Posts Tagged ‘Travel’

Outrigger Konotta, Maldives

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I think it’s safe to say that Maldives is on everyone’s bucket list- if it’s not, hopefully this post will convince you to put it on there, and soon. One international 4 hour flight, another internal flight within Maldives and a 20 minute boat ride later, we had arrived in the paradise that is Outrigger Konotta. Even though we took a red eye flight to get there, as soon as well arrived and saw the pristine white beach paired with azure blue sea, our eyes were wide with excitement.

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Walking in Paris- Part 1

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I’ve always been a ‘list’ person. My moleskin is full of lists- lists of pending jobs, lists of photo editing that remains, grocery lists (split into urgent and weekly of course), even lists of what lists need to be made. They’re on my fridge, in my car, on random notebooks. My children even have a habit of writing them, Maryam in particular. She will make list of what she will do on her playdate with her friends, what to include in her homework, her breakfasts for the week.

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Prawn Cocktail


Woah. What a few weeks it has been. Maryam finished school, I went to London, came back at the start of Ramadan and in between all that, I’ve been shooting images for various projects non stop. And loving it! It’s been a dream come true to collaborate with so many creative forces.

But today I wanted to tell you about my trip to London. My beautiful London. It was my first trip without the kids. My first without a camera attached to my neck (so no London photos!). My first time to attend Food Blogger Connect. My first time walking the sunny streets of London on foot, eating the best local strawberries and visiting offbeat London flea markets. A holiday where I didn’t have a care in the world, for the first time.

My first time in London where the sun showed its wrath all week. The first time I didn’t use an umbrella. That first moment when you meet someone at FBC that you have been chatting away with for eons over Twitter. So many firsts and so unexpected. What a beautiful week.

It was also my first time visiting Brixton, a part of town I had never frequented in my 7 years of living there. And what a find for both me and the lovely Simone. It was packed with off beat restaurants and the whole vibe of the place struck such a chord. I wish I had more time to explore. To eat the luscious food. I’ll surely be visiting again. 

And this prawn cocktail. Well, it was a first for me. Not to eat but to make myself at home. One of those meals you think is hard to cook but really, comes together in minutes. So cool and refreshing. Wouldn’t have been out place eating this packed in a picnic box under a tree in Hyde Park. 

I already have plans to visit again. Roll on October! You can find the recipe for my watermelon and feta salad and more in the June issue of Spinneys Food or online.
Prawn Cocktail


Ingredients:
16 tiger prawns, shell removed and deveined
125 ml mayonnaise
2 tbsp ketchup
splash of tabasco
1 tsp paprika
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp lemon zest
salt to taste
8 romaine hearts
1 tbsp chopped coriander 

lemon wedges to serve 

Directions:
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Put the prawns into the boiling water and when it begins to boil again, drain the prawns. Set aside and cool. In a bowl, mix together the rest of the ingredients and season with salt. To serve, place two romaine hearts in a bowl. Place four prawns on top and drizzle with the sauce. Sprinkle with chopped coriander and serve immediately with a wedge of lemon. Repeat with remaining 3 bowls. 

Serves 4 



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Raspberry and Coconut Summer Cake




Early in May of this year, I travelled to Morocco for a blissful ten days. As with any holiday, if my room is good and I can find traditional and authentic food to fill my belly, I can rest assured that my holiday will be a success. 


After much searching, we settled on the boutique Riad el Fenn, a  charming boutique riad nestled in a bustling corner of the old medina. It did not disappoint. When we first arrived, I was a little concerned by the looming dark entrance. But once inside, it was an oasis of tranquility. The art filled retreat was beautifully decorated in the most saturated shades of terracotta and turquoise. 



Each room was filled with quirky details, eclectic art, local decor. I only wished I had gotten to stay in a different room each night. Every morning, we would be greeted by hot tea placed outside our room. This would be accompanied by a small tray of home baked Moroccan sweets. Perfect start to the day, no?



Lazy breakfasts of berber pancakes and cinnamon porridge were had on their rooftop terrace which had views of the Koutubia mosque and it really was the most perfect spot to catch the sun setting every evening. They even had a family of turtles housed in the courtyard that kept both kids highly entertained. 




One of my favourite things to do was recline on the large oversized cushions in the courtyard and gaze up at the overgrown citrus trees. Full of ripe oranges and lemons, their heady scent filling the air. Bright pops of orange and yellow against the blue spring skies. Every morning, Maryam would count how many had fallen to the ground and proceed to collect them. 



What Maryam and I, even Hassan, looked forward to most was chomping away at the home baked cakes and pastries every afternoon with a steaming cup of mint tea. Every afternoon, the treats were different and all housed in a beautiful bird cage. There was a pear tart, a luscious orange scented cake, baklavas and some dainty coconut crusted concoction. 



Ever since we have returned back, Maryam has constantly asked what ‘cake’ we would be having after her nap. Every single afternoon without fail. And so I thought it would only be fair if I made her one to remind her of the fun afternoons spent in the riad’s courtyard. This version has lots of coconut which pairs beautifully with the tart berries. 

Now if only I was sitting in in orange scented courtyard with a local cup of freshly brewed mint tea in hand and listening to the distant hustle and bustle of the city of Marrakech!

Raspberry and Coconut Summer Cake

Ingredients:
225g butter, room temperature
225g sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
175g all purpose flour
pinch salt
1 1/12 tsp baking powder
100g unsweetened shredded coconut
100ml coconut milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
150g raspberries

Extra raspberries, icing sugar and creme fraiche to serve

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 175 degrees Centigrade and butter and flour a 10 inch baking tin (I used two 7 inch pie tins and had extra batter leftover for 4 cupcakes as well).

Using the paddle attachment of your stand mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and frothy, about 7 minutes and on medium speed. Add eggs, one at a time and scrape the bowl now and then. Mix the flour, salt, baking powder and shredded coconut in a separate bowl. Mix together the coconut milk and vanilla extract in a jug. With the mixer speed on low, add the flour and coconut milk alternatively. Pour the batter into the prepared tin (or pie tins) and top with raspberries. Bake for 40 minutes if using the 10 inch baking tin (25 minutes if using 2 pie pans) or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool on a rack. 

Decorate with more berries and a sprinkling of icing sugar and serve with creme fraiche on the side. 


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The Colors of Tanzania and Pineapple Mango and Coconut Crumble


Come, pull up a chair. Get cozy and comfortable. I’m going to take you on a little journey and share with you a small part of me. A glimpse into my childhood, where I spent the first 18 years of my life, where my parents still live, where the big five can be found and peacocks roam free, where the ocean has a hundred hues of blue, a haven of peace. This is Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

There is so much to tell you about Dar es Salaam- this post won’t even scratch the surface. Exotic, colorful, lush, tropical. As soon as you land and the rush of hot hair hits you hard, you know you’ve arrived.

We had glorious sunshine followed by tremendous outpours. Such stark contrasts. Lush green vegetation cocooned by the deep azure seas followed by arid and red dry land. Every day we had a different activity planned. Naturally, we spent a lot of time at the various local beaches. But Dar es Salaam has so much more to offer.  


There were visits to crowded local markets in Kinondoni where you would find more exotic produce such as avocados and the crunchiest variety of pears I have ever eaten. Or the more local market in Kariakoo where vendors stalls are literally piled on top of another, produce piled like little mountains on each table. And sellers hollering and jostling to get your attention. The place is bustling.




We visited The Slipway- a local tourist district from where you can take fishing trips, cruise the Indian ocean, eat local fare and just watch the sun set. We bought some hand crafted wooden souveniers and local ground coffee to bring back for friends. I was thrilled to catch a man skillfully chisseling at some wood to make a delicate carving. We were enamoured with the colorful and saturated ‘tinga tinga’ paintings- a style of painting developed in Dar es Salaam.



Then there was the food, oh the street food. The grilled corn or ‘makaai’ sold at every street corner-vigorously scrubbed with keffir lime and a generous helping of chili powder and salt. Deep fried ‘mihogo’ (cassava) drenched in a speciality sauce of local scotch bonnet pepper and tomatoes. And one of my favorites- mishkaki. Tender pieces of lamb eaten right off the skewer. Coconut water after each meal- ‘ngumu kyasi, maji tamu’ (slightly hard, but with sweet water we would tell the vendor). Yes, every day. Those are the little things we miss here.



We made sure to eat at least one meal a day at home. Infact, the first meal we had as soon as we came back from the airport had been planned weeks in advance. Slow cooked chicken stew which is then barbequed and simmered again in a rich creamy coconut sauce, ‘kuku paka’ similar to this. With sticky coconut rice on the side. Typical African fare.


As much as we ate at home, we ventured to quaint local restaurants from time to time. Especially those dotted along the beaches. At Mediterraneo, we ate fresh off the boat kingfish which was simply grilled. No spice, no fuss but full of flavor with a side of pickled garlic and scotch bonnet peppers. Definitely one to replicate at home. But that’s another post. 



Evenings were spent feeding the peacocks that wandered from the fauna and flora garden we live next to. Maryam wasn’t keen at first but she quickly warmed to their cries in the evenings. She was chasing them in the garden and before we knew it, they were more weary of her. At night, the days’ culinary adventures were digested with a few slices of papaya sprinkled with passion fruit and a dash of smoked paprika.



We were also lucky enough to visit a dairy farm on our last day. It wasn’t on the agenda, sort of just happened by accident. On the way to a picnic at my aunt’s beach house, I came across a herd of cows- a beautiful sea of velvety browns and blacks. A masaai was leading them to a nearby field to graze. You could tell they were happy cows. 


I made a few quick calls and it seemed we were destined to visit. The farm was owned by a lively Greek man who just happened to be a family friend. His passion for providing his family an open and green space, a place where nature roams freely, a place nature meets nurture led him to develop the organic farm.


Each of the twenty five cows are milked manually. Completely non commercial, the milk produced is given to local school children in the area. When he wants to show a token of appreciation to someone, he will gift them a cow. Anyone who knows local Tanzanians would now how much how heartfelt and revered a gift like that is. Such an inspiring man.



And so we watched a cow being milked and its baby calf being fed from a huge bottle. We were treated to smooth and creamy homemade yoghurt. Eaten Greek style with a dollop of honey. Simple, wholesome and so moreish. We were made to feel part of their family. It was a day to remember. The perfect end to a wonderful trip.


And so we are back in Dubai. But not empty handed. We have these memories locked in our hearts, our bellies are full with the beautiful meals we had and these photographs to remember good times spent. And these pineapples. I knew they would somehow find their way into my suitcase from the moment I had my first bite. Their sweet fragrance still lingers in my suitcase.



And that is not all I brought back. There was fiery red scotch bonnet peppers- fiery in appearance and taste. ‘Mali maao’, local keffir limes that I have been sprinkling on anything in sight. Very strong and pungent with a crackled green skin. We’ll be cooking with them in the next few days and I can’t wait to show you the results.


I mentioned this crumble before and that is the first thing I made when I came back, to celebrate the foods of my country. I added some seasonal mango and toasted coconut in the crumble. If you haven’t added coconut into your crumble before, you must. Tanzanian produce with exotic local flavors. Each bite brings back good times…..until we visit again.


Pineapple Mango and Coconut Crumble

Ingredients:
Ingredients:
1 large mango- cubed
1 pmedium pineappe- cubed
3 tbs muscivado sugar
1 vanilla pod desseded
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup muscavado sugar
5 tbs cold butter- cubed
1/2 cup dessicated coconut- toasted
3 tbs ice cold water

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Centigrade. Toss the first four ingredients on a baking tray and bake for 15 to 20 minutes.

In a food processor, pulse the flour and butter until it just resembles bread crumbs. Incorporate the sugar and coconut. Add the water and rake gently with a fork until some clumps are formed. Freeze for 10 minutes.

Line your baking tray or ramekins with fruit and top with crumble. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown (time will depend on size of each serving). Serve hot with custard, cream or ice cream and toasted coconut flakes.

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Away….


Jambo from Tanzania. I’m here in Dar es Salaam visiting my parents and introducing Hassan to the rest of the family. We have been here a week now and enjoying every minute of being pampered by my mom.

Besides visiting the beautiful beaches and relaxing, my aunt has taken me to local markets. Markets that have been there for years but ones I’ve never visited before, ones that have never interested me before now.


I have taken my loyal companion everywhere- my camera. Clicked over 500 photos already and it hasn’t even been a week yet. Here is a teaser. I will write a more detailed post when I return. I can’t wait to show you my country, the azure beaches, the farm fresh produce and the wilderness.



And as for the lychees- I packed some for my mom all the way from Dubai. Isn’ that pinkish purple hue regal? It has always been a tradition to take exotic foods back home for the family. And of course, in return, we always bring back what is seasonal.


Wonder what fruits will make it into my suitcase this time- perhaps some of these ripe yellow pineapples?


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