Tag Archives: Manama

My favourite Bahraini Breakfast places

Bahrain has multitude of options when it comes to food. Food is sustenance, tradition and entertainment. For self-proclaimed food lovers like me, every single day is a food adventure. Five years and counting, on the island, I can boast about having umpteen food experiences that I share through my blog. However, I am stumped every single time when I come across yet another brilliant food story on the island. Bahrain’s rich food history, tradition and its culinary diversity never cease to surprise me. Last weekend, I took upon myself to visit some of the popular traditional Arabic breakfast joints in Bahrain. My objective was to bring to the forefront only the best places and their best offerings. So follow my food trail and try not to drool while you read.

First stop- Chai Café, Sanabis

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This neighbourhood café that is always jam-packed and the waiting is endless especially on the weekends. If you an early riser, it can work in your favour because Chai Café opens by 8 am. Their breakfast options are vast and varied with a huge selection of eggs to choose from. There is something special that makes me visit Chai Café often – the cheese- zaatar Khuboos, cream cheese and omani chips roti, and the karak in a biscuit which they call the “Karak biscuit’. The khuboos is made fresh and right in front of your eyes and you have wonderful choice of eating it laden with Nutella, Mehyawa ( tangy sauce made from fermented fish) and even keema (minced meat). The Chai Karak in a biscuit is karak tea poured into a short bread shaped as a cup and lined with luscious condensed milk. Omani chips which I discovered are a local favourite is the main ingredient of the sandwich that Chai café calls roti. Simple yet delicious flavours of cream cheese, chips and the freshly baked buns make this a wonderful indulgence for weekend breakfasts. On an average, you may end up spending 4 BD/ person on breakfast at Chai Café.

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Second stop – Café Naseef, Bab Al Bahrain

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It is when you go on an expedition, do you stumble upon such well-kept secrets on the island. Café Naseef in Bab Al Bahrain is located inside the souq and is one of the oldest eating joints in Bahrain. It was interesting to note that they have been operational since 1920 and initially started of as Bahrain’s first ice cream shop! Their line up on icecreams was very tempting to say the least but I was there to enjoy the traditional breakfast and that is what I did. Café Naseef has an extensive menu but it is wise to order the Bahraini breakfast platter for BD 6. It comes with piping hot khuboos( bread) and bread with Mehywana sauce too. The main platter consists of several pieces of falafel (patty made from ground chickpeas) with an appetizing tahini sauce, Balaleet ( sweet vermicelli noodles with an omlette), spicy potato mash, foule ( mashed kidney beans), boiled chick peas and shakshouka ( scrambled eggs cooked in tomatoes).All of this glorious food goes smoothly with Karak tea ofcourse. On weekends, it would be better to get into the souq a little early because as the sun rises higher, the waiting list to dine in at Naseef grows bigger.

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Third stop – Emmawash, Budaiyya

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The first thing that struck me about Emmawash was –‘This place is unique’. This impression stayed as I toured the inside of the restaurant, met with the owner and enjoyed my breakfast. Emmawash is warm and welcoming and instantly feels like home. The servers and the owner- Abdulla make sure you have a good time. It was a revelation as I sampled Emmawash’s breakfast platter that consists of chicken liver, Keema, Nashif ( chicken curry), lentil dal and fresh bread. I washed it down with some chilled laban. To balance the savory, I also tried their special honey, jam, cream cheese which is guaranteed to be a favourite among children. Breakfast at Emmawash can cost an average of 3 BD/ person.

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Fourth Stop – Saffron by Jena, Muharraq

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Saffron by Jena is extremely well –known among the locals and expats alike. A Time Out Award winner, this traditional restaurant is a shining beacon in terms of the authenticity. It is located in the heart of old Muharraq, Riffa Fort and the Souq ( Bab Al Bahrain). But to truly immerse yourself in the Saffron experience, you have to visit the Muharraq outlet. Saffron by Jena serves a set menu for breakfast for BD 6 per person but the portions are good for two people. The set menu  comes with Balaleet ( sweetened vermicelli noodles with omlette), Shakshouka ( eggs and tomato), Foule ( mashed kidney beans), potatoes, luba ( spiced baked beans) and a basket of bread with khuboos, zingabri ( buns slathered with a sweet and spicy preserve), another sandwich with vegetarian kebabs and a bread with Mehyawa. They also serve a complimentary chilled saffron drink which is refreshing and acts like a palate cleanser. Saffron is also a place where you can try traditional Arabic sweets such as Ogaili ( a sweet flavoured with saffron, cardamom and rosewater and studded with sesame seeds).

While I went over- the- top and covered all these fabulous breakfast places in a single day, you don’t have to do that. You can take your time and enjoy the local delicacies spacing it out for each weekend. Food is definitely wonderful but it is the cultural vibe that each of these places exude that make it worth it.

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Fifth stop – Haji Gahwa, Manama ( on another day)

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Haji Gahwa is an inconspicuous traditional set up in the heart of Manama. You can spot it in the alley next to the Mosque in Bab Al Bahrain, Manama souq. On weekends its is busy with patrons who have been visiting the cafe for years. The Cafe’s most attractive characteristic would be the way it is set up in the alley with ‘old-style’ benches and laminated photographs on the walls that encapsulates the Bahrain of yesteryear. The other highlight of the cafe is their impeccable service and their ever-smiling servers. These servers, despite having their hands full, find time to tell you about the restaurant and its traditions. The dishes that stood out for me particularly were the fasulya ( spicy baked beans), Foul medames, Mehyawa and the fresh-out-of-the-oven khoboos. Make sure you try their egg dishes as well especially the omelette. Haji Gahwa opens at 5:30 am until 11:30 serving fresh breakfast.From noon until 4:30 PM lunch is served and from 5:00 pm to 9 PM, dinner is served. There is a separate section for families

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Those are my Bahraini Breakfast outlet choices. Have I missed out any that you particularly adore? Let me know.

(Pictures courtesy – @sushil317)

Fresh food counter at Lulu Hypermarket : Review

Off late, my schedule has been outright maddening. There hasn’t been any time to cook or enjoy a meal in peace. But I am glad that I have plenty of takeaway and home delivery options in Bahrain, that make my life easy. One of the reliable options is the hot food counter at Lulu Hypermarket. It also helps that it is dot opposite my home. 

Any time I feel I am missing home and feel a deep craving for home style food, I head to Lulu Hypermarket to enjoy my favourite sweets, snacks like pakoras, samosas. 

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Lulu Hypermarket’s hot food section has a great selection to choose from as you can see from the pictures. 

When I was offered to the opportunity to review the hot food section, I preferred Indian food and this is what they packed for me as a takeaway.

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The menu consisted of – A spicy salad which we call “Kachumber”, my favourite kadai paneer, Lemon and spice chicken tikka, Kashmiri Pulao and a selection of Indian sweets. 

The Kashmiri Pulao was fragrant and delicious with long-grained basmati rice, vegetables, sweet red grapes flavoured in saffron and spices. Simply delicious!

The kadai Paneer was oily and very “dhaba” style – exactly how I like it. Indulging once in a while is good for the soul, I believe.

The salad was the right accompaniment as it served as a palette cleanser. 

The chicken was lemon-y and very appetizing but I preferred by vegetarian fare over the meat. 

The milk -based sweets hit the right note without being too sweet. 

All in all, the meal from Lulu Hypermarket’s hot counter was filling and scrumptious and comes recommended for that once in a while indulgence or every day meal ( where you should opt for the lighter dals and vegetable curries or grills for the meat eaters)

The Diabetes -Friendly Dessert Series with Aster Medical Centre – Protein -packed Burfi

I have a family history of Diabetes and that makes me extremely vulnerable to the disease. I am well aware of how diabetes can slowly degenerate the different organs of the body and makes it more susceptible to other lifestyle disease. Diabetes Mellitus , describes a group of metabolic diseases in which the person has high blood glucose (blood sugar), either because insulin production is inadequate, or because the body’s cells do not respond properly to insulin, or both. 

My father has been a diabetic for 35 years and I have seen him struggle with it every single day. But what I admire is he has enjoyed his food yet kept his diabetes in control. I haven’t seen him a day without exercising or walking. I have imbibed that discipline from him, I think. Children take a lot from their parents without really being aware of it.

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Sometimes in the name of health, I tend to go to extremes with respect to my diet and exercise but with time and age, I have realized the importance of striking a good balance. Being happy is a big part of being healthy. Extreme diets put plenty of pressure on the metabolism, thereby skewing that balance which does more harm than good. I understood from my father, that it is okay enjoy your favourite treats once a while but compensate it later by eating light. There are a few tips that my father practices which I think can really help not only diabetics but also non-diabetics.

  • If you know you are going to have a heavy meal or a sweet, make sure you keep it light the rest of the day
  • Bite-sized sweets are the best in a diabetes household
  • It is best to eat and enjoy a sweet in the morning, rather than later during the day
  • If you cannot avoid sweets during festival seasons, try to eat the sweet little by little and enjoy it over one or two hours
  • Best is to share the sweet with someone so that you do not have to eat the entire portion
  • If you are making sweets at home, it is best to use natural sugar alternatives like honey, coconut nectar, agave nectar etc.

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The recipe that I share with you today is a special diabetes -friendly recipe in collaboration with Aster Medical Center. It is to support #AsterAgainstDiabetes campaign this November. To know more about Aster Medical Center’s Diabetes awareness campaign you can follow them on Facebook, Twitter , Instagram

Aster Medical Center is hosting a FREE Diabetes check up camp at Lulu Hypermarket, Ramli Mall, A’Ali on the 17th and 18th of November (6-9 PM). This is the best sort of opportunity to get yours checked!

To check out my previous recipes, you can click here and here
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This is a protein packed burfi which does not use any added sugar. I regularly have my protein shakes after my training session with my trainer and it occurred to me that the protein powder is a great ingredient to use in recipes.

Protein packed Burfi
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Ingredients
  1. 2 cups cashew
  2. 1 cup vanilla protein powder
  3. 1 tbsp low fat milk
Instructions
  1. Soak cashews overnight
  2. Blend the cashew and vanilla protein powder in the food processor
  3. Add 1 tbsp of milk and blend well
  4. Line a baking tray with parchment and grease it.
  5. Spread out the cashew - protein paste and level it. Sprinkle it with nuts, saffron ( whatever you fancy)
  6. Put it in the chiller to set.
  7. Cut into pieces and enjoy
Notes
  1. There is no binding agent like butter or ghee which make this burfi melt very fast.
  2. Enjoy each piece but remember to put it back in the refrigerator
  3. If you think the paste of cashew and protein powder is loose enough, you can skip the milk
Sliceofmylyfe - a Food blog based in Bahrain http://www.sliceofmylyfe.com/

The Diabetes -Friendly Dessert Series with Aster Medical Centre – Shrikhand

Happy Diwali folks!

Such a special time of the year. A time to celebrate with your family and friends. As expats in Bahrain, we make sure that we have some kind of celebration planned to feel the same vibe and spirit as back in our home country. Ofcourse crackers aren’t a possibility but lighting diyas (lamps) and preparing sweets and desserts make it just as special. 

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 While the scale of celebrations remains unaffected, this Diwali is going to be slightly different.

I am going SUGAR -FREE!

But does that mean that I won’t be enjoying any desserts or sweets? Absolutely NOT! What are festivals without the usual burfis, pedas, kheer and halwas! An opportunity came along that made me more resolute about keeping this Diwali sugar -free. At Aster Medical Center , the month of November is all about diabetes awareness and they reached out to me to create diabetes- friendly desserts for this festive season. It was challenging to create recipes that not only taste good but also diabetes-friendly. IMG_6232 name

 In the coming few days, you will see a series of sugar-free, low calorie desserts that are easy to prepare and enjoy, guilt-free. The first of the series is Shrikhand.

Growing up in Gujarat, a state in the western part of India, Shrikhand – a yogurt based dessert- was a regular for festivals. Until now, I never realized how easy it is to make it at home especially when you can buy Greek yogurt. Traditionally, Shrikhand is made using hung yogurt – yogurt that is strained to drain all the water overnight. This allows the yogurt to be creamy and just right for Shrikhand. IMG_6226

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 Aster Medicals Centers intentions are backed by efforts where they are holding a camp for free check up at Lulu Hyper Market in Riffa between 6 pm – 9 pm. You can get your diabetes checked for free until the 12th of November. For more information you can check Aster Medical Center’s social media channels and search using #AsterAgainstDiabetes – Facebook, Twitter , Instagram.

Now for the recipe – I replaced the sugar from the recipe with ‘Stevia’. Stevia is a super sugar that is natural and has no side effects. It is wonderful for diabetics and people who want to stay off processed sugar. It does take some getting used to since the after taste is vastly different from what we are used to. Having said that, there are ways to mask that after taste with slight addition of honey or other alternate sweeteners like agave nectar.

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 (photograph courtesy: Sushil Sasheendran)

Recipe Card

 

Diabetes -friendly Shrikhand
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 2 cups Greek Yogurt,
  2. 2 tbsp milk, warmed,
  3. generous pinch of saffron threads,
  4. 5 tbsp of stevia,
  5. 1 tbsp of honey,
  6. pinch of nutmeg,
  7. 1/s tbsp of cardamom, crushed,
  8. 3 tbsp of cocoa powder,
  9. nuts to garnish,
  10. chocolate shavings to garnish,
  11. more saffron threads to garnish
Instructions
  1. Place the 2 cups of Greek yogurt in a bowl and beat it well to make it smooth and creamy
  2. Add crushed cardamom and mix it well with the yogurt.
  3. Add the stevia and mix well ( add honey if you are not used to stevia's taste or do a half and half to mask stevia's taste)
  4. At this point your cardamom / Elaichi Shrikhand is ready. Fill small mason jars with Elaichi Shrikhand.You can garnish it with nuts and put it in the refrigerator to chill.
  5. Take the warmed milk in a small bowl. You can heat it for few seconds in your microwave. Add the saffron to it, give it a quick stir and let it sit for about 5 minutes.
  6. Add the saffron to the Greek yogurt and mix well. This is your kesar/ Saffron Shrikhand. Fill it in a small jar and garnish it with nuts and refrigerate it.
  7. Finally sift the cocoa powder and mix it well with the remaining quantity of Greek yogurt in the bowl and mix well. You will have to add honey to chocolate flavoured Shrikhand to mask the taste of stevia. Do not miss this step for chocolate shrikhand.You can add diabetes -friendly dark & milk chocolate pieces if you like in the Chocolate Shrikhand. Garnish with nuts and place it in the refrigerate to set.
  8. Shrikhand takes a few hours to set and the flavours to meld. It tastes the best the next day.
Notes
  1. If you do not have Greek yogurt, you can use normal yogurt and hang it in a muslin cloth overnight to drain all the water.
Sliceofmylyfe - a Food blog based in Bahrain http://www.sliceofmylyfe.com/

Bahrain International Design Week – GO NOW!!! #BAHRAIN

Celebrate . Connect . Grow.

Those are words that resonate with the all new Bahrain International Design Week (BIDW, 2013 ) that debuted on the 1st of December. The idea behind BIDW is to provide a platform for designers and creative people in the Middle East. It is also a platform that will be visited by buyers, investors, developers, collectors and the public. BIDW showcases three main areas covering design on the personal, architectural/interior and other creative services angle

I was given this opportunity to write about the event that spans over a week starting 1st of December to the 7th of December, 2013. It is exciting for me personally to be a part of this national event as I get to witness and document my observations of the creative best in the region.

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The event is being held at the  Bahrain International Exhibition Centre (between 10 am to 10 pm). I went last evening (Thursday, the 5th of Dec) and found myself amazed at the cutting edge innovation and creativity enclosed in one place. I tried to capture a few snapshots of the display that caught my eye.

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Some of the local talent is remarkable. I had a chance to chat with Noof  Alresaei (instagram : @noowood) whose coco cola bottle creations and the torso of man with a lampshade for a head were quite popular for the evening. Do follow her to see her other creations.

The other popular tents for the evening were the clothes and the jewellery display for obvious reasons. Many international designers and universities have also been invited to participate. This is an opportunity for the creative lot of Bahrain to connect with some of the international exhibitors.

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The event also hosted the fashion show showcasing jewelry and some speeches from the who’s who in the design field. For more information please do visit the website at www.bidw.com
Facebook: BahrainInternationalDesignWeek
Twitter: @BIDW2013
Instagram: @BIDW2013

We have 2 more days of BIDW to enjoy and I urge all of you to come and take a look at what BIDW has to offer.

In the end, I would like to commend the efforts made by A1 Services for organizing this event and  the PR agency TalentFreeFlow for promoting it so successfully. (@talentfreeflow on FB, twitter and instagram)

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