When my son was born, one of the things that I waited till he was a bit older was to be in the kitchen together. I was not really allowed to help with cooking growing up. The occasional baking I was allowed were done completely independently and would almost come out of the oven completely burnt. When we first moved back to Dubai from Abu Dhabi, our home had an open kitchen plan. He would take onions and sit on the floor removing their skins. I would give him little cups of water and he could spend an hour pouring it back and forth. Around the time of weaning, he would bring his kitchen toys, set it on the floor and tell me what he was doing. I was thrilled when I felt he was ready to help me with a simple recipe. That day we made oatmeal cookies. I have a picture of helping himself to remnants of the batter on the spatula he was holding. That was the beginning of us cooking together and it has been wonderfully messy yet fulfilling. This year started with us making these mini Pizzas.
When you are 7 years old and have just begun fasting, you’re constantly thinking about what Umma is preparing for Iftar. At that age, you don’t comprehend to the significance of fasting long hours. She would ask what my brother and I would like to eat to break our fast. These rolls were one of them. Sweet morsels of bread, a filling cutting through the sweetness with a lingering heat and the buttery crispness that is the start to this delightful bite.
Can you explain the appeal of Pizza? It took a whole new meaning after our honeymoon in Italy. Making pizza at home never really replicated the ones we had at the pizzerias. I tried buying a pizza stone for the oven but taking it out was always a mess without a peel. And then I found out that pizza can be made on the stovetop. All under 20 minutes! The weather in Dubai right now is pizza conducive. The heat will allow yeast to bloom and rise in no time. Considering Iftar is late into the day, I’m looking for options beyond the fried food platter. This recipe is going to help me on that front this month. More than a good dough recipe, mastering a few techniques promises rustic pizzas every single time. I’m sharing my tips and tricks so that you can perfect the stovetop pizza.
A morsel of royalty. The khansamas, the Royal chefs of the Mughal kitchen, are recognised for inventing this dessert. The key ingredient in this recipe is bread which, come to think of it, is a staple in a poor mans’ diet. On paper, it is quite simply put, a bread pudding.The nobility, perhaps, was achieved with the elaborate process of frying bread triangles in pure ghee. Further progressing its status was milk, sweetened and boiled till it thickens like cream. This Rabri was flavoured and perfumed with the crushed whole spices and saffron imparting its hue. Certainly not a dessert to be taken lightly (pun intended).
There has to be something fried for Iftar. Almost every year I hear the conversations of good intent of women wanting to avoid making them keeping their family’s health in mind. I would like to see how far into the month they would keep this resolve. For you see, I know for a fact in Kerala, there is always something fried at the Iftar table. Beef cutlet, Mutton Samosa, Chicken Spring Roll, Ulli bhaji [Onion Fritters]. Potato Bonda and Pazham Pori [Plantain fritters] comprise of an incomplete and exhaustive list. Over the years, innovation has creeped in slowly and we find ourselves much more experimental. Especially if it is an Iftar party. You will find the much revered classics but you will most definitely spot that one dish which no one has seen, heard, made, tasted the works before. I’m glad to help you build that list with this Japanese Curry Doughnut.
After having parked right outside Azad Hotel, I followed my husband out into the bustling streets of Trivandrum. “I bet you haven’t had this before.” A polycarbonate sheet fogged up and I watched intently at the smoking iron plate sizzling furiously.. The man worked his way through a pile of ingredients, pounding at them with iron spatulas producing deafening clangs. He frees up a hand and cracks a couple of eggs a little away from the Turmeric stained shreds I still couldn’t identify. He quickly scrambles it and begins combining it with the rest of the ingredients. A few minutes later he scoops it into foil container and hands it over a man who has been watching this spectacle as long as I have. My husband comes with two containers and we are driving back home.
It feels wonderful to be blogging again. We welcomed our precious baby boy Ali a little over three months ago. This tiny human being has changed our lives forever. Ever since he’s arrived time is being defined by him. His first smile, his first laugh, grabbing our fingers for the first time. His arrival has also brought new relationships – two doting sets of grandparents who are going to spoil him silly no doubt, an ecstatic father, a plethora of aunts and uncles and cousins and then there’s me. Ali has made me a mother. It’s made me appreciate my own Umma ten times fold. All her sleepless nights, satisfying our endless requests, cooking and feeding us with nourishing meals with no fanfare. The emotions and responsibilities that stem from the word mother cannot be accounted for. This post is for my Umma, for everything she has and continues to do for me and for all the mothers who devote their lives raising children. I’m sharing a recipe my Umma enjoys every time I bake it. A simple banana bread.
I cannot believe that I have been mulling over this post for nearly two weeks. My ‘Edit Post’ page has been open the tab crying out attention and the final publish poke. Desynchronosis had me either sleeping or awake in sluggish defeat. Every time my brother visited us from the US, I would snort and disapprove of him whiling away daylight sleeping. Having returned from his graduation (woohoo!) and a ten day holiday in the USA, I finally understood his habits. I am an out and out morning person. The week we returned had me wide awake at 3 in the night, distraught that I couldn’t catch sleep. I am pacifying myself and branding Jet lag as the reason behind the recent bout of blog negligence.