Tag Archives: recipe

Eid Mubarak and my family’s favourite Kheer recipe

3 Aug

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Here, in Bahrain, we are still reeling from our longish yet blink and you miss kinda  Eid Holidays. My kitchen still smells of butter and chocolate and spice from plenty of baking expeditions that Mimi and I carried out. My instagram account is filled with pictures of my moreish banana breads ( will blog about it soon), Nigella’s Orange and chocolate cake and almond biscotti. As an expat and a non- Muslim in Bahrain, being around during Eid celebrations is a special experience each year. As an outsider and an observer, the festivities marked by a long holiday and the Muslim community getting together to celebrate after a month of fasting and prayers, have always left me with a feeling of longing for my family back in my own home country. There is a spark in everybody’s eyes as they go shopping for gifts and traditional sweets. To feel close to it all, I too, go for shopping for traditional sweets and gifts for friends and my family.The other major attraction during Eid would be to go to the Grand Mosque which is a unique experience and this year my parents would be visiting the Grand Mosque for the first time. It would be interesting to see the Mosque once again through their eyes. The Ministry of culture has come up with a great line up of performances from all over the world as a part of the Bahrain Summer Festival 2014. I can’t wait to attend some of them which sound every bit delightful. At home, I try to create a festive atmosphere by preparing some delicacies like the Shir Korma and  Biryani. I call friends home and do our own little Eid party with cheese sampling and such. Eid, on the whole, leaves me feeling festive and I look forward to this festival like I would, Deepawali, while I lived in India.

So that was a bit about how we spent the holidays. I would also like to share a few interesting updates. I couldn’t have imagined on that sultry afternoon of 23rd February, 2010 that my blog would come this far. The innumerable opportunities that my blog has provided have helped me explore my own potential as a food writer and a food photographer. I still have a long way to go but every opportunity is a divine gift that I shall treasure.

I had the opportunity to share a recipe, picture and a write up of the famous Thalassery Biryani with the readers of Bombay times. It is a small mention but for me a big milestone to be featured in the supplement of the Times Group. In this article, I talk a bit about its origin and the interesting history behind the Thalassery Biryani. The recipe is pretty amazing too.

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The other update includes a chocolate cookie recipe that Mimi and I shared with the readers of a Bahrain based magazine – Bahrain Confidential. Here, I discuss why baking is such a fruitful exercise with children especially during their summer holidays. I shall share a detailed post on the cookie recipe, soon.

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Now that the updates are out of the way, let me share with you my simple, yet absolutely delicious Kheer ( rice pudding) recipe which I made to celebrate Eid.  Just with a few ingredients it is possible to create something so magical that it unites your family at the dining table even if they have vastly varied tastes for other foods.

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Most of my cooking that I do at home is instinctive and I never take the pains of jotting down the recipe. But during these Eid holidays, I thought better and wrote down the recipe for Kheer as I made it. It is a favourite with my family especially my daughter and my husband. They enjoy a cupfull of this in its warm and chilled forms.

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While it uses few ingredients, its taste blooms because it is cooked slowly on low flame. To speed up the process would mean cooking it at high temperatures but then it would completely kill the taste. I know of several other methods of making Kheer like cooking it in the pressure cooker etc but these short cut methods do not do it for me. I like the traditional way of cooking it slowing and allow the flavours of the reduced milk to merge with the cardamom, sugar and the ghee-fried raisins and cashews.  This recipe gives atleast 8 servings.

Wishing everybody a great week ahead!

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Apple tarts for ordinary days and a poll

12 Mar

All of us remember special days – birthdays, anniversaries, festivals and personal triumph days such as promotions etc ( its been long since I have celebrated that one!). I try and celebrate the ordinariness of each day. It gives me a special high. I try to have a special sort of breakfast or dinner or snack since its super fun to share on instagram, Facebook and twitter. People respond to my attempts to celebrate ordinariness which makes all the effort well worth it. That is why I am so glad that social media platforms like Facebook, twitter, pinterest, instagram are around which make our daily routine stories sound fancy thereby giving us the strength to get past each day.

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There is a lot of criticism concerning these social media platforms where several people (including my husband) think that this culture of over-sharing is overbearing.  I agree to a certain extent but all in all I feel it has brought us closer as a community – of like minded people, friends, supporters etc.

Digital Media has got me so interested that the pros vs cons war doesn’t bother me. Like they say, you can love it, you can hate it, but you cannot ignore it. Social media is here to stay and its evolving and adapting to real life as I write this post. Soon there will be a time when there wouldn’t be any distinction between the real and the virtual life. Scary? Exciting?

What are your thoughts on it. Social media – love it? hate it?

Take this small poll for fun and it will tell me how many of us think social media is amazing and the single biggest invention after the world wide web and how many think that it is a high risk infection that needs to be stopped via a new antidote or vaccine!

Well apart from all the digital media debate on this post, I have a warm and a sunny apple tart recipe to share.

AT2This recipe is the easiest and absolutely no-fuss. The last traces of the good weather are leaving Bahrain and summer is setting in. I am not exactly ready for summer and continue to hold to my fall/winter/spring mode. The baked apple tarts is my way of expressing weather -related withdrawal symptoms.

AT3What is it about the cinnamon and apple combination that is so heavenly! Pair it in tarts or cakes or muffins with strusel, it just creates that quiet corner of heaven when you are eating them. I served warm these tarts with simple and the understated vanilla ice cream – symbolic of the receding winters and the entering summers.

The recipe has been inspired from here and the recipe card for the detailed recipe is below.

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Now bringing the discussion back to social media and the impact it has on our lives these days.I feel moderation is the key. I feel we have control over what part of ourselves we want to put out there for the unknown world to see. Ofcourse that balance comes through trial and error. As a blogger, I have realized that like – minded people connect when they read what I post is relevant to their lives. For that I post stuff about my life which I don’t mind sharing. It is also heartening when people come and validate that they feel the same, given a situation. For me personally, being a part of such an online community has been inspiring and each day I learn a lot which I then apply to my real life. Hence, I do not mind declaring that I am social media- happy and would continue my trysts in this medium.

Do you feel the same?

Parenthood and other things + Chocolate Pistachio Fudge

19 Feb

Being a parent is the most fortunate thing to happen to anyone –  seems like an overstatement but I think it’s absolutely true. When Mimi was born, it took me a while to step out from the state of awe. Tiny and vulnerable, my new-born looked like the most exquisite thing I had ever laid my eyes on. Unfortunately, unlike most of you, I didn’t take to motherhood naturally. It took me a great while to figure her out. I was too scared to trust my instincts or for that matter even my husband’s as far as Mimi affairs were concerned. Be it her colicky experience, her natural tendency to run before she started walking, her difficulty in pronouncing ” Y” and “Th” words ( words like yellow were pronounced as Lello and Bath was Baff).  Rather than trusting my own instincts, I would look up the internet or talk to my mother who I thought is the authority in raising a child since she managed to make something out  of me! But over a period of time, I have understood Mimi and my instincts are better positioned to work and deliver.

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Despite having four solid years of experience of raising a child, both my husband and I still struggle when it comes to trusting our instincts as parents. It becomes increasingly difficult especially when a credible source like school and especially your child’s teacher tells you certain things about your child that you find difficult to refute. It was when Mimi joined nursery that I went back to work. It was  a trying time for both of us because we spent nearly 3.5 glorious years together before this abrupt separation happened. ( including the pregnancy months when I took a sabbatical from work)

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The first year passed incident-free but the second year onward we received a steady stream of complaints from school regarding her behaviour. Mimi suddenly resorted to displaying sudden bursts of temper and several cases of disobedience. These complaints did not cease even after several attempts of intervention with Mimi. We, as parents, were at our wits end. The teacher and school started to label her as someone with ADHD and that increased our anxiety levels beyond imagination. Every single day was spent trying to make Mimi understand about good behaviour but none seem to work. Somehow we resigned to believe that maybe Mimi did have ADHD and perhaps as the teacher suggested would need medical attention and therapy.  We spoke to several counselors, Psychotherapists and child psychiatrists and each one of them strongly recommended that we should wait it out because at 3  years it was too early to diagnose anything. It was the most grueling time for us as parents and midst all of this confusion, the school gave us a hard time questioning our parenting skills.

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Finally, after months of sleepless nights, we decided to trust our instincts and take her off the school especially when certain stray incidents of discrimination came to my knowledge. It was as if the school did not want her too. Truce was declared and Mimi spent  several months at home doing what she liked – painting, writing, watching her favourite shows, eating wonderful food and chilling out. What surprised me was that she was  a completely different person at home as compared to how the teachers projected her – A devil child.

For a parent, there no bigger grief trust me.

Once she was off school, there was collective sigh of relief and life went on.  Towards the beginning of a new year, I went up to one of the smaller nurseries in town and requested them to take Mimi. The new school gladly took her and Mimi began a new life with new classmates, new teachers and a brand new atmosphere. By the grace of God, she took to this new school rather easily and the positive environment did a good deal of good. Her beautiful character sparkled through and she started to enjoy the new tryst. There were never any complaints from school and we thanked our lucky stars that she found a loving environment that cherishes her for what and who she is.

We are so happy that we trusted our instincts and got her off the previous school without falling for the teacher’s random observations of Mimi having ADHD. These days ADHD has become the easiest label given to a child who is slightly naughty. I feel it is utterly unfair when schools and their ‘qualified’ teachers assume this easy way of relinquishing all responsibility when it comes to handling children with different capacities and energy levels by pronouncing them as either developmentally slow or suffering from ADHD.

Hence a lesson to learn from our bitter experience would be always, ALWAYS trust your own instincts in matters relating to your child.

Only yesterday we got to know that Mimi got accepted at the “Big School” after a thorough interview process and fantastic recommendation from her current school. We are so proud of her and how she has transformed in the last 6-8 months with the new school. It is a big milestone for us as parents and a beautiful opportunity for Mimi. This joyous moment called out for something sweet and beautiful and the chocolate pistachio fudge was the right choice – instinctively. 🙂

It asks for very few basic ingredients and very little prep. It is fudgy and full of chocolate goodness. You would be surprised how quickly these vanish – these little bites of heaven. Enjoy these one at a time with your children and treasure every moment spent with them because time’s flying away. Wishing you all a terrific mid-week!

Click to see the enlarged picture of the recipe card

Click to see the enlarged picture of the recipe card

 

On why there is no need to lead a deficient life & a healthy Vegetable Couscous recipe

15 Feb

Now if all the Valentines gifts have been unwrapped and the chocolate puddings have been licked off the spoon, can we talk about something serious today? Not serious as much as important. Have you been feeling a little under the weather lately? For the past lets say one or two or three months or even more than a year? When I say under the weather, I mean a few aches and pains in the body, wee bit tiredness to chronic fatigue and mild depression even on a sunny day. Well then it is something you should not simply sit upon and do nothing about.

I started experiencing these symptoms for as long as I can remember. A year or two years perhaps but I attributed it to the fact that I was prone to depression from time to time. But lately for the past several months I began to experience chronic fatigue. The inability to get up from my bed to do normal chores and to go about my hectic day made me feel terrible. I suspected it had something to do with the new work-out routine or a change in diet perhaps. I respected my body’s wishes and didn’t push myself and waited for it to reach back to me with refilled buckets of energy. Unfortunately it did not happen. This lack of energy, a general lassitude and mild every-day depression began to affect me and the people that I love the most in my life. It was during a rigourous interval training session with my trainer that I confided feeling low and he remarked that I wasn’t giving my best to the routine. He then suggested to get my blood checked for Vitamin D deficiency and Thyroid. I got my tests done and found out that I had a Vitamin D deficiency. I was prescribed Vitamin D3 along with Calcium by the doctor.  It has been two weeks since I have started with the medication and I feel better already. I feel energized or perhaps these are my normal energy levels that are being restored. My moods aren’t dark and gloomy and I look forward to each day with renewed optimism.

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There is no feeling bigger, greater than feeling like your own self. 

Couscous

Couscous

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Vitamin D deficiency occurs for the following reason:

  • Darker skin. The darker your skin the more sun you need to get the same amount of vitamin D as a fair-skinned person.
  • If you spend a lot of time indoors during the day.  I stay indoors in office most of the time and when I go home its quite late.
  • If you cover your skin all of the time. If you wear sunscreen or wear full sleeves clothes
  • If you have been a vegetarian all your life. Growing up I have had a vegetarian diet thereby excluding crucial Vitamin D food sources such as Fish, eggs (very sparingly) and liver.
  • You are obese. Vitamin D is extracted from the blood by fat cells and people with body mass index of 30 or greater often have low blood levels of vitamin D.

And many more. You can look up for material on the internet to educate yourself on the causes of this deficiency.

Suffering from Vitamin D deficiency can have several implications:

  • Not having enough Vitamin D through food sources or the sun or supplements can lead to your body absorbing less calcium and there by affecting calcium metabolism in the body
  • The above reason would lead to the general aches and pains in the body
  • Not feeling enough sun is a common cause for depression as well
  • Above all the fatigue is killing.
  • Long term deficiencies lead to  increased risk of death from cardiovascular diseases, asthma in children and even cancer.

I am not a medical practitioner but since the time I got to know of my deficient levels which in turn made me live a deficient life, I educated myself about its implications and causes. Hence by all means you can question all the matter that has been included in the post but if you do feel any thing like I have felt in the past 1 year or so, its worth considering a blood test.

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Since good health is the topic for the day, I have included a healthy couscous recipe which is not only filling but also extremely healthy. The couscous that we get in a packet here is pre-cooked so all that is needed is soaking it in hot stock or simply boiling water. The coucous fluffs up beautifully absorbing the flavour of the liquid of choice. To this I added some stir fried vegetables such as broccoli, aubergines, beans, carrots, onions etc. Basically, you can add any vegetable that you like. I used up the lot that was in my vegetable tray for a week and couldn’t think of a better way of using them up.

It is one of my favourite recipes that is extremely easy to whip up and is delicious too. I alter the quantity of couscous and use more vegetables to make it healthier. You can reverse the equation and make it couscous heavy and less vegetables. The other option to make this dish rich is to add lightly fried paneer or even raisins and nuts. Eggs match well too. So the versatility of this recipe is boundless. You can use a vegetarian stock or a chicken stock and the couscous swells up beautifully to the chosen flavour.

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With this I come to the end of my post. My next post would be about a chocolate pistachio fudge which is beyond addcitive. I share my foodie life on Instagram at @sliceofmylyfe and if you like what I do on my blog, I am sure you would love my Instagram feed even more.Happy weekend everybody!

“Crabby” Chocolate Croissants from Nigella Express & why cooking can change your life

7 Feb

My love affair with Nigella’s recipes is legendary. I already have all her popular cook books and by the end of April this year, I will have added another one of her books to my ever – burgeoning collection of books. My poor book case in groaning under the weight of so many books and soon I would have to buy a new one or build a make shift one to accommodate the new ones.

On back to the point of this post. In this post, I share Nigella’s Cheat’s chocolate croissant. When I watched the video, I couldn’t believe making a croissant could be this simple. Well they are cheat’s croissants and so they had to be quick and hassle -free. This year, I hope to undertake the real croissant challenge working my way through the layers of pastry sheets and tubs of butter.

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When I made mine, they turned out to be slightly different looking as compared to Nigella’s.  Says a lot about my incredible crafting abilities. My chocolate croissants looked like crabs heavy in the middle after a large meal. But, but , but, they were enormously delicious! Isn’t that what we want at the end of it all. So I thought I should rightfully call these croissants “Crabby” ( only in the way they look and not crabby- mood inducing)

Step-by-step instructions

Step-by-step instructions

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For the recipe you could see this incredibly engrossing video of Nigella doing her cheat’s chocolate croissant for Nigella Express.

Usually I am a very keen cook and I love spending time in the kitchen dishing out home made meals. But off – late, I am all about lazy cooking and cheat’s meals. Guess its the weather in Bahrain that is making me snuggle up on my couch and eat whatever I can lay my hands on. It was then I came upon this very interesting video my Micheal Pollan ( Fantastic , fantastic author of the book called “Cooked“) To anybody who enjoys to read about now culture intersects with food and behavioral patterns, this book is for you. 

I want anyone who is reading this blog to watch this video with all the care and attention you can. In here, Micheal Pollan stresses why and how cooking can change your life! It completely transformed my perspective about how powerful it is to take control of what we eat and feed our families. Learning how to cook and/or applying ourselves in the kitchen can result in long term health and other benefits.

 

C2Michael Pollan’s empowering thought process sure had enough pull to get me off the couch and start cooking again instead of reaching out for comforting / addictive packets of food that are so easy to make. Hope it makes you all who don’t cook enough at home, sit up and make that conscious promise to cook and eat healthy.

Next weekend, I have my favourite comfort food – Couscous and vegetables – that I will cover on my blog. Make sure you come back for this healthy couscous recipe. Take care and happy weekend, all!

The Breakfast Post – Poached eggs in baked beans

26 Oct

A few days back I tweeted about my love for breakfasts.

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It indeed is the most important meal for me and that love has been sown and nurtured by my mother who made sure we had amazing home-made breakfast on our table every day. I looked back to my archives and found what little love I have actually shown through my blog posts – very few breakfast recipes that showcase not even an ounce of what this meal of the day means to me.

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So to bring that a balance back I thought I really need to put out some breakfast dishes that are not only easy to put together but also sumptuous. Most of the times, you will notice that eggs feature prominently. That is because I LOVE EGGS. I find that they are filling, tasty and oh-so versatile to use.

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This egg recipe is the easiest of them all and can be whipped up in no time. I didn’t bother with making the baked beans from the scratch. Breakfast preparation is a hurried affair and there’s only time to flip open a can and pour the contents out on certain days. Not the method I usually prefer but at times I do pick convenience over ideology [ about eating healthy, less sugar, less salt, less processed food and all that]
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It also struck me that I want as many breakfast recipes I can lay my hands on. Especially the tried and the tested ones. So I call out to all the foodies and breakfast lovers to share their recipes either as  a guest post on my blog or on your own  blog with a link back or simply a recipe or even a photograph depicting why they love breakfast and what breakfast means to them.

Come join the BREAKFAST BANTER AT SLICE OF MY LYFE

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Grab a badge and tell me all your breakfast stories which may be laced with memories old and new. How a certain kind of breakfast brings out the best in you for the rest of the day.  Hope to hear from all the breakfast lovers soon. You can email me your recipes  and pictures at dazzler29 [at] gmail [dot] com

Now back to the recipe.

This baked beans can be made as spicy or as sweet as you want it to be.  With crisp brown toast they are a match made in heaven.

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CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO VIEW THE RECIPE BETTER

In other news, I am on Instagram now and you can follow me at sliceofmylyfe. I am a late entrant no doubt but I am quite enjoying keeping in touch with all the other lovers of life in pictures. This late entry gives me the opportunity of going back to my older posts and life and enjoy those pictures once again. I hope you do too!

Here’s a sample!

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News and My Culinary Bucket list + Millionaire’s Shortbread

9 Feb

Well how do I begin..

Lots of news to share.

First things first. You may recollect I had requested all my blogger friends and readers for Facebook votes for a photo contest that Mimi (my daughter) was participating. The news is she won the title of the cutest kid in Bahrain. Mimi won a professional portfolio as the prize for winning the contest. The details of how Summer ( the professional photographer) managed to get some shots that were portfolio -worthy would be a blog post in itself. In a nutshell, I can summarize the photo shoot as:

Mimi– hates wearing girly stuff- made to wear a dress- cranky best- hell broke loose- wouldn’t pose- cried till her nose was red– a super stressed hubby and me– a super patient photographer( Summer Weeks)– asked us parents to step out– sorted the shoot and the change of clothes herself– got some photos that were portfolio worthy– phew!

Well the moral of the 58 word story is – the photos are here and I am so glad to share a few of them in this post as a thank you to all my blogger friends who took time out to vote for Mimi. We are so happy with the photos and at what a beautiful job Summer has done.

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Now for the second round of update – My recipes were featured in one of the leading Magazines in Bahrain – The Bahrain Confidential. For this I have only one person to thank – Pooja Rajpal – my beautiful friend. I have blogged about these recipes and you could take a look at them here and here.

BahCon-Anita-LRFor the third round of update. I have, inspired by Sally, decided to build a culinary bucket list for this year. This is no rocket science stuff. It includes all the culinary pursuit that I have been procrastinating endlessly. Either I am too lazy or plain scared to take it up. So to put all that unimportant fears and insecurities on the side and take up all the challenges  one by one would be my culinary goal for the year. In the bargain, I feel, this bucket list will give my blog a new and adventurous feel. Basically, anything to keep going. Otherwise, knowing me, I would keep making those old-fashioned chocolate cakes, brownies and cookies over and over again. This bucket list not only features new bakes and recipes I intend to try but also would help me push my gastronomical boundaries. Ofcourse the list is subject to change.

Why?

Because its my list. I can do what I want to with it. ( that’s just me justifying my ever-changing goals in life!!)

So here goes my Culinary Bucket list in no particular order:

Barbecue– It may sound funny but I have never got the opportunity to attend a barbecue. But I did in early January, this year and I can’t wait to share my experience of doing so with the locals here in Bahrain. So this I can safely tick off my list.

Macarons – Dread to even try. Have been procrastinating for too long. Have to tackle the bulls by its horns now.

Pavlova – Plain laziness. The only worry I have is, what would I do with all the yolks that remain once I used all the whites of the egg.

Oyster – Ernest Hemmingway called it tasting the sea. I would like to experience this myself. Hopefully, this should happen sometime in April ( why April? I won’t tell you, just yet)

Quail eggs – I have seen these delicate, patterned eggs on the supermarket shelves but using them in my recipes always made me uneasy. Hoping to put a good quail egg recipe on this blog.

Baklawa – Being in this part of the world, its shameful that I haven’t tried my hand at any dessert of the middle eastern origin. Considering how much I love Baklawa and enjoy licking off the honey laced pastry bits off my fingers, its time I try and recreate this beautiful dessert at home.

Learn how to pipe – Chocolate ganache has been my go-to cake decorating option all the time. My piping skills are absolutely dud and I need to try to do some skillful piping this year to put my piping related anxiety at rest.

Swiss roll – I failed miserably at making the yule log for Christmas. It was a defeat in every sense. The log, the rolling, the cream filling; everything. The Swiss Roll will be conquered.

KhandviThis Gujarati (Indian) delicious snack made from gram flour has given me a tough time. But again, like the Swiss Roll, I shall endeavour to tame this rogue snack.

Jalebi I have been aspiring to make Jalebis for as long as I remember. I know for sure that my hubby would be very thrilled to see this in my culinary bucketlist.

Now with that out-of-the-way, I shall  turn my attention to this delicious, wickedly sinful and indulgent shortbread called the Millionaire’s shortbread that uses more butter than you can imagine and tastes a bit like heaven.

A slice of heaven would be a perfect description.

While the other description would be – ‘ deliciously buttery, crumbly shortbread with a layer of insanely addictive fudge and topped with a shiny coat of melted chocolate. This tri-layered slice of heaven is a calorie bomb but what is life without a little indulgence here and there. During times like this when I am savouring a delicate slice of Nigella’s Shortbread, I tend to completely forget about my New Year resolutions about losing weight and such insignificant issues.

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Surprisingly, it is very easy and quick to assemble as most of Nigella’s baking treats are. Literally three short steps and its done. That trickiest part is to be patient let the darn thing set well. But I am not blessed with that virtue and cut them into slices before it had the time to meld into each other like a single unit. The result was  as you can see in the pictures, uneven slices that don’t look good in photos and the chocolate layer sliding over the fudge layer that reminded me of drifting continents.

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I console myself with the fact that food needs to taste great; never-mind it doesn’t look too good.

I packed these shortbread pieces for my daughters last day of the term party and took some to office.

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Now for the final update, that I remember at the fag end, because there is so much happening that I am losing count. My hubby and my sweet friend Gayathri participated in a Quiz contest – India Quiz 2013 on the eve of the Indian Republic Day in Bahrain and won the 2nd prize. It was a fantastic moment for us. My hubby had been an avid quizzer during his college days but I never had the chance to see him in action. This was the first time I saw him participate and do so well and finally win it. It was a moment of ultimate pride for me. Also that Gayathri was his quiz partner made it ultra special. Kudos to both of you and I am so so so so proud of you!!!

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Now for the Recipe Card;

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Hope you all have an (nice) eventful week ahead!

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