Tinkerbell is a collector of lost things. With these lost things she made the most useful inventions which helped make the life of the fairies of Neverland better. Mimi and I love Tinkerbell. She is our favourite fairy.
When Mimi was younger, she had this incredible talent of finding lost things too. When she was a toddler, she would bound about around the house and find stuff that we would have given up for good. My favourite clip from under the bed, hoards of pens stuck in between the sofa crevices, abandoned restaurant bills which are the only evidence of the good times we had with friends. Finding them, looking at them creates their own separate memories. That is the beauty of finding lost things. Today Mimi is 4 years old, soon to be 5. She still retrieves her Ammamma’s glasses from wherever she last left them. That is the uncanny ability that children have. We grown ups are hopeless like that. We lose things that then forget that we lost them. That is how I am. What’s gone, its gone forever. New things take the place of lost things. But today, I feel a little different.
Because I lost a poem.
I wrote it on a whim with the excitement of a child for having seen a beautiful cookie. That cookie was my muse and it made me write a poem. I never write poems because they are not for me. I read and enjoy poems written by others. But I never write one.
This cookie is special. It forced me think like a poet and express like one. It was actually quite nice, is what my friends and family told me. But no one saved it and neither did I. So I have lost it forever and I can’t seem to recreate it. The cookie is still inspiring and that is why I am sharing it today in this blog post. But the poet in me, is silent. I depend on Mimi to write one and bring it back to me, like she has always done by finding lost things and bringing it back to me. That will make a separate memory.
This is the chocolate chocolate recipe that Mimi baked like a dream and it made it into a magazine. The Bahrain Confidential featured me as the blogger of the month. Check out their beautiful, brand new website and their digital edition here. Thank you.. Melissa!
The recipe is simple and uses very few ingredients. It is gluten – free, dairy – free and nut – free though, that was not intentional. I tried it, because I thought it would make for some amazing cookies. It uses enormous about of icing sugar but let that not scare you. The recipe is as follows:
Here’s wishing all my Indian readers, a very happy Independence day today! Cheers.
.. and getting myself into more things than I can manage. This year has been very exciting but its not all hunky dory. Everyday there is something new that life throws at me but I am not complaining. The last 3-4 months have weathered me well. Lessons have been learnt but I have been getting on. The most amazing bit that has happened in all this chaos and confusion is clarity of thought has emerged. A pristine clarity of thought which is not only such a relief but also great for bolstering my shaky confidence.
In the coming months a lot would have changed in my life and I pray to God it should be for the best.
In the meantime I have a few interesting updates to share.
1. I went to my bestie’s (Namit ) wedding in Mumbai and it was so much fun dressing up, getting henna done, dancing and meeting people. The bride looked absolutely stunning with all the elaborate jewellery and garments. If you have been following me on instagram, you’d know! If you haven’t been, here’s your chance @sliceofmylyfe
2. Mimi made me this lovely mother’s day gift which I cannot get over
3. Attended a social media workshop for professionals conduct by the Social Media Club of Bahrain ( @SMCBahrain on twitter). Here I learnt about how important it is to project a consistent brand image throughout. The speaker, Ernesto Verdugo also emphasized on the various social media tools and tricks to use to make life easy.
4. My baby can make her own cake!
5. Couple of weeks ago, I had a chance to attend a arts and crafts exhibition. It was conducted my La Creation who host series of workshops for anybody who is interested in learning crafts like quilting, painting, baking and such. In a place like Bahrain where if you are new to the island it can get quite lonely. Groups such as this are such a wonderful way to get in touch with the community whilst being creative. This exhibition was a treasure cove of hand made lovelies such dream catchers, necklaces, household decoration pieces, trinkets, quilts, paintings and what not! Here, I share with you some pictures from the event.
The next post, I shall share a wonderfully healthy oats and egg white uttapam recipe which I love so much! Until then, have a good week ahead people!
Some of the best books grace my book shelf but I have no time to read them. I look at them with guilt and they look back at me with a lot of contempt. They don’t say much, mostly because I don’t give them a chance. I turn away to tend to some of the more ‘urgent’ things that need my attention. My bedside table has some of the lighter reads and some cook books. Nigella’s cookbooks are always at my hand’s reach. I flip through some recipes and read a line of two from the novel who’s name I forget until I close to book to look at the title.
I am drifting. Again. This happens when I get too busy in my busyness. I read a post written by Saheli called Floating and I knew I was feeling the exact same thing. What’s reassuring is I know its just a phase and it will pass, so I am not despairing.
Initially I used to fight it but it never helped. Now I just drift along only because I know it will end. There are few things I know make me feel better and one of them is baking. So I baked a chocolate frosted peanut butter cake. It was a friend’s surprise baby shower. I poured myself into it and even before I prepped for the cake, I hadn’t a shred of doubt that it will be wonderful.
The pictures are pathetic because they were rushed, but who cares! The cake was fantastic. I didn’t need anybody else to tell me that and I didn’t even have to taste it. I just knew it. There are a few things you should know about the cake before you try it.
– Its barely sweet and that allows the peanut butter taste to shine through.
– It uses no butter. Only oil and the cake is soft as a baby’s bottom.
-The sweetness is from the chocolate frosting which if you avoid, you’d be doing the cake a lot of disservice.
Before I end this post, there is a video I would like to share here. It is a Ted talk by one of my favourite writers – Elizabeth Gilbert of the Eat, Pray, Love fame. She talks about the creative process and of managing our own expectations that we have from our creative selves. It made a lot of sense to me. I watched it twice and each time it felt like she was talking to me. Here you go.
How much I enjoy cutting off items on my list! I don’t regard myself as some one with an OCD yet when it comes to making plans and lists, I may just be one. The final item on my list which I finished before the end of the year was Khandvi. Khandvi is a savory snack from the Indian state of Gujarat. I am extremely fond of Gujarati food because I was brought up there. Though my roots are in Kerala, my heart is with Gujarat. I speak and write fluent Gujarati but not my mother tongue which is Malayalam. Every October, during Navratri, I pine to go to Ahmedabad (where I did my Engineering degree) to enjoy the 9 days of festivity. Then comes Uttarayan, the festival of kites in January which I miss more than ever. When I think of Gujarat, I think of vibrant colours, cheerful and hospitable people and lip smacking food. Gujarati food tends to be sweet, even the savory ones. It is believed that a meal is not complete until it encompasses all the tastes of savoury, pungent, sweet, bitter and tangy. This holistic approach to food makes Gujarati food satisfying.
My mother mastered a lot of typical Gujarati recipes including dhokla and handvo. I have never managed to get any of these right at the first attempt. It only means these recipes are a bit tricky to master and require considerable practice. I had a similar experience while making Khandvi where it took me to two back – to- back attempts to get it right.
Khandvi is prepared usually from bengal gram flour but it can also be made using moong dal/ mung bean flour as well. The flour is mixed thoroughly with yogurt or butter milk and spiced with tumeric and ginger-green chilly paste. This is cooked on a low flame until the flour-yogurt mixture is done well. There is a test to figure out whether the Khandvi will roll without breaking. For that, you need to scoop a spoonful of Khandvi batter and apply it on a greased plate ( with oil). Let the Khandvi cool and with delicate fingers try and roll it out. If the Khandvi does not roll it means the batter is not done and needs more cooking. Sounds easy? Its NOT!! After rolling out the Khandvi, it is tempered with sesame seeds, mustard seeds, dried red chillis and curry leaves. The final touch is to garnish it with chopped, fresh coriander leaves and fresh grated coconut.
Khandvi should melt in your mouth! Mine did and I was happy the way it turned out.
I used the Late Tarla Dalal’s recipe – the pioneer MasterChef of India. She passed away last year leaving behind a legacy of amazing regional recipes and ‘Continental’ ones too. If you want to take a look at Tarla Dalal in action, here’s the link.
Here’s the recipe for people who are intrigued enough to try it themselves. It is a great recipe and so simple too. But simple doesn’t always mean easy.
Now that I cleared my bucket list, I was meandering around my statistics and discovered what my top 5 recipes posts have been in 2013.
It has been a fantastic year for me as far as my culinary achievements go. Crossing off a culinary bucket list, visiting France and enjoying oysters on my birthday, contributing recipes and other food related articles to magazines and attending several food related events in Bahrain have been the highlights. All this reflection and contemplation on the year gone by only tells me that there is so much to do in 2014 that I can hardly wait to start. I take this opportunity to thank each one of you readers of my blog who take time out to come to my space and leave your thoughts in the comments section. Reading these comments always, ALWAYS makes my day. It only means that you do enjoy my words and this creative space of mine. Thank you again!
I do completely and have done so way before ‘The Secret ” or any such book came about. It was a quiet sort of an understanding I developed while growing up where I believed that if I wished too hard, what I imagined may most definitely come true. As a child it meant, squeezing my eyes as tight as possible, stopping my breath for a bit ,focusing hard on the subject and wishing very, very hard. In that moment of focus I could clearly imagine it coming true and lo, behold it did!! (well, most of the times). When it didn’t I conveniently forgot about the wish and got on to wishing for something else. Somehow in my growing up I have left behind my innocent musing and wishing technique. I do not squeeze my eyes, don’t stop breathing and I don’t focus too hard anymore.
But when I got this email from Fabrice of Culina asking me if I would like to do a Macaroon class…I squeezed my eyes shut and stopped breathing. I didn’t have to focus very, very hard because my wish had already come true. If you have been following this blog you would know I have been obsessed with my bucket list lately. One item on the list filled me with great fear – Macaroons. Oftentimes I thought I have taken on way more than I can handle. But then Universe has its own sweet way to bring to you what you so fervently want. And the Universe knew I was scared of the task and I needed help which came in the form of Fabrice’s invite to attend his infinitely enjoyable Macaroon Masterclass.
The class was to be at the end of a work day. Despite that, none of the trials and tribulations at the work front could dim my excitement of attending the class. I arrived a bit late due to some insane traffic problems to find that the class was already in progress.
The Chef conducting the class was none other than Fabrice. With his infectious enthusiasm it was difficult to keep any reservations ( not that I had any) towards getting on with the task on hand.
All the attendees were given their own copies of Macaroon recipes and we were free to choose our equipment from the handsomely equipped kitchen at Culina. The pantry was stocked with all kinds of chocolates and other baking staples. I chose to make the Chocolate Mocha Macaroons and under the expert guidance of Fabrice, quickly made the chocolate ganache filling and kept it aside to cool. He told all the tips and tricks required to make any macaroon baking attempt a success.
Starting from the right way to measure ingredients, to mix the dry ingredients, the do’s and don’ts with respect to mixing the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients – Fabrice told us all. To make the shell of the macaronage /shell of the macaroons, he gave us individual attention till we all got our macaroons in the oven.
Piping was another aspect of Macaroon making that filled me with dread. I don’t have the most delicate way of going about this exercise and am a master at making a mess… and a mess I made. But I piped, nevertheless. Tiny shells blossomed into shiny ones once they were baked. Once the shells cooled down, we piped the filling into the macaronage/shell marking the end of our endeavour.
In my write up, I may have made it sound easy but it is far from it. Macaroon is perhaps one of the most technical recipe I have ever tried. If I would have attempted making them on my own, I would have most certainly failed. Now, armed with the Culina experience, I can imagine attempting Macaroons at home.
As for the recipe, we attempted the Italian meringue recipe which makes amazing Macaroons. To see our Macaroons find their feet/crown was a culinary joy equal to no other. All the Masterclass participants ooh-ed and aah-ed over the end result. Ofcourse none of this would have been possible without Fabrice’s expertise and engaging teaching style.
The class lasted for 3.5 hours and it was a blast! I made some friends who are just as mad about baking as I am. Plus a certificate at the end of the course was like the cherry on the proverbial cake.
For all who are interested to try, the recipe is as follows:
Chocolate Mocha Macaroon
Ingredients for the filling
250 gms dark chocolate 53%
50 gms dark chocolate 70%
320 gms liquid cream
1 tsp Nescafe
60 gms butter, room temperature
Ingredients for the shell
Macaronage- Part 1
270 gms almond powder
300 gms icing sugar
100 gms egg whites
30 gms cocoa powder
8-10 drops of red food colour
110 gms egg whites
300 gms custard sugar
80 gms water
Prepare the filling first
Boil the cream with Nescafe
Pour on the two chocolates and mix well till the chocolate dissolves.
Then add the butter and allow it to cool down before you can pipe it. We put it in a refrigerator for the time it took to make the macaronage.
Preparing the Shell
Sift the almond powder and dry in the oven for 45 minutes at 100 C before use. This is to remove any moisture that might be trapped in the almond powder.
Sift the icing sugar and the cocoa powder and mix together with the almond powder. It would be easier to do it with your hands. We were provided vinyl gloves to do this. Make sure all the three are thoroughly incorporated
Add the egg whites (100 gms ) and the red food colouring in the almond mixture. Thorough mix it to form a slightly hard dough and keep it aside.
Heat water and sugar in a sauce pan and use a candy thermometer to check the temperature.
Pour the remaining egg whites (110 gms) in the mixer and wait till the sugar – water mixture shows a temperature of 115 C. When it reaches 115 C, start the mixer and beat the egg whites at high speed.
Let the sugar-water mixture cook until it reaches 121 C( and strictly not more)and take it off the heat and pour the hot sugar syrup into the mixer that contains the egg whites (beaten).
Beat the meringue until it is cold ( or atleast until room temperature). You can test the temperature by touching the base of the mixer container.
Add the fluffy meringue mixture into the Macaronage in two times and mix well. I thought it was slightly strenuous but the dough that was very tough to start with became soft and pliable by the time I had finished.
Pipe the mixture with 9mm piping tip over a silpat or parchment paper spaced 3 cm from each other.
Bake at 140 C for 12 mins precisely.
Let it rest to cool down or alternately or you can refrigerate it for some time
With the help of a piping bag pipe the filling into one half of the macaronage and use the other to sandwich the filling.
About the Institute
One of its kind in Bahrain that is professional in every aspect of its operations and a brain child of Chef Alain Michel and Chef Fabrice Perrin
Culina is as much for budding cooks/bakers as it is for the seasoned ones to learn the new tricks of the trade.
They have imported all the latest equipment from France and Italy that only professional Chefs use at work which would be available to students
Culina will ensure that once you enroll you will have the opportunity to explore a world of over 20 global cuisines—from the classics to those emerging in popularity
Some of the courses Culina offers are – Basic Training Kitchen, Bakery & Confectionery, Quantity Training Kitchen, Advanced Training Kitchen and Advanced Bakery & Pastry