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).
Earlier this year, as part of the first Abu Dhabi food festival, the Plaza of the Corniche was dotted with a bevy of food trucks. There was a nip in the air and we walked the grounds with Ali in his faux fur lined beanie cap. A little over a year old, the bustling crowds, live music and the string lights were all stimulus that he soaked in wide eyed. Amidst the trucks serving lamb raan curry wraps and grilled cheese, a line had formed that was getting longer by the minute. On my tip toes, I saw the source at end was the Churros truck. It was an hour after we had reached and Ali was beginning to squirm and whimper with restlessness, his cheeks, pink flushed, from the cool breeze. Within ten minutes, we were headed back to the car with a flustered-ready-to-wail Ali sans Churros.
There is a reason why Nutella Day is held in February. You know, January with all its resolutions. And when you hear Nutella, you’re either cringing or craving it. No Nutella for you for guessing where my loyalties lie. To celebrate World Nutella Day, I’ve put together a few of my favourite Nutella recipes and a delicious No-bake Nutella Cheesecake. But first, a solution for the empty Nutella jar. A Nutella hot chocolate party.
What’s your favourite season of the year? Is it spring which welcomes a bevy of flora in its brightest colours? Is it the summer and its golden rays that translate to impromptu ice-cream parlour visits? The fall with wilting leaves that provides a respite from the warmth of previous months? Or the winter which has you wrapped in layers and nestling a warm beverage in your hand?
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.
Baking has become an addiction. The slightest indication of a family gathering, armed with my iPad, I’m ready to crank up the oven. It’s a routine I love setting myself into. I do wish I had more occasions to bake bookmarked bread, turnover, quiches, and flat bread pizza, but it’s cakes, brownies and puddings that are made often. I would attribute this to my native cuisine. The aforementioned savoury recipes would be best served for tea, never as a meal. The trinity that would complete a Keralite Muslim meal would be meat, either lamb or beef, rice and rice-based breads. The dessert course is my playground and the trend has been that I bake more than cook dessert. Last October for Eid, it was not different.
A few months earlier this year, I received an email from Reem Falaknaz, an Executive Producer from Noor Dubai TV. To date, it is the most exciting email I have received from a visitor of my blog. She was planning on producing a series of cooking videos under 3 minutes, featuring desserts. These series were to be aired during the Holy month of Ramadan and the theme was desserts with a Middle Eastern take. I was boiling with excitement and called my husband at work right away. With his green signal, I promptly replied saying I would be thrilled to be a part of her project. I started devising ways to spin classic desserts the Middle Eastern way focusing on ingredients integral to Arab cooking. Walnut, tahini, rosewater, honey, figs – the list was endless. I proposed three desserts and Reem had the final say. She chose the dessert I had hoped she would – a dessert with dates.
Ramadan is in its last few days. This month has been testing with the scorching summer and long daylight hours. It also meant that there was more time for contemplation, building faith stronger and prayer. Thirst and hunger makes us grateful that with the luxury of food that satisfies both our appetite and fancy cravings while living in a world where hunger and malnutrition exist. What is heartbreaking is the wastage of food not only during Ramadan but throughout the year. Earlier this year, a women from Bihar, India sold her four-month child in hopes of feeding her family. A physically challenged husband meant that there was no income for this family of five. Having deep attachment and affection for my nieces, I cannot imagine the depths of despair that would have surged this mother that would force her to sell her child to satisfy hunger. A thought that multiplied gratitude in my heart infinitely.