Category Archives: lifestyle

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/

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.

Post to read if you want to turn vegan

I practised being vegan for a short while just out of curiosity. I wanted to know how difficult or easy it was and how this lifestyle shift would benefit my health. I am a vegetarian and so the only things I needed to cut out of my diet were honey and diary products. It the beginning I found it difficult to cut out yogurt but after a few days, it didn’t matter. Did I feel any different health -wise? I certainly felt my bloating had reduced but other than that I didn’t see any major change. I even tried vegan meals from a home -based vegan meals set up and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I felt I needed to know more about being vegan means and embarked on a research around the same. This is what I found- 

Veganism is being practiced widely these days and there is always a debate about whether it is just another food fad or whether opting for veganism has its own benefits. Before getting into whether it is fad or not, it is important to understand what being a vegan means.

“Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.”

As per this definition, being vegan is not just about changing diet habits but is a major lifestyle change. More and more people are opting to be vegan due to dietary and health concerns than moral reasons because they are either lactose intolerant or as a weight loss measure. Turning vegan means shifting into a lifestyle where shopping for cosmetics, clothes, holidaying, dining out should be vegan-friendly.  

Generally, a proper vegan diet is considered healthy because it is plant based and omits meat, sea food, eggs, honey and all dairy products. But there is a chance that newly converted vegans may take time to adjust to quitting meat by replacing it with refined carbohydrates like pasta, rice, breads etc.  In that case, vegan diet may not necessarily mean a healthier lifestyle. Before going vegan there are few things to keep in mind –

  • You may need a vitamin B12 supplement and an iron supplement. These nutrients are more easily available in animal foods and cannot be obtained from plant –based diets.
  • In a community that craves meat for every meal, it can be quite challenging to follow a plant based diet. People around will ask all kinds of questions which may be annoying or amusing and they won’t stop anytime soon.
  • Sources of protein will diminish and soy and soy products become the go-to source. But there are health concerns related to soy based “vegan- meat “products and they should be used sparingly in the diet.
  • You will have to take time out to read all the food labels, cosmetic labels and clothing labels.

But all the above reasons should in no way deter anyone from trying this lifestyle because people who have switched to this kinder and healthier way of living life, swear by the benefits.

  • The average vegan diet is higher in vitamin C and fibre, and lower in saturated fat than the one containing meat
  • Vegans have a lower BMI (height-to-weight ratio) than meat eaters, which means they are skinnier
  • Vegans have lower cholesterol levels and lesser risk of heart diseases because the diet is lower in saturated fat.
  • Turning vegan is an opportunity to discover food flavours and recipes that you may not have tried before.
  • A vegan lifestyle is a kinder way to live on this earth.

In Bahrain, being vegan means you are certainly in the minority and  it is bound to raise many eye brows. However, there is a small yet strong vegan community that supports and strongly advocates the choice of being vegan. What’s more, many restaurants and hypermarkets have changed their outlook and have more vegan-friendly food and ingredients making life easier for this community. Here are some of the sources that may prove useful if you are planning to adopt the vegan way of life –

  1. Vegan meals at your doorstep – @veganmealsbh delivers healthy, homemade vegan meals at your doorstep. Follow them on Instagram and you would know the menu which changes week after week. Having tried this diet for a week by ordering vegan meals from Vegan Meals Bahrain, here are a few observations –
  • Felt lighter
  • No bloating
  • Portions are just enough to feel full and on more.
  • Vegan take on classic dishes like shepherd’s pie were refreshing to taste.

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  1. Vegans in Bahrain community – @veganbahrain is a community that provides all the necessary information about being vegan and where to find products and ingredients that are vegan – friendly.
  2. Vegan Blog – One Arab Vegan ( onearabvegan) is a blog you must follow, in case you are planning to try the vegan lifestyle. All information about how to tackle unfriendly questions about your vegan lifestyle to the most sumptuous vegan recipes grace this blog penned by Nada. Be sure to subscribe to this one!
  3. Vegan products – Lulu Hypermarket and Al Jazeera house vegan- friendly products. All it takes is some effort to read labels to ensure you are picking the right product.
  4. Eating out – Initially, eating out may feel daunting but there are many restaurants in Bahrain that offer vegan- friendly menus. Café Amsterdam, Orangery, Pauls Bakery offer many vegan choices to diners.

Adopting a vegan lifestyle does not have to be an overnight shift. It can be done in baby steps, allowing the body and  mind  the time to accept the change by first cutting out refined, in-organic and processed foods and including more vegetables, fruits and whole grains in the diet.

#Giveaway 3 from Lulu Hypermarket: Organic Quinoa, three- ways

It has been really hectic the past week and I didn’t have the time to update the blog. However, here I am with yet another giveaway from Lulu Hypermarket. Not just that, I also will be sharing Quinoa recipes that are extremely easy to prepare and healthy to treat your family to. 

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Quinoa is a versatile ingredient that is great for all age groups. Quinoa is a seed that is rich is protein and very useful for weight loss. There are primarily three types of Quinoa – Red, White and Black. I use all the three types of Quinoa varieties in my diet and here are my observations of the same-

  1. White Quinoa is commonly found and on cooking they tend to be mushy. Initially I cooked a lot of this variety but the mushy texture did not appeal to me and so I switched to its red and black varieties. If at all, I do use white quinoa, I use them in salads and eat it cold ( again something I don’t prefer). But I know many people who enjoy cold salads and white quinoa works just fine. 
  2. Red and the black Quinoa hold their shape after cooking and in my opinion taste better than the white variety. I make stir fries with vegetables, paneer, tofu, hallumi and even add scrambled egg sometimes. 

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Quinoa cooks quickly and is the best source of nutrition for people with gluten allergy. Quinoa is also available in flakes and powdered / flour form for several uses in cooking and baking. Quinoa as I mentioned earlier is very rich in protein and has the perfect balance of all 9 amino acids which is real in plant protein and commonly found in meat. So for vegetarians, vegans and plant based diet followers, who usually struggle to meet their daily quota of protein, should definitely consider including quinoa in their diet. 

So that was about the Quinoa and its wonderful properties. 

Before I get into the recipe, I would like to announce the winner of #Giveaway2 and announce #Giveaway3. 

The winner of #Giveaway2 is Anita Das. Congrats Anita! You got all the brownie points for sharing the news about the giveaway on maximum number of social channels – Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Pinterest. You win yourself a organic products hamper from Lulu Hypermarket! 

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Now for Giveaway 3, all you need to do to win the LAST ORGANIC HAMPER from Lulu Hypermarket is obviously say that you are interested in the giveaway in the comments AND let me know which of the 3 recipes I shared during the giveaways is your favourite?

And then, ofcourse feel lucky <3

With this, let us head to the recipe- 

Quinoa three-ways
Serves 3
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
35 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
35 min
Ingredients
  1. 1/4 cup of white quinoa
  2. 1/4 cup of red quinoa
  3. 1/4 cup of black quinoa
  4. vegetable stock - 1 cup
  5. water - 1 cup
  6. black pepper and salt as per taste
  7. vegetables to stir fry such as peas , mushrooms, corn
  8. paneer - 1/4 cup, crumbled
  9. 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  10. red chilli flakes
  11. garam masala ( optional)
  12. lemon juice - 1 tbsp
  13. salad vegetables like onions, tomatoes, cucumber, chopped finely
Instructions
  1. To cook the quinoa, you can either use plain water or any kind of stock. For the corn and mushroom Quinoa, I used vegetable stock to cook.
  2. For 1//4th cup of Quinoa, you will need to use 1 cup of water. For 1 cup quinoa, you will need 2 cups water.
  3. To cook quinoa, you need to first rinse the quinoa under the running tap and the drain the water. Allow the water or the stock to heat and add the quinoa. Let the water come to a boil and then lower the heat. Close the lid of the vessel and cook quinoa at low heat. Check in between to see if the water has drained you will notice a tail like structure sprouting out of the quinoa grains. Once the water drains fully, take it off the heat and let it cool.
  4. Fluff the quinoa with a fork.
  5. The entire process takes about 10-15 minutes.
  6. During this time, you can cut and prep your vegetable and other condiments.
  7. Take a shallow pan and heat some oil, add your ingredients - first the garlic, then the vegetables, and once the vegetables are cooked, add the Quinoa. Give it a thorough mix and season the mixture well. Take it off the heat.
  8. Type one - For the Corn and mushroom using red quinoa, I used vegetable stock to cook Quinoa. Quinoa, beautifully absorbs the flavour of the stock to give the dish a wholesome flavour. Add salt, pepper, chilli flakes to season it. Serve it hot with yogurt.
  9. Type two - Peas and Paneer using black Quinoa, - I looked the Quinoa in water and then added it to stir-fried peas and crumbled paneer. It looks a bit mushy because of the paneer. Add garam masala and chilli flakes for more dramatic flavour. It is a very satisfying one -pot meal. Serve it hot with buttermilk
  10. Type three - Cold salad using white Quinoa. - Used water to cook white Quinoa and fluffed it up with a fork, once cooked. Added chopped salad vegetables.season it with salt, pepper, chaat masala, lemon juice or opt for a vinaigrette dressing. You can also add roasted peanuts or seeds to give it an extra crunch. Refrigerate it before serving.
Sliceofmylyfe - a Food blog based in Bahrain http://www.sliceofmylyfe.com/

#Giveaway 2 from Lulu Hypermarket: Spelt bread toppings & organic hot cereal recipe

Before I get into the thick of things, I would like to thank the readers of my blog who took time out to participate in my blog anniversary celebrations. Let me begin with announcing the winner of the last giveaway – Hearty congrats to Julia Atherton – Dandy ( @Bahrainbizmum) for winning the first organic hamper from Lulu Hypermarket. Do get in touch with me so that I can handover the hamper to you.

Others who did not win, shouldn’t feel let down because there are two more opportunities to win organic hampers from Lulu Hypermarket.  So waste no more time and participate already!

All you need to do is, 

  1. Write in the comments that you are interested in winning this hamper
  2. “Like” Lulu’s Facebook page 
  3. brownie points to those who share this post on their social media channels and let me know that they did.

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In this post, I shall two very easy and highly nutritious recipes using Lulu Hypermarket’s organic Spelt bread and a 8 cereal mix.

The Organic spelt bread is very simple to use and tastes great even when you simply toast and have it with a smidgen of butter. The seed -studded bread loaf is very versatile and can be made very interesting with a wide range of healthy toppings for a quick snack during the day or even while entertaining guests at home. For those who do not know what spelt it is, it will be useful to read this.

I topped my spelt bread slices ( which I toasted from ) with all kinds of sweet and savory toppings. Peanut butter and banana, nutella with raspberries, labneh and honey with chia seeds and one with raspberry jam.IMG_7817

In the savory ones, I enjoyed topping pickles on chilly labeh, olives pesto and olive paste. cherry tomatoes with labneh

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You can make endless combinations that are appetizing and healthy too.

My personal favourite is the one with pickles and olives and pesto in the savory ones while in the sweet ones, nutella tops the list with labneh and honey.

The other interesting recipe I have to share today is an easy gluten -free hot cereal which is my go -to breakfast at least 3-4 times a week. 

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This cereal mix can be made sweet or savory but I prefer savory. What is more, it is gluten free and so a very useful product for people suffering from gluten intolerance. I love it because it tastes amazing!

Gluten free 8 cereal savory porridge
Serves 2
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
20 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup hot cereal
  2. 2 cups water if using a pressure cooker or 2.5 cups of water if you are cooking it in a vessel
  3. vegetables of your choice, - cauliflower, beans, peas, corn, broccoli, egg plant, chopped
  4. 1 onion - finely chopped
  5. 2-3 garlic cloves minced
  6. 1-2 green chillies, chopped fine ( optional)
  7. salt as per taste
  8. pepper as per taste
  9. Garam Masala ( optional) - 1 tsp
Instructions
  1. In a pressure cooker, heat some oil and fry onions. Once onions cook, add minced garlic and green chillies
  2. To this add the chopped vegetables and cook for sometime
  3. Add salt, pepper or any spice to your taste
  4. Add the cereal mix and combine it all well
  5. Pour water and pressure cook it until you get 1 whistle. Allow it cook on low heat for 5 -7 minutes before take it off.
  6. Serve with a teaspoon on ghee or butter on top. It tastes great with yogurt and pickle if you are eating it as your lunch or dinner.
  7. If you do not have a pressure cooker, add 2.5 cups of water instead of 2 cups and allow it cook until you find that it has reached a porridge consistency.
Notes
  1. The cereal mix cooks very fast. So keep and eye that it doesn't burn.
  2. It stays well refrigerated for 2 days
Sliceofmylyfe - a Food blog based in Bahrain http://www.sliceofmylyfe.com/