The pleasures of a cup of tea

Hotel Breakfasts Few things are more pleasurable than hotel breakfasts. Who doesn’t love elaborate spreads of  baked goods, eggs and cold cuts, chicken and vegetables dressed in ways one only sees in beautifully illustrated volumes of the 1001 Arabian Nights? What a splendid start to the day! What I actually love about these busy spreads…

Sweet Middle East: Anissa Helou

I have a strong sweet tooth and often say it’s because my family name, Helou, means “sweet” in Arabic. In truth, that has nothing to do with it. Most people in the Middle East and North Africa have a serious penchant for all things sugary. Sweets occupy an important place in our lives, and every…

Goa Diaries

After Hyderabad, we headed to Goa. At the airport, we had yet another Hyderabadi biryani as a farewell. Bad decision. The biryani was Andhra-style (hot), masala biryani. I couldn’t finish my plate, more like I didn’t want to, fearing episodes of stomach-gone-bad at the airport (which actually did happen, but much later during our trip)….

Some cashews for the flight…

What you see above, is what goes on in my mind when I think ‘travel’. Unlike most people, who think of beautiful beaches and the mountains, my mind tells me- “Pack some cashews to munch on”, you know, the secret travel tip of Queen Victoria and Queen Latifah, both totally related and equally relevant. Do…

Olea Europaea : The European Olive

One of the oldest trees to be cultivated; at least 6000 years ago, the olive is a fruit that is popular worldwide and is also revered in most Mediterranean cultures.  By 3,000 BC, it was being grown in Crete and spread to Southern Europe and Africa through the Phoenicians; spread along the fertile crescent which includes some…

Foods of India – Kutchi Memon Cuisine

Introduction While the fare on Cutchi (Kutchi) Memon tables is legendary, it is a little known fact that these recipes are considered sacred and guarded zealously by the owners of the keys to paradise. Those who do not qualify by bloodline have often received the recipe for sheekh kabab without the ingredient that encourages the…

Journey to the heart of Turkish Cuisine

People are always eating and drinking around the clock in Istanbul: grabbing chewy sesame-crusted simit (bagels) on every street corner, sipping refreshing freshly-squeezed pomegranate juice, small glasses of sweetened tea or thick mastic-flavored Turkish coffee on their way to work, stopping at hole-in-the-wall döner and köfte joints for a quick snack or slurping bowls of chickpea and…

Bread and Salt

Bread, called nan in Persian, is the staple food of Iran in all regions except around the Caspian, where rice supplants it. Nan is a Persian word first used in Achaemenid Iran (550-330 BCE), from which all other languages borrowed it. In Iran, bread and salt are treated with great respect. The main Persian breads are flat breads but…

Romanesque Architecture : St-Nectaire

Regional Developments in France The emergence of Romanesque architecture was not a simple, linear process. Rather, during the tenth and eleventh centuries, the region that is now France served as a fertile experimental ground. The separate regions exhibited tendencies toward different architectural forms, and their sacred as well as secular institutions also pursued a variety…

An Omelette is Born

In 1835, during the Carlist uprising in Spain, the rebels laid seige to Bilbao. One day during the siege, the Carlist commander, General Tomas de Zumalacarregui y de Imaz, was passing a farmhouse and demanded that the farmer’s wife prepare him something to eat. All the woman had were some eggs, a potato and an…

AFTERNOON SKETCHING – TEA TRADITION

It’s extremely hot in Jaipur since the summers are here and every other day, there’s a sandstorm or a long queue outside Barbecue Nation. Either way, annoying. Amidst short power cuts and the occasional scary-as-hell cricket jumping out at you from the most boring edge of something you didn’t know you owned, I had an…

Architecture: The Teller of Tales

“It is only through labour and painful effort, by grim energy and resolute courage, that we move on to better things” -Theodore Roosevelt Architecture is a skilful story-teller. Posing as a passive onlooker, creates niches of memory that return from time to time as nostalgia. Walls, shop signage, electricity cables, windows, rusty benches and tattered awnings are…