Category Archives: Food Chronicles

Bread Poha & a slice of my life

We had the most enjoyable three days for Eid this time. Time spent in the company of friends, eating out, bowling, watching movies was truly memorable. I thought of indulging in some cooking in these holidays but I couldn’t really get down to it. 

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Lately, I haven’t shared much on the blog about what is going on with my life. Well, there is a reason as to why I have been so cut off from this space. Everyday, there is so much happening that it is difficult to pin point a few events or even morals from the lessons I learn each day as a woman entrepreneur. Moreover, as a person, I always find it inspiring to focus on the positives that would help me move forward.

 

So here I am sharing a few highlights of my life in the last 6 months.

  • My company – The Butterfly Effect Co completed 3 years ( www.thebutterflyeffect.co). This means it has graduated from being a startup to a small business now. This also means we graduated from being a 2 people company to a 6 person company focusing on clients across industry verticals and geographies. We have also expanded our service lines from being a pure-play social media management company to a full-fledged digital marketing company providing services like SEO, mobile apps, Website development etc. 
  • Little Mimi who took up maximum space on my blog will start with grade 3 now in September. She is a little person now who has opinions and expresses them with the ferocity that makes me wonder how did she grow up so fast!
  • The blog completed 7 years in February, this year. I celebrated it with skillet brownie and ice cream. You can check out the recipe here.
  • One of the highlights this year was my foray into organizing events. Having organized community based food, art and craft festivals, bake sales in the previous years, I was able to harness on that experience to conduct a children’s painting exhibition. I cannot thank God enough for it went off smoothly despite all odds. 
  • Mimi and I started a reading club at home for children every Wednesday. It has been delightful sharing my love of books with these 7, 8, 9 and 10-year-olds. It also gives me a glimpse into the minds of this age group. How they look at books, plots, characters and what keeps their interest alive in the books they read!

These are few wonderful things that happened over the course of these 6 months which makes me feel very optimistic about the time to come. 

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Another highlight was preparing this awesome bread poha for breakfast this morning. Bread poha is one of my favourite snack / breakfast that I enjoy every once in a while. Generally, I am tempted to try this when I have some left over bread at home. It is wholesome, delicious and healthy too. Weight watchers may want to limit the portion cause it is nothing but C-A-R-B-S. For such dieters, I would recommend this dish for a cheat meal. For the recipe check out the recipe card.

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Bread Poha
Serves 4
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
45 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
45 min
Ingredients
  1. Bread slices, torn into small pieces ( atleast 8-10 slices- older the better)
  2. 2 large onions, chopped
  3. 5 green chilles, chopped fine,
  4. peanuts - half cup( boiled)
  5. salt as per taste
  6. chilli powder - 1 tsp
  7. coriander powder - 2 tsp
  8. tumeric powder - 2 tsp
  9. sugar - 1 tbsp or less
  10. lemon juice - a dash
  11. sprinkle of water
  12. mustard seeds,- 1 tsp
  13. cumin seeds - 1 tsp
  14. dash of asafoetida
  15. curry leaves - 8 -10 leaves
Instructions
  1. Tear all the bread slices into bite sized pieces, keep aside
  2. Take some oil in a flat frying pan, splutter mustard seeds, cumin seeds and add asafoetida
  3. Add chopped onions and fry until light & translucent
  4. Add green chillies and curry leaves and fry.
  5. To this add, all the spice powders including salt and sugar and mix well.
  6. Add boiled peanuts and fry well
  7. Add bread pieces and let the spices coat the bread pieces very well.
  8. Once the bread is mixed well, sprinkle water to soften the bread.
  9. Take the pan off the heat and add a dash of lemon juice and serve hot
Sliceofmylyfe - a Food blog based in Bahrain http://www.sliceofmylyfe.com/

Ramadan special – Vimto Ice Cream

This year Ramadan has been the hottest. It makes me wonder how all who are fasting are keeping up! I hope all of them are hydrating well after sundown. Each year, Ramadan also inspires me to try something new keeping up with the local tastes and ingredients. Vimto features prominently in all the Bahraini households that I know. Vimto is a mixed berry drink that is quite high on sugar but works wonders after a day of no food and drink. Usually Vimto is simply mixed with water and tonnes of ice to create a refreshing drink at home. It is also served at restaurants as an accompaniment to dinner. 

When I tried Vimto for the very first time, I wasn’t impressed. To me it tasted like medicine at that time and I vowed never to try it again. It was not until several years later that in 2016 that I tried Vimto at a local cafe that I actually found the flavour interesting. With tonnes of ice after a walk in souq, under the hot sun, Vimto revived my sagging spirits. Since then, I have enjoyed this drink on and off. This Ramadan, I felt like experimenting with this much-loved syrup-drink and thought that ice – cream was the safest way to do so. 

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While researching this drink, I found this interesting trivia that really surprised me –

“This  purple drink was first manufactured in Manchester in 1908 ( 105 years ago) and made from grape, blackcurrant and raspberry flavouring and lot of sugar”

Also the Vimto sold in the Gulf states is thought to be even higher in sugar levels than that sold in Western countries. 

With this interesting trivia engaging my thoughts, I embarked on creating this simple 4 -ingredient ice cream at home.  This ice cream uses Fresh cream, whole milk, Condensed milk and Vimto.

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It was very happy with the way the ice cream turned out especially because I don’t have an ice cream maker. It was creamy and the Vimto flavour was spot on. 

Vimto Ice Cream
Serves 10
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Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
10 hr
Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
10 hr
Ingredients
  1. 3 cups whole milk
  2. 2 cups fresh cream
  3. 1 cup vimto
  4. 1 tin condensed milk
Instructions
  1. Blend the condensed milk with whole milk well.
  2. Add Vimto to this mix
  3. Whip the fresh cream until it form soft peaks and fold it into the mix. ( if you feel it is not folding well, just don't bother and blend it all in)
  4. Pour it in a container and cover it.
  5. Freeze it for atleast 2.5 hours or 3 hours and then bring it out. Give it a good mix to break all the ice formation until the ice cream is creamy.
  6. Send it back to the freezer for another 3 hours, bring it out again and blend it again to break the ice;
  7. Do this atleast 4-5 times for the creamiest texture.
  8. Serve the Vimto ice scoops with berries
Sliceofmylyfe - a Food blog based in Bahrain http://www.sliceofmylyfe.com/

Chocolate -Orange Skillet Brownies & 7th blog anniversary

Happy birthday blog! 

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It is my blog’s 7th anniversary today and funny enough I almost forgot about it. Like relationships that we take for granted as time passes by, I have started to take my blog for granted. Hardly giving it the attention and care it deserves. How easily I forgot that this was where it all started – my creative life, the food journey, the writing and ultimately the digital business. In all the years that I wrote my blog regularly, I never suffered a writers’ block or never felt the lack of creative ideas. Now that I am doing it lesser and lesser, pool of ideas is growing shallower and for the first time since my birth as a writer ( or atleast I would like to think so about myself) I am struggling to form sentences. Feelings that are trapped inside have difficulty finding expression in words. 

I don’t know if I am in a position right now to make any blog related resolutions but I hope to be more regular at blogging and baking ( another joy of my life).

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The skillet orange & chocolate brownies were supposed to be a Valentine’s special post but as usual, I couldn’t blog about it then. So I take this chance to share with you recipe of the Skillet Orange and Chocolate brownies which are fudgey and is child’s play to whip up. Literally.

Mimi made this on-the-go with little guidance from me. I couldn’t be prouder. 

 Recipe is as follows-

Ingredients –

100 gms butter
100 gm dark chocolate, broken into pieces
2 large eggs at room temperature
175 gm sugar
1 large orange, zested
50 gm all purpose flour
25 gm cocoa powder
half cup chocolate chips ( milk or dark chocolate)
 
Procedure-
Beat the egg and sugar till the mixture is pale and doubles its volume
Heat the oven at 180 C
Warm the chocolate, butter and orange zest in a non-stick sauce pan and gently melt the contents. Do not over heat it else the chocolate will burn and give a bitter taste. Let it cool.
Once the chocolate mixture is cool, add it to the egg and sugar mixture by folding it in gently. 
Sift the all purpose flour and the cocoa powder to the mixture and mix well with gentle hands.
Pour it in a greased iron skillet  and generously add chocolate chips on it. 
Bake for 30 mins at 180 C and 10-15 min at 160 C
Serve it hot with some vanilla ice cream or it is deliciously gooey just by itself 

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Fantastic Bahraini delicacies and where to find them

This article appeared in the National Day special edition of the Weekender Weekly. 

All pictures by Sushil Sasheendran

Bahrain has a rich culinary culture that borrows heavily from the migrants from all over the world who travelled and eventually made this beautiful island-country their home. Over the years, Bahraini cuisine adapted and evolved and formed its own unique identity among all other Arab cuisines. The Bahraini cuisine today is influenced by all the cultures such as Indian, Persian, Sri Lankan, and Palestinian to name a few. In the course of my culinary adventures, it dawned pretty soon that it was only in Bahrain that the aroma of Indian food merges seamlessly with the waft of Mediterranean cooking methods interspersed with Arabic ingredients making it a heady concoction and a true foodie’s delight. From simple aromatic cuisine and local markets to snazzy restaurants and sizzling grills, Bahrain pleases and teases with the variety of food it has to offer. On the glorious occasion of National Day, it is only fitting to talk about all the popular and traditional Bahraini dishes to give it the attention it deserves.

It was quite easy to put this list together with the help some Bahraini friends and bloggers. These dishes are national favourites and the places where you can find them, even more so.

Sharbat Zaffran ( Saffron) We start with a refreshing drink that promises to quench thirst and has medicinal properties too.  The color of sunset, this Sharbat ( cooler) is a must have on a hot day.Many restaurants in Bahrain serve this drink but Chai Café’s  ( in Sanabis, opposite Bahrain Mall )never ceases to delight. You can have option of choosing the Saffron drink with either rose water or palm water and both of them are equally fantastic.

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Balaleet – Breakfast is the most important meal in all cultures around the world and Bahrain is no exception. Balaleet is a unqiue Bahraini dish that combines a sweet and savory flavours together in one dish. Sweet and cardamom flavoured vermicelli noodles are topped with an omelet making it a complete meal.It can take a little getting used to but once you develop a taste for it, you will love it. Children particularly enjoy Balaleet for breakfast because of the sweet noodles. You can order Balaleet at plenty of places around Bahrain but the most satisfying one that I found is at Chai Café.

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Liver with Khoboos & Mehyawa – Bahraini cuisine is marked by strong and bold flavours  and enjoy eating liver for breakfast with fresh –out-of-the –oven Khoboos ( Arabic bread) in the morning for breakfast. The best liver dish that a lot locals rave about can be found at Haji Gahwa- a tiny whole –in-the-wall place in  the heart of Manama. Do not miss out on their home made Mehyawa ( dried fish sauce), cheese and labneh. It is simply out of this world!

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Bahraini Breakfast Platter – if these single Bahraini breakfast dishes aren’t enough to whet your appetite, you can try the Bahraini breakfast platter from Saffron by Jena. For an authentic experience try the outlet in Muharraq. The breakfast items are available in a set menu fashion and offer fried potatoes, different kind of Arabic breads, Balaleet, fava beans ( mashed), red kidney beans, Tahina dip, dates and so on. It is a gargantuan meal and you might feel the necessity to skip lunch after a breakfast meal at Saffron by Jena.

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Fish Machboos – Lunch for most Bahrainis is about enjoying a hearty plate of rice and fish or meat. Machboos is the National dish of Bahrain that is made at home and at restaurants at near-same frequency. With the sea serving up the freshest catch each day, the fish Machboos is what you must try. Machboos uses a unique blend of spices such as black lemon, saffron, black pepper, cardamom which makes it a dish that fills up your senses as it does your tummy. The best Fish Machboos is town is to be found at Tabreez in Adhari. This is an absolute favourite among locals as it is among Saudi nationals who frequent the restaurant to enjoy the Bahraini style fish preparations.

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Saafi & Rice – Meal as simple as plain rice served with fish is what life is all about. Saafi fish is brought fresh from the sea, dried in the sun and salted and served atop plain rice. Tabreez restaurant offers the best Safi and rice that locals promise is finger licking good.

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Sambusa– This mouth- watering snack is perfect for any occasion and Bahrainis cannot think of a gathering without Sambusa. Stuffings for sambusa vary from meat, chicken, vegetable and cheese. Deep fried and serve piping hot, Sambusa can really turn a day around . The best Sambusas can be found at Abdul Kader in Manama opposite American Mission Hospital where they start serving them hot from 5 am onward and are always busy.

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Bahraini grills – Meat grills , kebabs are big part of the Arab food tradition. Bahrain has a grill shop every half a kilometer serving different types of grills like Turkish, Persian etc. However, the authentic Bahraini style grills are available at Tikka Abul in Exhibition road. Smaller in size, marinated in Bahaini spices, these flavourful grills are extremely popular among the locals. They are always crowded and visitors from neighbouring GCC countries flock their window for their share of what may probably be the only authentic Bahraini grill place in Bahrain.

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Sulaimani – Where there’s tea, there’s hope! Tea is a ritual across cultures that people take very seriously. Bahrain is no different when it comes to matters of their favourite hot beverage. Off late, Chai Karak has taken prominence but not many know that Chai Karak finds it origins in Qatar and not Bahrain. However, the good-old Sulaimani has evolved over centuries from the Indian style of tea preparation. Sulaimani uses no milk and is usually strong. Many local joints offer Sulaimani but none as fantastic as Haji Gahwa. Try their Sulaimani and feel the day turn better.

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Halwa –Festivals, family gatherings, trips to relatives, corporate gifts aren’t complete without the traditional Halwa. Prepared in large cauldrons in the narrow streets of Manama and Muharaq find their roots in  Zanzibar, located in Tanzania. Omanis, who have always maintained close commercial ties with Zanzibar, were the first to introduce this delicious Middle Eastern sweet in the Gulf countries. This dessert found its way into Bahrain probably 150 years ago. Halwa Shwaiter and Halwa Murooj Al Muharaq are the shops to visit if you want to have the authentic taste of Bahraini Halwa made with corn starch, sugar, nuts and spices.

In my six years of living on this island and observing the local food traditions closely, one trait stands out. Bahrainis are food lovers and love to try out different places. They do not care about how small the joint or restaurant might be but if they hear about the food being good, you are sure to find BMWs, Porsches and grand cars like that parked outside these humble joints. During the National Day holidays, when you are out and about with your families and friends and feeling adventurous, head to any of these local joints and be sure to try some of the recommendations.

Sea Salted dark chocolate cake

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We think we can control it all. To some extent we might be able to do it but let me tell you this – You are kidding yourself if you think you can control it all. Family, work, work relationships, social connections and your own personal space are just few of the things most of us juggle. We set ourselves up for failure when we think we have it all and then when something goes wrong we feel shocked at how on earth did that happen. Relationships are the trickiest of the lot and as years go by I am left with fewer and fewer friends. How did I end up becoming a social failure ? I find it immensely difficult to connect with people beyond the acquaintances stage. I do not have the motivation to invest and nurture a social relationship. I am drawing up a list of invitees to a religious function – the first ever – at my home and I realize there are not even a handful that I feel comfortable calling to my home and into my space. 

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It doesn’t make me unhappy; this revelation. It only makes me ponder about how I have changed over time. Earlier I wasn’t outgoing but I had many friends and now I am more outgoing and approachable and I only have a handful! Funny how life is always such a paradox!

What has been your experience with having friends and building connections?

Anyhow having fewer friends is not a bad thing always. You can have more cake to yourself. It is important to look at the bright side, no matter what 🙂

This cake is an adaption from recipe in Donna Hay Magazine that uses black salt. Sea salt works just fine and pairs beautifully with the dark chocolate flavour in the cake. The photograph inspiration is also from Donna Hay Magazine which I believe produces the best pictures if you are looking to improve on your food photography & food styling skills. Recipe is fairly simple and the sea salts adds to the dark chocolate drama like lightning does to the dark and rainy skies. 

The recipe is as follows –

 

Sea Salt Dark Chocolate cake
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Ingredients
  1. For the Cake
  2. 375g Self raising flour sifted
  3. 50g cocoa, sifted,
  4. 330g caster sugar
  5. 4 eggs
  6. 375ml milk
  7. 250g unsalted butter, melted
  8. 200g dark chocolate, melted
  9. 2 tsp vanilla essence
  10. 2 tsp sea salt flakes
  11. For the Dark Chocolate Ganache
  12. 400G dark chocolate melted
  13. 250G Sour cream
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F). Place the flour, cocoa, sugar, eggs, milk, butter, melted chocolate and vanilla in a large bowl and whisk until smooth.
  2. Pour the mixture in a round cake tin lined with baking paper and bake for 60 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Allow the cake to cool completely.
  3. While the cakes are cooling, make the ganache. Place the melted chocolate and sour cream in a large bowl and mix to combine. Set aside in the refrigerator for 10 minutes or until firmed slightly.
  4. Spread the ganache over the cake.
  5. Sprinkle with the black salt to serve. Serves 8–10.
Notes
  1. originally it is a two layer cake but I made it into a single layer cake.
Adapted from Donna Hay Magazine
Adapted from Donna Hay Magazine
Sliceofmylyfe - a Food blog based in Bahrain http://www.sliceofmylyfe.com/