Tag Archives: Blogging

Chawan Tea House: Experience a piece of Japan in the heart of the desert

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“Teaism is a cult founded on the adoration of the beautiful among the sordid facts of everyday existence. It inculcates purity and harmony, the mystery of mutual charity, the romanticism of the social order. It is essentially a worship of the Imperfect, as it is a tender attempt to accomplish something possible in this impossible thing we know as life.”
Okakura Kakuzō, The Book of Tea

Avid tea drinkers know what I am talking about here. So do coffee drinkers. Drinking smalls cups of tea or coffee mugs of elixir make a bad day seem bearable and it allows you to take upon the world with more courage. Sometimes, it is hard to look upon tea and coffee as mere beverages. They take upon a larger meaning where they lend that support, balance and beauty that we truly deserve. Such was my experience at this exquisite Japanese tea house called Chawan at the Amwaj Lagoon. 

DSC_0015A concept based around «Hanami» a Japanese tradition of drinking tea under the cherry blossom tree, Chawan ( meaning Tea Bowl) surprises you with its tranquil and aptly designed interiors. The display cases were adorned with hand-made and hand-painted tea cups. Every inch of the restaurant seemed to have been thoughtfully done and embellished. 

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 The entire evening was spent listening to fascinating trivia about Japan’s esoteric culture and sipping on Cherry Blossom tea from Ms. Budoor, who is the owner cum chef cum everything of Chawan. Dressed in a flowery Kimono and looking like an absolute doll, she took me through her cultural experience of living in Japan. Having studied her masters and worked in Japan, Budoor found herself falling in love with the language, food and cultural nuances. She visited auctions and collected an enviable range of hand made tea cups, cushions and other genuine Japanese artifacts which she proudly displays in her Tea House.

image courtesy : Chawan
image courtesy : Chawan

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Ms. Budoor

Budoor makes all the snack -type food all by herself and you could have pleasure of watching her as she quickly shapes the ‘Onigiri’ – Japanese rice balls with her deft hands. Further into our conversation, I was quite surprised to find out that Budoor holds a job as an on-air graphics designer for Al Arab News channel. Running a restaurant with such finesse at such a young age with a day job – now that is really something!

My Japanese experience began with Budoor presenting the hot towel to clean my hands. Then she politely offered me the Tea House’s menu. I was a bit confused and asked her to help me out. She picked out a few very authentic Japanese snacks and asked me to try the Cherry Blossom Tea. 

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Every sip felt like a moment out of time.

Some sort of a balance was being restored.

Hot and fragrant, the tea nuzzled my throat and the cheer of the cherry blossom was doing its trick. As I was still enjoying the lingering taste of the tea from my last sip, Budoor presented the “sampler bento ” that included kani salad “crab salad with Japanese mayo and fish roe”. The crackers were dutifully served with Chawan’s signature Wasabi Hummous. There was two bites of Shrimp and crab dumpling “ebi and kani gyoza” too with a soy based sauce. The flavours were striking and tantalizing.

It felt like my taste buds were lighting up!

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Next item was Onigiri –  Japanese rice ball. A carb -fest with sticky rice moulded into a petal-shape, supported by a seaweed.  A quintessential Japanese snack served to school-going children in their bento- lunch boxes. 

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Onigiri picture courtesy – Chawan

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Dessert was a non-fussy and utterly delicious -Mochi ice cream and Matcha pudding “Japanese green tea”. 

After such a beautiful food experience, I wanted to know more about Budoor and Chawan. Budoor explained, she wanted to bring back the essence of Japan to Bahrain and share the quiet exquisiteness of the Japanese culture and heritage via her dainty tea house. She practices the famed Japanese tea ritual in Chawan and helps people like you and me experience the heart of Japan. She even allows you to borrow beautiful Kimonos to authenticate the experience.

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After my elaborate dine-in experience at Chawan, Budoor showed me gracefully to the door bowing humbly and saying – Arigato ( thank you). Well, I would say, Arigato, Budoor for this elevated experience. Find your own piece of Japan and head to Chawan and treat your senses. 

The outlet is open 6 days-a-week, except on Monday, from 5pm to 10pm on weekdays and 5pm to midnight on weekends.

For details, follow them on instagram @chawanbh

and check out this extensive menu here.

This post was a sponsored one but all the views expressed were mine.

All pictures are mine, except where stated by Chawan. 

5 years of blogging celebrations with world – wide giveaways

5 years of blogging may not be a great deal these days. Each day, I cross virtual paths with bloggers with more than 10-14 years of blogging experience which I think is a testimony of their discipline and passion. Standing at the 5th year milestone of my own blogging career, I wouldn’t hesitate to say that blogging is a craft that takes time, passion, energy and a lot of dedication. Today, if I run a fledgling digital marketing business in Bahrain, is because of blogging. It all started with the first blog post 5 years ago on a certain 23rd of February 2010. On that particular day when I wrote my first blog post about love, I wouldn’t have dreamt of being able to do so many things around blogging such as restaurant reviews, baking, trying different cuisines, meeting so many interesting people and developing recipes. 

To celebrate this landmark event of my life, there shall be a series of giveaways on my blog. The giveaways will be all world-wide unless if stated otherwise. There are about 4 weeks to go before my 5th blog anniversary and that is why I choose to have 4 giveaways for the readers of my blog. These giveaways would be very simple to enter and I am giving away gifts that I have truly enjoyed over the years to the readers of my blog. 

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The first giveaway announcement will happen on Monday, the 26th of January, 2015. The winners of giveaway 1 will be announced the following Monday, 2nd of February, 2015.  Likewise, every Monday, until the 23rd of February, a giveaway winner will be announced. 

To make it more interesting, I will be taking up 4 culinary challenges given to me by my friends on Facebook. So along with one giveaway there will be one challenge either conquered or lost in each of the 4 posts until the 23rd of February.

The challenges that I have undertaken as are follows:

1. A raw cake – Challenge from Emilia Asmin who is intrigued by the whole raw food trend and wonders what a raw cake make look and feel like. This is something I haven’t tried making before and would be interesting to see how I pull this one off.

2. A romantic first date with the hubby – This is from Modesty Blaise aka Ruchi (@thewordcoiner) “They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. I disregarded this always but now I have discovered it is quite true. Cook something that you would have on the first dinner date at home, with your husband (when he was your fiancé) – be it a dish from his native place or some exotic foreign cuisine. Mention the course items (appetisers, main course, dessert, drinks) and post a pic of the table setup.”

3.  Home – made pasta and sauce from the scratch – This one is from my brother – Vinay and I think making my own pasta has been on my to-do for a long time so I will be attempting this for sure. 

4. Baked Alaska – This one is from my husband who really knows what gets me going. One of the toughest desserts to make, Baked Alaska features on the top 10 most difficult things to bake list. 

So these are my culinary challenges for the next 4 weeks that I am looking forward to conquer. 

I would like to thank all my friends on Facebook, who took time out to give me different challenges but I had to pick only 4. Maybe I could try the other challenges a little later down the line. 

Please share this post so all your friends can participate in the giveaway that starts on the 26th of January, 2015.

If you are on twitter, you could tweet about it too.

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

{Restaurant Review} Jim’s Restaurant, Adliya – Good old Jim’s is back!

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’ 

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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.

Deep fried brie wedges with blueberry coulees
Deep fried brie wedges with blueberry coulees

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.

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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.

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Spinach, brie and mushroom stuffed chicken
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Vegetable Quiche

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.

Chocolate Chocolate Cookies and a note about lost things

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

Bloggers Bytes BC August 2014

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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:

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Here’s wishing all my Indian readers, a very happy Independence day today! Cheers.

Ramadan Kareem! Falooda Recipe and a Social Media Award for #SMDAY

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This is my 5th year and Bahrain is home now. The comfort and the familiarity makes me disown my expat status and feel like local. The food, the culture, the openness and the warmth are addictive which makes me wonder whether I would think about a time when I would feel like packing my bags and heading back to my home country, India. It is when I moved to Bahrain that I started writing and blogging and discovered that part of me which I never knew existed in the first place. Being a blogger allowed me to explore several avenues which otherwise would have been unapproachable. With these experiences, I gained confidence and started trusting my own abilities and after 4 + years of blogging, my efforts were recognized by the (@SMCBahrain) Social Media Club of Bahrain where my blog was awarded The Best Blog under the Kitchen and the Dining category. It makes me very happy because it was completely unexpected yet somewhere I feel fulfilled with the recognition that my blog got.

Interestingly, it is also a great time to be in this region when it is at the cusp of this amazing social media revolution. The region has begun to sit up and take notice of what social media platforms and bloggers can do and what an important part they form in the overall scheme of things. I extend my special thanks to the Social Media Club of Bahrain for taking steps towards encouraging us bloggers. This award makes us want to do more and better now.

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Bahrain opened my mind and my heart to the culture and its religious beliefs without ever imposing them. Ramadan is a very special time to be in the region as it provides an opportunity to witness a collective sentiment towards a common goal. It is almost like the entire island quietens down during the day and all you can hear is prayers that the winds carry with them. These years have taught me that if Ramadan is about fasting, it is in equal parts, also about feasting. Whether it is Iftar or Ghabgah, food is a the center of all discussion and a chance to sample a wide array of traditional and modern classics at all the grand buffets around the town. But most locals swear by the traditional food made at home that beats the tastiest meal in any restaurant.

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To celebrate my blog’s win and the blessed occasion of Ramadan, I was prompted to create this indulgent treat called Falooda. Most of my Indian friends would be very familiar with this dessert drink which perhaps might have also been a childhood favourite.

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This is an indulgent yet refreshing drink that pleases all the senses, instantly and together. A perfect summer dessert in a glass that is full of rose scented and flavoured milk, starchy- rice noodles, sabja seeds that make it look exotic and a dollop of kulfi flavoured icecream to give a greater depth of flavour.

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It is surprising, how unbelievably easy this is to whip up together. For all my Muslim friends who are fasting and want to eat at home, and aspire to indulge on a treat, this comes highly recommended. Primarily being only an assembling project, Falooda is delicious as it is filling after a day of fasting. It refreshes the mind and the spirit considering July is a very tough month with longer hours of fasting.

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With this I end my post on a sweet note and wish every body a wonderful weekend.

Ramadan Kareem to all the readers of Slice of my lyfe.

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Thank you again for reading my blog – it really pushes me to write my next post and to keep doing better.