Tag Archives: middle east

Eid Mubarak

4 Oct

Wishing all the readers of Slice of my Lyfe, a lovely Eid and happy holidays.

 

 

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I  intend to break this long blog silence with a beautiful, picture – heavy travel post which will include the glorious touristy details of my visit to Doha ( Qatar). Cheers

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

4 Jul

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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.

AND

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

{Breakfast Banter} New York Coffee : Restaurant Review

29 Mar

It is no secret how much I adore this first meal of the day. Breakfast was and shall remain the single most important meal for me. I plan my breakfast carefully and take time to enjoy my breakfast, however meagre  because that sets the mood for the rest of the day. Weekend breakfasts are even more important because that is the time I take out to spend with the family while having my favourite meal of the day. For this very reason, I was extremely excited to visit the New York Coffee outlet with my family at The Walk in Riffa. To begin with, I have to say, this newish New York Coffee outlet is impressive – full of sunshine, large, spacious, and airy – it gives you a feeling of a relaxed setting.

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Within one quick glance several things caught my eye with regards to the decor. Modern and contemporary with an easy vibe is how I can describe the decor of the cafe. I was overcome with a sudden urge to sit down with my laptop and start writing a new novel or a blog post such as this whilst enjoying a nice cup of cappuccino. My thoughts were interrupted by the cheerful staff at the Cafe who welcomed me with great enthusiasm. The smiling server explained to us our breakfast and brunch options and also made explicit mentions of the offers of the day. We settled for a sumptuous American breakfast and an omelette (my way) while my daughter ordered for a sugary crepe along with a carrot cake.

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While our orders were being prepared in the kitchen, I took the opportunity to walk around the cafe. They have a small outdoor seating area which was dappled in the mid – morning sun. I also loitered around the shelves that housed different coffee and tea selections. The aroma of coffee was so inviting that I was half tempted to ask for an espresso instead of the orange juice I had ordered.

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I also happened to have a quick chat the General Manager of the outlet who filled me in with all the details about the outlet.  The New York Coffee outlet at the Walk in Riffa is open 24 hours. I was also told that it is the only coffee outlet in Bahrain that roasts and grinds their own coffee locally. Armed with this interesting trivia, I went back to my seat as the server had brought our piping, hot breakfast.

My husband had the omelette (my way) with brown toast and a large glass of fresh orange juice. He was enjoying his breakfast so much that I did not feel like interrupting him to ask how he found the fare. My daughter tucked into her sugary crepe on which there was  a pool of melted butter. Light and mildly sweet, the crepe was just perfect.  As for my breakfast platter – two fried eggs (runny), chicken sausages, salad, brown toast and fresh orange juice – was sumptuous!  I have an aversion towards sausages but these were done so well that they seemed like a treat. Later when my husband finished his breakfast and was sipping his orange juice he mentioned that he wouldn’t mind coming in here for this very plate of omelette every weekend. My daughter enjoyed her slice of the carrot cake mumbling “mmmm, mmmm” in between. That itself was a good indicator of how much she was enjoying her treat.

 

 

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Finally, when we were patting our warm bellies the server asked us to try their special drink. We couldn’t fathom eating or drinking anything more but he insisted and we thought ‘why not! It’s the weekend!” . He brought in two icy-looking drinks called Honey dew and Mango -tango. While placing these drinks, the server informed that these drinks are special because they are ‘low cal. In my experience, I know of many drinks that are supposedly low cal but are full of sugar. So I challenged him, “ How low?”  ”

“Only 7 cals!!“, he replied

That was ridiculous. I couldn’t believe it. We went to the counter and he showed me his premix and described to me the method of preparation and I realized it was true. I enjoyed my drink with a greater gusto. The honey-dew was refreshing and I have a feeling its is going to be hugely popular this summer. 

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All in all, it was a wonderful morning spent savouring one gastronomic delight after the other. Bahrain!! Chuck your usual breakfast dos and go to New York Coffee. I dare say, you won’t regret it!

*This is a sponsored post but all the views and opinions expressed are my own.

Bahrain’s 42nd National Day celebration with Baklawa

20 Dec

Bahrain celebrated its 42nd National Day on the 16th of December. The entire island country is painted in the colours of red and white – the colours of the National flag. At night, it is a spectacular display of red and white lights which illuminate every road and building and turn it into something like a set from a Baz Luhrmann movie. However busy our lives might be, it is difficult not to get caught into the whole festive spirit of the nation. We enjoyed our long awaited 2 day off (16th and 17th December) from work and packed it with exciting things to do. Most of the restaurants were running  discount in the honour of the National Day and the Accession Day (17th of December). Most of the malls were jam packed with people shopping and dining. There were bands playing and entertaining the crowds too.

We managed to savour some authentic Bahraini breakfast at the Saffron in Muharraq. They have a set menu that they never change and despite that they are ever so popular. The breakfast is an extended affair so be prepared to be served courses after courses of wonderfully unique breakfast savories and sweets and breads. All this washed down with cups and cups of hot, karak tea.

Breakfast at Saffron, Muharraq

Breakfast at Saffron, Muharraq

On the personal accomplishment front, I managed to tick off two items from my culinary bucket list for the year during the mid – week holiday. One of them was baking my favourite dessert – The Baklava and the other was learning how to pipe. The piping post will follow soon.

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Baklava is a rich, sweet pastry made of layers of phyllo pastry filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with syrup or honey. The Baklava is normally prepared in large pans. Many layers of phyllo sheets, separated with melted butter, are laid in the pan. A layer of chopped nuts are also sometimes used is placed on top, then more layers of phyllo. So you have alternate layers of phyllo sheets and chopped nuts. Before baking, the dough is cut into regular pieces, often parallelogram, triangles, or rectangles.

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A syrup, which may include sugar, honey or rose scented or orange scented syrup is poured over the baked baklava and allowed to soak in for many hours. Baklava is usually served at room temperature, often garnished with ground nuts. I attempted the Turkish baklava which is traditionally  made by filling pistachios, walnuts and almonds  between the layers of phyllo dough soaked in cold orange-lemon sugar-honey syrup.

I used the recipe from the Purple Foodie’s blog.

I was less than satisfied with my attempt and wouldn’t mark it as a roaring success. After baking and post soaking the phyllo+nuts filling with the citrus scented syrup, the phyllo layers were quite flaky and not soft from the syrup. But from a taste perspective, it was beyond delicious. After much contemplation and reflection I realized my folly. I finished the ritual of laying down sheets of phyllo and buttered them with melted butter and then a layer of nuts on top and let it rest for more than 2 hours before putting it in the oven to bake. The butter sheets hardened and after became quite crisp. So if you attempt this recipe which is seriously amazing – DO NOT LET THE BAKLAVA REST FOR MORE THAN 15 mins and immediately put it in the oven to bake!!!

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Despite that technical hitch, I shall confidently cross of the Baklava off my Culinary Bucket list and move forward to attempt the next one.

Here I share some random pictures from in and around my visits to different places in Bahrain and the interesting things that caught my eye.

The local Superman

The local Superman

The traditional Spice Market /Souq in Muharraq

The traditional Spice Market /Souq in Muharraq

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A traditional kebab shop

A traditional kebab shop

Arabic Bread baking in a traditional bread shop

Arabic Bread baking in a traditional bread shop

fish monger

fish monger

Arabic Coffee flask

Arabic Coffee flask

Traditional Coffee shop

Traditional Coffee shop

Kebab

Kebab

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

6 Dec

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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Gabgha – Ramadan Special Post @Elite Resort and Spa

5 Aug

It has been just over 3 years in Bahrain and still I feel like I know so little about the culture of this beautiful island. Bahrain has certainly been the longest stint for us so far, outside of India. So far it has been interesting and rewarding. Being a food blogger and living an expat’s life can bring forth a lot of wonderful food – related experiences. I try to not miss them as far as it is possible. But every Ramadaan, I somehow miss the ‘Gabgha’ and the ‘iftaar’ celebrations.

For the uninitiated:

Ramadaan is the holy month for the Muslims who fast from dawn until dusk. Their fasting involves absolutely no consumption of water or food. This is done for a month and in my opinion it is a real test of will power and physical endurance. Most Indian Muslims that I know, who are in Bahrain or other countries in the Middle East find it easier to carry on their fasting activities in this region, as there is a collective sentiment towards a common goal. Eating and drinking is forbidden for all (except children) in open areas. Restaurants and eating joints do no serve any food or drink during fasting hours. When the sun goes down, the end of fasting is marked with Maghrib, which is when Muslims will have Iftar – the meal to break their fast.  Following Iftar, families and friends get together for a Gabgha – a lively gathering with food and entertainment that lasts throughout night.

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Corporates have their own “gabgha” for their employees and their families. I have missed each one of them for some reason or the other. In Bahrain, as it is the case with all the other middle eastern countries, all the top 5 Star and 4 Star hotels have iftaar and Gabgha get together for their guests. I had been eyeing the adverts and the leaflets for Gabgha since the start of Ramadaan. I zeroed in on a few hotels and waited for a freer weekend to attend one of them.

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So on one of the weekends, we went to a Gabgha arranged at the Elite Resort and Spa. It came highly recommended from one of our friends Pooja Rajpal, who works for a magazine and regularly reviews hotels and restaurants.

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When we reached the venue, the staff was wrapping up their iftaar (the menu includes more snacks and light bites) arrangements and were quite engrossed in laying down the tables for Gabgha (more dinner-like menu). The gabgha had been arranged in a huge tent within the premises with sparkly chandeliers and illuminations. It was a huge hall which could probably hold a crowd of 200-300 people easily. The crowds usually start trickling in after 10 or 11 pm. The smoking (sheesha) and non smoking sections were segregated which made it easier for us non smokers to enjoy our meal.

There was an entire section dedicated only to dried fruits, nuts, pickles and jams. That is where we began our tryst. Slowly we moved to the several meters long center table that served appetizers, a huge selection of breads, main course and sides.  Fruit juices and Arabic coffee was also being served.

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For vegetarians there was a good selection of main courses and appetizers to choose from such as eggplant Parmesan, hummus and other chickpeas and vegetable preparations. Meat eaters were spoilt for choice by a wide array of different kinds of meats and sea food preparation; Arabic and Italian. The idea of a gabgha is to have a community gathering of sorts and share a meal and conversation after a tough day of fasting. Gabghas usually last until 2:30 am or 3:00 am.

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 The most striking of all the dishes laid out was the huge biryani cauldron  that had a whole animal in it. I assumed it was lamb biryani and all the guests thronged it, scraping out meat and filling their plates with the scented biryani rice. By the time, I got there with my camera, most the meat was scraped off.

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The most appealing section of them all was obviously the dessert section which had the choicest of desserts; both traditional and contemporary. Since, I can only speak for myself, I must confess that I indulged in the most obscene kind of gluttony. After a  slow start with the appetizers and salads, I gradually moved to main courses of Arabic curries with breads and finally to traditional sweets such as kunafa, mahalabia, Arabic halwa and such. Even tiny portions in such a wide spread buffet can go a long way. I was already snoring at my seat.

My daughter started at the dessert counter and ended it there itself.

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All in all, it was a unique experience attending a gabgha in a traditionnal tent like set up. It came to 15 BD++ per person.  I am glad I was able to make it to this fantastic gabgha and hope to go to many more next year.

Saffron- Mango Ice cream for all Seasons

3 Sep

With the Summers slowly disappearing all around the world, I see plenty of fall desserts on everybody’s blog posts. The thing about living in the middle east is we are blessed with intense sunshine all round the year. The weather does cool down a little bit towards Nov-Dec- Jan but the Sun is ever so kind be spreading its cheer all the time. There is no Fall or Spring either. Weather-inspired desserts and food have limited scope in this part of the world. So I have decided that there is no reason to bake according to any season. Good food is good food!

In this post I share with you,  this gorgeousness of an ice-cream that uses two of my favorite ingredients – Mango & Saffron.

It may sound funny, if I tell you that both my husband and daughter do not like Mangoes. When 2 out of 3 people do not like something, automatically it gets cut off from the grocery shopping list. But this time, I made it a point to buy some end of season Mangoes and get them both to eat some. On their own, the mangoes weren’t the best since they were the last in the market, but that didn’t stop me for making some fabulous ice cream that all of us could enjoy. My endeavour was met with great success and I managed, well technically managed to get my hubby and daughter to have some mangoes.

I used a recipe from Monika’s blog whose homely recipes have me visiting her blog again and again. She had blogged about  Mango-Pistachio ice cream and I was instantly taken since it did not call for an ice cream maker. I had to try it with Saffron since it is one of my favourite flavours.

The Recipe for Saffron – Mango Ice cream

Adapted from sinamontales
Ingredient
Medium sized  mangoes -4 nos.
Sugar  – 3 tbsp
Condensed Milk/Milkmaid – 1/2 cup
Milk – 2 cups
Lemon juice – 1 tsp
Saffron – a few strands

Preparation

1. Puree the mangoes and  sugar together and you could use a little milk if you like.

2. To the puree’d mangoes add the condensed milk, milk and whisk together well . Add the lemon juice and whisk some more. Add a few strands of saffron and retain some for garnish. Transfer the same to a container

3. Cover the container with a foil and put it in the refrigerator for freezing.

4. When it is almost frozen take it out and blend it will in a blender or mixer. In case you find there are too many ice crystals formed, then you could add some more condensed milk and blend again.

5. Put it back for freezing. When it seems done, you can scoop out into individual moulds and  add saffron threads to garnish.

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