Who wouldn’t relish a flavorful creamy scoop of ice cream? Additionally, when the awesome treats gets swirled in your own kitchen, that could be eternal bliss.
There is a big list of things that petrify me. Like the processed grains, polished flour, polished sugar and many more that I mentioned in the previous post. The long list of ingredients – in a bottle of jam or sauce, in a pack of cookies or chips, in a can of juice or flavor enhanced milk…. the list is never ending. The need for increasing Shelf life of products, in a fast paced world does it all.
The long list of ingredients that bother me in a store bought ice cream tub, not only discouraged me from gobbling up to my heart’s content, but also daunted me even while having a single scoop. I craved for an ice cream I could enjoy, without guilt.
I wanted to make an ice cream with minimal necessary ingredients. But, my motto was to churn a delicacy that would be-
low in fat
less in sugar
creamy, yet less cream involved
flexible flavors with natural ingredients
no food colors involved
Above all, a tasty treat that can be a perfect alternative to the branded dainty.
I tried making ice cream with a blender. Each time I blended and put back the mix in the freezer, the blender ideally reduced the ice crystals. But, a thicker, heavier, creamier mix, rich in fat gave better results while using it.
I needed a perfect churner to churn my low fat ice cream mix. Then, I came across Kenwood Ice Cream Maker IM280.
Less in weight, easy to store and handle, and apt for small quantities to be tested in my R&D Lab – The Kitchen. This is again, a beginner’s perfect Kit.
First, I made the basic vanilla ice cream, with a combination of low fat milk, full cream and corn flour. I used raw sugar, just right for my family’s taste buds and vanilla for flavor. Simple alterations to the same basic ingredients does wonders too.
This short video shows how beautifully the Kenwood Ice Cream Maker churns our favorite dessert. It is pure joy, customising your own recipe to the needs of your loved ones.
In the same recipe, I added good quality 100% dark chocolate powder and my chocolate ice cream was done.
The product discussed above is a separate Ice Cream Maker. Kenwood also has a frozen dessert/ice cream attachment to go with its Kitchen machines.
When the latest Kenwood sale was on, I visited their showroom in Abu Dhabi. I was fascinated to see the wide variety of kitchen products. As a home-maker, I depend on certain Brands for preparing staple traditional foods. I value them as unavoidable necessities in the kitchen.
When it comes to my role as a Food Blogger, I believed I was more flexible. But, after visiting the Kenwood showroom, I realised I had been unknowingly collecting products of Kenwood, as a result of my ever-increasing cooking aspirations, for more than 10 years. From the basic Kenwood chopper to the latest Meat mincer to an Ice cream maker, I found my Kitchen filled with Kenwood appliances. A silent revelation isn’t it?
It seems like a long story to narrate, with my first Kenwood device purchased about 12 years ago. That was the basic chopper, which is a quintessential thing in the kitchen even today. The blades are as sharp as newly bought ones.
Indian gravy dishes- South Indian or North Indian, normally involve ginger-garlic-onions that have to be finely chopped, as a first step. This chopper finishes off the laborious job of chopping, in a jiffy.
Puttu – Steamed rice flour cylinders
This could be supposedly the best use of a contemporary appliance, put to use in a traditional dish. Puttu is a staple breakfast meal of Kerala. It is a much sort after healthy meal in Tamilnadu, especially during special ceremonies. My favourite childhood breakfast and dinner meal used to be Puttu with Banana, and still remains to be one.
Puttu is a rice or millet cake, steamed in the shape of a cylinder. It is made with powdered white or brown rice; powdered millets like Finger millet or Pearl millet. My latest version of Puttu is made with Bamboo Rice powder. Blending just enough water to make a lump free moist powder is the tricky part in making this delicacy. The Kenwood chopper helps in creating a lump free, yet perfectly moist puttu mix to be steamed. Once water is sprinkled over the rice or millet powder, I add the moist mixture into the chopper and give it a quick grind. The result is a lump free moist powder. This mix brings out the best ever, soft steamed Puttu.
This handy chopper is an easy travel partner too. When you thrive for home cooked meal on a holiday, chopping to tears is the worst thing to happen. This certainly solves half the stress of an annoying job in a hotel kitchenette.
Baking might be an addictive affair. It is discouraging to see a flopped recipe. But, I feel, the aroma that the kitchen brings out, with baked goods, is one of the main reasons that make Baking, as addictive as it is. Why would one want to bake again and again, to make unsuccessful baking, successful, as though that is the only way to attain salvation??!!
After a change in the yeast brand, my bread/bun baking, has become better than before. I am working on making them more moist – as they turned out dry a few times. But, I assure, they taste excellent. My recent raisin bread too, turned out a bit dry. But, tasted awesome.
To tackle dryness, I have started incorporating buttermilk to buns. As such, while baking eggless goodies, I try to substitute with yoghurt. I prefer Dinner Rolls/Buns to be baked with butter. Though, quite recently, while I baked a butterless buns, (recipe from a cook-book I had), they came out really well. Shall bake it again, and confirm the recipe.
This time, I wanted to bake buns, with the excess mint leaves (I had dried indoors) and chillies and pepper…. something salt and spicy. These whole wheat buns, came out good. That’s why I couldn’t resist sharing them immediately.
100% Whole Wheat Eggless Spicy Soft Masala Buns – with Flax Seed- Sesame Seed
whole wheat flour – 300 gms (2 heaped up cups)
unsalted butter – 100 gms (melted and warm)
cane sugar – 12 gms (2 tsp)
powdered sea salt – 7-8 gms (1 tsp)
active dry yeast – 7-8 gms (2 tsp)
warm buttermilk – 1 cup
warm water – as needed to make a fine dough
Milk – 2 tbsp- for milk wash
For the Masala
flax seeds – 4 tsp
sesame seeds – 4 tsp (2 tsp for the powder and 2 tsp to sprinkle on top)
dried mint leaves – 1 1/2 cups approximately
dry ginger powder – 2 tsp
pepper corns – 2 tsp
red chillies – 4 no.s
oregano (optional) – 1 tsp
Method of Preparation
Making Spice/Masala Powder
Dry roast flax seeds and sesame seeds. Roast 2 tsp of the sesame seeds and reserve the rest 2 tsp for the milk wash.
2. Dry roast, dried mint leaves – a bit of roasting helps in blending well
3. Dry roast pepper corns and red chillies (as I had some home made chilli flakes, I used it too.) 4 chillies would be needed for the recipe. Since I also used the left over chilli flakes, I took 2 red chillies
4. Dry roast oregano for a very short time – oregano is optional. I added, to boost the flavour. But, the mint and others are sufficient to punch in the flavours. I roasted it a bit, again to blend well. If you don’t have oregano, use carom seeds
5. Blend all the roasted ingredients, with dry ginger powder to a fine dry mixture.
6. The blended powder weighed approximately 42-45 gms
Making the dough
In a wide bowl, add whole wheat flour, yeast, masala powder, sugar and salt
As I had no doubts with my yeast, I directly added to wheat flour. Otherwise, proof yeast with warm water, to check whether it is still alive
Add melted butter, which is still warm
Warm the buttermilk and add to the flour mixture
No cold liquids, as the yeast would become inactive
Start kneading the dough, by kitchen machine or by hand
Add enough warm water, if needed. My dough needed more water
Knead for 10 minutes, to a soft dough
9. Place in a greased bowl and close it. I don’t use cling wrap at home. So, just close with any lid, but keep it in a moist place. I always place my yeasted dough in the oven, with the light on. I also place a bowl of hot water below or beside. This helps create a warm environment, if you live in a cold place or air-conditioned environment
10. Keep the dough for 1 hour to rise or until double
11. Once doubled, knock the dough and knead for a couple of minutes
12. Grease a baking dish or tray, or place parchment paper on the baking tray
13. Make 8 equal portions and roll into fine balls
14. Place on baking tray, spaced apart
15. Keep these buns, to rise again for 30 minutes
ready to be baked
16. Preheat oven to 220°C
17. After they rise, brush the top of the buns with milk and spread sesame seeds
18. Bake the buns in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or until hard crust is formed
Remove from the oven and let them cool
Serve with the spread of choice. Tasted good with cream cheese spread and also with tangy coriander chutney.
So, here we are, at the end of the workshops at Royal Orchid – Chinese and Thai Restaurant in Abu Dhabi. A salad, soup, curry, stir fry and dessert – a beautiful journey in an elaborate platter. These demonstrations have not only rekindled my interest in the cuisines of south east Asia, but also helped me re-visit my cooking experiences of authentic Cambodian curries, in Phnom Penh, several years ago.
Thank You Royal Orchid and Chef Vitug for the beautiful culinary experience.
What I have understood in the past decade of my life, is – my mind is not as simple to operate as my smart phone. But someone, who has studied the working of our brain, and the ways it synchronises our accumulated memories, with multiple other traversing thoughts, must have disigned the working of the Smart Phone. I’ll explain why.
The Phone has become the World in our Hands. The countless number of applications, we have installed, has made our lives easy as well as complicated. That you’d agree with me. Every time, we are upto some important job on the phone, there are various other things – be it mails, messages, app notifications, advertisements and what not, or even a virus- that pop up, every now and then. This disturbance isn’t very complicated, there is always the magical touch of our hands, that can slide away the pop up menace.
Now, my memory and my smart phone. Like those pop-up messages, I have these non-stop nostalgic memories, wobbling around me. Unlike the magic of the finger, that works for my phone, the mind doesn’t understand the nuance of swiping off those memories popping up. It looks like an eternal task.
Philosophies done- the success of nostalgia is this post.
The next workshop, and the last of Thai Cuisine was a Dessert. As mentioned previously, with the luxury of having my own choice to learn, I requested Chendol.
As I have mentioned in my earlier posts, the combination of jaggery and coconut milk in the desserts or payasams of Tamilnadu, is ‘Heavenly’ to me. I believe, there is no equivalent payasam to an Adai Pradhaman or Paasi Paruppu Payasam.
With this pre-conceived notion in mind, and God sent luxury of travelling to several countries in south east Asia, when I saw the concoction of cane sugar/palm sugar and coconut milk- with several indigenous ingredients in Cambodia, Malaysia and Indonesia….. what else would I be left with – than drenching myself in the cuisinical connection of these countries and my roots in Tamilnadu!!
Chendol is basically made with green rice flour jelly, pandan leaves, palm sugar and coconut milk – served with shaved ice. Called Lot in Cambodia, Dawet in Indonesia and Lod Chong in Thailand, there are other refined versions of Chendol too. These versions are created with different ingredients – as in –
Naab Vaam in Cambodia (there are other similar desserts and names)
Bubur Kacang Hijau in Indonesia (served hot)
Chendol is a versatile creation – it comes across as a street food, cool summer drink as well as an elite dessert.
Before moving on to the making of Lod Chong/ Thai version of Chendol, let me share what I tried and relished in Cambodia, Indonesia and Malaysia – the different versions of my Tamil Payasam – in their different Chendol Avatars.
I. Cambodia’s Naab Vaam
While we were in Cambodia, we used to visit a Restaurant called, Tonle Bassac (from now on TB), at Preah Sihanouk Street. The place would be a buzzing station for tourist groups, hence making the place, quite uncontrollably crowded. Yet, the speciality of TB, was their Lunch Buffet, which was a culmination of cuisines of a few south east asian neighbours. Among the impressive live kitchen and a vast spread, my favourite was their dessert. Leaving aside the usual pastries and fruits in the dessert section, the Cambodian variation of Chendol was very impressive, on the first visit.
First, when I saw green mung, red mung, tapioca pearls, jellies in different colours, soaked basil seeds in several bowls – I was surprised. Then I watched people combine their favourites among the above, with palm sugar syrup, coconut cream and crushed ice.
What I tried first needs no guess. Green mung, palm sugar syrup, coconut cream and crushed ice. It tasted exactly like Paasi Paruppu Payasam. While Payasam is always a very hot affair, here the dessert was cold with crushed ice. Seemed quite interesting and refreshing.
Every weekend I would crave to try different variations of the same dessert. “Thanks ‘TONLE BASSAC’!”, for introducing me to the Khmer version of my favourite Payasam.
Since, I couldn’t find pictures of the dessert from restaurant TB, I searched the web. The combined dessert is called by several names- with different combinations. What seemed almost similar to what I had enjoyed in TB, was Naab Vaam.
a. Blogger Cindy Her’s post on Naab Vaam showed it all. Additionally, she had also published a separate post on making of green chendol.
Next, when we travelled to Malaysia, we spent a day in Melaka/Malacca.
We started the day, by visiting the Dutch Square in Malacca, then, proceeded to one of the authentic Tamil restaurants in Little India for lunch. Post lunch, we had a relaxed stroll in Jonker Street.
After a long walk, when we were tired – we found San Shu Gong – a Chinese shop, well stocked with numerous Chinese products. What was the main cause of interest comes next-
This shop had a coffee/juice shop, which also served one of south east asia’s most sought after desserts – Chendol. This version of chendol was with a twist – it was the Durian Chendol. Durian, might be the most dreaded fruit worldwide, for its distinctive odour. I was courageous enough to try the Durian version. Sorry Durian Lovers!!! That was not meant for me – my tongue still doesn’t forget the strange strong flavour.
Thus, the Durian version of Chendol, has become a distinctive memory for my taste buds too.
III. Bubur Kacang Hijau of Indonesia
The flavour of Chendol, was going to travel with me. In our trip to Indonesia, we spent the first four days in Bali, before visiting the Historical Temples of Yogyakarta. The elaborate breakfast was scrumptious. There was this extremely delicious Sweet – steaming hot coconut milk-palm sugar-sweet potatoes-jack fruit-green mung – the ones that I remember right….with fragrant Pandan Leaves.
Again, my favourite Payasam in another version….this time, in another South East Asian country.
Now, tell me- why should Chendol and its versions come striking- at regular intervals – strong enough to push me down in the soft cushions of Nostalgia so often??
Further, such fond memories associated with Jaggery, Palm Sugar and Coconut Milk from childhood (with Payasams made by Amma), stretched towards the years in Cambodia- that I spent exploring South East Asian Cuisine and History – seemed popping back again, now in Abu Dhabi.
This time, I didn’t try to swipe off the striking Nostalgia.
In the workshop at the Royal Orchid’s, to end with a Dessert, I chose Chendol – but wanted to see how the green mung noodles went into the delicacy. The Thai version of Chendol is called Lod Chong.
Phat Kaphrao or Pad Kaprao is also known as Phat Krapow or Pad Kra Pao. Holy Basil is called Kaphrao or Krapow in Thai Language. It is different from the normal Basil.
The differences lie in several areas with the key area being flavor. Thai basil is known primarily for being sweet. It has a strong licorice and anise note that allows it to stand out in Thai curries and soups. The anise note is so strong and so sweet that you can eat Thai basil raw.
Holy basil brings another flavor profile to the table in that it is intensely spicy, so much so that it is sometimes referred to as hot basil. When consumed raw, holy basil has a slight numbing effect on the tongue that is similar to the effect of Szechuan pepper. The flavor is more like a combination of black pepper and clove than like the sweeter notes of Thai basil. It tends to get even spicier as it is cooked.
As a stir fried dish, Phat Kaphrao can be made primarily with chicken, prawns or meat of choice. It can be a vegetarian stir fry with vegetables, with the omission of both fish and oyster sauce. Just make it with light soya and dark soya sauce. The fresh combination of ingredients would make the vegetarian dish deliver its flavour.
Let’s plunge straight into making Phat Kaphrao.
spicy red chillies
holy basil leaves
light soya sauce
dark soya sauce
chicken powder (optional)
Note: the spice level demonstrated here is on the higher side. Please adjust chillies as preferred.
Making of Stir-fried Holy Basil
Chef Vitug demonstrated the stir fry with prawns .
Having enjoyed the tangy Salad and the refreshing Soup, it was time to plunge into three of the most favoured curries of Thai Cuisine- Green, Yellow and Red Curry.
Chef showed the difference in the curry pastes, while making the three flavourful, yet distinct curries.
The basic herbs and spices that are blended to make the three curry pastes are – garlic, shallots, galangal, shrimp paste, kaffir lime rind, coriander root, cumin seeds, lemongrass, salt, white peppercorns.
There is one specific ingredient that is added to the explicit curries, to make it the colour of choice.
Green curry – Pandan Leaf extract, which gives the green colour to the curry. Not red chillies, but green chillies are added.
Red Curry – Dried Long Red chillies give the red colour.
Yellow Curry – Red chillies are added for spice; freshly ground turmeric is the key ingredient for the yellow curry.
Flexibility to combine with vegetables, meat or sea food
Whether one desires a curry with vegetables, or has an appetite for non-vegetarian stuff – feel free to experiment. The aromatic blend of spices goes well with vegetables, meats, fish and prawns alike. The extravagant taste comes from the final amalgamation of rich and creamy coconut milk with the spice paste.
These are a few common combinations-
Green Curry with vegetables
Red Curry with Chicken and Eggplant
Yellow curry with chicken and potatoes
The video shot was that of Thai Green Curry. In order to show the colourful variation the paste makes, when mixed with coconut milk, I share these photos…
Making of Thai Green Curry – VIDEO
That truly simplified cooking Thai curries. Didn’t that!!
The next on my learning list was a soup, after salad. Tom Yam is a much sort after Soup. Packed with citrusy punch and flavours of Thai herbs, it is a refreshing soup usually made with shrimps. But, Tom Yam can change roles and still be appealing to your palate-
a) Cook as a vegetable soup with shallots, tofu and mushrooms (avoiding fish sauce);
b) try other combinations like – chicken, lamb, or meat of your choice;
or c) make it a meal, with noodles in the soup.
These are the basic spices and other ingredients for preparing Tom Yam Soup- (except the pandan leaves in the end – reserved for our dessert later)
kaffir lime leaves
For the proteins-
and for garnish –
for the special Thai flavour
tom yam paste
and chicken powder, which is optional
Tom Yam Goong/Thai Tom Yam Soup with Prawns
Getting things ready for Tom Yam
Making the soup
Making Tom Yam
Boil stock (of your choice)
Add cut lemon grass, kaffir lime leaf, galangal and red chillies
While the stock boils well, add prawns and straw mushrooms
Season with lemon juice, fish sauce and tom yam paste and let the prawns and mushrooms cook well
Once done, add coconut milk and chicken powder (if preferred)
The soup is done. Add chopped parsley and switch off stove
Serve hot garnished with chopped coriander leaves.
Food Industry is huge, with a capital H. To sustain in a society of varied culinary interests, plus to sail across the ever rising wave of competition is a volcanic task. The hard work and struggle to bring up a restaurant and also, remain popular in the food industry, for several years is certainly a huge victory.
The Royal Orchid Group of Restaurants, is a Hugely successful Chain of Restaurants in Abu Dhabi. After coming to Abu Dhabi, I have seen the flavours of the restaurants under the group, spread aroma in several of the social occasions.
We have been mesmerised by the enthusiasm and zeal of the Founder and Owner of the Royal Orchid Group, the Septogenarian Mr. Vinay Varma and his Dynamic Lady Mrs. Nira Varma.
So, when the Captain of the Chain Mr. Varma, accepted my request for a learning session of some of their speciality foods, I was elated. When he left it to me, to choose from any of their restaurants, my greed to make the best use of the opportunity knew no limits.
Below are the speciality restaurants under the big roof of Royal Orchid Group.
I chose, one of my favourites- Thai. A very big Thanks to their open-mindedness..
Thai cuisine might be one amongst the most popular cuisines around the world, next only to anybody’s own native food. The freshness of ingredients and aromatic flavours of the spices, would rule your palate for several hours.
Having lived in Cambodia, we have been fortunate to have savoured several dishes of South East Asian cuisine. As a blogger, I have certainly been lucky to have learnt a few distinctive dishes and sweets of Cambodia.. like-
Neighbourhood Thailand, it’s history and flavourful food are always a big thumps up for me. I wrote three travel posts on Bangkok- its historical places and food, way back in August 2013 (The Charming Capital of Thailand). When I read that post now, I see that I’ve written about tasting Brown Rice, Crispy Fried Mushroom and Spicy Vegetable Curry/ Yellow Rice, Chicken in Spicy Curry and not to miss the desserts – Sticky Rice and Mango and Coconut Ice cream.
So, here I am, in Abu Dhabi, ready to learn a few more Thai dishes. Life has been very kind to me…isn’t it?
Royal Orchid is a Chinese and Thai restaurant, which has the logo- Inspired by the Far East. That truly suits me too! With elegant interiors and comfortable seating arrangements, it boasts of authentic Chinese and Thai flavours – straight from wok to your plates.
I requested for a workshop/demonstration on a full course Thai Meal with- a salad, a soup, a curry, a stir fry and a dessert, which I chose from few of my favourite dishes.
Chef Vituk of Royal Orchid, who hails from Thailand, was a very patient, grounded personality. After meeting a few chefs recently, I think, patience is a virtue of Chefs. And, they are more than that. They are specialists in the art of combining traditional and contemporary flavours that surprises customers. They present the simplest of dishes in exceptional ways that enthrals food connnaisseurs. Above all, they are blessed with the culinary art that embraces our appetite.
Let me share the dishes I learnt one by one.
I. Thai Green Papaya Salad – three ways
Som Tum Kai Kem – Green Papaya Salad with Salted Eggs
Som Tum Sua – Green Papaya Salad with Rice Noodles
Som Tum Phoo Plara – Green Papaya Salad with Salted Crab
I have also uploaded videos that show the making of Thai Green Papaya salad, demonstrated by Chef.
mortar and pestle
and the grating technique
The basic ingredients for the different versions of papaya salad, remain pretty much the same. Slight differences in the choice of sauces and spice level make the variations taste better.
long red chillies
Normally, fish sauce is added. But here, if one wishes to prepare a vegetarian papaya salad, omit the eggs and fish sauce. Instead use a salad dressing, which might be a combination of light soya sauce and palm sugar.
The spice level of this salad is on the higher side. I would suggest reducing the garlic and chillies, if one prefers a medium spiced salad.
The art of grating papaya for the salad
Keep the grated papaya in ice cold water, for at least 10 minutes. This helps keeping the vegetable crunchy.
1. SOM TUM KAI KEM – GREEN PAPAYA SALAD WITH SALTED EGGS
making of the salad
2. SOM TUM SUA – GREEN PAPAYA SALAD WITH RICE NOODLES
making of the salad
3. SOM TUM PHOO PLARA –GREEN PAPAYA SALAD WITH SALTED CRAB
making of the salad
Thanks Chef. That was an amazing experience. But, plenty more to come. Come along with me..
Signature by Sanjeev Kapoor, in Nation Towers is already one of the most sort after restaurants, for a fine dining experience with beautiful view, overlooking the Corniche, Abu Dhabi.
With New Year 2020, Abu Dhabi welcomed another elite restaurant, Khazana – Grain of Salt,that provides the ever popular Speciality Chef Sanjeev Kapoor’s exclusive signature dishes. Now, the aroma of flavours, from the culinary creations of Chef Sanjeev Kapoor can be enjoyed at WTC Mall.
The Non-alcoholic Bar Area and a comfortable mocktail/coffee corner
They say Food unites Boundaries. Looking at the menu at Khazana, one is bowled over by the representation of different regional and ethnical cuisines, across the world. This doesn’t stop with representation, but the food here actually symbolizes multi-cultural Fusion. Take for example – the Mushroom Bakhlava or Falafel Chaat.
Catchy combinations like Nalli Rogan Josh Tagine, Kappa Pot Roast, Uppukkari Pot Pie are distinct.
There is also Mishti Doi Brulee – that unites Bengal and France.
Fascinated by such mix and matches, I tried to explore some South Indian combinations that might work out- a Filter Kaapi Fondue or Chutney Cheese Cake? Why not!!
Here are a few of the delectable dishes, that we savoured at Khazana.
Few of the starters-
Khumb Palak and Corn ki Tikki
Quinoa Methi ke Tikki with Pumpkin Sauce
Beetroot Peanut ki Tikki
For the Mains-
Choice of Breads
Somehow, missed to click the Nimbu Dhaniya Kukkad.
To end with sumptuous desserts-
Chocolate Crush Pile
Slow cooked black gram, which is popularly called Dal Makhani or Maa Ki Dal is named 24K Dal. While I was amazed by the name, Chef tells me with a smile of pride- “Ma’m, Pure Gold is also known by 24K”.
Khazana, Grain of Salt has its recipes, moulded to perfection and hence, shines as Pure Gold, in the intention to provide age old recipes, with contemporary twist.
Would my Bahrain trip be a satisfied and complete one, without visiting one of those very popular Halwa Shops of the country? Certainly not.
Bahraini Halwa, is one of the most sort after sweets, during festivals and social gatherings, not only in Bahrain, but around the whole of Gulf region.
The strong resemblance the Bahraini Halwa has with the Bombay Halwa, that we savour back home, is a matter of cullinary research. I remember, when sweet boxes were brought by friends and relatives, while visiting our home, the Bombay Halwa wrapped in a transparent wrapper, orange or yellow in colour, would be the most sort after. It was always reserved for relaxed chewing. The highly glutenous texture of the delicacy, was the most attractive feature, I think. Chewing it slowly, enjoying the flavour it spread inside the mouth, still lingers in my mind.
Bahraini halwa is a direct descendant of the Omani version, introduced to the local cuisine more than 90 years ago following visits by Bahraini pearl divers and fishermen to Muscat.
The Halwa Showaiter – the Pioneer Sweet Shop of Bahrain, has been in the business of making sweets since 1850. When you travel, in and around Manama, as we did, one would come across a number of Showaiter Halwa Shops, which belong to the several cousins of the Showaiter family.
The factory of the Hussain Mohammed Showaiter Sweets, is located in an area called Muharaq, about 5-6 kms (around 15 minutes drive time) from capital Bahrain. A visit there, was a -‘ must do’ one, since they offer a gastronomic tour to their factory. Yes, the Showaiters are kind enough to allow tourists and connoisseurs, visit their kitchen, view, click pictures and take videos of the making of their speciality Bahraini Halwa.
I certainly didn’t want to miss the chance. It was not a dream come true, but a treat come true.
So, this was going to be my Halwa Workshop – to know about the making of the very famous Halwa of Bahrain.
Come along….it’s going to be an interesting, sweet journey..
First, the ingredients..
The basic ingredients that go in the making of the basic Halwa are,
And, depending upon the variety of Halwa, for example pomegranate halwa, apricot halwa, fig or milk halwa – the speciality ingredients are added.
The two most popular Halwas are the Saffron Halwa which has cashew nuts, which is orange/red in colour, and the King of Halwa – which is green in colour loaded with almonds.
The Halwa is made with two to three members, taking turns to stir the mixture in the huge copper vessel, filled with ingredients.
First, water is poured into the vessel, and sugar is added.
After a boil, the other ingredients – corn starch, oil, rose water, cardamom powder, food colour and nuts – are added, one after the other.
The initial thin liquid, becomes thicker and stickier with time. This process requires non-stop stirring and hence, is a tedious one.
Once, the required consistency of the halwa is achieved, the halwa is poured in large containers and taken for packaging.
The videos below, show the making of the Halwa – the stirring and the continuous process of making several batches.
This video below, shows the packaging of the two special types of Halwa – saffron and almond halwa.
the packed boxes, ready to be transported…
and the super delicious gooey halwa…
The packed halwa, sets well inside the box..
On the way to the entrance of the office of the Showaiter’s in Muharraq, there is a shop which displays the century year old tradition of halwa making, that is exclusive to the family.
They have preserved the utensils used during the initial years, in the making of Bahraini Halwa.
Halwas to taste and the different types they make-
This Halwa workshop, indeed made my Bahrain trip a complete one- opening new windows to my primary interests -history, culture and cuisine.