Tag Archives: Expat

A Guest post about the top 5 things to do in Bahrain for Amelia – Chai : A cup of Life

17 Mar

When Amelia  of Chai: A cup of life asked me to do a guest post for her, I agreed immediately without really thinking what I was going to write about. I know and appreciate the fact that Amelia wrote about her life as an expat in India and now Dubai. She gave such profound cultural insights about the Indian way of living that it sometimes shocked and surprised me how these escaped me when I lived there. Anyways, coming to the point.. I decided I’d do a TOP 5 Things to do in Bahrain post for her.

An excerpt from my post on Amelia’s blog.

“Living an expat’s life in Bahrain for the last four years has been the most enchanting one. Every single day, I get a new cultural insight that leaves me enriched with life lessons. Initially, I had reservations about adjusting to the Middle Eastern culture but I was proved wrong in no time by the openness and the warmth of the people of Bahrain. It has been four years now and I can confidently call Bahrain my home because even when I am on my annual vacation to India, I miss the comfort of my routine in Bahrain.

Bahrain, also known as the Kingdom of Bahrain is a small island-country on the western shores of the Persian Gulf. In four years, I have had a chance to enjoy most of the sights that the country has to offer. It cannot be compared to the touristy offerings of Oman or Dubai but it is quite special in its own way for its inhabitants and tourists alike. For the longest time, Bahrain was the financial hub of the Middle East and it still is in my opinion (though many would contest that because the 2008 financial downturn was hard on the Bahrain economy). Yet, the charm of Bahrain has to be lived to be experienced, which we as expats do every single day of our life.” 

For more head over to Chai: A cup of life

Meanwhile Happy Holi to everybody!!!

I share with you some instagram pictures of Holi Celebrations in Bahrain

Holi celebrations at the Temple in Manama - the capital of Bahrain

Holi celebrations at the Temple in Manama – the capital of Bahrain

"Gheear" A Sindhi Specialty like a Jalebi for Holi

“Gheear” A Sindhi Specialty like a Jalebi for Holi

 

My feature in the “What to expect” website + a Quail egg salad

23 Nov

Pregnancy was the best time of my life.

Largely because I was in beautiful country (UK) during the best of weather (the English Summers), busy moving houses ( 3 in total in the span of 8 months) and reading. I read a lot books and one of them never left my bedside – What To Expect When You are Expecting  . This book has been my friend and my guide during all the times I felt unsure about several things during my pregnancy. Soon after Mimi was born, I got the sequel to it called What to expect in the first year which was equally helpful. Every topic, question, discussion is covered in these books which is comprehensive and so easy to read. I gave my book away to another couple who were expecting and I am sure they would have found very useful too.

I was very excited when  What to Expect contacted me to contribute to their ” Word of Mum ” column. They wanted me to do a piece about my life as a food blogger mum in Bahrain. I have regularly chronicled my life as an expat on the pages of this blog and to put it all in 600 word format was quite interesting a challenge for me. I tried to highlight my transition from someone who felt lost to someone who enjoys doing a multitude of things. Here is an excerpt from the article and for the rest of the article you can go to the website.

“What would you do in a situation where there are too many variables out of your control? We experienced this firsthand four years ago when we moved to Bahrain, a tiny island country in the Middle East. As consultants, my husband and I had experienced several episodes of settling and unsettling in new countries for work, but now the crucial difference was: We had a six-month-old baby. Also, after several years of working, I had chosen to become a stay-at-home mum.

Therefore, I was forced to solve a complex equation: my new role as a mum plus a new baby plus a new stay-at-home status plus a new country…how would it all add up?”

For the rest of the article, click here

Now for a beautiful salad recipe that I would like to share here. It is healthy and oh-so- yummy.

QES8

I always wanted to taste Quail eggs but never got around doing it. So I put it up on my culinary bucketlist and this is my opportunity to tick it off.

QES2

QES5

This salad recipe has very few ingredients but it is full of flavour from the toasted walnuts, mandarin pieces and a tantalizing sweet chilli vinaigrette. Addition of Quail eggs makes it nutritious and filling and I did not think it any different from normal chicken eggs. So I would recommend Quail eggs to anyone who loves chicken eggs.

Hope you enjoy reading the article and let me know your thoughts in the  comments section.

All photos courtesy – Namit Bhatia

Calling All to Celebrate with Strawberry Ice Cream

10 Jan

And you would ask what is the reason that calls for such an announcement?  Well, I am about to get published for the very first time. I am over the moon at this thought and I cannot but help rave about it on my blog. And ofcourse, celebrating it with some yummy, oh-so-baby-pink Strawberry Ice Cream. I have been writing movie reviews for a National Daily – The Daily Tribune,  here in Bahrain which I may not have mentioned before on my blog. My movie reviews appear every Friday in their weekend edition. But having my work printed in a book along with other wonderful writers is something I have been looking forward to for months.

In February 2010, I had the opportunity to join a Writer’s Circle here in Bahrain and it has been a great experience meeting and exchanging ideas with plenty of talented writers on the island. As a part of this fabulous group, I also got to attend creative writing workshops which in my opinion have really helped me break  the mould and set my thoughts free. As a part of this group, I was given the opportunity to contribute towards compiling a beautiful book about Bahrain, in lieu of the political tension that has tarnished this island’s image.  The administrator of our group, Robin Barratt explained to us what this book is going to be about in few words.

My Beautiful Bahrain : A collection of short stories about life and living in The Kingdom of Bahrain. With lots of fascinating personal ‘life’ stories, quite a few tourist-type information and fact based contributions, some wonderful poetry, an occasional piece of fiction (set on the island) and a mixture of other diverse and captivating prose, with fifty contributions from forty writers from fifteen countries (almost 300 pages), My Beautiful Bahrain is both varied and unique, and an undeniably indispensable guide for travellers and visitors to the island, as well as a ‘must-read’ book for people living here, doing business here, or just interested in what life is like living on this tiny, tiny island in the Arabian Gulf. The aims and goals of this book are to show the world that; firstly, there are a great many terrific and talented writers on the island that most definitely should be read and heard and secondly, for most people here, Bahrain is a wonderful place to live! “

So in my tryst to prove that I am serious food blogger I took up the onus of contributing an article about the food (both traditional and modern) of Bahrain. I convinced my friend Namit to help me capture the food – culture of Bahrain through beautiful photographs. That is how we managed to come about with an article of about 3000 plus words – Bahrain: A Culinary Oasis. Now that dream of seeing our work in print would come true in a month or so. I say so because the beautiful cover page of the book is out. ( Pardon me if  I sound like a lovelorn teenage, giddy with excitement)

The beautiful cover was painted by the island’s own Ella Prakash, a painter extraordinaire.

I had to celebrate this occasion with something special and I couldn’t think beyond the simple, sweet, rich and creamy Strawberry Ice cream adapted from my friend La’s blog. La and I have been following each other’s blog for sometime now. In fact she was the one who helped me proof read my article in a professional way. I cannot thank her enough for picking on the silly usages, the redundant sentences and grammar. She proof read it for me countless times as I prepared one draft after the other. There is no other way to thank her enough but by making something wonderful from her lovely blog. Thanks so much La. ❤

The Recipe for Strawberry Ice Cream

Yield: 1.5 litres
Serves: 12-15
Preparation time: Under 30 minutes
Setting time: 4 hours
adapted from foodslice
Ingredients
3 cups fresh strawberries + some more for pulp
3 cups fresh cream ( I used full cream)
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons strawberry essence
Preparation
1. Wash, hull and chop the strawberries.
2. Blend milk and sugar quickly. Add the vanilla essence. Now add the cream and whisk it again until smooth and creamy for a couple of minutes.
3. Add the strawberries and mix into the cream in the blender. You will get a creamy mixture in dreamy pink.
4. Transfer to a freezer safe bowl and keep it in the freezer for 3-4 hours. Before it freezes completely, take it out and blend again to get a creamier texture to the ice cream.
5. I repeated this process  four times and got  a softer creamier texture to my  ice cream without any ice crystals at all.
6. After the last round of pulsing, I blended some fresh strawberries into a coarse pulp and added to the mixture between returning it back into the freezer.
I was most happy with the results and would try the same recipe with other favourite flavours like Mango, chocolate and peach too. The ice cream was rich and creamy without being overtly sweet. The addition of strawberry pulp provided the a delightful tone to the ice cream. Scoopfuls have been disappearing since I made it as ice cream is my daughter’s favourite dessert these days.
I hope to share the good news of the book coming out on the stands in a month and a half or so. I want to thank my husband, my family and all the friends who provided me plenty of encouragement and helped me research the food and culture of this glorious Kingdom. It has been an enchanting journey indeed.

Postcards from Bahrain and Sumptuous Spaghetti with Chicken Balls

27 Dec

And the celebrations continue this festive season. Even in this part of the world, the whole month of December is dotted with holidays and that makes it easier to step into high spirits. It takes every ounce of my will power not to bake something everyday. After all I do want to fit into a decent party dress on New Year’s eve.

As an expat, this tiny archipelago of 33 islands never ceases to surprise me with the bounty of new experiences it has to offer. Just when I sit back to think, I have seen all that Bahrain has to offer, there’d be an interesting something announced. December has been a month full of such beautiful surprises for me and my family. The weather is gorgeous with the winter sun shining down only to spread some good cheer. People are in great spirits and there is a smile on everybody’s face. I feel year -ends can give you that feeling of closure and the anticipation of starting afresh in the New Year. Unresolved issues can wait in December while you enjoy great food, time with friends and the holiday season.

So during this holiday season, I took some short trips with family and friends around the island and visited some beautiful places.

We visited the ‘Tree of Life‘ which is a 400 year-old 32 feet high North American mesquite tree. The tree stands lonely in the heart of desert. It stands as a symbol of strength, hope and longevity for Bahrainis and expats alike.

The weekend found us jumping with excitement at a Wild Life Park – Al Areen. Mimi was so ecstatic spotting all the animals that she had only seen in her picture books. Huge tortoises, Oryx, Ostriches, Emu, all kinds of migratory birds, giraffe ( this was first time I had seen one and I was so excited) and other wild animals. We had the best time walking around and looking and taking pictures of these animals in their near-habitat enclosures.

We also took a trip to an island close by called Al Daar. We had a splendid time at the beach, splashing about in the waves, building sand castles with Mimi, soaking up some winter sun and lazing around in hammocks.

16th, 17th, 18th , 19th were National Holidays in Bahrain celebrating the King’s Accession Day and the National Day. There was a wonderful Aerobatics show for people to see at a beach. Three tiny planes swirled, twirled and somersaulted in mid air giving all the spectators the chills and the thrills.

End of the year also witnesses the biggest sales in the island and I have had a gala time picking up wonderful stuff at 70% discount and less. The shopping spree will continue until the end of this month and I am so looking forward to it.

As an expat the other way to be entertained and to entertain your friends is to either go out for dinner or invite each other for one. Planning and sorting dinner menus for friends has become a norm this month and I have enjoyed it to the hilt. This gives me an opportunity to try different cuisines and recipes. For one such dinner night, I made some sumptuous Spaghetti and Chicken balls and other Italian fare. It is my own recipe since all the Spaghetti and Meat balls recipes called for using minced beef. For this reason alone I have never tasted this Italian dish before in restaurants. I thought I might try and adapt by using chicken mince and to my great relief and joy, it came out wonderful.

Recipe for Spaghetti and Chicken Balls

Ingredients

Spaghetti – 300 gms

For the Chicken Balls ( will yield 14 balls)

Chicken mince – 325 gm

Ginger – 1/2 inch, grated

garlic – 3 cloves, grated

Egg – 1 no.

Parsley, chopped – 1/2 cup

Pepper – according to taste

salt – according to taste

Oil – for deep frying

For the Sauce

Onions- 3 , chopped

garlic – 5 cloves , crushed

Tomatoes – 1 no. , chopped

Tomato paste – 2-3 tbsp

Oyster sauce- 1 tbsp

Sweet chilli sauce – 2 tbsp

oregano flakes – 1 tsp

pepper – according to taste

salt – acc. to taste

oil

Preparation

1. Start by prepping for the chicken balls first. Bring together minced chicken, grated ginger, grated garlic, egg, salt, pepper and chopped parsley. Mix well and make balls.

2. Heat enough oil in a frying pan and drop the balls to deep fry them. Keep them aside for later use.

3. To make the sauce, first fry chopped onions until translucent and then add crushed garlic to it.  Then add chopped tomatoes and cook well. Let the mixture sweat well before you add the tomato paste and keep stirring.

4. In a while, you would see the colour of the sauce changing and all the onion-tomatoes would have mashed well by then.

5. To this add oyster sauce, sweet chilli sauce and oregano flakes. Keep stirring and add water if you find the sauce getting too thick.

6. Finally add salt and pepper according to taste.

7. Pour the sauce over the chicken balls and keep aside until it is time to serve.

8. Break Spaghetti into half and put them in a pot of boiling water with salt and little olive oil. Cook as per instructions on the packet or until al dente. Drain.

9. When it is time to serve, place spaghetti on a plate and pour the chicken balls and sauce at the center and serve hot.

10. Garnish with basil.

My friends enjoyed the meal so much that they came back for seconds and thirds. For me personally, Spaghetti and Chicken balls is the new Lasagna. I hope you try it and let me know how you like it.

For the first time in many years, I feel I am truly at home and I have come to love Bahrain bit by bit. I haven’t a clue about what is in store for us in the future; whether we’d stay here or move. But I have decided to explore this country in every possible way and take it with me wherever I go.

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