When the Nomad Urbanista decided to take a walk … for the rest of the photo poem http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.511628202229224.1073741825.231374570254590&type=1
Tag Archives: UAE
The stone house in the mountains is a stark contrast to the village dotted with modern villas. The white graffiti on a wall says Amna in Arabic and Suzuki in English.
Last year, I had gone to stay with my Emirati friend Amna, who is from the Asmah village in Fujairah. Her family has always welcomed me with open arms on my sporadic visits — making it an extended home in the UAE. The trip has always involved a leisurely drive through the village and mountains — to their farms and other areas. Till then, I had not seen this stone home — just farms full of lettuce, parsley, papayas, roses and many other fruits and vegetables (sometimes oranges). When asked if it was abandoned, I was told that this was the home of a relative, Amna Khamis Ahmed Alshehyari, an 88-year-old woman who chooses to live here during the daytime. Despite her children’s numerous pleas and requests, she will agree to stay in their modern homes only for the night. Read the rest of this entry »
A favourite kid was coming home for Friday lunch with her parents. But dessert was a huge question mark – she is lactose intolerant. That meant that dessert must not have milk, butter and any other dairy product. It did not help that she cannot have chocolate either. For a seasoned Indian foodie in Dubai, it was a very tough situation. Since she was just three years old, I bravely decided to make a fruitcake with apples, carrots and raisins – part of her permitted and favourite food list. But no butter? OMG. I had just one hour to go.
Of fruit and cake
Being really partial to chocolate cakes, I had stopped trying my hand at fruitcakes for the last eight years. Though I love carrot cakes, the chapters of my baking history will unravel a passion for baking, a penchant for being distracted by the phone, my article or kid and the ending – with sunken and burnt fruit at the bottom of the cake tin. But this time, maybe it helped that I really adore this little kid. So I surfed the net and read through many recipes as usual. But I did not like the ingredients in some and found the others very complex.
So as usual, I went on deconstruct mode – looked through many recipes, found the most common denominators, searched my kitchen, assembled and substituted ingredients since I am too lazy to drive to the nearest supermarket. And then changed the order of the recipe to what works for me. Seriously. Most cooks omit the finer points and make scared and potential foodies think they cant cook. Not this one.
The end of this story? A really moist and delicious cake.. The little one asked for more. Was so delighted, I packed a quarter of the cake in foil for her Mum to take home… Here goes…
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
Spice powder (Dry grind cinnamon, cardamoms and half of a mace. Reserve ¼ tsp for the shredded fruit and mix rest with flour) (you can make your own fav spice mix)
One and a half cup brown sugar
Half cup oil
Grate 1 large carrot and two Fuji apples and mix it with one cup of raisins. Mix a tablespoon of brown sugar, some flour and ¼ spoon of the spice powder (mentioned above) and add to the shredded fruit. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Beat eggs and sugar with the hand mixer. Then slowly add oil. Next add the spiced flour mix. Oil a springform baking tin. Dust lightly with flour. Pour half of the flour mix, layer with half of the fruit, then add remaining flour and layer on top with the fruit. Smoothen the flour batter gently over the fruit.
Bake for at least 50 mins or until knife inserted in center comes clean. Remove and leave to cool for 10 minutes. Ease off the springform pan and cool further – though I served it when it was warm and aromatic. Store rest in an airtight tin.
Over nearly two decades in this country, I have been privileged to experience many different iftars (the meal eaten by Muslims to break their fasts after the Ramadan sunsets). A cosy ladies’ majlis one in Masafi with my Emirati friend Amna, where I stuffed myself senseless with her famed leghemaat (a crispy sweet dumpling), lavish restaurant buffets hosted by Arab or Pakistani colleagues who wish to extend the camaraderie of the workplace, informal canteen affairs, and so on. It’s a time when one experiences a true feeling of shared kinship, but it is also followed by moments of regret after one has eaten too many sweets or kababs, with the fervent vow never to do so again — until the next invite.
But outside the home and the UAE’s famous luxury hotels, Ramadan is a different experience.
The true foodie knows that the best way to experience the real city is to cruise the streets and pick up sizzling hot treats around 4pm from the small stalls set up just outside restaurants.
I cruised the streets with photographer Faisal Khatib who has taken these pixs – we did Ghusais, Hor Al Anz, Jumeira over two evenings.
Only to finally wind up at the old Safa Park mosque, which still bears witness to the true spirit and generosity of Ramadan.. The article was published in Gulf News click on MORE.. ,
But here are glimpses of what I wanted in my piece… the real beauty of Dubai, UAE, which continues to retain the human touch..
Saw a microlight plane whizzing past as I was returning from a trip to Ras Al Khaimah over the Eid holidays.. On a lark, I drive down the dirt road and sign up for a 15 mins chakkar at the Jazirah Aviation Club, which has all the necessary government approvals. Heart thudding. Thought of running back to the safe confines of the car… After all, I did not know how to swim. And sea was very much a part of this trip.
But having forced my friend to sign up, my gargantuan ego forced me to sit smiling and examine the grey sky with what they call studied casualness. Ask for mint and sat ruminating on life, the universe and other random incidents.. We both choose the yellow planes. The control room said that there was a 30 percent chance of a storm alert.. Did I make a mistake? A group of five men are studying the brochures in the reception and debating whether to sign up..
Now there was no going back. I strap up.. The pilot says that the engine oil needs to warm up to above 50 degrees. I nod. He explains how the control panel works. I nod. Through the headphones, I can hear the control room conversations and his cheerful attempts to infuse me with some courage. But I am praying… So much for fantasies of flight while reading Richard Bach and St Exupery..
And we take off.. The earth slowly drops away. Vast expanse of sky all around and blue waters below. Air comes whooshing in from two small holes on the side. This is not an Emirates Airlines flight insulating me from the sky – with a small window showing me pretty clouds. This is a microlight that leaves me defenseless, exhilarated and suddenly aware that I need to start taking pictures and ignore the mild fearful twinges in my solar plexus.. I take the lens off my Nikon D60, which as you can see is a great camera considering I am an amateur photographer..
I steady my hand and understand the problems of photographers taking aerial shots. My pilot is describing the projects below. Their names. Wasted. Trying to be many things but the mind blanks and only the photographer in me remains.
He asks if I want to see some stunts. That is when I tell him in one outburst that I did not plan on this trip, I did have a huge breakfast an hour ago and to save that rush for the next trip when I would come back with just a slice of toast in moi.. and that’s that. Phew.. He laughs and shows me how to use the controls.. Even scarier. One of the most scariest things in my life and yet.. I did not want to stop.. tilted to the left, right, upwards and then nose-dived and he asked to go it solo… that was short though time seemed to slow down and I asked him to take over..
Vistas unfold.. projects, luxury villas, protected areas… RAK Free Zone.. The mind tries to grab at some anchor but the ground is far, far away…
15 mins later I experience the smoothest landing.. The five men are still looking at their brochures and ignore us.. Pointedly. I try to give them an encouraging smile but know just how they feel. And stagger back to the car with my friend.. knowing I will be back.. A five year old kid sits howling in the carpark. With the storm brewing in the sky, the parents are reluctant to send him up alone with just the pilot.. And microlights seat only two.. Mind it..