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

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 — –>[Tweet “I have entered @sliceofmylyfe ‘s worldwide #giveaway and you should too! #bloganniversary #5years”]

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

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

Stuffed peaches in warm orange sauce
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 6 fresh peaches, deseeded and cut into halves
  2. 2 tsp stevia
  3. 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  4. For the stuffing
  5. 1 cup paneer/ cottage cheese ( crumbled)
  6. 3 tbp low fat milk
  7. 2 tbsp stevia
  8. 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
  9. Orange sauce
  10. 1.5 cups orange juice ( freshly squeezed)
  11. 1/2 tsp stevia
  12. 2 tsp cornflour , dissolved in 1 tbsp water
  13. 1/2 tsp lemon juice
Instructions
  1. Heat 2 cups of water, stevia and lemon juice in a heavy bottom pan
  2. Add the peach halves and let them poach on slow flame. Stir them in between
  3. Take them out of the pan when the peaches soften and let them cool
  4. For the stuffing
  5. Mix the paneer/ cottage cheese with all the ingredients and stuff the cooled peaches.
  6. Refrigerate the peaches & the stuffing
  7. For the Orange sauce
  8. Mix the freshly squeezed orange juice, sugar substitute and cornflour in a pan and cook on slow flame until the mixture thickens
  9. Add the lemon juice, mix well and keep aside.
  10. To serve - Take a chilled stuffed peach and place it in a small serving bowl and pour some warm orange sauce and serve immediately
Notes
  1. Adapted from inspired from a recipe by Tarla Dalal
Sliceofmylyfe - a Food blog based in Bahrain http://www.sliceofmylyfe.com/

 

5 years of blogging celebrations with world – wide giveaways

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.

[Tweet “Participate in a world -wide giveaway on sliceofmylyfe.com that starts 26th of January. #bloganniversary #5years”]

A beautiful bubbly brunch at Le Meridien – a review

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

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/)