Tag Archives: summer

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.

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

{Restaurant Review} Vapiano – fresh and delicious

31 May

What do they say about never saying never?

Insalata di arance e noci

Insalata di arance e noci

Well, I experienced it myself very recently. Vapiano in Bahrain City Center always looked promising but the previous two dining experiences at Vapiano were sub-par and less than delightful that I was quite sure I wouldn’t want to try them again. But with a little coaxing from Obai & Hill’s Zainab, I thought about giving Vapiano’s summer, fresh menu a try with a disclaimer that if I didn’t like it (again), I would refrain from doing a review on my blog.

On the scheduled day, my family and I stepped into Vapiano to sample their new menu. We were ushered in by a very friendly server who then educated us about all the new dishes and desserts. On her recommendations we settled for 1 starter, 2 main courses, 1 salad and a dessert. All this was to be accompanied by freshly squeezed orange.  For the starters we ordered the Caprese  that had cherry tomatoes with buffalo mozzerella on the bed of basil and rocket leaves. The cherry tomatoes were sweet and juicy and the rocket peppery as its supposed to be – all fresh and crunchy.

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Caprese

This was just the right antipasti to whet our appetite for the remaining courses to come. The hubby had ordered Estiva – a tender chicken breast pasta drenched in semi- dried tomato sauce, with a mild kick of ginger, mint and rocket . We specially asked our server to request the chef to cook the pasta a bit more than the “Vapiano” al dente. As per our request, the pasta was just perfectly done with succulent chicken pieces and  flavoursome tomato sauce and herbs.

Estiva with conchiglie

Estiva with conchiglie

My daughter who is notorious for shunning restaurant food was content with her bread and butter. She particularly enjoyed the fresh orange juice with her simple grub. As for me, I had ordered a barbecued chicken pizza which was sumptuous to say the least. It was quite a large portion unexpectedly and so we had the rest of it in a take away bag.

barbecued chicken pizza

barbecued chicken pizza

All the wonderful food was balanced by a very citrus-y , sunshine salad adorned by pistachio called the insalata di arance e noci. To my mind, it feels like summer on my plate with juicy orange fillets, pistachios, lamb’s lettuce and chicory. The flavours were heightened by a very light walnut and orange dressing. This was the highlight of my meal at Vapiano and it would be something that I would keep going back to Vapiano for many times over.

Insalata di Arance e noci

Insalata di Arance e noci

The close of the meal was marked by the unavoidable chocolate dessert called the Cioccolata e espresso which is Vapiano’s own homestyle chocolate espresso mousse, cantuccini (literally translates as coffee bread or popularly known as biscotti)  refined with grape juice and sweet amarena cherries.

Cioccolata e espresso

Cioccolata e espresso

Feeling happily sedated after such a wholesome meal, we thanked our hostess for the day and returned home with the lingering memories of the summer food at Vapiano. Thank you Vapiano for a wonderful experience that was so fresh and delicious that I don’t think I can have enough of it this summer!!.

 *This is a sponsored post but the opinions expressed all solely mine.

{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.

Summer Special Strawberry Lemon Popsicle

18 May

Its been 13 days now that I am back from my vacation and I haven’t had the time to sit and reflect on how wonderful it was. Our 10 day tour of France seems like it happened in some other lifetime. This blog has suffered a lot of neglect and I can’t help feel thoroughly guilty about it. I have so many pending posts and recipes to share that I have lost track. The other regret I have is not being able to visit and comment on my favourite blogs. I do skim through the new posts of all the blogs that I am subscribed to whenever I have a breather in between.  I hope this crazy, out-of-control phase of life quickly passes by and I get some time to do what I love to do which is to bake, cook and write.

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 In between the madness surrounding my work life, I took some time out to do a summer special feature for a Bahrain Confidential – A monthly publication. As it is commonly known, the summers in the middle east can be quite taxing and it is only by keeping hydrated at all times, can I get through my day. Two of my summer special recipes of a popsicle – Strawberry Mint popsicle and a summer drink – watermelon, mint, rose cooler were published.

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Popsicle are my favourite summer time treat when I am fed up of raw vegetable juices and ice teas and in  this post I share with you the recipe for Strawberry Lemon Popsicle   My  daughter was the one who enjoyed them more than others. She is really not a big fan of strawberries but with the Popsicle I have a convert.

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I chopped pieces of strawberries into the popsicle  which gave it an interesting texture. It hardly took 10 times to put everything together and it took about 4-5 hours for it to set in the freezer. Hope you enjoy a fruity summer and I shall come back to share with you all the splendid details of my birthday in France.

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My Most Beautiful thing loves Sesame Shortbread Cookies

11 Aug

In a month and a little more my little bundle of joy would be all of three.  This realization hits me and knocks the air out of my lungs. 3 incredible years of intense joy, sparkle and so much learning. She would join kindergarten in September, just before her birthday. These days she has her summer camp going on and each day she is looking forward to go to her camp. They go visit exhibitions, science centers, paint together, play games, sing and dance. Everyday she comes back having learnt a new word, a new rhyme, a new song and a whole new understanding of the little world that’s hers.

All photos courtesy : Namit Bhatia

These days she has come up with this funny way of addressing every body with a title –  “Mr. Mamma, can I have a cookie please?” or “Mr. Papa has gone to office.” It is hilarious!! Mr. Uncle has come home to see us and Mr. Teacher sent home  a note today.

She loves cookies and I sometimes indulge by making some for her at home in the flavours that she likes. She loves simple, uncomplicated flavours with exciting toppings like M&Ms or smarties.  I spotted this easy-peasy shortbread recipe from the BBC GoodFood Magazine that I had to try cause I knew she would love it.

Summers in Bahrain

 

A few months ago, I had a chance to participate in an online event where I had t write about ‘My Most Beautiful Thing’. Thought it was most appropriate to share it here considering the emotional rollercoaster that I am on these days.

“When I think of ‘My Most Beautiful Thing”, I close my eyes and try to conjure up various images of people, places, moments frozen in time, of situations good and bad, of being successful and of possessions. In my mind, it feels like a reel of a movie moving with a clickity- click sound. The first image is of my daughter, Mimi smiling, then comes the park where Mimi and I chased after each other, of a time when I held her for the first time, of the time when she cried the nights away because she was a colicky baby and of the day I decided to take a break from work to be with Mimi, of the feeling where I have felt that she was all I wanted and she was all mine. There isn’t a single other image that comes into my mind. Mimi dominated every single frame, back to back.

In my opinion, everybody has that moment in life, when their life undergoes an incredible transformation. For me, having Mimi has been that supremely important time in my life where I completely changed as a person and my outlook changed forever. Things that made me fret earlier, make me laugh now. She filled my consciousness with a divine light and unending love. She taught me how to love with a tremendous capacity without asking anything in return. I feel, this is the closest I can ever get to what people call God.

 When the world is going crazy around me, I come home to her after a hard day’s work and she runs to me with all the glee on her face. All the stress gets archived automatically in unknown folders in the deepest recesses of my brain. The clouds clear and her sunny smile shines down on me. World’s a beautiful place when Mimi smiles. She even solves problems for me and my hubby. Mimi doesn’t like the sound of an argument and immediately plants herself between my hubby and me, shouting, ” Guys!! Guys!!” . We are forced to stop our bickering and give her our complete attention and looking at her lovely face full of concern makes us laugh. That puts an end to any argument however insinuating it might have had the potential to be.

It is said that something that gives us unsurpassed joy, also becomes the source of immeasurable pain. My heart has been a witness to this innumerable times whenever Mimi was sick or when she had to be even vaccinated. It literally tears my soul apart to see her cry or in pain. All I wish during that time is for all that hurt and tears to come to me and that life’s trials should spare my child.  I realize that in life she would have to weather many storms to see a clear day but for that moment, I would like to weather all those stormy nights for her.

I know she is looking out for me when she seeks me out in my pensive moods. She forces me to dance my blues away with her on the most ridiculous songs playing on the local radio channel. Another wonderful thing we do together is to sing songs aloud like there’s no one around and we watch our favourite animation movies together. That is her way of saying, don’t think too much, just enjoy and be with the moment.

As it is pretty evident, Mimi is my muse, my inspiration, my strength and my weakness, all the same. As the movie reel in my head keeps doing a clickity – click, I still see only Mimi doing what she does, playing, running, jumping around, hugging, painting, going to school, demanding an unfair share of ice cream and spitting out her greens. I am so looking forward to this beautiful journey with you, Mimi. This post only captures a fraction of what I truly feel for you. But whatever little, someday, in the future, when you read this, you would know how much I love you.”

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.

It is all about Salads: The Summer Platter

29 Jul

I have stopped exercising. Those who know me would realize that something is absolutely not right. I have always, always, ALWAYS exercised; whether it lead to weight loss or not is a different story. I got a bit tardy mainly after the birth of my daughter. Being careless and not taking out time for myself are few things that have become mainstream in life right now. I keep complaining about not having enough time or something to that effect all the time. When I say this to others, I hear the old ‘me’ laugh out loud!! I don’t go to work, I have no ‘outside’ pressures  to talk of which means I should spare atleast an hour a day to exercise. But I haven’t been for the last 2 months. The whole idea of stepping into the gym and on the treadmill depresses me.

But, but , but…… nothing stops me from eating healthy and keeping it light on the food side of things. Well, that isn’t happening the way I want to either with my experiments in baking. I feel trapped with nowhere to go. On one side, I have an obsession – baking – threatening to devour me with all that gorgeous butter and chocolate and on the other side, my reluctance to do anything that resembles exercise.

So once in a while to balance things out, I go ahead and make myself some Salad! So I prodded and mulled to come up with something fantastical. About the same time I saw Anamika’s post about baked potato chips. I thought it would be good to indulge in some carbs. Then I felt, it wouldn’t be enough so I decided on some more carbs in the form of burghul. While putting all these together, I felt a craving for some tasty proteins. So I scavenged my refrigerator and found some lovely Halumi Cheese. Together, I made myself a satisfying salad which I dared to call the “ Summer Platter”

Recipe for Summer Platter

Ingredients

a carrot

a cucumber

A slice of tomato

2 Russet potatoes

3 tbsp of olive ( 1 for baking potatoes; 2 for the dressing)

Salt and pepper to taste

1 and half tbsp for honey

2 tsp of white vinegar

A block of halumi cheese

3 tbsp of burghul

2 tbsp of lemon juice

Preparation

1. Make baked potato chips like this and arrange them on a plate.

2. Soak the burghul in some water for half  hour till it fluffs up.

2. Wash all the vegetables and cut them into slices. Arrange them around the plate in any fashion you like

3. Cut the block of halumi into slices and roast them in a pan till they take a golden crust on both the sides.

4. Lay the burghul in the middle and arrange the halumi on top.

5. For the dressing; Mix honey, olive oil, white vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Drizzle all over the salad.

6. Tuck in.

The sweetness of the honey balances out the tartness of the vinegar and lemon juice. You ought to be a little careful about the salt though, since Halumi is a salty cheese on its own. The dressing goes fabulously with the salty halumi.

Halumi,  is one cheese I discovered after moving to Bahrain. I find it so different and versatile compared to other cheeses. Halumi is made from the milk of the goat and sheep. It is salty and firm in texture compared to most cheeses. I was amazed to discover that when you roast Halumi it does not disintegrate like other cheeses. It retains its texture but takes this gorgeous golden-brown hue which tastes divine.

What I find incredible is, when I bite on a halumi slice it makes a squeaky noise and it makes my daughter laugh. Then I bite some more and she rolls on the floor laughing (literally). For that alone, I can keep eating halumi for the rest of my life! 🙂

Also, if you have no patience to lay down the slices of veggies on the plate then you can rough them up into smaller bite sized portions in a bowl. Either ways, it is filling while you tune in to watch your favourite programme on BBC lifestyle!

I am sending this post to the Salad contest on Taste Junction just in time!

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