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shikha

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Happy summer folks! Around this sun-fun time of the year the heat scale in Dubai looks like HOT… HOTTER… HOTTEST… DUBAI-HOT ; ) Well that is one of the many summer jokes for us Dubai-ites. Over the 7 years of life in this happy and one helluva city I have skinned the summer completely. Nevertheless even when all gets even, it’s natural to feel some odds. One that tops my list is missing on the Indian summer street food “Chaat”. Quite honestly Dubai makes it easy as it offers so many options to relish Indian street food. Having said that, one can still miss that taste asthetic and connection from back home. Chaat for me is a perfect taste balance between hot and cold, plain and savory, sweet and sour! So what is a Chaat? A Chaat is mostly plated with a savory subject like fried potato patty or crispy fried…

The Ramadan month is a very exceptional time in Dubai, exhibiting great character and respect for the religious ethos in this region. This is also a special month for food lovers in the city, as all restaurants serve a special Iftar menu every evening. Iftar evenings feel quite celebratory on Dubai’s food scene with some grand feasts being hosted by the big hospitality names. It beautifully brings together the fasting and the non-fasting people, being able to understand each other’s culture and enjoy the spirit of local cuisine. As the sunsets each Ramadan day, all the fasting Muslims devote their evening prayer and take the Iftar meal to break their day’s fast. Mostly they break their fast with a date or something light. I hold great respect for the people who demonstrate fasting perseverance the entire day, in the increasing summer heat, with a positive mind. For me Iftar signifies…

Here’s another recipe conceptualized as a result of my incessant yen “Why Indian Food doesn’t have salads?” To remind you of my classic itch that became a yen in my life….. I am born in India, presuming with a spicy DNA, further conditioned to cook and relish Indian food. In the course of my travel life my love for food enlarged to many more cuisine cultures. On top I picked up this healthy cooking germ through my 30kgs weight loss journey in the last decade. Long story, cut to current life – My core craves Indian food flavors but desires them in a healthy format. That is the yen! So to feed my yen I often create recipes adapting from some of my favorite Indian recipes into a healthy avatar. The unique thing about these recipes is that I try inheriting the benefits of the Indian spices and herbs, substitute…

Ok hand on my heart. I have a sweet tooth! But the problem of my life is not that ; ) It is that if I have a single sweet tooth, my husband has at least 5..… and the problem gets bigger when we make a baby together who probably has a whole denture full of sweet tooth. Well by now we have acknowledged that we have this sweet problem in the family. So instead of blaming dental genetics let’s do something about it. How about having sweets but in a healthy version? No compromise made on the taste and easy to make for mommy! Sounds fair & workable. So let’s make some Smart Sweets! Thinking what’s that? Smart Sweets = (Healthy ingredients + alternate sugars) * Measured portions  Here is my smart sweet recipe called the “Hi-5 Ladoo” This is made of 5 super nutritious ingredients, shaped into round balls or…

Have you ever noticed the alikeness between the Mexican salsas and Indian chutney? To every Mexican salsa sister there seems to be an Indian chutney cousin. You don’t get me yet? Check this course… Don’t you find Mexican Salsa Verde & Indian coriander chutney akin? Ain’t Mexican Tomato salsa or Pico de galo a raw version of Indian Tomato Chutney? The Mexican Mango Salsa & Indian Mango chutney are flavor comparable too! And of course… The Tamarind Salsa & Tamarind chutney seem to be the spicy & tangy counterparts!!!  Notably, both salsas and chutney are essential food accompanies in their respective cuisine spreads. As an intense lover of Indian and Mexican cuisine, this idea to marry the dips from both cuisines organically keeps coming to me so many times..… and not just because both are spicy. I think mainly because there are many common base ingredients like cumin, onion, garlic,…

The idea of Falapav is an authentic food synthesis. True Honey Buzzard style!  Honey Buzzard recipes are all about combining ethos of 2 different cuisines and creating a new recipe that is a discrete taste. My new falafel sandwich recipe “Falapav” layers within, taste of 2 favorite recipes from the Mediterranean and the streets of Mumbai. The falafel with a history of over 1000 years, is a popular snack not just in Egypt but all over Mediterranean countries, and an ascending fame all over the world. On the other hand Vadapav, the very own Indian burger is prevalent on the streets of Mumbai, served as the “go-to” food for the Indian common man every day. Falapav is an interesting taste idea to sandwich the crispy Mediterranean falafels into a soft pav bread from the western region of India, savored with Indian chutneys. If I had to write a formula for this recipe,…

Have you ever heard of an authentic Indian salad recipe? No really right? Have you wondered why? Indian cuisine has a heightened heritage of over 8000 years and an unparalleled diversity. It has an assorted food ethos that springs such distinct sub-cuisines. Any kind of foodie is likely to find something of their liking. But if there is one thing it doesn’t offer in abundance, it would be salads. We might create some salads with references of Indian spices, but there is no true authentic Indian born salad recipe. Hence, I am often trying to explore this not so rewarded expanse of Indian food culture. Nevertheless, I have observed these days there are references of Indian cuisine in popular salad recipes like curried cauliflower, puffed rice (bhelpuri) mixes, tomato base lentils, or green chutney dressing. It’s exciting to see that the salad scene today is high on Indian cooking spirits.…

Well let’s start by a little food weakness of mine. I am a cottage cheese (paneer) lover, hence I am innovating cottage cheese snack ideas every now and then. Lately, I have been creating cottage cheese snack ideas with sundried tomatoes, as they give a contemporary and contrasting touch to the Cottage Cheese cubes, but retain the traditional savoury-ness that works perfect with cottage cheese. This time I am creating a creamy curry cottage cheese bowl with sundried tomatoes and fennel seeds. Yes, that is the twist! You got to taste how the dried tomato tang fuses with the fresh aroma of fennel. Most of all this recipe is a quick one to cook, perfect protein poke bowl and can be a great appetizer with cocktails.

I believe if you want to deepen your culinary experience in a country, go for a cooking class. Getting your hands dirty in a local kitchen is the best way to discover the nuances and details of a country’s taste. Quite fortunately, Srilanka offers a lot of cooking classes. Also, most of them are quite authentic, as they take you in their real home or restaurant kitchens to show you what goes in making that delicious plate of curry & rice. I took 2 cooking classes during my trip to Srilanka. I managed to gather some spicy secrets about Srilankan cooking, like the authentic recipe of Srilankan Curry powder, preparing coconut milk for curries and some key ingredients for Srilankan cooking. You can read more about this in my recent post Secrets from my Srilankan cooking class. This post will also help you learn some Srilankan cooking basics that you…

The real taste secrets of a country’s food are hidden in the kitchens where its broiled. That authentic taste can only be created in those timeworn pots, with the home grown food ethos, with the practice of mulling the spices a certain way and with the panache of the sous-chef. I truly believe, if you want to deepen your culinary experience beyond just tasting food in local restaurants, go for a cooking class.Getting your hands dirty in a local kitchen is the best way to discover the nuances and details of a country’s taste. Quite fortunately, Srilanka offers a lot of cooking classes. Also, most of them are quite authentic, as they take you in their real home or restaurant kitchens to show what goes in making that delicious plate of curry & rice. Sometimes, they may also have a spice garden that they may like to show you around.…