One of the biggest perks of blogging is getting to meet very interesting, creative and likeminded individuals. A few months ago, I had a chance encounter with the lovely, bubbly Yvette Ali. I fell in love with her endearing accent, and my heart missed a beat when she mentioned she originates from the very colourful country of Puerto Rico. As we were at a foodie event (at the launch of the BBC Good Food show to be precise), I had a long list of questions for her about her native cuisine. Till I met Yvette, my idea of Puerto Rican dishes was vaguely similar to Spanish offerings. However, Yvette tells me their food has a great deal of African and Latino influences thrown in as well!

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By day she freelances as a consultant (do check out her site by clicking here), but in her spare time Yvette whips up a feast that takes her back to her cultural roots. In today’s guest post, Yvette gives us a vivid glimpse into the world of Puerto Rican cuisine, and ends by generously sharing a recipe for her all-time favorite Escabeche de Pescado con Vianda. Read on for more!

Black Rice is an exotic, healthful alternative to ordinary white rice. It is high in fiber, and has a beautifully nutty aftertaste. You might have noticed the Black Rice Pudding I had at Thiptara in my Instagram feed, it gave the traditional Thai Sticky Rice & Mango Pudding a delicious upgrade!

I discussed this with my sister in-law, Sharmin Pasha (you met her earlier here). Sharmin is the creator of the very popular Facebook page Assamese Cuisine and Recipes. This is a page dedicated to the indigenous cooking styles of Assam, the North Eastern state of India from where my family and I originate.

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I was under the impression Black Rice is only used in Thai cooking. Sharmin tells me it is just as popular in the North Eastern regions of India, even beyond Assam. Today’s article is a guest post by Sharmin Pasha. Read on about the fascinating attributes of Black Rice, the ‘forbidden food’, and try out Sharmin’s Black Rice recipes (two are traditional Assamese recipes that would be perfect for the upcoming Assamese Bihu festival. The other is an innovative take on the traditional Thai Mango & Sticky Rice Pudding, and the fourth is a traditional Manipuri Black Rice Bread to enjoy with a piping hot cup of tea!).

My father was a very active member of the community at Palmerston North (New Zealand). He was a member of the Rose Society, had acted as president of the cultural society three times over, and was always involved in fund-raising events for the local Islamic Center. In retrospect, his social life has definitely been more varied and meaningful than mine.

On 21st February, Palmerston North held its annual Esplanade Day at the very popular grounds of the Esplanade. Here, small businesses and communities take up stalls selling all kinds of nifty, often handmade items, at exceptionally good prices. A makeshift stage is set up with live music and local entertainment, and members of the Islamic Center also put up a stall here to raise funds for the upkeep of the center’s needs. 

What’s even better than an awesome, understanding friend? A friend who can cook ofcourse 🙂 My dear friend Hema is a legend in the kitchen. I shared her impressive spread from last Christmas here, and she totally outdid herself in Christmas 2015.

One of the highlights on her Christmas table last month was a succulently juicy, hefty leg of lamb. Hers weighed just over 4 kilos!

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Hema has generously shared her recipe for Rosemary & Garlic Rack of Lamb with us. She did hers in the oven, but swears it would be even better on the barbecue grill. Given it’s barbecue season, why not try this piece of decadence for yourself?

Are you loving the beautifully breezy weather as much as I am? This is by far my most favorite time of year in the UAE, and as a family, we are trying to make the most of this time by spending our weekends outdoors.

It’s officially barbecue season in Dubai! And what’s not to love about a beautifully glazed, flavorful rack of beef?

Try out this decadent treat for yourself, and impress the hell out of your mates! This recipe is courtesy The Meat Co.

I met the absolutely delightful Melanie Smith, Global Pastry Chef at FFI (Food Fund International) at the Pink Truffle Making Class at The Meat Co (read all about it here). global pastry chef melanie food fund international ffi

Chef Melanie arguably has the sweetest job in the world! As the Global Pastry Chef for all the restaurant brands under the FFI umbrella, Melanie has a tightly packed schedule involving travelling countries and cooking up dessert masterpieces with her team.

Read on about Chef Melanie’s enviably sweet journey (and she has even shared a very special recipe for Mulled Wine with us for Christmas!).

Happy National Day! I hope you are having a lovely Wednesday, and looking forward to the patriotic festivities of this lovely, breezy long weekend.

A big ‘thank-you’ to all of you who took part in the Seven Sands contest. I wish I could take you all to this stunning new Emirati restaurant, but there can only be one winner. Congratulations once again @tulip_dsilva I hope you enjoy Seven Sands as much as I did.

For those of you who want to try out Seven Sands, look up their details on my previous post and give them a visit. Or you can try recreating two of their star dishes all by yourself!

Seven Sands has generously shared their prized recipes for Humeidh with Green Mango Salad and Maleh Korse (baked Emirati fish parcels). What better way to spend the National Day weekend than creating a bit of Emirati goodness in your very own kitchen? 🙂

Yay for the long weekend! The UAE celebrates its 44th National Day tomorrow, and we get two days off. Add the mandatory weekend of Friday and Saturday, and we’ll be out of the office for 4 days flat 🙂

What are your long weekend plans? I bet eating good grub is one of them! Why not whip up a wonderfully simple yet spot-on delicious sweet treat right in the comfort of your very own kitchen? With Nutella as the main ingredient, you know its going to be sinfully good!

The folks at The Meat Co have very generously shared their recipe for Nutella Cheesecake. Do give it a go!

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My last blog post was all about Movember, and then I rediscovered this cute little silicone chocolate mould my sister had sent me from New Zealand. These are moustache moulds, how appropriate for #Movember!

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It became our Saturday afternoon project, and my daughter is already halfway through the moustache stash as I type. Yikes! Expecting a major toddler sugar-high anytime soon!

My favorite South African diner, The Meat Co, held a ‘Pink Truffle Making Class‘ last night at their Souk Al Bahar branch.

Hosted by the very lovely Chef Melanie Smith who holds the designation of Global Pastry Chef for the Food Fund International group of restaurants, the event was predominated by click-happy chocaholic bloggers who couldn’t wait to get their hands dirty and morph into truffle-making geniuses!

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