Archive | September, 2012

Jammie Dodgers

21 Sep

Memories are funny. At times they come rushing like some avalanche; unstoppable, overwhelming and powerful. But many times, it feels like that blank in an objective test that you can’t seem to fill despite your best efforts. Like for eg. I have always believed that I have never learnt swimming. It was only on a vacation in Goa that my hubby taught me how to swim in the Hotel’s swimming pool. It took me precisely 2 days to learn. My friends on the same trip refused to believe me when I told them that I have never learnt how to swim. I admit that I am not the most graceful of swimmers but now I can swim enough to keep afloat. To put the matter to rest once and for all, I asked my mother if I have learnt swimming as a child. My mother without a moment’s hesitation, replied that I had been to swimming classes and have learnt swimming. And I have no memories of this at all!! How was that possible? She claimed that I had learnt swimming at an age when one would remember everything – probably when I was 8 or 12. Incredible!

All photos courtesy – Namit Bhatia

I recall very clearly going to dance classes, learning how to ride a bike but I have nada recollection of ever going for swimming classes. Anyways, moral of the story: This is just one severe example of a memory gap that I have encountered. There are many more which I can’t recollect right now( no surprise there!). It is ironical when I have admitted more than once on this blog of mine, that I am a permanent resident of the island called Nostalgia while my memory is one of the worst sort that one can have.

But what I won’t ever forget is how much I loved jam biscuits. I have vivid memories of my mother putting away packets of jam biscuits after  her weekly bout of grocery shopping. She made sure she had them stowed away on the highest shelves in coloured, yet transparent plastic tins ( dabbas). I must be say 5 or 6 back then. I was allowed to have biscuits and chocolates in rationed quantities. Actually, they were given mostly as rewards for being good or less naughty. I devised fool-proof schemes to reach them on afternoons after school hours. My mother worked full time and my nanny would doze off for a little while sometimes. Taking advantage of that gap, I would push the tallest table against the wall shelf  as quietly as possible and climb up to slide the biscuit tin towards the edge of the shelf, let it drop and catch it at the nick of time. With much effort I would then open the tin and hurriedly open the jam biscuit packet before my nanny woke up from all the crunching noise from opening  the  plastic biscuit packet. It wasn’t the biscuit, that fascinated me but the jam and cream in between the biscuits. I would neatly lick the jam-cream and place the biscuits back in the same order like they were never touched. During one such time, we happened to have some guests at home and my mother rushed to offer them some jam biscuits with tea. The unwitting guest enjoyed their tea and biscuits and it was only when my mother tried to have hers, that she realized that the jam and cream in between the biscuits was gone.

(photo courtesy : The store bought jam and cream biscuits that I had the pleasure of licking clean

Ofcourse I got the scolding of my life.

All those naughty memories came gushing in when I was making my own batch of the Jammie Dodgers  for my daughter. Mimi’s not particularly fond of jam because she finds them intensely sweet. But she loves short bread/butter biscuits. I thought maybe if I could combine her favourite biscuits with some jam, there’s a chance she might like jams and develop a taste for them. I got the recipe from the Guardian and result was spectacular. The biscuits looked so pretty in the glass jar that I found it painful to see it vanish so quickly. The butter biscuits were melt in the mouth sorts with a hint of salt in them. Addictive to say the least. I took them to office where they were applauded and the recipe was asked for.

Unfortunately, my objective of making Mimi love jams was not met. She did something completely unanticipated. She cleared the jam by rubbing it off on a plate or a tissue and gobbled up the butter biscuits. So history gets repeated (sort of)!

It would be interesting to see if she would agree to try home-made jams where I can control the amount of sugar and make it to suit her palate. Jam making is definitely something I am considering to do at home pretty soon. So watch this space!!

How to Make Splendid Coffee

15 Sep

It was only recently that I wrote a Lame Post about Coffee and Chocolate detailing how much this elixir means to me given the current circumstances which involve a highly stressful job and all the calisthenics I need to perform in order to strike that elusive work life balance. Sometimes it feels very overwhelming and I crave for my peaceful moments I shared with my baby as a stay-at-home mother. But then that is the escapist in me day dreaming. Day dream provides such solace when the day isn’t going the way one expects it to go. I am an escapist by the very definition. Even for a moment or two, if I get a chance to escape from pain or anything remotely unsettling, I would by all means apply to take that route.

Growing up I was never a beverage drinker. No tea or coffee made an appearance any point of the day. I would indulge when friends insisted for company sake. Otherwise, my palate never craved for the arousing aroma of coffee or the scintillating vigour that tea provided to the under nourished souls. Working life saw me avoiding tea and coffee in the same fashion because I didn’t feel the need to submit even under severe peer pressure. Talking of peer pressure, my hubby who is an avid tea drinker couldn’t convert me. But my second innings at work has been quite something. A 3 year gap, I suspect, may have taken a toll on my confidence or may be I am not as carefree and sanguine as I was before. Soon I found myself veering towards coffee and in a matter of 6 months, I am taken (and for good, I think). My day in office starts with a cup of black coffee with sugar and as I mentioned in my coffee post on my step blog,

“This morning as I sat at my desk in office, sipping  black coffee, feeling the warmth of the hot cup in my hands and savouring the strength of its flavour, I literally felt my vision clear and colours around me brighten up. It surprised me how every single swig that I took from my cup, felt like someone tuning my settings like one would for a Television to bring about a sharper, brighter and a clearer picture onscreen. This primeval ability of coffee should be given due credit, I reckon. Not all food has this talent. That was about coffee and what it does to me.

Just another cup of coffee? Not Really!

Coffee has found its way into my life since the time I started working again and have made friends out of colleagues by bonding over cups of hot coffee. Conversation, laughter and instant connections happen over coffee, I have observed. The tantalizing aroma of strong coffee just melts barriers (if any) and provides the much needed soothing of nerves to let the other person in, into your space. It is that magical!”

Being a foodie, naturally I wanted to make myself the best cuppa whenever I felt like, even at home during the weekends. During one such coffee sharing moments with a friend and fellow food blogger, Riddhima, I chanced upon a striking way of making coffee what tasted nothing less than the Barista cappuccino. Enthralled, I watched Riddhima go through the process of mixing a spoonful of coffee, a tsp or more of sugar and few drops of water and beating it into a concoction of creamy coffee coloured lather which was not only pleasing visually but also aromatic. To this she added hot milk and the whole brew came up to the top of the cup, inviting and exciting. I made her repeat the whole process just to understand the intricacies of the process to replicate it on my own. And replicate I did. Not once, or twice but many times. I was happy as a lark, sipping on my elixir even on weekends in the comfort of my home, with a book in my hand and cozy in my couch.

all photos courtesy : Namit Bhatia

This post is a heart felt thank you note to Riddhima who taught me this art of making splendid coffee.

I think most coffee drinkers may know this method of coffee making already but I felt this intense need to share my joy of having learnt something new.

Happy Weekend!!

The belated Eid Holidays Post

8 Sep

It is past Eid holidays and I have taken my own sweet time to do this post. Like I had mentioned, I wasn’t looking forward to this 5 day break as   we had no vacation planned like many of my friends. It was disheartening and unfair. But  to my great surprise, the holidays turned out a truckload of fun. Here’s my day by day brief of how wonderful these holidays turned out for me.

Day 1 : Watched Salman Khan’s ” Ek tha Tiger” with great trepidation. I am not a fan of this big Bollywood star and my general opinion is that his movies are rubbish. I had hoped to watch Pixar’s “Brave” but got late and missed the show. Finally I settled to watch this Eid big release – Ek tha tiger and to my utter astonishment, it was quite enjoyable. The script was tight and Salman Khan was quite bearable. I came out of the movie hall with a good feeling of having watched an entertainer, not to mention how beautiful Katrina Kaif looked in the song ‘Mashallah’

Post this entertaining watch, we had dinner at a Lebanese restaurant- Beyroute and ended a perfect day with good food memories.

Day 2: This was more relaxed and I spent the day doing chores at home and spending some quality time with my daughter. Post lunch, I took off to a cafe and spent that time until dusk working on my novel ‘ The Come Back‘. I am yet to wind up the pending chapters and nearly done with my first draft. I am excited as it nears the end and it feels like a dream that I managed to do a 50,000 words plus novel. Never thought I had it in me to write so much. Ofcourse this is just the start, as I would have to spend time editing it; adding and deleting chapters to make it tighter.  That same night, we had a small wine and cheese tasting party at home. Nothing elaborate but it was fun to do it between us and enjoyed the different tastes as they came together to create a wonderful culinary experience. It was educational as it was exciting as I got to know about the different cheeses; their names and tastes. In conclusion to this wine and cheese tasting event, I realized, Blue cheese was completely unpalatable and the stench was so overpowering that I doubt I am ever going to try it again. Rest of the cheeses were quite appetizing.

photo courtesy : Namit Bhatia

Day 3: Eid was declared and we were invited to my dear friend, Farheen’s home for special Eid lunch. I baked brownies for Farheen and her lovely family. These are Nigella’s BEST brownies ever and I have to admit, they are mine too. These brownies were received well and I made 3 batches already. One of which I took to Farheen’s home. Each batch makes a minimum of 48 pieces. Even if this recipe makes so many, you don’t have to worry about a thing as they would vanish just as quickly. I guarantee that.

Photo courtesy : Namit Bhatia

At Farheen’s home it was wonderful to catch up with my other writers’ circle pals – Melissa and Dhanya. Conversation flowed about books, about writing, styles of writing and hours just passed by. In between, we pigged out on Farheen’s delicious Chicken Biryani, Chicken curry,  Gajar halwa, Sevai, and so many other goodies. It was a wonderful lunch and fantastic time spent together.

extreme left onwards( Dhanya, Farheen, me and Melissa)

all the yummy Eid food

Photo Courtesy: Namit Bhatia

The same evening, we watched Pixar’s Brave and it was so enjoyable. Perfect end to a perfect day.

Day 4:  This day was a bit slow and I had planned it such. Post lunch, I took off to a cafe closeby to spend some time writing and it turned out to be quite a productive pursuit. Took some time out in the evening to shop for some props and managed to get a good deal at Daiso. In the posts that would follow this one, you are likely to see many props in my food photos. So excited already!

Day 5: With the 5 day holiday coming to a close, it was quite depressing to think about going back to office. But on the whole, I was content that all the 5 days were spent well doing all sorts of different things which made the vacation really wonderful. I decided to spend the day making jammy dodgers. The post of the same will be out soon. They turned out lovely and I took them to office to share with my Bahraini colleagues who had spent the entire month fasting during Ramadan.

In between I did do some shopping and INVESTED in some office wear but I can’t quite place which day that was.

So that is how Eid vacation came to a close. I wasn’t disappointed at all and on the contrary, it felt like a holiday well spent. Having said that, as I type this post, I am still craving for a vacation. Hopefully, I should be able to plan for one soon.




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