For the past few years, Ramadan has been arriving in the peak of Dubai summers. The golden lining, if I may say so, is the influx of seasonal mangoes from the Indian subcontinent. They’ll slowly start appearing, tart, green and far from the ripening stage in the early days of May. Towards the end of the month, the color lightens revealing tints of yellow and before you know it the aisles of the supermarket will be hosting Mango ‘festivals’ where you get to pick and choose from over a dozen varieties that have arrived across the breadth of these countries. Rajapuri, Mallika and Malgova from the southern coastal areas, Alphonso and Kesar from the western parts and Chaunsa and Sindhri from across the border. I gravitate towards Badami and undoubtedly the most popular one, Alphonso.
We’re inching towards the middle of Ramadan and the temperature is rising steadily but with His Mercy, the humidity still hasn’t set in yet. If you entertain quite a bit, this recipe would make a perfect dessert considering it is a no-bake one. This dessert is especially for those who hated their daily dose of milk. Chances are that a spoonful of malt powder went into the glass and was vigorously stirred and handed over in the hopes it would be go down without gagging revolts. Regardless this is almost effortless and something sweet to end a long day of fasting.
Ramadan Kareem! My blog is the busiest at this time of the year and it has become a ritual of sorts picking and planning on what to share with you. This year, I started looking into recipes from my parents’ time. A few of them were dishes Umma made only during Ramadan too. With all the recipes out there, I was convinced that there would be some variation of this drink on the internet. It is part of planning process to see how many variations of the recipe are available and only pick to publish those recipes that aren’t too common to avoid adding more to the mainstream. So imagine my surprise when I found no recipe even remotely similar to this. I did a quick pop quiz with the above photograph too with the grand prize of a sinfully chocolate cake freshly baked. Alright, I did make it difficult and gave the bare minimum clues. I thought given the few ingredients seen, I would have at least one right guess. The guesses bordered on the dessert spectrum including sago pearl, rice and a rather ambitious coconut rose creme brûlée. Nothing remotely traditional except for one lovely lady who suggested a beverage given to increase lactation in new mums. If you’ve drunk that, I’m wincing with you too.
It makes me anxious. Well before the set date, I would have made four lists. A shopping one, the intended menu, preps to be done the day before and what needs to be finished on the day itself. All this time, I’ve only helped prepare the main course or casually looked after dessert. After our move to Dubai, I’ve entertained for my extended family thrice. I feel we don’t do the social house visits, even to the homes of close family, as much as it was done when I was a child. Our lives are just much more busier than what it used to be. However, gathering together for a meal is still a family affair. While preparing for it, I don’t know why I have an adrenaline rush that feels exactly like I am about to sit for an exam. The Math paper, for which I’m unprepared for, to be specific. It’s the nerves of the responsibility of having to do prepare everything solo. Coupled with my little one, it takes a bit longer considering his meals and acitivites are priority. Yet, I love entertaining. I relax once everyone arrives and the conversations overpower the nervous chattering in my head. Needless to say, dessert is the least stressful (and my favourite) course. This was dessert no.2 the night I made that simple Shahi Tukra. Considering how easy it comes together, it would be a wonderful addition to a dinner your’e hosting or even to take over for potluck.
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).
The first time I ate a sweet strawberry was on a holiday in Aberdeen. They were picked up from Asda, the local supermarket, when I went grocery shopping with my cousins whom we were visiting. We were preparing breakfast in her kitchen the next day and I carelessly took a bite out of the fruit that I had just finished washing up. I came to a halt jolted by an explosion of sweetness. I couldn’t stop wondering if this is how strawberries really tasted. I sat at the kitchen table, eyes still wide and expressed my disbelief to my cousin. We were visiting in March and she tells me that strawberries taste much better (What?! Better than this?) when they are in season
Scrolling through my Instagram feed, I thought to myself what a pretty galette. Instantly I wanted to make one too. I started looking at a few recipes to see how feasible it would be to bake one and blog about it too while managing Ali. I was going to spend the weekend at my folks place and figured I would have a few hours free from chores. I wanted to make my Pate Brisee crust from wholewheat. Most recipes I read said that it could be made unto 4 days in advance. So all I had to think about was fresh seasonal fruit.
The blessed month of Ramadan has is nearing to an end. It is a month of restraint, reflection and submission for one’s heart and soul. Being visited by the altering weather flu, coupled with a severe sprains, my wavering health had my blog going more quiet than usual. I started fasting at a young age.
I feel blessed life has given me yet another reason to cherish. It was a Friday Family lunch but not with the usual members. The gathering was the same, family trickling in after the Friday prayers, Umma’s fabulous Biriyani wafting through home and the little ones running amuck in the lawn under cloudy skies. It was my mothers family, her siblings and their children all gathered to welcome my maternal grandmother. Veramma has finally joined her family in the UAE.
March has been wonderful this year. My husband and I went on a holiday to the UK. We have family in Aberdeen who joined us in London for a few days before they became perfect hosts in Scotland. The Granite City is breathtaking with its abundance of nature, chilly-wind weather and lung cleansing fresh air. It was a refreshing vacation for the mind and the soul. On arrival in Abu Dhabi, the temperature was slowly rising. Last weeks’ sand-stormish spell was broken with much longed for rain. Unfortunately, this is the sign that summer is right around the corner and it is not long before we will be forced indoors because of the scorching heat.