My girls have gone to bed, spent from hours spent in a friends pool, stuffed from the delicious food they ate there. As I sit here and soak in the quiet I can not help but think about how each one of these days goes towards knitting the fabric of their lives. Nothing has quite the charm of memories and there is something ever more alluring about the present when you are cognisant of it creating memories for the future. One of my childhood memories is of my mother baking cakes in her orange cake pan, orange on the outside grey on the inside. That pan is still going strong as is the memory of my mother flipping over her Pineapple Upside Down Cake with bated breath. That moment of hesitation, the exhale of relief, that I remember.
Would you laugh if I told you that I think of Caramel Crunch Ice Cream as a Pakistani dessert? Probably not if you are from Pakistan and a Karachiite like me. Our Karachi summers constituted a heady number of late night trips to Boat Basin for some of Rajoos Caramel Crunch Ice cream. We would pile into my grandfathers Charmant with the AC on high and jauntily make our way to what is essentially a food street. Most of us would order the same thing – a Caramel Crunch Ice cream with it’s milky stick to the roof of your mouth taste and bursts of shattery almond crunch. There is something so utterly irresistible about the velvety ice cream with it’s contrasting slightly bitter caramel almond bits. The adult in me has had to learn restraint, but the child with the fantastic metabolism polished off a generous serving.
It is almost that time of the year folks. Ramzan/Ramadan is a month observed by Muslims world over by fasting from sunrise to sunset and focusing more on spiritual needs. It is a time to both be grateful for ones blessings and to assist those less fortunate. With Ramzan falling in the summer this year I thought it fitting to share with you these delightful Watermelon Rooh Afza popsicles. It is my spin on a deeply delicious and incredibly satisfying drink that my mother makes. Now I turn it into a refreshing and simple popsicle for my girls who share my love for watermelon and Rooh Afza. In these popsicles the Watermelon is the star and the Rooh Afza a back note. Should you want to up the Rooh Afza flavor feel free to just add more.
I once read that the essence of a culture is in the words that cannot be translated. Explained yes, but not directly translated. The example given by the author was of Urdu word “takalluf”. “Takalluf” is that polite first and often second time refusal of an offer that stems from good manners. Someone asks for tea and you politely refuse the first time, perhaps even the second even as your eyes are practically glued shut from exhaustion.”Khasta” is another such word for me – the perfect “Meethi Tikiyaan” (sweet fritters) should be “khasta”. The way to best explain it seems to be that the exterior of the tiki should have the sturdy flakiness of a sweet pie dough while it’s centre should have the lavish butteriness of a rich cake.
I like a fancy cake. You know, the pretty decorated swirls and swooshes kind, they have a soft spot in my heart. But when it comes to what a chocoholic like me really craves it is this Chocolate Meringue Cake. It is deeply chocolatey, fudgy, but not too sweet with a thin crackly layer of cocoa dusted meringue that adds so much in terms of both flavor and texture. My favourite part about this cake is that since it is neither too sweet nor too rich I can truly enjoy an entire slice without feeling like it is too much. As you can imagine that makes this Chocolate Meringue Cake a little dangerous too!
It is definitely a cake for dark chocolate lovers, I used Lindt dark chocolate bars for mine, but generally you can use any brand that you like to eat. It also keeps well at room temperature. In fact it seems to improve for the first few days which makes it a fantastic do ahead dessert for when you’re hosting a big dinner or lunch. You could serve it with some berries and lightly sweetened whipped cream or creme fraiche.
My mother always makes Vanilla Custard in the same bowl. It is speckled brown and deep, enough so that most of my vanilla scented memories are of me standing on my tippy toes peering over the rim to check if it is cool enough to eat even when the pillowy steam suggests otherwise. I remember my finger skimming the surface tugging along with it the ‘skin’ that formed on top, a testimony to the impatience of a child waiting for a treat. Not wanting to leave this proof of my transgression behind I would shake the bowl a little hoping the skin would settle into forgiving smoothness.
Not too long ago my little(r) girl stuck a spoonful of warm custard in her mouth all of 30 seconds after being admonished not to. When I looked up in response to her pained gasp she defensively said “But mama hot things are tasty!” It was all I could do to not laugh out loud.
I didn’t think I would ever post a vanilla cake recipe largely because they are usually eminently forgettable. However, when after years of too sweet, too eggy, too boring, I finally found The Vanilla Cake, then I had to share it here. Does it hurt that it comes together in one bowl without a mixer? Of course not. Could you potentially improve the crumb by whipping the butter/oil with sugar and incorporating eggs one by one? Possibly, and if I ever do then rest assured I will add notes here. For now I am thrilled with this cake as is – moist, pleasingly dense, clearly vanilla, far from boring and ten minutes away from being in the oven at any given time.
There is a kind of dessert that everyone needs in their arsenal. The kind that requires minimal muss and fuss and that you put together in advance of a dinner party. The kind that you can tailor according to circumstance and guests without undergoing any of that awful “will they or won’t they like it” anxiety. If you have ever had people over you know exactly what I am talking about. This Chocolate Mousse Tart hits all those boxes. The ‘Mousse’ is simply chocolate, coffee, and cream. The crust is Oreos and butter. What is there not to love?
Eid Eats 2016 is here!!! I am so thrilled to be co-hosting this events with blogger buddies Henna (My Ninja Naan) and Asiya (Chocolate & Chillies). What is Eid Eats you may ask? Well it is a fun round up of Eid recipes from our blogger friends world over. The recipes usually range from traditional to non traditional with a common theme of deliciousness. Blogger friends check back here for the how tos and don’t forget to use the hashtag #EidEats2016! My wonderful readers can see what everyone else is bringing to the table at the bottom of the post. Please do keep checking back as recipes will continue to be added over the next three days!
I had initially thought of making something more ‘creative’ but then I decided to hold on to that thought and instead offer to you Sivaiyan/Sheer Khurma, the vermicelli & milk dessert that is almost compulsory on Eid-ul-Fitr. My Mamas Sivaiyan – or Sheer Khurma if we are going to be technical here – comes together in fifteen minutes and never ever have I had a bite and thought “How could I make this better?” For me it is just not possible. Her secret? A piece of mithai (traditional sweet dessert). One piece of qalaqand which is readily available at Pakistani/Indian stores goes a long way in adding real depth to what can sometimes be an underwhelming dessert. If you don’t have it don’t fret: my other favourite ingredient Condensed Milk does some delicious good here.
The Story of Quick Strawberry Nutella Hand Pies:
Once upon a time there was a girl who is now a woman, but still calls herself a girl. In her head she is the kind of person who makes everything from scratch, it is her dream to make her own bread. The only reason she doesn’t is because she would eat it all. She pins the same Strawberry Nutella Hand Pie recipes over and over ooh-ing and aah-ing over the variations in crust. She has done this for two years.
And then one day she does something scary: she walks into a store and buys a premade pie crust. After that something wonderful happens – with five minutes of work she makes these delicious little hand pies, cute as a button, their flaky crust oozing with strawberry and nutella, their tops crackly and finished with a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar. One bite and she stops judging herself, but just to be safe she took two (hand pies not bites) and now plans to live happily ever after. The Beginning.