I never thought of myself as a tea drinker or any kind of beverage drinker. But off late, I have been fancying a lot of flavours in green tea. A green tea mid-morning or early evening really helps me rejuvenate. Alongside, I have been really enjoying my cup of black tea that the good folks from Assam 1860 sent me from the tea gardens of Dibrugarh, Assam.
I have my cup with fresh mint and a dash of honey. The flavour is smooth, strong and so refreshing. With the cup of Assam 1860 in my hand, I savour my quiet time with a book or simply listen to the sounds of life outside my apartment. This special brand of tea has really brought out the hibernating poet in me.
Today I would like to sit and read With a cup of life in my hands My strong black tea.
The colour is black with a tinge of gold did I just see a whirl of hope? Life's just passing by today and I don't have a care Is it the tea that I sip that makes me dare?
People say, where there's tea, there is hope I have reason to believe that is true And I give all the credit to my brew.
A bit about the brand : James Warren Tea Limited, a company with history dating back to 1858, has launched a premium tea brand named ‘ASSAM 1860” . This tea is available through our site www.assam1860.com, and delivered currently localy in India. The packing of the tea bags variant is in innovative nylon bags while they also have loose tea in different sizes in a zipper pack to ensure freshness. The tea is all from Thowra Tea Estate in the Moran Circle.
James Warren Tea Limited, a company with history dating back to 1858, has launched a premium tea brand named ‘ASSAM 1860” . This tea is available through their site www.assam1860.com, and delivered currently locally in India. The packing of the tea bags variant is in innovative nylon bags while they also have loose tea in different sizes in a zipper pack to ensure freshness.
James Warren was a retired army general and who later became an entrepreneur. He planted his first tea estate near Dibrugarh and then a few years later settled back in the United Kingdom. He gave the reigns to his 2 nephews who planted several more estates like Dhoedaam and Deamoolie. It is said that these 2 boys were very fond of music and would play late into the night making a “dum dum” sound so locals renamed the region “Doom Dooma.
(Information courtesy :Asssam 1860 marketing team)
I am already nervous that my sachets are dwindling from everyday use and soon I will be left with none. But then I shall have the memories safe in my taste buds of the the afternoons spent with alone in the company of my strong brew and my favourite book.
While health is the state of the body, wellness is the state of being. Day to day stress of work, managing a house, keeping up with social commitments takes a toll. Going to the gym may feel like an act of taking care of the body, but the lifting of weights, running on the treadmill stresses out my muscles and I find myself constantly complaining of some ache or pain everyday.
The mind commands the body to keep pushing but the body seems to saying the exact opposite. It is important to keep observing what the body is telling us. People say that wellness is a state of mind but at times, that state of mind needs to be induced. How can you do that? The easiest option would be to go to a spa. Once in a while, I stop everything that I am doing, push my meetings to another day and dedicate a few hours of a day, once every quarter to restore my balance.
This time around it was special because my husband and I were invited by Rimal Spa to try their spa and wellness packages at the Movenpick Hotel.
We happened to visit Rimal Spa on a weekday morning and were quite looking forward our time of R&R. On reaching Movenpick, we were guided to Rimal Spa, where we met with the Spa Manager. The Manager, first explained the concept of the spa where she told us that Rimal Spa is a European-style spa with Arabic influence that aims to provide result-driven treatments to its clients. We were seated in the waiting area as our masseuses prepped for our massage. We were offered a rejuvenating herbal drink that really helped us relax. The Spa Manager then took us around explaining the different types of treatment rooms, the services and the different types of treatment products.
What stood out in all the explanation was the attention to detail.
During our short yet detailed tour, we were told that Rimal Spa features 12 treatment rooms, including single treatment suites, one double female suite and two traditional Turkish hammam suites with their own steam rooms and heated wet tables. All treatment rooms have private showers and to ensure privacy, the wellness facility offers segregated male and female wings with relaxation lounges.
There are different kinds of treatments to choose from at Rimal Spa. There are the regulars like the Aromatherapy massage, the Swedish Massage, the Hot Stone Massage and then there were the very special Hammam treatments, the Well-Being Massage and the Signature Jewels of the Sea Massage. Apart from the massages, there are also body treatments, facials for both men and women.
After our brief tour, we were asked to choose our treatments. I chose a ‘Deep tissue’ massage while the hubby opted for an ” Asian blend”. We were housed in the same suite with double beds which felt very special and private. In my head I was thinking about this being a perfect anniversary or a Valentine’s day gift.
A Deep Tissue Massage – I chose this one especially because this is a massage that uses firm pressure and friction. Going to the gym 5 days a week and training had really made my muscles tight. This massage promised to relieve stiff, tight and fatigued muscles and joints by releasing tensions and knots on the back, neck and shoulders. I requested my masseuse to also focus on my calves in particular. My masseuse’s deft hands worked their magic and after an hour + 30 minutes of massage, my body felt light and relaxed. It felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders and calves and I felt fresh and full of energy.
The Asian Blend – The hubby tried the Asian blend which uses Thai massage combined with aromatherapy oils, acupressure and special stretching techniques. This 90 minute massage was meant to relax, increase flexibility and boost the immune system. After the treatment, I heard him humming a tune on our way home which proved that he was in a great mood.
What stood out for me?
1. Great attention to the customer’s comfort
2. Great choice of treatments and products that not are not restricted to body massage. There are special kinds of non-invasive treatments for face and body lifts. There are special treatments meant for pregnant women as well. I wish I could have got one when I was pregnant!
3. The ambiance is very relaxing with soothing music and that herbal tea really caught my fancy. I wish I could have a cup now!
4. The staff is very courteous and knowledgeable. All doubts are dispelled promptly and every request is catered to with great warmth.
The Rimal spa experience for me was one of a kind that helped me unwind and forget about my tensions. When I caught up with the busyness of life yet again, it felt like I had a new- found source of energy inside me. I certainly look forward to trying the Hammam experience during my next visit.
Photos : The Movenpick Hotel
This was a sponsored post but the views expressed are solely mine.
Looking for something elegant for your baby to wear? Something festive and one of a kind? Then you really should check out Doe a Deer in Hamala. An exquisite boutique for children-wear from the age of 0 – 6 years. I had the opportunity to visit the store a month back and I was spellbound by how elegant and gorgeous it was on the inside. The decor is classy, minimalist and in a beautiful gold, white and beige. This says a lot about the thought given to bring all the elements like the look, feel of the store to match the product, thereby making the shopping experience very harmonious.
With decor so classy, the product on the shelves is bound to be just as splendid. I was obviously more interested in the collection meant for five-year-old girls. Beautiful azure-coloured summer coats, short frilly frocks in beige, whites, gold and all versions of pastel. The collection at display was ‘elegance’ personified. I made Mimi try out a beautiful mediterranean – inspired summer coat and her whole look changed from casual to celebratory.
Doe a Deer was born from the want of a boutique where mothers’- would-be and new could find something festive and one of the kind, just like their babies. The name, which evoked in me plenty of flashbacks from one of my favourite movies – The sound of music, made me hum the song – Doe a Deer endlessly.
Stylish prams, cribs, baskets, baby essentials like bottles, bibs, sterilizer kit etc. are available at an affordable price. Soft toys made with child -safe cloth and material is definitely worth buying for your tiny tot.
I was so tempted to buy all the tiny baby clothes but was reminded that I didn’t need them anymore. The boutique is spread out on two floors with clothes and baby accessories on both. With sophisticated decor and a pleasant staff to assist, shopping at Doe a Deer is nothing short of a wonderful experience.
If you want to take a look at their collection, you ought to follow them on Instagram : @DoeaDeerBahrain. They have their new summer collection being unveiled in a few days.
So if I have to describe Doe A Deer’s collection in 3 words, I would say:
You walk into Nino’s restaurant in Seef’s Aali Mall, in the afternoon, you will be greeted with a scene of busy office – going lunch goers hurriedly yet enjoyably having their lunch. The servers at Nino skillfully glide through the aisles between the tables with guests, juggling plates of piping hot food and colourful drinks. It is a typical scene at any restaurant, you would say. But to me, there was this sense of harmony, in every bit of activity that went on while my food review exercise progressed. Perhaps the only awkward spot would have been me and the commissioned photographer who unsuccessfully tried to get one shot of me without my mouth full of food.
The restaurant review at Ninos was a planned one with Obai & Hill and the O Talent group of lovely people. A planned review is a misnomer. Food, as we all know, attaches to itself that element of discovery and surprise. Even if you have been to a restaurant many times or if it is your first time, the food and the overall experience can always be something you not have expected. I have been to Ninos several times before this and each time I rapidly jumped the menu to order something from their ‘weight watchers’ section (with a side of my favourite fries)
This was my opportunity to sample Nino’s best and see if they stood up to their promise. Nino’s serves Japanese and Italian crowd-pleasing dishes to its patrons. To some, this may come across as grossly mismatched but I do not mind ordering a platter of mixed Maki and edemame with Italian favourites at the same time. Good food, after all, is good food.
The Restaurant Manager, Mr. Amit was very gracious and excitedly explained about the food served at Ninos. His passion for his work and food shone through the entire conversation, as he explained ingredients, methods of cooking and other finer details.
First came the soup - Zuppa de Funghi – a mushroom soup enriched with herbs and cream. A soul-satisfying soup that will fill you up with warmth, spoon by spoon. I thoroughly enjoyed this soup and I must warn you that all the portions at Ninos are American-style – HUGE.
The Avocado and chicken salad was the next dish served as a side, which in my opinion, could very well be the main. Thinly sliced chicken breast, avocado, mixed lettuce, pomegranate, toasted pine nuts tossed with Chicken jus – white vinaigrette. I enjoyed the mildly seasoned chicken and the slight bite from the avocado and the pine nuts. Felt that this salad came together beautifully with the dressing. ( Highly recommended)
As the review progressed, I was also served a rejuvenating cold drink which is Nino’s specialty. I must tell you, it is just the kind of drink that I needed to awaken all my senses. A tangy, sweet, peppery lemonade that was laced with the flavours of ginger cordial, coriander, mint, lemon, lemon grass and cranberry juice. This is called the Igano ( not in the picture). This is a must-have because it isn’t a drink like any other.
If bite-sized meal is your thing, then the next on the list to- order should be the chipotle chicken and avocado sliders. This is why I like Ninos. There is avocado in every other dish and avocados make everything taste amazing! These bite-size wonders are flavour bombs and quite filling.
Just when I thought, this is where I should really end my meal, I was served a platter of food from heaven. All bite -sized morsels, deep fried, filled with cheese and served piping hot, have the power to heal all your emotional problems. Every bite was a warning that I did not heed because during such times in your life, you just ought to follow your heart. The deep fried morsels were Fritto funghi – crumbed white mushrooms, filled with chicken fontina, parmesan and herbs and Chicken Tenders- crumbed chicken breast tenders served with parmesan dip
To me, Nino restaurant represents quality, fantastic tasting, tummy-warming food served consistently and not to mention there is something for everyone at Ninos. If you come here with your family, there wouldn’t be question about whether any one of you might not get what you are craving to eat. Nino’s caters to all palettes, continental cuisine -wise and Asian cuisine-wise too.
That is why I did not find it out of place to have a sumptuous crab and prawn Maki admidst my Italian fare.
Nino’s just makes it work!
In the end, when I was doubly sure, that dessert was simply not an option, I was presented with a warm date bread pudding with ice cream ( not in the picture). In between some curses and swears, I savoured my date bread pudding, not minding that I was bursting at the seams.
For this divine date bread pudding alone, I would urge you to go to Nino’s and while you are enjoying it mark my words –
Happiness is … a warm date bread pudding from Ninos.
Nino’s also does home deliveries so make sure you order-in on a hectic week day and enjoy the awesome food from Nino’s from the comfort of your home
Location: Seef, Aali Mall
Tel: 17 566 555
Times: Open daily 11am-midnight
Price: BD 10-25 / person
This review was sponsored but all the views expressed are mine
My obsession with food has been life – long. It is very evident if you follow me on Twitter (@sliceofmylyfe), Instagram (@sliceofmylyfe) or if you are my Facebook friend. In real life too, it is no different. Each day is about cooking different kinds of food, going to food tastings, restaurant reviews. attending special food nights at hotels, reviewing brunches, writing, discussing, recipe testing, recipe development, trying new food/ cook ware products, ingredients and the list goes on.
There is this other element of food that I started to enjoy particularly after I started taking my food blog seriously; food photography and food styling. Mostly what I have learnt is by observing what other amazing food photographers and stylists do on their blog and videos. Sometimes, these professionals put out tutorials which are very helpful and that has helped me improve my skills in the food styling department to an extent where I have begun to do this professionally.
To do this professionally for clients I have teamed up with George Matthew, who is an incredibly talented food photographer with a great passion for his craft. You can check out his Instagram feed ( @greyimagefood) and I bet you won’t stop drooling. George and I have done some food photography and styling assignments together with great success. Some examples of which you can see below
The thing about doing creative work is that you want to constantly push your boundaries and today, we bring to you a video we shot of a Chocolate Lava Cake with molten caramel center. Check the video here and let us know your feedback
For the recipe, check this recipe card out
- 170 g milk chocolate. finely chopped
- 170 g butter, cubed
- 170 g light brown sugar
- 85 g plain flour
- 6 eggs , beaten
- For the salted caramel
- 150 g sugar
- 150 ml double cream
- 1 tsp fleur de sel or coarse sea salt
- For the ramekins
- 30 g soft butter
- 30 g unsweetened cocoa butter
- Prepare 6 ramekins by brushing them with butter and dusting with the cocoa powder and tap out the extra powder
- Melt the chocolate with the butter in the microwave in small bursts. Make sure you mix the butter -chocolate mixture after every burst so that it doesn't burn
- Combine sugar and flour in a bowl. Mix the melted chocolate with the eggs followed by the flour and sugar. Divide the mixture between the ramekins only 3/4th full.
- Now make the caramel for which sprinkle a thin layer of sugar over the bottom of a heavy-based pan and place on a medium heat. Once the sugar starts to melt, add some more sugar. Repeat couple of times until all the sugar has melted.
- Continue heating the caramel, swirling it around in the pan. Please do not stir the caramel with a spoon.
- When the caramel is amber or coco cola colour, add the cream and salt. Be careful about the hot caramel bubbling as it gives the nastiest burns.
- Cook until the temperature reaches 108 C or until the caramel coats the back on the spoon, then pour into a dish and leave to cool a little.
- Once the caramel is cool, transfer it into a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle. Pop the piping nozzle into the middle of the chocolate mixture in each ramekin and squirt the filling. Watch the mixture rise to the top.
- Refrigerate for 5-6 hours.
- Remove from the refrigerator and bake it for 25 mins when you find the edges are firm and the centers are slightly runny.
- Test by inserting a toothpick in the center - it should come out wet
- Leave to rest for 2 minutes before turning out the cakes on small plates. Serve immediately with vanilla ice cream or berries and clotted cream
Today, 5 years back, I started my blog with no specific objective. I didn’t know I could write. I didn’t know that written words would actually help me express better than spoken ones. Today, I understand, how much succour writing has provided me and the innumerable opportunities it has given me. Truth be said, writing and blogging have opened my mind’s eye and when I write, I see, what I saw much better and clearer, though back-dated. Reflection through writing is meditative and therapeutic at times.
I owe a lot of my happy moments to my blog – Slice of my lyfe
One such happy moment is today when it completes its 5th year.
I hope to keep writing and keep wondering.
Before I forget, let me announce the winner of my giveaway #4
Mayuri Vivek Guralwar
Congrats Mayuri! You win yourself Rachel Khoo’s – My little Paris Kitchen. I hope you enjoy this book as I have.
It was a wonderful 4 weeks, celebrating my blog anniversary and making a big deal about it. And why not! Both my blog and I deserve it. Thank you to all the readers of my blog who participated in the giveaway. There will be more giveaways in the future so don’t be too disappointed.
Four challenges, four giveaways – this has been a great blog anniversary celebration series. I feel good about giving this well-deserved attention to my blog. It has been quite interesting because after I completed my culinary challenge in 2013, I didn’t try anything new or exciting. These 4-part culinary challenge where I attempted making the raw cake, set- up a table for my first date and made some pasta and sauce from the scratch have given me such a sense of accomplishment. The last of my culinary challenge was about making a Baked Alaska, given to me by my husband.
Again, I did what I do best. I procrastinated until I did not have a choice. It wasn’t really half as difficult as I thought it would be. But working with meringue can be tricky at times. But before I get into the details of how I made the Baked Alaska, I would like to announce the winner of my giveaway #3. It is Gehna Purohit! Congratulations Gehna, you win yourself a copy of Paul Hollywood’s – How to Bake. Thank you for always reading my blog and helping me with polishing my piping skills and much more.
Now for my final giveaway that I call Worldwide giveaway #4
I am giving away yet another cook book this time. Rachel Khoo, the food creative, TV host, cook book author and talented illustrated is my absolute favourite. I dote on her every post, tweet and instagram picture to the point of being obsessed. That is why final giveaway will include her cookbook called – The little Paris Kitchen. I have tried several desserts and appetizers from this book and my absolute favourite is the chocolate lava cake which I have covered previously on the blog.
To win this book, all you need to do is -
1. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram – @sliceofmylyfe
2. Subscribe to my blog via email
3. Tweet about this giveaway and
4. Leave a comment on my blog saying that you did all of the above.
And voila one of you stands a chance to win my favourite cook book author’s book!
A Baked Alaska consists of layers of icecream ( different flavours and colours to make it interesting) and it is topped with layers or single layer of sponge cake. Finally, it is covered with meringue and I used an Italian meringue recipe which didn’t require me to bake the Baked Alaska in the oven. The Italian meringue involves cooking sugar and water at a very high temperature (240 F) which then is poured into the meringue mix. The heat of the sugar cooks the egg whites and the meringue becomes stiff and ready to use. This stiff meringue is applied to the dome – shaped icecream and cake layer and then burnt artfully with a blow torch.
There is nothing more beautiful then the sight of burnt meringue.
I looked at this video to make my Baked Alaska and used vanilla and chocolate ice cream inside with a vanilla pound cake ( Sara Lee’s) to create layers for my Baked Alaska.
This is the end of my culinary challenge series and I will announce the winner of giveaway #4 on the 23rd of February which is when the blog celebrates its 5th year anniversary.
If the previous challenge was wonderful, this one was so meditative and entertaining. I was intimidated by the first challenge but I was more intimidated by this one. Making pasta from the scratch is something I have seen on MasterChef. The equipment looked intimidating and the process too. I wasn’t sure if I would even get a pasta machine in Bahrain. But again, what use will it be after my challenge is done and dusted?
All these questions swirled around in my head and I procrastinated doing it till the very end. Finally, when I felt, there as no way out and even if I failed, I had to attempt it to be fair to my brother who gave me this culinary challenge.
His challenge was for me to attempt making pasta and a sauce from the scratch. Searching for good pasta recipes lead me to understand that a grade ’00’ flour is used and that a pasta making machine is handy. Rolling out pasta sheets is definitely the other resort but it is very tedious. I, more or less, made up by mind to buy a pasta machine. After procrastinating this challenge to the best of my ability, I finally set out to get the ingredients and the apparatus. Neither did not get the grade of the flour I wanted, nor the machine. Then I searched for alternate flour recipes to see that ‘spelt flour’ is widely used and is a healthier option compared to the other one. I have never tried Spelt before but I had no choice but to go with it. Also, without the machine, the only option left was to use the pizza rolling pin to roll out the pasta sheets. So that is the back story.
Before I set out to explain the recipe and the modus operandi of the pasta and sauce, let me announce the winner of my giveaway #2. Devi Ranjit has won herself Wilton’s 12 cupcake decorating set. Congratulations Devi. Well done and thank you for reading my blog.
Now I shall get on with the announcement of my World Wide Giveaway #3. One reader of my blog will win this awesome baking book by Paul Hollywood called – ‘How to bake’ . I have used Paul’s recipes to make different types of breads and most recently, the cinnamon rolls. It is a wonderful, wonderful baking book that I think every home baker should have.
To win this, you need to do the following:
1. Tell me in the comments, which blog post of mine on ‘Slice of my lyfe’ would be your favourite and why
2. Follow me on Instagram and Twitter – @sliceofmylyfe
3. Tweet this giveaway
This giveaway closes on Wednesday, 18th of February. Good luck!
Thank you to all those who have participated and I hope you will continue to come back to my space to read my posts.
Now back to the challenge. The picture above shows a step-by-step method. I was anxious of using spelt flour but to my pleasant surprise, it came together rather easily. The important things to remember with Spelt is that once you make the dough, make sure you cover it with cling wrap to avoid drying. Using dried dough will make your pasta break when you are boiling it. My kitchen is really quite tiny and the work space, tinier. To roll out pasta in big sheets wasn’t possible. So I made 6-7 round balls and flattened them out one by one with the rolling pin and cut pasta strips.
For those who would like the recipe, here you go:
- For the pasta
- Spelt flour - 2 cups
- Eggs, at room temperature - 3
- A pinch of salt
- Olive oil - 2 tablespoons
- Tomato sauce
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 large tomatoes
- basil leaves, fresh (4-5 leaves)
- dried basil herbs - 2 tsps
- crushed pepper - 2 tsp
- chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
- sugar - 1 tsp.
- salt to taste
- For the pasta-
- Sift the flour and salt.
- Beat the eggs very well with the oil, using a fork
- Make a well in the flour and then stir in the eggs and oil with a spoon.
- Mix well with your hands and then knead on a lightly floured surface.
- Cover in cling wrap and allow to rest for 20 minutes. Even if you are not making the pasta immediately, you can allow the dough to rest in a cool, dark place, tightly wrapped in a cling wrap
- Make dough ball - this quantity will give you atleast 6 dough balls- pick one and roll it out like a roti/chappati/flat bread and as thinly as possible with a rolling pin. Spelt really allows you this freedom
- Cut the flattened dough into long strips and peel them off the floured surface, one by one and keep them aside.
- Roll out all the dough balls like that one by one and cut pasta strips and keep aside.
- To cook the pasta
- Heat a big pot of water and bring it boil. Add salt and olive oil.
- Add the pasta strips into the boiling water, little by little.
- Let it cook until your liking. I like my pasta cooked a little more than al dente.
- Drain the water and let the pasta run under cold water to stop cooking further.
- Tomato sauce
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Make cuts at the bottom of your tomatoes for easy peeling.
- Place them in the boiling water for a minute and then remove with a large spoon. Peel the skin off. Cut, core and de-seed the tomatoes.
- Heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the onions. Cook until translucent. Add the minced garlic
- Add the tomatoes and salt and simmer for about 20 minutes. Add any dried herbs your like, red chilli powder, sugar. Let everything simmer well.
- If you are using fresh basil leaves, you can tear them up and dunk them in the sauce at this point.
- Simmer for another 2 minutes.
- Mix the pasta with the sauce and serve it topped with generous shavings of parmigiano reggiano
- Keep the dough covered all the while even when you are working with a part of the dough. Dried out dough make the pasta strips break into pieces while cooking
I love a good challenge.
Even if I am not actively thinking about it, it is still running at the back of my mind. My mind is picking and putting the pieces of the puzzles, gauging and then trying another several set of iterations before, it more or less knows that a certain iteration will work. I have really enjoyed working on my challenge no. #2 because this is the first I was focusing more on the setting than the food. If you do not know what I am talking about, you should read this post.
My challenge #2 was given to me by Modesty Blaise aka Ruchi.
A romantic first date with the hubby – She wrote, “They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. I disregarded this always but now I have discovered it is quite true. Cook something that you would have on the first dinner date at home, with your husband (when he was your fiancé) – be it a dish from his native place or some exotic foreign cuisine. Mention the course items (appetizers, main course, dessert, drinks) and post a picture of the table setup.”
But before I get on with the details of the table setting and the food for my first date, I would like to announce the winner of my first giveaway- Meghna Garg. Thank you Meghna for participating and for your support all these 5 years. She will receive a copy of Nigella Lawson’s – ” How to be a domestic goddess” Hope you enjoy baking and cooking from it like I have all these years.
It is time to reveal the worldwide giveaway #2. This time again it is something exciting for baking enthusiasts. I love baking cup cakes and decorating them. Until last year my frosting skills were less than stellar. But with some guidance from a baker friend, I have managed to learn the basics and since then enjoyed frosting my cupcakes. So this giveaway includes a cup-cake decorating set from Wilton.
All you need to do is –
Follow @sliceofmylyfe on Instagram & Twitter and share this post with your family and friends.
Simple and easy!
Now back to the challenge…
When I had met my husband for the first time, he did not believe me when I told him I knew how to cook. He thought I must be a cup-a-noodles maker! Imagine his astonishment when I whipped up a curry, chappati, a vegetable side and raita. Being a newly-married, I was very excited about showing off my culinary skills and my hubby was a willing guinea pig.
It took me some time to realize, my hubby was of simple tastes and didn’t really enjoy my elaborate spread. I was a bit disappointed but when life got busy, I started to appreciate a non-demanding husband. Our first date was at Delhi Haat over fruit beer and momos. That was also the day when he proposed marriage to me.
While attempting this challenge no. 2, I asked him if he wanted me to do a lavish spread and he made a face. He is still the same person who doesn’t really fancy anything lavish. He is also a breakfast person and wanted me to do something simple and an Indian-style French toast was his choice.
Getting the entire table setting outside, was my idea because I wanted to re-create the Delhi Haat outdoors setting. Only this time it wasn’t an evening date but a breakfast date. I had plenty of flowers that I used in my table set up because I love flowers and am amazed by how they lift a simple setting to fairy tale-like.
Apart from flowers, colourful fruits and simple coloured linens really work towards creating a home-style setting.
I really enjoyed doing this challenge and thank you Ruchi for giving me this opportunity. This experiment has taught me a lot about breaking of colours, composition, placement of elements from a food styling perspective. I will be using this new-found knowledge going forward.
We, Indians enjoy a savoury breakfast more than a sweet one and that is the reason why we also have a savoury version of the usually sweet French toast. It is very easy to whip up this French toast with just a few ingredients to make it filling and hearty.
- 2 large eggs
- 3-4 bread ( white is preferred because it keeps better texture after cooking compared to the brown ones)
- 4-5 tbsp of whole milk
- salt as per taste
- 1 tsp pepper
- red chilli flakes - as per taste
- 1 green chilli - finy chopped
- 1/2 cup fresh coriander leaves, chopped finely
- 1-2 tsp of oil
- Cherry tomotes - to serve on the side ( optional)
- spring onions finely chopped (optional)
- Break the eggs in a bowl and lightly beat with a fork.
- Add the said quantity of milk and beat again
- Add the chopped green chilly and coriander and mix well.
- Finally, add salt and pepper and beat well.
- Heat a pan with a tsp of oil or two
- Meanwhile chop off the sides of the bread and dip it in the egg batter and place it on the heated pan to fry.
- Sprinkle red chilli flakes on one side while the toast is cooking.
- Cook on both sides until well done. Use tongs to cook the sides of the bread in case you find that it is still under-cooked.
- Place it on a plate. Serve it by garnishing it with chopped spring onions and lightly stir fried cherry tomatoes on the side. Serve hot.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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/)
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Here’s the recipe.
- 170 gm dark chocolate, finely chopped
- 170 gm butter
- 170 gm light brown sugar
- 85 gm plain flour
- 6 eggs, beaten
- 30 gm soft butter to coat the ramekins
- 30 gm unsweetened cocao powder to coat the ramekins
- 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.
- Melt the chocolate and butter in a microwave safe bowl for a minute and take care not to burn it.
- Beat the eggs in a bowl
- Sieve the flour and mix the light brown sugar
- Mix the melted chocolate and butter with the beaten eggs and the flour and sugar with a whisk.
- Fill out the ramekins up to the brim ( or little more than 3/4th)and refrigerate for minimum 1 hour.
- 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.
- Test with a toothpick in the center and it should come out very wet.
- Take them out of the oven after the bake them and let them rest for 2 minutes before turning them out of plates.
- Serve it immediately topped with vanilla ice cream
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
… and with that I am done with the update and will be back with a travel post about Oman.
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.
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.
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’.
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.
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.
- 250 gm fresh ricotta
- 2 eggs, at room temperature
- 1 cup caster sugar
- 90 gm butter, melted
- 3 lemons, juiced and rind finely grated
- 225 gm self –raising flour, sifted
- 60 gm almond meal
- 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.
- 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
- Add the butter, lemon rind and lemon juice, and mix well.
- Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Add the self-raising flour and almond meal, and use a spatula to fold in until combined.
- 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.
- Set aside for 5 minutes, then remove the side of the pan and turn onto a wire rack to cool completely
- Decorate with candied lemon slices and fresh berries. Alternately, this cake tastes amazing with a drizzle of honey
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- For the Rose and Cardamom Pannacotta
- 2 cup heavy cream
- 5 tbsp sugar
- 2 tsp gelatin
- 1 tsp ground cardamom
- a little more than 1/4th cup of hot water water to dissolve the gelatin
- 2/3 cup mascarpone cheese
- 2 to 3 tsp rose water + 1/2 tsp of rose essence
- 2 drops of red food colour
- For the Pistachio Rabri
- 4 cups of Milk
- 1/3 cup of Pistachio ( chopped very very finely)
- 1/3 cup of sugar
- Condensed milk - 1/3 cup
- Saffron threads - two pinches
- Cardamom - 2 tsp ground
- 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.
- 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.
- Then add the hot cream and sugar mixture into the gelatin while stirring for the gelatin to dissolve.
- Whip the mascarpone in a bowl until it has a smooth texture, strain this cream and gelatin mix into the mascarpone and stir well.
- Add rose water and rose essence and finally the colour. Give it a thorough mix and keep it aside
- Pour this mixture into cups or glasses or ramekins or even moulds.
- Place the pannacotta mixture in cups in the refrigerator to chill for atleast 5-6 hours
- 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
- For the Pistachio Rabri - Boil the milk in the heavy bottom vessel and let it boil until it reduces to half its quantity.
- Lower the heat and add sugar.
- Let it come to one more boil and the chopped Pistachios and cardamom powder
- Add saffron and cool it aside. Refrigerate before serving
- To assemble
- 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.
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.
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
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
2 bay leaves
a pinch of asafoetida
1 stick cinnamon
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/s tsp cumin seeds
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
Chopped coriander leaves and fried red chillies
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.