Ali loves chocolate. Even dark chocolate. It’s what he asks for when it comes to ordering ice cream or cupcakes. Then almost overnight he started picking Vanilla. Vanilla everything. One day when he wanted me to bake cake, I agreed knowing I had some Vanilla Swiss Meringue frosting in the freezer. But then he asked, …
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.
I’m on the fence when it comes to coffee in desserts. Tiramisu is probably the only dessert on this planet I would pass on. I wouldn’t mind a scoop of Coffee Gelato or a couple of squares of Mocha Fudge. Given how the world is right now, a lot of us will be observing Eid very differently. When Ramadan began, I was a bit hopeful about seeing family on Eid. I was thinking of having them over for a traditional breakfast that is made on my husband’s side of the family. I wanted to make something sweet that could accompany the spread. A cake would be too much, a Payasam would have to be made the night before and even though summer has arrived, it would be too early for a cold dessert. I started looking through a few of my recipe books and felt that Cake Bars was the answer. Since we would all be having caffeine in the morning after a whole month, I felt that Espresso would be just the right flavor to end a heavy meal. I love texture in desserts and rummaged in my quarantine dictated pantry to see what was easily replaceable. I had almonds in all forms: raw, powdered and even flakes. A little testing later, I was hopeful to bake these on Eid morning. I’ve come to terms that this Eid will pass by without meeting the extended family. Baking has helped me with the uncertainty of our times and I will still be baking these Espresso & Almond Bars to lift my spirits.
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.
The night before Ramadan began this year, I went out with my friends for dinner. We meet up once a month taking turns to pick our restaurants and this month it was Vietnamese fare. We tucked into roast Chicken with Bao buns, duck breast grilled and dunked in Hoisin sauce and shared an enormous bowl of Pho that my friend insisted we try and still couldn’t finish completely. I really wanted to go all out on dessert and the menu didn’t quite impress. We were in Downtown and decided to walk towards Dubai Mall just for dessert. We bounced ideas and settled on the seemingly popular Milk Cake. It was close to 11 pm and the cafe was almost full and we were lucky to snag a corner. Knowing long hours of fasting begin the next day and to satiate sugar cravings that seemed to have risen during the walk, ee ordered a classic Milk cake and a sizzling Brownie accompanied with of scoops Vanilla ice cream drowning in chocolate sauce. Milk cakes have been doing the rounds for quite some time in Dubai, and this was the second one I was trying. While we took turns with our spoons from different sides, I decided that this years’ Eid recipe on my blog has to be Milk 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.
Today’s dessert recipe comes with a little story. It’s a story of how I lost to a flavor pop quiz. I take pride (slightly) in my sense of taste especially when it comes to spices. And more so, if it something that isn’t the norm. Like papaya to tenderize meat. Or a teeny cube of jaggery in Sambhar. It has been carefully honed over the years and it often surprises people when I confirm whether certain ingredients have been added to a recipe. And then a little while ago, I got it wrong. Horribly. Horribly because my guess was no where close to the answer. In fact, it was something I had never tasted before!
I finally have a skillet recipe on my blog! Having bought it close to two years ago, I always thought I’d be sharking a cookie or a cake recipe first. But since I am way beyond fashionably late to the skillet party, I have a chicken pie recipe for you. I’ve been holding off sharing this recipe waiting for the weather to be pie perfect. Last year, this time it was pouring heavily. I would know because it caused quite some damage to my (only proper) Curry Leaf Plant. This last week has been pretty warm for Dubai winter. But not too warm to bake a pie.
It started with reading a recipe for Murg Makhani. A restaurant feature in TimeOut Abu Dhabi covered Ushna, a fine dining Indian restaurant in Abu Dhabi. To start of, the sauce requires 5 kilograms of fresh tomatoes to be boiled for two hours. I’m sure most of us home cooks don’t have stock pots large enough to hold even 3 kilograms of tomatoes. In any case, I kept reading. If there’s one thing I have learnt from Masterchef classes and recipes is that more than adapting it to the home kitchen, it’s the technique that we can learn from. This recipe, too, had an important line that will shatter one of the most common concepts of a great butter chicken. Chef Amrish Sood states the logic behind the curry is that the texture of the sauce should be similar to butter, smooth and fine. You would think the idea was that the sauce itself should taste buttery. It just happened that I was on the lookout for a sound lasagna recipe at the same time. That’s when I had the Eureka moment. Given the amount of tomatoes that go into the sauce, why don’t I make a Lasagna using butter chicken?!