I know we’re in the middle of summer in Dubai. Not exactly the time to be making a crumble. We were having cousins over for lunch about a month ago and I wanted to make dessert that wasn’t too elaborate. I was making Biriyani that afternoon and needed this dessert to be out and ready before the Biriyani was sent for Dum in the oven. I was tempted to make a Mango fool with the last fruit of this season but I kept scouring for something new. That’s when I found this recipe using Bananas. Of all the fruits, I had never read or made a Crumble with Bananas. The recipe seemed fairly simple and used just one skillet for the entire process. After a few tweaks and additions, I baked this Crumble. I can bank on an honest opinion when it comes to these folks. It received such praise that afternoon I knew this recipe needed to be shared. This Eid a plate of this dessert with citrusy caramel and a touch of chocolate is all you need, alongside a scoop of ice cream, when you settle into the couch for an afternoon of banter with Biriyani laden bellies.
The memory of eating this pudding came suddenly one afternoon when I was preparing lunch for Ali. For some reason the smell of carrots cooking down reminded me of this pudding. The memory that came rushing was sitting in the back of the car peeping out of the window on a Friday morning with my father driving the car to Abu Dhabi. My mothers’ eldest brother stayed and we would drive down to see them. I vividly remember how the highway was deserted and billboards would appear on the horizon about every five minutes and I would slowly grow in height as the car grew nearer. Some months, we would drive down every other weekend. The advertisements weren’t changed too often back then and I would make a mental note of what was the last hoarding that stood at the outskirts of Abu Dhabi which meant the city wasn’t too far away. This is a pudding my aunt used to make. I was never fond of Payasams. Ammayi was a pioneer when it came to making non-traditional desserts. Crème caramel, brightly colored Agar Jelly Pudding and cool glasses of Falooda were a few of the desserts she made 25 years ago. On that day in my kitchen, I wanted to try my hand at making this Pudding. I didn’t even know what was in it and I called my cousin inquiring about the sweet orange colored pulp with custard on top. She instantly knew I was talking about her Pumpkin and Carrot Pudding.
The twentieth day of Ramadan. Today marks three years since my paternal grandmother left us. In her loving memory, today I want to share her recipe for Pazham Pori. This is essentially a snack made right after a long siesta and is served alongside piping cups of tea. She was very fond of bananas and she always tried to convince me to have a couple of Cheru Pazham or baby bananas immediately after lunch when we visited her for the summer. Plantains were never out of stock in her kitchen. When visitors would come unannounced as was the norm in her time, in all probability she would have the help make a plate of these. Ripe plantains are slivered and dipped in a batter, which I later learnt, was her original recipe. I didn’t care too much for them till I started tasting versions made in other households. I still remember waiting for Umma to finish frying them so I could help myself to the bowl of leftover batter. It tasted blissfully similar to cake.
Ramadan is undoubtedly, the busiest time on my blog. I have been lying low throughout the year but closer to Ramadan, I feel obliged to shoot and share recipes for my table and yours. I almost always start planning with dessert for the day of Eid and then work my way backwards. This year I made a Pistachio Milk cake for an Iftar I hosted for my cousins and was inundated with requests to share the recipe. There were a few ideas that didn’t make it beyond the testing stage on the blog and I felt I had to make it up for it with more dessert. Given that we’ve been blessed with the season of mangoes coinciding with the month of fasting, it made perfect sense to try my hand at making a refreshingly light milk cake that would make for a sweet (and cool!) ending after generous servings of celabratory Biriyani.
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.
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.
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
Encouraging frugality is rewarding in my kitchen. I’ve never been one to waste food, let alone toss it away. I always scour recipes to prevent such a thing from happening in my kitchen. This particular baking session happened because of that opened jar of Lemon Curd which has been residing in the refrigerator for less than a year.
I set out on a sojourn to a land of buttery delight and despite carefully preparing, found myself veered away from the course. You see, failure found me in my last few miles and insisted on chaperoning me the rest of the way. I grappled, determined to lose him especially with my destination in clear sight. I then met disappointment and worry and was held back with force, not allowing me to take any steps further. I’m surprised that a failed cake recipe would yield such emotions but this was being made for my family Eid gathering. Truth is, what was left of it tasted wonderful. So I sought after redemption and it has never been sweeter. Doesn’t these pouffy loaves say so?
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.