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 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
I’m a Keralite who neither loves nor worships tea. Neither does my husband. I don’t drink coffee. My husband does. I’ve never been too fond of either beverages. I attribute that to my sweet tooth. I cannot drink tea without contaminating it with teaspoons’ full of sugar. I enjoy a South-Indian style freshly brewed filter coffee minus the sugar. Sometimes a chai latte. Then again, it’s not something I need to wake up to. Or not drinking it doesn’t give me a headache.