oriental chicken saladR

The main course seemed unnecessary but my gluttonous nature got better of me. We ordered for a spinach, brie, mushroom stuffed chicken and a vegetable quiche – again both main courses were the same from our first time at Jim’s Restaurant.  The hearty spinach, brie and mushroom stuffed chicken was accompanied by mashed potatoes,  garlic cream sauce and buttered vegetables while the vegetable quiche had a salad side to it – every bit scrumptious and hearty.

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Spinach, brie and mushroom stuffed chicken

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Vegetable Quiche

By the time, we finished our main courses, we were in food heaven. The portions were fantastic and it really felt like we were back at the old Jim’s Restaurant. Jim’s is lucky to have chef Firdaus back and it was his magic that was helping his patrons relive old Jim’s Restaurant memories. All in all, I sensed that this is a chef who knows exactly what he’s reaching for, a chef whose ultimate goal is simply to make his patrons and new customers happy.  And this is just the beginning and Jim’s Restaurant has some hard work to put in before they can have all their old customers back. I have no doubt in my mind, that Jim’s will be very successful like it used to be once. I missed eating the dessert because I was too full from all the tasty food. The next time, I go to Jim’s Restaurant, I will start with dessert first.

If this review has made you hungry, you can check out Jim’s menu here

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

Chocolate Chocolate Cookies and a note about lost things

Tinkerbell is a collector of lost things. With these lost things she made the most useful inventions which helped make the life of the fairies of Neverland better. Mimi and I love Tinkerbell. She is our favourite fairy.

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When Mimi was younger, she had this incredible talent of finding lost things too. When she was a toddler, she would bound about around the house and find stuff that we would have given up for good. My favourite clip from under the bed, hoards of pens stuck in between the sofa crevices, abandoned restaurant bills which are the only evidence of the good times we had with friends.  Finding them, looking at them creates their own separate memories. That is the beauty of finding lost things. Today Mimi is 4 years old, soon to be 5. She still retrieves her Ammamma’s glasses from wherever she last left them. That is the uncanny ability that children have. We grown ups are hopeless like that. We lose things that then forget that we lost them. That is how I am. What’s gone, its gone forever. New things take the place of lost things. But today, I feel a little different.

Because I lost a poem.

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I wrote it on a whim with the excitement of a child for having seen a beautiful cookie. That cookie was my muse and it made me write a poem. I never write poems because they are not for me. I read and enjoy poems written by others. But I never write one.

This cookie is special. It forced me think like a poet and express like one. It was actually quite nice, is what my friends and family told me. But no one saved it and neither did I. So I have lost it forever and I can’t seem to recreate it. The cookie is still inspiring and that is why I am sharing it today in this blog post. But the poet in me, is silent. I depend on Mimi to write one and bring it back to me, like she has always done by finding lost things and bringing it back to me. That will make a separate memory.

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This is the chocolate chocolate recipe that Mimi baked like a dream and it made it into a magazine. The Bahrain Confidential featured me as the blogger of the month. Check out their beautiful, brand new website and their digital edition here. Thank you.. Melissa!

Bloggers Bytes BC August 2014

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The recipe is simple and uses very few ingredients. It is gluten – free, dairy – free and nut – free though, that was not intentional. I tried it, because I thought it would make for some amazing cookies. It uses enormous about of icing sugar but let that not scare you. The recipe is as follows:

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Here’s wishing all my Indian readers, a very happy Independence day today! Cheers.

{Restaurant Review} Go to The Meat Co. for a hearty meal and a great time

Restaurant Reviews | August 8, 2014 | By

How many times in life we miss out on great opportunities only because we hold preconceived notions about them. They slip by because we are hesitant and limit our imagination and thus our experiences in life. I had a similar experience very recently when I went to The Meat Company when I was graciously asked to review them. I was quite hesitant considering The Meat Co. held a reputation of being a steak house and I do not eat steak. Going to a steak house and then eating vegetarian fare would never be a fair deal. But The Meat Co. ‘s PR persuaded me to try their non-steak menu and promised that it would be just as delightful, if not more.  Armed with my camera and a non-steak eating husband, I tottered off to The Meat Co. on a sultry evening during Ramadan.

Upon entering the restaurant, we were greeted by the gracious hostess who showed us our table.  We are asked promptly about the beverage of choice and we opted for water at room temperature. I made an additional request for hot water because I wasn’t keeping well. The request was dealt with spontaneity which impressed me as a pot of boiling water was kept on my table. We were introduced to the server, Alex who was more than pleased to help us figure out the menu and how we could get the best out of it despite belonging to the category of the non-steak eating lot.

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While we spent time perusing and contemplating the options on the menu, we were served a crusty wholemeal bread with balsamic and olive oil to dip into. Just perfect start to what was to be a fine dining experience. In the beginning, we were seated on the ground floor where the lighting wasn’t the best for food photos. We were escorted to the first floor which was less crowded and that helped my cause. It meant having the freedom to take pictures from all odd angles which would have otherwise drawn a lot of eye balls. Such is a life of a food aficionado! Sigh!

Well, I digress. The moot point is, we were treated exclusively with Alex giving us all the information we needed about the cuisine and what to expect from dishes we hadn’t tasted before. He told us about the South African food that is The Meat Co.’s origins and how it is different from other kinds of cuisines.

 

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Alex & Amit

For the starters we ordered the Wild Mushroom and Spinach Vol-au-vent which was sauteed wild mushroom in a creamy spinach sauce, stuffed into a flaky pastry and topped with cheese which I suspect was Parmesan and Mozzarella.  The pastry was crunchy and flaky while the stuffing was a creamy deliciousness of a match that was made in heaven.

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Wild Mushroom and Spinach Vol -au-vent

We also ordered for a warm goat cheese salad as a starter which was slightly sweet and tangy which could be credited to the mild honey balsamic dressing on the salad. Oh somehow I forgot about this third starter – Scallops on the bed of risotto! How could I,  considering this was my first time trying scallops. And tell you what; I loved it!!  The risotto was comfort food at its best with a mild cheese flavour and a kick from the pepper balancing the subtle flavours of the pan- fried scallops. Somehow, both the salads, scallops were so filling plus the bread was so hearty that we felt, we could have easily skipped the main course. But we had already ordered for it and were feeling completely intimidated by the portions! ( What were we thinking!)

 

A warm goat cheese salad

A warm goat cheese salad

 

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Scallops on a bed of risotto

The the main courses arrived, we realized that The Meat Co. definitely doesn’t believe in less is more! The portions were LARGE and HEARTY and so TASTY. It was a pity that we over -ordered ( is there such a term??) our starters and didn’t take the steakhouse definition too seriously.

For the main course we ordered the grilled fish ( hammour) with steamed vegetables for me and a ‘well-done’ chicken burger for my husband with fries and onion rings. It was an absolute pity that we were up until our mouths with all the wonderful food, that the main course went largely unappreciated. I made it a point to doggy bag my left over fish because leaving it felt like a criminal waste. The left overs served me well the next day for lunch where I marveled at the succulent texture of the fish.

Grilled Hammour with vegetables

Grilled Hammour with vegetables

Chicken burger

Chicken burger

Alex entertained and encouraged us to eat more and heartily but I told him that if I had a morsel more, I might just die there. To which he said, ” Not yet!”  You have to try our chocolate fondant with vanilla ice cream and creme anglaise for dessert. My heart just stopped at the words, chocolate and fondant. I had to have atleast a spoonful, even it meant falling into a food -induced coma for life.

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Was the chocolate fondant dessert everything that I hoped it would be? Perhaps, no. The dessert was the only downer among all that we ordered. But that is alright since I was too stuffed to even enjoy anything beyond a spoonful. All in all, it was such a pleasant evening spent at The Meat Co. with its pleasant staff, who made sure we were attended exclusively. The food was the star of the night and there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that The Meat Co. ‘s food has been one of the best meals I have had in a long time.

Having a meal there, changed my perception about the place. The Meat Co. has a lot more wonderful food to offer than just steaks for which is widely popular. An engaging and customer friendly staff is an asset to any restaurant. The Meat Co.’s staff had been very hospitable and they knew their food. This really impressed me. I am definitely going back there with my friends some time soon because a lot of my friend’s, like me, have avoided going there for the same reason. I need to show them that there is so much more to The Meat Co. than simply steaks.

*This is a sponsored post but all the views expressed are solely mine. 

Eid Mubarak and my family’s favourite Kheer recipe

August 3, 2014 | By

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Here, in Bahrain, we are still reeling from our longish yet blink and you miss kinda  Eid Holidays. My kitchen still smells of butter and chocolate and spice from plenty of baking expeditions that Mimi and I carried out. My instagram account is filled with pictures of my moreish banana breads ( will blog about it soon), Nigella’s Orange and chocolate cake and almond biscotti. As an expat and a non- Muslim in Bahrain, being around during Eid celebrations is a special experience each year. As an outsider and an observer, the festivities marked by a long holiday and the Muslim community getting together to celebrate after a month of fasting and prayers, have always left me with a feeling of longing for my family back in my own home country. There is a spark in everybody’s eyes as they go shopping for gifts and traditional sweets. To feel close to it all, I too, go for shopping for traditional sweets and gifts for friends and my family.The other major attraction during Eid would be to go to the Grand Mosque which is a unique experience and this year my parents would be visiting the Grand Mosque for the first time. It would be interesting to see the Mosque once again through their eyes. The Ministry of culture has come up with a great line up of performances from all over the world as a part of the Bahrain Summer Festival 2014. I can’t wait to attend some of them which sound every bit delightful. At home, I try to create a festive atmosphere by preparing some delicacies like the Shir Korma and  Biryani. I call friends home and do our own little Eid party with cheese sampling and such. Eid, on the whole, leaves me feeling festive and I look forward to this festival like I would, Deepawali, while I lived in India.

So that was a bit about how we spent the holidays. I would also like to share a few interesting updates. I couldn’t have imagined on that sultry afternoon of 23rd February, 2010 that my blog would come this far. The innumerable opportunities that my blog has provided have helped me explore my own potential as a food writer and a food photographer. I still have a long way to go but every opportunity is a divine gift that I shall treasure.

I had the opportunity to share a recipe, picture and a write up of the famous Thalassery Biryani with the readers of Bombay times. It is a small mention but for me a big milestone to be featured in the supplement of the Times Group. In this article, I talk a bit about its origin and the interesting history behind the Thalassery Biryani. The recipe is pretty amazing too.

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The other update includes a chocolate cookie recipe that Mimi and I shared with the readers of a Bahrain based magazine – Bahrain Confidential. Here, I discuss why baking is such a fruitful exercise with children especially during their summer holidays. I shall share a detailed post on the cookie recipe, soon.

Bloggers Bytes BC August 2014

Now that the updates are out of the way, let me share with you my simple, yet absolutely delicious Kheer ( rice pudding) recipe which I made to celebrate Eid.  Just with a few ingredients it is possible to create something so magical that it unites your family at the dining table even if they have vastly varied tastes for other foods.

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Most of my cooking that I do at home is instinctive and I never take the pains of jotting down the recipe. But during these Eid holidays, I thought better and wrote down the recipe for Kheer as I made it. It is a favourite with my family especially my daughter and my husband. They enjoy a cupfull of this in its warm and chilled forms.

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While it uses few ingredients, its taste blooms because it is cooked slowly on low flame. To speed up the process would mean cooking it at high temperatures but then it would completely kill the taste. I know of several other methods of making Kheer like cooking it in the pressure cooker etc but these short cut methods do not do it for me. I like the traditional way of cooking it slowing and allow the flavours of the reduced milk to merge with the cardamom, sugar and the ghee-fried raisins and cashews.  This recipe gives atleast 8 servings.

Wishing everybody a great week ahead!

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Muneera Obaidli’s Ramadan Detox Plan

One week or less remains before Ramadan comes to a close. The intense fasting and prayers have changed the atmosphere around here. Everything is so quiet and so still, that it inspires you to look inwards. It is perhaps the right time to detox the body along with the mind. Muneera Obaidli who has been involved professionally in the health industry for over 7 years with her health food business, Vida for Life, has created this Detox Plan for Ramadan.  I was invited to sample and provide my honest feedback about her special Ramadan menu. The purpose of this menu is to help you make the most of your fasting experience by providing meals that cleanse and nourish the body and keep it hydrated throughout the fast. It is a vegetarian and gluten – free  which keeps you bloat-free and aids digestion.

Healthy food does not have to be boring and Muneera’s meal plan stands testimony to that.

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Thai Spring Roll with almond dipping sauce

The one day package that I was requested to review had the following:

1. Fresh young coconut water

2. Green mango smoothie

3. Ramadan detox soup

4. Quinoa madrooba

5. Thai spring roll with dipping sauce

6. Buckwheat wrap

7. Cauliflower soup

8. Raw chocolate mousse

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I was also provided a document elucidating the reason behind having each meal at a certain time during non-fasting hours. While I cannot vouch for their prescribed effect as promised by the program, I can definitely comment about the taste of each meal item. I couldn’t possibly have had all the meals in a single day, so I distributed them over two days.

–> I started my day with the Green Mango Smoothie which was refreshing to say the least. I could easily taste the green mango, spinach and perhaps a green apple as well. It was filling and delicious. As per the program leaflet, Vida recommends that people fasting should opt this smoothie for ‘Suhoor’ because this smoothie will keep you hydrated, is light and easy to digest. Having  a heavy Suhoor will only lead to more food cravings the next day and people who are fasting should definitely avoid that.

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–> By mid morning, I had my coconut water which rejuvenated me and with this I also had the buckwheat wrap. The wrap has no filling in it but it is flavourful on its own. The program suggests that it is better to break the fast in the evening with this glass of fresh young coconut water which not only quenches the thirst but also rebalances blood sugar levels. It will  infuse the body with natural minerals , enzymes and electrolytes. It is also recommended that people who are fasting also drink several glasses of water with pinches of sea salt to hydrate and flush out toxins that may have released due to fasting for prolonged hours.

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–> Lunch was a hearty cauliflower soup with grilled chicken breast ( the chicken breast wasn’t in the diet plan). The soup was creamy and appetizing, and I felt satiated and enjoyed the soup a lot. The program suggests having this soup instead of refreshing smoothie for ‘Suhoor’ on days when you feel like something savoury instead of sweet.

–> Evening had me ravenous and I enjoyed the delicious Thai spring roll with an almond dip. The almond dip was something I had never tasted before and it was addictive. I was eating it in spoonfuls. The spring roll, straight from the fridge were crispy and delightful. Basically a lettuce wrap with vegetable filling made for a filling snack along with the almond dip.

–> My final meal of the day was the Ramadan detox soup with was clear soup with alpha-alpha sprouts which felt like noodles. Just a simple yet clever way to incorporate protein while tricking the mind into thinking it’s actual noodles. This was my favourite meal of them all.

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–> I skipped the dessert and thought of having it the next day after lunch.  Next day, I had the Quinoa madrooba where the broken wheat was replaced by quinoa to make it protein rich and gluten free. It was interesting but wasn’t exactly exciting. Then came the raw chocolate mousse which wasn’t my cup of tea at all. It tasted too sour. I wasn’t sure what ingredients were used to make it and perhaps this feedback will be useful to Vida to improve upon their desserts they’re offering in this detox plan. Perhaps only cut fruits could suffice to satisfy any sweet cravings. Funnily enough, in these two days I had minimal sweet cravings. It may have to do with the fact that I was consuming no gluten products all.

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( Madrooba is like a savoury porridge usually made from broken wheat, masalas and chicken, and cooked in chicken stock)

All in all it was an interesting meal combination with so many flavours and textures to try. I felt light and bloating -free in these two days and this goes on to say how much you would benefit if you try the entire detox program. Cleansing the body is a must and maybe Ramadan is the right time to get it done considering the calorie intake is already quite restricted. Every meal is well packaged and the portions are controlled which itself proves that a lot of thought has been put behind this meal plan. As per the information provided by the Vida team, they offer custom meal plans taking into consideration any kind of special health and taste preferences.

For all who are interested, contact the Vida team on vidaforlife@gmail.com or call tel: 17534999. These meals will be delivered at your door step!

Wishing all my Muslim friends a blessed and healthy last week of Ramadan.

Ramadan Kareem! Falooda Recipe and a Social Media Award for #SMDAY

July 4, 2014 | By

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This is my 5th year and Bahrain is home now. The comfort and the familiarity makes me disown my expat status and feel like local. The food, the culture, the openness and the warmth are addictive which makes me wonder whether I would think about a time when I would feel like packing my bags and heading back to my home country, India. It is when I moved to Bahrain that I started writing and blogging and discovered that part of me which I never knew existed in the first place. Being a blogger allowed me to explore several avenues which otherwise would have been unapproachable. With these experiences, I gained confidence and started trusting my own abilities and after 4 + years of blogging, my efforts were recognized by the (@SMCBahrain) Social Media Club of Bahrain where my blog was awarded The Best Blog under the Kitchen and the Dining category. It makes me very happy because it was completely unexpected yet somewhere I feel fulfilled with the recognition that my blog got.

Interestingly, it is also a great time to be in this region when it is at the cusp of this amazing social media revolution. The region has begun to sit up and take notice of what social media platforms and bloggers can do and what an important part they form in the overall scheme of things. I extend my special thanks to the Social Media Club of Bahrain for taking steps towards encouraging us bloggers. This award makes us want to do more and better now.

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Bahrain opened my mind and my heart to the culture and its religious beliefs without ever imposing them. Ramadan is a very special time to be in the region as it provides an opportunity to witness a collective sentiment towards a common goal. It is almost like the entire island quietens down during the day and all you can hear is prayers that the winds carry with them. These years have taught me that if Ramadan is about fasting, it is in equal parts, also about feasting. Whether it is Iftar or Ghabgah, food is a the center of all discussion and a chance to sample a wide array of traditional and modern classics at all the grand buffets around the town. But most locals swear by the traditional food made at home that beats the tastiest meal in any restaurant.

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To celebrate my blog’s win and the blessed occasion of Ramadan, I was prompted to create this indulgent treat called Falooda. Most of my Indian friends would be very familiar with this dessert drink which perhaps might have also been a childhood favourite.

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This is an indulgent yet refreshing drink that pleases all the senses, instantly and together. A perfect summer dessert in a glass that is full of rose scented and flavoured milk, starchy- rice noodles, sabja seeds that make it look exotic and a dollop of kulfi flavoured icecream to give a greater depth of flavour.

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It is surprising, how unbelievably easy this is to whip up together. For all my Muslim friends who are fasting and want to eat at home, and aspire to indulge on a treat, this comes highly recommended. Primarily being only an assembling project, Falooda is delicious as it is filling after a day of fasting. It refreshes the mind and the spirit considering July is a very tough month with longer hours of fasting.

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With this I end my post on a sweet note and wish every body a wonderful weekend.

Ramadan Kareem to all the readers of Slice of my lyfe.

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Thank you again for reading my blog – it really pushes me to write my next post and to keep doing better.

Making Maki at Meisei (Sushi 101)

July 4, 2014 | By

To constantly learn is to constantly evolve into something higher, stronger and better.  In my own quest of learning new, wondrous things about food, I have resorted to the online world most of the times. But sometimes, you need that hand holding especially when it comes to learning a new cuisine. Japanese has been and will be my most favourite cuisine outside of Indian cuisine ( ofcourse!).  Few weeks back, I was invited to a ‘Maki ‘ assembling demo at Meisei which I gladly accepted because I wasn’t going to pass up such a wonderful opportunity to learn how to make Maki from an experienced Chef such as Chef Micheal Sang -Kyu Lee.

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Source: Google image

Meisei in Adliya, opened in early 2013 and offers its diners a combination of gourmet  Asian flavours and an elegant surrounding to enjoy them. The diverse Japanese-Korean-Chinese fusion menu is prepared by top chefs to create an exceptional dining experience, with dishes that offer an interpretation of modern Asian cuisine that can be enjoyed across cultures. When I reached Meisei on a boiling Wednesday afternoon, I was too exhausted from the heat. But the cool interiors and the smiling staff put me in a good mood instantly. They were just about to begin the demo and I realized I had the company of  5 other ladies who looked very eager to learn.

Chef Micheal has a sense of humour that put us all in great mood. I wasn’t overly intimidated to learn how to roll the Maki but his easy -going manner definitely helped enjoy the task more. I observed that we had a table with prepared ingredients in front of us and all we had to do is to assemble the Maki. That was so simple!

I underestimated.

Japanese is a cuisine of refined, subtle and balanced flavours. Other than the Wasabi’s pungent, powerful attack on the senses, nothing else really screams for attention. It is almost like sitting in meditation and enjoying  ‘being in the moment‘.

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  The demo began with Chef Micheal explaining to us about the important elements of Maki – making:

1. The balance of flavours is key

2. Prepare in advance – chop the vegetables/ fruits/ fish/ into  julienne and ready to use

3. It is the rice that lends all the real flavour to the Maki ( The cooking of the rice wasn’t included in the demo. It was provided to us, ready to use)

4. Finally, the most important element is to be gentle and subtle with your fingers. (Chef Micheal had an funny trivia to share about his own Maki making experience where he said it makes his wife very jealous when she watches her Chef husband handling the Maki  with such tender care and love). So that is how nimble -fingered one has to be while attempting to learning this art of great finesse.

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Uramaki – rice on the outside and the seaweed paper and filling on the inside

We tried creating two types of Maki -

1. The hand roll – which is the regular Maki has the Nori( seaweed paper) on the outside and the rice and the filling vegetables/fish inside

2. Uramaki – (the inside out roll) – This is the type of Maki with the rice on the outside and Nori ( seaweed paper) and the filling of avocados/cucumber/ cooked white fish on the inside

I followed Chef Micheal’s instructions very carefully and tried to emulate his actions but obviously as a first timer, my Maki was not the best. But I enjoyed working with my hands.

Making Maki is like craft. 

But like all craft, Maki demands its share of practice and intuition.

Chef Micheal has collected in his culinary repertoire, a world of experience ( literally). His Maki flavours are reminiscent of the different cultures and of different nations that he has worked in. All the flavours play together so well that, not only does the Maki look like ‘work of art’ but also indulges the tastes buds, making it quite addictive. My own amateurish attempt tasted wonderful with all the flavour notes in place to enjoy after an hour of rolling and assembling.

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From the picture above it is quite evident that even while you roll your Maki well, cutting on it into pieces is actually quite tough. However careful you are, the knife slips and the Maki roll gets squeezed. That is when I take home a lesson; it is the simple looking things in life that demand so much attention and care. And if we give that love and tenderness, it cannot help but blossom.

All in all, it was great experience learning how to assemble the Maki under the tutelage of Chef Micheal and also interacting with the other ladies at the demo. Since I am the only Maki lover in the family, I doubt I am going to practice this at home. If you are interested in learning how to make beautiful Maki, you ought to immediately enroll after Ramadan at Meisei. 

Meisei Address: Building 951, Road 3830, Block 338, Adliya

Phone number: 1700 7770

Website: www.meiseirestaurants.com

Social Media: @MeiseiBahrain