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.
Wishing all the readers of Slice of my Lyfe, a lovely Eid and happy holidays.
I intend to break this long blog silence with a beautiful, picture – heavy travel post which will include the glorious touristy details of my visit to Doha ( Qatar). Cheers
Each time I meet my father, I am astonished. At the age of 68, he seems to be exuding more vitality than me or my husband or anyone considerably younger. The last three months were a ball. I had my parents visiting us and that gave us ample amount of time to spend with each other. My father spent hours playing with my 4-year-old every single day and at times it was difficult to figure out who was having more fun. He was the one who took her out to the park and ran around with her for hours in this high heat- humidity situation in Bahrain. Where did he draw that kind of energy from?
I always knew my father was energetic and had tremendous zeal for life. I have never seen him pull covers over his head and sleep until late in the mornings. He is always up at the crack of dawn and some times even before that and by the time we wake up, he is already done with his morning rituals and could be seen chanting the Saraswati Sahasranama. Post which, he would have his breakfast and was ready to ‘carpe diem’.
Of all that I know about my father, there is this youthfulness about him that I admire the most. Oftentimes, I have wondered how he managed to not let life sap this from his being. We all know how life just slowly sucks away our enthusiasm even without us noticing and suddenly we are caught in a moment while looking up our picture on Facebook, wondering – When and how did I change so much!
In one such similar moment, I thought about this and found several insights into my father’s personality and his view on life.
So these are few secrets to how he manages to remain youthful and energetic:
1. Be creative – My father, who is a Pisces, has a natural inclination to being creative. Be it writing emails, to ironing clothes ( yes! he is very handy around the house), to keep the house clean and in order or even his conversations radiate with his creative genius. He finds more efficient and interesting ways to do banal things in life to keep it exciting. The loveliest trait about him is he always encourages everyone around him to be creative – to be the best possible versions of themselves. Easy as it may sound, it is quite difficult. But I have seen him practice being creative and over years it has become a habit. He is retired now but when he was an employee of a large and an esteemed organization, he was known for his creative approach to everything in his Department.
Nourish your creative side to stay young
2. Appreciate beauty- Usually in life, we get carried way by the routine and forget to appreciate the beauty around us. Somehow, most of us are not even gifted with good observation skills unlike my father. My father is very aware of everything around him and is quick to appreciate its unique beauty. How beautiful and grand do the date palms look swaying in the wind, especially when laden with ripe dates, how beautiful do the crottons look and how the building’s reception with its black marble looks majestic and so on. This is stuff that I pass by every single day of my life but I never have the intention, inclination or the time to appreciate it. Beautiful people, beautiful things, flowers, gardens, fountains, beautiful buildings and the list is endless – fascinate my father.
Appreciate beauty to stay young
3. Connect with people- It has been a year since we moved this building complex but I haven’t had the chance or the interest to know my neighbours or make friends around the building. In three months time, my father managed to make more friends just by going to the park with my daughter. He knows the names of the attendants in the supermarket below our building and also the names of the plumber, repairman, the water guy to list a few. I see him giving them personalized attention and taking care to ask them about their lives. They are ever so happy to serve him.
Connect with people and try to bring smiles to their face to stay young
4. Maintain a child – like wonder – Even at 68 years, my father is intrigued about everything. He reads up a lot and follows anything that is trending – be in music, news and opinions, culture etc. Lately he was asking me about Timbaland and a few recommendations that I could give him about the tracks that he has composed and sung. He is genuinely curious and that shows in the way he explores the books that my brother and I read. He has a soft spot for young adult’s fantasy fiction as well.
Be genuinely curious about the world around you to stay young
5. Be addicted to the idea of being in love – Being in love is a feeling different from all others. It gives you that spring in your step, that colour to your cheeks and you feel like you are walking on clouds. Well, that is the feeling we should have in our hearts all the time. Unfortunately, it seems so difficult in this fast paced life to feel that light – hearted, and enjoy the finer moments of life. My father, an eternal romantic at heart, always seems to be joking and having a time of his life. He seems to be addicted to the idea of being in love – no not with any person as such except, of course his wife, my mother – but generally in love with the feeling of love.
Be in love to feel young
These are his five strategies that contribute towards his youth-like demeanour. I think, there may more but I may take some time to explore them and eventually imbibe them.
This recipe here is not my father’s favourite by any means but it is my way of showing how I have begun to learn all his secrets to staying young. Over and above his secrets, I am trying to develop a few strategies of my own such as eating healthy and exercising well. The diet- exercise combination keeps in a good mood and hence productive. When I feel productive, I know I am on a creative pursuit and that leads me to be curious. I do have to work on my ‘connect with people’ area where my skills are tremendously deficient. And feeling light – hearted, like being in love is still a work-in- progress.
This light and hearty soup made of broken wheat and brown lentils is a complete meal. I feel completely satisfied after having this for lunch (preferable) as I find that my cravings are reduced drastically. I have had this soup, 3 days in a row for lunch and did not get tired of it – it is that good! It also got featured in a Dubai based culinary magazine called “The Chef’s Special” for their Ramadan special issue along with my Falooda recipe. I wrote about how Ramadan, when planned properly can be an enjoyable experience by finding the balance between fasting and feasting.
Do try this soup and if you do, please let me know how you enjoyed it! The recipe is as under:
Here’s wishing everyone a fantastic few days of the working week and a wonderful weekend!
Three years ago, I completed a project. No, it wasn’t of any national interest but it was important for me as a food blogger and a restaurant reviewer.It was called the Restaurant Review project on the blog, where I had taken up the task of reviewing 24 restaurants in Bahrain in 6 months time in 2010. Many obstacles came my way, but I did finally finish it, not it 6 months but it took me 12-14 months to finish. Today, I have nearly 29 restaurants reviewed on my blog and you can check them out here. The very first restaurant I reviewed was Jim’s Restaurant in Adliya. It was a great evening with friends and family and I went home from Jim’s Restaurant feeling wonderful from all the good food. In between now and the first time at Jim’s Restaurant, I did pay it a visit a couple of times, but was disappointed by the food and the service. It was then I got to know Jim’s has changed hands twice and the new team wasn’t able to create the ‘ Old Jim’s magic’. I decided to avoid Jim’s until now, when I was invited to review them two weeks back. I was reluctant but then the new management at Jim’s were really persuasive. The new management of Jim’s Restaurant informed that their old Chef Firdaus is back and with him the restaurant is back to being the ‘good old Jim’s’
Jim’s Restaurant in Adliya was always known to be a fun place for a great night with friend’s on a weekend. With food that draws inspiration from Anglo- Irish to Indo- Persian cuisine, Jim’s Restaurant has always promised it’s diners a sumptuous meal in a fine yet casual set up.
I was quite intrigued to see if I would witness the old charm of Jim’s Restaurant after 3 years.
Upon entering the restaurant on a Thursday late evening, after a hard day’s work, I only had one thing on my mind – relaxation. I wanted go to a place where I could put my feet up and feel the casual vibe around me. It seemed that my wish might just come true when we were welcomed inside the restaurant by the restaurant’s staff with broad smiles. We ordered our drinks as it was extremely hot and humid that evening. The chilled and refreshing drinks provided the much needed succor. It was a matter of time that I felt very relaxed and was genuinely looking forward to my dinner at Jim’s. We ordered some starters which I realized were the same that I had ordered three years ago. It is funny how our memory points us to migrate to everything that is familiar and comfortable. My taste bud memories immediately got to work and I recalled the contrasting tastes of the salty brie against the tangy sweetness of the blueberry coulis. The Deep fried brie wedges in blueberry coulis was everything that my taste buds remembered and loved. I was nearly convinced that I could forget the past and imagine that good old Jim’s was really back. Now I was very excited to see how the other courses turned out.
To accompany the starter, we also ordered for an appetizing oriental chicken salad. The salad was refreshing because it was made from all the seasonal and local produce such a locally sourced chicken, cucumbers, beetroot, crispy lettuce, onions and coriander leaves. The satay style marinated chicken was delicious while the tangy peanut dressing made it very addictive. I had many helpings of this salad which I found genuinely filling and would recommend it just as highly as I would the deep fried brie wedges with coulis.
The main course seemed unnecessary but my gluttonous nature got better of me. We ordered for a spinach, brie, mushroom stuffed chicken and a vegetable quiche – again both main courses were the same from our first time at Jim’s Restaurant. The hearty spinach, brie and mushroom stuffed chicken was accompanied by mashed potatoes, garlic cream sauce and buttered vegetables while the vegetable quiche had a salad side to it – every bit scrumptious and hearty.
By the time, we finished our main courses, we were in food heaven. The portions were fantastic and it really felt like we were back at the old Jim’s Restaurant. Jim’s is lucky to have chef Firdaus back and it was his magic that was helping his patrons relive old Jim’s Restaurant memories. All in all, I sensed that this is a chef who knows exactly what he’s reaching for, a chef whose ultimate goal is simply to make his patrons and new customers happy. And this is just the beginning and Jim’s Restaurant has some hard work to put in before they can have all their old customers back. I have no doubt in my mind, that Jim’s will be very successful like it used to be once. I missed eating the dessert because I was too full from all the tasty food. The next time, I go to Jim’s Restaurant, I will start with dessert first.
If this review has made you hungry, you can check out Jim’s menu here
This is a sponsored post but the views expressed are solely mine.
How many times in life we miss out on great opportunities only because we hold preconceived notions about them. They slip by because we are hesitant and limit our imagination and thus our experiences in life. I had a similar experience very recently when I went to The Meat Company when I was graciously asked to review them. I was quite hesitant considering The Meat Co. held a reputation of being a steak house and I do not eat steak. Going to a steak house and then eating vegetarian fare would never be a fair deal. But The Meat Co. ‘s PR persuaded me to try their non-steak menu and promised that it would be just as delightful, if not more. Armed with my camera and a non-steak eating husband, I tottered off to The Meat Co. on a sultry evening during Ramadan.
Upon entering the restaurant, we were greeted by the gracious hostess who showed us our table. We are asked promptly about the beverage of choice and we opted for water at room temperature. I made an additional request for hot water because I wasn’t keeping well. The request was dealt with spontaneity which impressed me as a pot of boiling water was kept on my table. We were introduced to the server, Alex who was more than pleased to help us figure out the menu and how we could get the best out of it despite belonging to the category of the non-steak eating lot.
While we spent time perusing and contemplating the options on the menu, we were served a crusty wholemeal bread with balsamic and olive oil to dip into. Just perfect start to what was to be a fine dining experience. In the beginning, we were seated on the ground floor where the lighting wasn’t the best for food photos. We were escorted to the first floor which was less crowded and that helped my cause. It meant having the freedom to take pictures from all odd angles which would have otherwise drawn a lot of eye balls. Such is a life of a food aficionado! Sigh!
Well, I digress. The moot point is, we were treated exclusively with Alex giving us all the information we needed about the cuisine and what to expect from dishes we hadn’t tasted before. He told us about the South African food that is The Meat Co.’s origins and how it is different from other kinds of cuisines.
For the starters we ordered the Wild Mushroom and Spinach Vol-au-vent which was sauteed wild mushroom in a creamy spinach sauce, stuffed into a flaky pastry and topped with cheese which I suspect was Parmesan and Mozzarella. The pastry was crunchy and flaky while the stuffing was a creamy deliciousness of a match that was made in heaven.
We also ordered for a warm goat cheese salad as a starter which was slightly sweet and tangy which could be credited to the mild honey balsamic dressing on the salad. Oh somehow I forgot about this third starter – Scallops on the bed of risotto! How could I, considering this was my first time trying scallops. And tell you what; I loved it!! The risotto was comfort food at its best with a mild cheese flavour and a kick from the pepper balancing the subtle flavours of the pan- fried scallops. Somehow, both the salads, scallops were so filling plus the bread was so hearty that we felt, we could have easily skipped the main course. But we had already ordered for it and were feeling completely intimidated by the portions! ( What were we thinking!)
The the main courses arrived, we realized that The Meat Co. definitely doesn’t believe in less is more! The portions were LARGE and HEARTY and so TASTY. It was a pity that we over -ordered ( is there such a term??) our starters and didn’t take the steakhouse definition too seriously.
For the main course we ordered the grilled fish ( hammour) with steamed vegetables for me and a ‘well-done’ chicken burger for my husband with fries and onion rings. It was an absolute pity that we were up until our mouths with all the wonderful food, that the main course went largely unappreciated. I made it a point to doggy bag my left over fish because leaving it felt like a criminal waste. The left overs served me well the next day for lunch where I marveled at the succulent texture of the fish.
Alex entertained and encouraged us to eat more and heartily but I told him that if I had a morsel more, I might just die there. To which he said, ” Not yet!” You have to try our chocolate fondant with vanilla ice cream and creme anglaise for dessert. My heart just stopped at the words, chocolate and fondant. I had to have atleast a spoonful, even it meant falling into a food -induced coma for life.
Was the chocolate fondant dessert everything that I hoped it would be? Perhaps, no. The dessert was the only downer among all that we ordered. But that is alright since I was too stuffed to even enjoy anything beyond a spoonful. All in all, it was such a pleasant evening spent at The Meat Co. with its pleasant staff, who made sure we were attended exclusively. The food was the star of the night and there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that The Meat Co. ‘s food has been one of the best meals I have had in a long time.
Having a meal there, changed my perception about the place. The Meat Co. has a lot more wonderful food to offer than just steaks for which is widely popular. An engaging and customer friendly staff is an asset to any restaurant. The Meat Co.’s staff had been very hospitable and they knew their food. This really impressed me. I am definitely going back there with my friends some time soon because a lot of my friend’s, like me, have avoided going there for the same reason. I need to show them that there is so much more to The Meat Co. than simply steaks.
*This is a sponsored post but all the views expressed are solely mine.
Here, in Bahrain, we are still reeling from our longish yet blink and you miss kinda Eid Holidays. My kitchen still smells of butter and chocolate and spice from plenty of baking expeditions that Mimi and I carried out. My instagram account is filled with pictures of my moreish banana breads ( will blog about it soon), Nigella’s Orange and chocolate cake and almond biscotti. As an expat and a non- Muslim in Bahrain, being around during Eid celebrations is a special experience each year. As an outsider and an observer, the festivities marked by a long holiday and the Muslim community getting together to celebrate after a month of fasting and prayers, have always left me with a feeling of longing for my family back in my own home country. There is a spark in everybody’s eyes as they go shopping for gifts and traditional sweets. To feel close to it all, I too, go for shopping for traditional sweets and gifts for friends and my family.The other major attraction during Eid would be to go to the Grand Mosque which is a unique experience and this year my parents would be visiting the Grand Mosque for the first time. It would be interesting to see the Mosque once again through their eyes. The Ministry of culture has come up with a great line up of performances from all over the world as a part of the Bahrain Summer Festival 2014. I can’t wait to attend some of them which sound every bit delightful. At home, I try to create a festive atmosphere by preparing some delicacies like the Shir Korma and Biryani. I call friends home and do our own little Eid party with cheese sampling and such. Eid, on the whole, leaves me feeling festive and I look forward to this festival like I would, Deepawali, while I lived in India.
So that was a bit about how we spent the holidays. I would also like to share a few interesting updates. I couldn’t have imagined on that sultry afternoon of 23rd February, 2010 that my blog would come this far. The innumerable opportunities that my blog has provided have helped me explore my own potential as a food writer and a food photographer. I still have a long way to go but every opportunity is a divine gift that I shall treasure.
I had the opportunity to share a recipe, picture and a write up of the famous Thalassery Biryani with the readers of Bombay times. It is a small mention but for me a big milestone to be featured in the supplement of the Times Group. In this article, I talk a bit about its origin and the interesting history behind the Thalassery Biryani. The recipe is pretty amazing too.
The other update includes a chocolate cookie recipe that Mimi and I shared with the readers of a Bahrain based magazine – Bahrain Confidential. Here, I discuss why baking is such a fruitful exercise with children especially during their summer holidays. I shall share a detailed post on the cookie recipe, soon.
Now that the updates are out of the way, let me share with you my simple, yet absolutely delicious Kheer ( rice pudding) recipe which I made to celebrate Eid. Just with a few ingredients it is possible to create something so magical that it unites your family at the dining table even if they have vastly varied tastes for other foods.
Most of my cooking that I do at home is instinctive and I never take the pains of jotting down the recipe. But during these Eid holidays, I thought better and wrote down the recipe for Kheer as I made it. It is a favourite with my family especially my daughter and my husband. They enjoy a cupfull of this in its warm and chilled forms.
While it uses few ingredients, its taste blooms because it is cooked slowly on low flame. To speed up the process would mean cooking it at high temperatures but then it would completely kill the taste. I know of several other methods of making Kheer like cooking it in the pressure cooker etc but these short cut methods do not do it for me. I like the traditional way of cooking it slowing and allow the flavours of the reduced milk to merge with the cardamom, sugar and the ghee-fried raisins and cashews. This recipe gives atleast 8 servings.
Wishing everybody a great week ahead!
One week or less remains before Ramadan comes to a close. The intense fasting and prayers have changed the atmosphere around here. Everything is so quiet and so still, that it inspires you to look inwards. It is perhaps the right time to detox the body along with the mind. Muneera Obaidli who has been involved professionally in the health industry for over 7 years with her health food business, Vida for Life, has created this Detox Plan for Ramadan. I was invited to sample and provide my honest feedback about her special Ramadan menu. The purpose of this menu is to help you make the most of your fasting experience by providing meals that cleanse and nourish the body and keep it hydrated throughout the fast. It is a vegetarian and gluten – free which keeps you bloat-free and aids digestion.
Healthy food does not have to be boring and Muneera’s meal plan stands testimony to that.
The one day package that I was requested to review had the following:
1. Fresh young coconut water
2. Green mango smoothie
3. Ramadan detox soup
4. Quinoa madrooba
5. Thai spring roll with dipping sauce
6. Buckwheat wrap
7. Cauliflower soup
8. Raw chocolate mousse
I was also provided a document elucidating the reason behind having each meal at a certain time during non-fasting hours. While I cannot vouch for their prescribed effect as promised by the program, I can definitely comment about the taste of each meal item. I couldn’t possibly have had all the meals in a single day, so I distributed them over two days.
–> I started my day with the Green Mango Smoothie which was refreshing to say the least. I could easily taste the green mango, spinach and perhaps a green apple as well. It was filling and delicious. As per the program leaflet, Vida recommends that people fasting should opt this smoothie for ‘Suhoor’ because this smoothie will keep you hydrated, is light and easy to digest. Having a heavy Suhoor will only lead to more food cravings the next day and people who are fasting should definitely avoid that.
–> By mid morning, I had my coconut water which rejuvenated me and with this I also had the buckwheat wrap. The wrap has no filling in it but it is flavourful on its own. The program suggests that it is better to break the fast in the evening with this glass of fresh young coconut water which not only quenches the thirst but also rebalances blood sugar levels. It will infuse the body with natural minerals , enzymes and electrolytes. It is also recommended that people who are fasting also drink several glasses of water with pinches of sea salt to hydrate and flush out toxins that may have released due to fasting for prolonged hours.
–> Lunch was a hearty cauliflower soup with grilled chicken breast ( the chicken breast wasn’t in the diet plan). The soup was creamy and appetizing, and I felt satiated and enjoyed the soup a lot. The program suggests having this soup instead of refreshing smoothie for ‘Suhoor’ on days when you feel like something savoury instead of sweet.
–> Evening had me ravenous and I enjoyed the delicious Thai spring roll with an almond dip. The almond dip was something I had never tasted before and it was addictive. I was eating it in spoonfuls. The spring roll, straight from the fridge were crispy and delightful. Basically a lettuce wrap with vegetable filling made for a filling snack along with the almond dip.
–> My final meal of the day was the Ramadan detox soup with was clear soup with alpha-alpha sprouts which felt like noodles. Just a simple yet clever way to incorporate protein while tricking the mind into thinking it’s actual noodles. This was my favourite meal of them all.
–> I skipped the dessert and thought of having it the next day after lunch. Next day, I had the Quinoa madrooba where the broken wheat was replaced by quinoa to make it protein rich and gluten free. It was interesting but wasn’t exactly exciting. Then came the raw chocolate mousse which wasn’t my cup of tea at all. It tasted too sour. I wasn’t sure what ingredients were used to make it and perhaps this feedback will be useful to Vida to improve upon their desserts they’re offering in this detox plan. Perhaps only cut fruits could suffice to satisfy any sweet cravings. Funnily enough, in these two days I had minimal sweet cravings. It may have to do with the fact that I was consuming no gluten products all.
( Madrooba is like a savoury porridge usually made from broken wheat, masalas and chicken, and cooked in chicken stock)
All in all it was an interesting meal combination with so many flavours and textures to try. I felt light and bloating -free in these two days and this goes on to say how much you would benefit if you try the entire detox program. Cleansing the body is a must and maybe Ramadan is the right time to get it done considering the calorie intake is already quite restricted. Every meal is well packaged and the portions are controlled which itself proves that a lot of thought has been put behind this meal plan. As per the information provided by the Vida team, they offer custom meal plans taking into consideration any kind of special health and taste preferences.
For all who are interested, contact the Vida team on email@example.com or call tel: 17534999. These meals will be delivered at your door step!
Wishing all my Muslim friends a blessed and healthy last week of Ramadan.