Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Orange Kitchens has a new address.

My little chefling and I have moved to orangekitchens.net

There is still a lot of work left and we are working on it slowly and steadily. Hoping you lovely readers like it! See you there? Come say hi!

Images: If you like any of the pictures on the blog and would like to use those please write to me. I put in hours of work behind each post and would love to share it with you but it would hurt me if  use those without my permission.Just ask! 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

My month in pictures: August 2015

August Diary

(Each month I share my special moments from the month gone by. It is a visual diary of sorts one that I hope to look back at years later (Earlier posts : May 2015June 2015 and July 2015).

Row 1: left to right

  • Summer vacations at my mum's mean laid back brunches. 
  • Also homemade patra with a glass of shikanjvi.
  • The beautiful aroma of ghee being made that fills up both the home and the heart
  • Sharing food with family and friends.
  • Ordering in desserts in when you are too lazy to even step out.

Row 2: left to right

  • This summer Sara enjoyed a lot of street food. Shakarkandi Chaat (Roasted Sweet Potato )with a squeeze of lemon. Golgappe, Tikki and more.
  • Gulgule with hari chutney and mooli (Green Chutney with grated radish).
  • Barf ka gola (Ice lolly). Kala Khatta being her favourite.
  • Because when in Delhi, meetha paan (Indian mouth freshener) is a must.
  • Did I mention I love coming back home to gifts that look like this?  

Row 3: left to right

  • We took Sara to Chandigarh where I spent my summer vacations with my grand parents. 
  • It was wonderful seeing her make memories on the same streets with her grandparents.
  • She loved the rock garden.
  • And the rose garden where our grandfather would take us every evening.
  • No visit to the rose garden would be complete without having a bottle of verka milk.  

Row 4: left to right

  • Summers also mean picking up flowers from the road in your night suit.
  • They also mean refusing to get down from the swing.
  • Putting mehendi on tiny hands.
  • Wearing tricoloured bangles to celebrate Independence Day.
  • And playing with dolls all day long.

Row 5: left to right

  • But all vacations come to an end and we are missing all the colour back in India.
  • This summer I read a couple of new books too. The Seven Sisters.
  • And the Edible Atlas. 
  • Friends got us thoughtful and gorgeous gifts.
  • Now we are back home  and missing grandparents "infinity much" but are happy to be in our room and with our friends.

My most favourite part of the year begins now. Festivals, good weather and lots of new work awaits. Hi September! 

Want to see more of August? Let's say hi to each other on instagram.

Images: If you like any of the pictures on the blog and would like to use those please write to me. I put in hours of work behind each post and would love to share it with you but it would hurt me if  use those without my permission.Just ask! 

Friday, July 31, 2015

My month in pictures: July 2015

July Diary:

(Each month I share my special moments from the month gone by. It is a visual diary of sorts one that I hope to look back at years later (Earlier posts : May 2015 and June 2015)).

Row 1: left to right

  • We have spending the summers with my parents and I have been enjoying waking up to the sound of the "sabzi wala"
  • We have been eating these malai kulfis like the world will run out of them tommorow
  • It is lovely to catch up with family and friends over glorious food.
  • Streetside vendors selling coconut water, corn on the cob, star fruits have been seeing a a lot of me.
  • I am coming back with lots of pretty china and food props.

Row 2: left to right

  • Before we left Sara painted canvasses for everyone for gifts. This one is my favourite.
  • She has been producing a lots of plays and movies.
  • We came across these mythological books for children and loved them.
  • She has been trying her hand at water colour this summer.
  • And has been playing non stop with her grandparents.

Row 3: left to right

  • We went for a short vacation to Hong Kong to meet the princesses.
  • While there this little girl loved the rains and the greens, the princesses and the museums.
  • Her mum loved the colour and the people, the history and the science and the art.
  • Also the skyscrapers and the sea, the greenery and the streets.
  • I went berserk clicking in pretty benches, lampposts, fans and more at Disneyland.

Row 4: left to right

  • We loved the street food.
  • The dimsums and the broths.
  • Goose, Duck and the Squab.
  • The pastries and the tarts.
  • Hundreds of unique flavours of icecream.

Row 5: left to right

  • These holidays we played with food. We made dinner napkins for the grandparents.
  • Eid gifts tags for her friends with lentils.
  • Word art for her room with salt
  • Wrapping paper with spices.
  • Last but not the least, I am ever SO grateful to each one of you who has given me so much love on instagram. 34000 hugs coming your way.
August, be colourful and be spicy. Want to see more of July? Let's say hi to each other on instagram.

Images: If you like any of the pictures on the blog and would like to use those please write to me. I put in hours of work behind each post and would love to share it with you but it would hurt me if  use those without my permission.Just ask! 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Food Revolution Ambassador Monthly Challenge: June 2015

If you are new here: At the beginning of each month the challenges are announced. These challenges are for inspiring the entire Food Revolution team and to make deeper connections with everyone (fellow food ambassadors, friends and family, anyone who wants to be a part of this challenge too), share our stories , whether we failed or conquered and more. The idea is to complete as many challenges as one can (Read about the earlier ones here).

For June:

Challenge 1. Family Food Launch: This month, Jamie launched his new Family Food Channel on Youtube. It's all about inspiration and guidance for feeding our families, with tried-and-tested nutritious recipes and loads of tips to make mealtimes that little bit easier. (Have you subscribed to the channel,  if not do it now here and visit the website to try the recipes.

This month was a little crazy for I was trying to complete all the work that I couldn't attend to since I was occupied with the Food Revolution Day events all May. I also wanted to wrap up majority of my work before the summer vacations began which meant I had only a few minutes each day to get healthy lunches and dinners on the table. Quick,  nutritious and tasty meals. Here are some we tried.

Challenge 2. June 1-5 was ‪#‎HealthyEatingWeek‬, an initiative of the British Nutrition Foundation, and it was all about getting kids to eat and learn about healthy food especially breakfasts. Find super healthy and quick breakfast recipes here.

I don't like to spend more than ten minutes to make breakfast each morning. We are all in a rush. The little one leaves first, followed by DH and finally me. Granola, Oats, Eggs, smoothies, Veggie Semolina and savoury pancakes are some of our favourites. Simple. Healthy, Real and Quick. We tried our hand at making Jool's Gorgeous Granola.

Challenge 3. Sharing what we thought about Food Revolution Day 2015
and looking back at it.

It is so important to be constantly thinking about how you did and how you can make things better the next time around. The entire ambassador community and the team at London gave their very best this May. Post the big day we were all happy to share what we thought went right and how we could work together to make it even better next year.

Want to join me for the July challenges? Look out for them here.

Images: If you like any of the pictures on the blog and would like to use those please write to me. I put in hours of work behind each post and would love to share it with you but it would hurt me if  use those without my permission.Just ask! 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

My month in pictures: June 2015

June Diary.

(If you are new here: I started this new series last month after seeing Sally's post on instagram where she shared her special moments from the month gone by. Taking it one step ahead I put together the same on the blog with little notes for each picture (Read: My month in pictures : May 2015) and I am back now with my June Diary).

Row 1: left to right

  • Sara learnt to understand and appreciate Ramadan.
  • We discussed ten ways to raise future world class travellers and how to celebrate culture and countries through cuisines.
  • We met Ishita and the Z sisters in our Kids in the Kitchen series.
  • At the Young Chef Club we visited China and tried our hand at making spring rolls and dumplings.
  • In other news, it is really hot here and we have been living on frozen fruit yoghurt.
Row 2: left to right

  • My princess obsessed chefling enjoyed a morning with the princes and princesses at the Disney on Ice show.
  • She had to obviously dress up as one too.
  • She has been wanting to start a lemonade stand (Told you it has been HOT!)
  • Her Aunty Karen got her these push pop kits and we finally tried our hand at it.
  • I came across this adorable palette to measure spaghetti serving sizes and had to bring it home.
Row 3: left to right

  • Eating fruits in a cone is what we like to do in summers.
  • Icecream in cones too. So we set up an icecream bar.
  • Sara had a princess playdate for her friends and made cupcakes for her friends.
  • Summers mean visiting friends and family and she has been painting canvasses to gift them.
  • Coming back to the princess party, we made some tiara, glass slipper and castle pizzas too.
Row 4: left to right

  • Summer vacations also mean decluttering and donating. 
  • We have been reading this really witty, whimsical and artistic book called You are what you eat.
  • Also reading this one and deciding which person would you choose to look like.
  • We have been reading about dimsums, lucky oranges and oolong tea too.
  • The husband and I are on a mission. Knocking off dish by dish.
Row 5: left to right

  • Summers also mean quick and light meals. We have been eating Jool Oliver's crunchy fish with greens.
  • Jamie Oliver's quick chicken kebabs with a mint and yoghurt dip.
  • A couscous fish stew with a generous squeeze of lemon
  • Chicken Ciabattas for I was too lazy to cook
  • Egg and harissa painted aubergine pita wraps with a beetroot and carrot salad
July we can't wait for you to begin! Summer Vacations here we come.

Want to see more of June? Let's say hi to each other on instagram.

Images: If you like any of the pictures on the blog and would like to use those please write to me. I put in hours of work behind each post and would love to share it with you but it would hurt me if  use those without my permission.Just ask! 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Kids in the Kitchen: IshitaUnblogged

A few months back I started a new series on the blog, Kids in the Kitchen

Through this series I wanted all of us to meet parents and children who bond, have fun and make life long memories in the kitchen. Sadly I didn't get around to writing about the many many awesome parent-kids teams I "met" over the last few months. I promise to correct that now. 

Meet Ishita & the Z-sisters.

Ishita is the heart and mind behind, IshitaUnblogged where she shares her culinary travel tales. In her own words, at IshitaUnblogged, "Culture, history, recipes, food stories, travel stories, chef talk, restaurant reviews and nostalgia unfold here amidst humor, soul-search and visual stimulation. And oh! How could I ever forget? With 2 kids in tow!" Read all about her here.

She is also the founder and editor of FoodeMagdxb; the first ever Food and travel e-magazine, authored by celebrated bloggers around the region. 

Say hi to Ishita & her little girls!

Please tell us a little about yourself? 

I am a mother of two high-strung girls. The entire family is food-centric, we are always arguing about what to eat, what to cook and where to travel (and to eat!). I left advertising when the kids were born and when restlessness kicked into my creative brains, I started writing a culinary travel blog which evolved with our travels and experiments in my own kitchen. However, today, it has a different direction, but the ethos still remain the same - food and travel stories that I am able to write, along with my girls. 

Please tell us a little about your children? 

The two girls are known as Z-Sisters in my blog and that is how they love being called as well. Big Z is 10 years old and Li’l Z turned 5. Both of them are very interested in what I am doing, and love the fact that sometimes they can go into the kitchens of hotels and resorts that I visit, because of my job. I am an experimental cook, and cannot stick to recipes or proportions. That is also one reason that I do not bake. I am petrified of baking. Big Z, on the other hand, loves baking. And because of my ignorance in this subject, there is no one to steal her thunder. Every Friday, she would be baking from her recipe cards, or cookbooks and has till date, always managed to churn up her baked goodies as per the recipe. She loves making salads too… and is always telling me at the last minute that she is going to cook something. She is very independent and preheats the oven etc. But I am around, just to ensure that she is safe. Li’l Z is interested too, but is very very jealous. She likes to mess up what ‘Didi’ or elder sister is doing and puts her own stuff into Big Z’s dough and that will definitely ensue a fight! The other thing that I am trying to inculcate in Lil Z is not to lick the ingredients - it blows my sanity away!

Do the Z sisters “cook” with you? How do you involve them in the kitchen/during meal times/grocery shopping? 

The girls cook with me over the weekends or if there are parties at home. I would love to involve them in grocery planning - but it becomes really chaotic - both planning the grocery and buying them. As a very busy working mum, entertaining their wish list (even on grocery) becomes really difficult. 

How do you think their getting involved in either or all of the above has altered their food habits? 

I do not know whether their food habits have been altered, because I have involved them since they were born. Even if it took a longer time, I have let them feel and touch and eat their own food. What definitely has happened is, eating is not a chore for them - as it is with some of our friends’ children. They love to eat, try out different cuisine, ask questions about the country that particulate dish may have come from. They love going out to different restaurants and have good table manners. I wouldn’t flinch taking them to a fine dining restaurant if that venue allowed children. They wouldn’t be bored and I don’t encourage entering a restaurant with i-Pads and other gadgets. As long as there is food in the horizon, they are excited. 

How do you deal with mess/chaos that comes with them being in the kitchen? More importantly how do you maintain your sanity? 

It can be very daunting. You have to ‘let go’… as long as safety around the kitchen is ensured, you shouldn’t bother. Ignorance here is bliss. Of course, there will be chaos and mess… high-level chaos and mess to be precise. But then you have to remember why did you let your children into the kitchen, in the first case? For them to have fun, learn and enjoy the experience. I was a late entrant into the kitchen, with my parents always telling me to stop touching everything in the kitchen, and how I will hurt myself, or simply because, there’s no need for me to be around. Although my mom had been a brilliant cook, entering the kitchen was like doing something unnecessary - I could very well spend my time doing something worthwhile - studying or painting etc. But this is something I had vowed to myself that I wouldn’t do with my kids. And I genuinely don’t panic, although I feel like tearing my hair for having decided to let the Z-Sisters into the kitchen! My parents would have freaked out if they had seen a laptop on top of the oven (not switched on of course) so that kids can read the recipe!!!

Is there any recipe that Big Z and Lil Z would like to share?

Yes, they like making a cuppa-corn and would love to share their "recipe" for the same :) Get the complete story on their sweet yellow moments and the recipe here.

Thank you Ishita for dropping by with the Z sisters.

Do you cook with your kids? Did you enjoy meeting Ishita & the Z sisters? I'd love to hear.

Images: These pictures have been taken from Ishita's blog with her permission. If you like any of the pictures on the blog and would like to use those please write to me. I put in hours of work behind each post and would love to share it with you but it would hurt me if  use those without my permission.Just ask! 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Celebrating cultures and countries through cuisines.

I remember when we were kids, you had to either travel to experience food from different countries (which is ofcourse the best way to soak in both the culture and cuisine of any country) or the times when travelling wasn’t possible the only two cuisines you could try were Italian and Chinese where too we had a very few choices (at least that was true for me when we were little).

I feel our kids are so fortunate to be growing up in a world where they are exposed to cuisines from different parts of the world in whichever part of the globe they are in. Exposing our children to new cuisines broadens their definition of what “food” is, helps them understand how countries are diverse but still similar in so many ways, helps them appreciate the history and geography that surrounds the food and helps us raise adventurous eaters.
When the year began Sara and I came up with some new year food resolutions for her and invited all of you to join us (Many of you did! Thank you!). One of the four resolutions was to choose and try a new food from a country of her choice each month and I am so happy to report back that we are enjoying this journey that we are making with the help of our taste buds. She has a globe in her room and each month we spin it and choose a country. Throughout the month, we try to read up a little about that country, learn some new words, read about the local food, sometimes even draw the food and ofcourse try out new foods.
Then early this year with Chef Russell I got this fabulous opportunity to work with many many little chefs at the Young Chefs Club at Lafayette Gourmet. Each month workshop the children cook and cook what the world eats. In the last four months we have visited Japan, China, India and Italy and it has been such a great journey where we tasted fruits and vegetables from the different countries, smelt the spices, oils and cheeses, learnt about the food habits of the people who live there, saw the maps and flag. We even learnt a bit of history and geography and ofcourse “cooked” a couple of really simple recipes. Each time we worked with these kids they have surprised me for none of them said no to trying out something new. Some of them did not like everything they made but they never said no to tasting which is big win I think.

So today I am going to share what has been working for us with Sara to help her become a future world traveler:) I need to point out that we have had both victories and failures and I constantly keep reminding myself to see that as growth and not rejection.
Here are my ten tips to raise future world travellers sitting right in your very own city:
  1. Start with what they like; their comfort zone:  Sara loves Italian so we began with that. Italian doesn’t mean only Pizzas but we made sure there was a pizza amongst the other things we tried. Also Pasta doesn’t mean only spaghetti and farfalle. So we tried the ravioli this time. We also tasted tomatoes with some balsamic vinegar (she loved it). We tried olive oil with some bread (she hated it). We made lots of bruschetta toppings (fun to put together for kids), rolled out fresh pasta (messy equals exciting) and we made a ricotta cake. But we didn’t do all this over one day. We did this in bits and pieces over one month. We didn’t make everything. We tried some at restaurants too along with a slice of her favourite pizza! So go with what works for you. Having an Italian evening does, do that. Spacing it out works, do that. Not comfortable cooking an unfamiliar cuisine, order in or go out the first time around. Absorb the flavours and then try something simple.
  2. Visiting new restaurants: Two years back when we moved to Dubai we were so excited at the prospect of experiencing this city through all the restaurants it had and it was something of a fun project that we started at home. We called it Project 52. Each weekend the three of us would try one new place to eat. We didn’t have any cuisine in mind but over time Sara started loving the idea of this “game”. Where are we going next weekend and what food will be we eating made it exciting and over time she has become more open to trying out new foods. Oh yes, we are very much playing this game even now.
  3. Books on food: There are some great books on food for children with stories about local food and food habits with fun illustrations, stories, poems and correct meanings and pronunciations of unfamiliar words. New books always get her super excited so if your little one is into reading then you must try out some bedtime reading on food with them.
  4. Visiting food festivals: Most big cities today have a myriad of food festivals. At these festivals we like to pretend that we are both food tasters and food critics (At these festivals a lot of restaurants and food stalls offer smaller tasting portions; both free and paid) and Sara loves giving stars and comments on each of the things we try. Just so you know the adjective “disgusting” is also up there with awesome and “supercalifraglisticexpiadolicous”. If your city has no food festivals planned food courts, global villages and local haats is where you can head to.
  5. Visiting international markets: These days thanks to so many people from different parts of the world coming together to work in a city far away from their homes we have a Japanese specialty store, a Pakistani grocery store, an Italian bakery, an Iranian shop and more all in one city. Where there are no stores there are international aisles in a big super market (Thai, Japanese, Mexican and Chinese aisles/shelves are pretty common now). Turn this into a game for the children. Select one recipe with them and ask them to write down the ingredients we require to make it and then go on a treasure hunt to buy all of them. Striking off each ingredient on their list and then making a new recipe is sure to get them excited
  6. Potluck with friends: I don’t know of any child who will say no to a playdate (mine is ready to go for one even in the middle of the night). Children these days are fortunate to have friends from different nationalities or from different cities of the same country and that presents them with a great opportunity to taste what their friends eat at their homes. Every once in a while inviting friends over or going to their place with one dish from your country/city is another great way of observing what friends eat at home and how they eat.
  7. Celebrating festivals: Food is such an important part of festivals and holidays across the world. Embracing festivals and cooking special traditional recipes and making into one big party always seems to work with Sara. Since she loves to draw and craft we also end up trying out a craft that makes for party décor. Food and décor both sorted.
  8. Maintaining journals or “passports”: Writing down which countries they know about or are studying at school, drawing out its map, flag, sticking pictures of historical buildings, food they have tried at home or outside at a restaurant, food they liked and did not like, adding local currency, stamps (if you can get your hands on it), have they visited it in the past or would they like to will ensure your little one is well travelled even without stepping out of your city!
  9. Watching delicious movies: I love watching movies that center on food. One of Sara’s favourite movie is Ratatouille. So what did we do next, we made some ratatouille! But then this doesn’t have to be restricted to “food movies”. When we saw the Sound of Music we took her to try some wurst and apple strudel. This always becomes a sort of a happy evening for us, pairing a movie we watch with her with food.
  10. Lead by example:  Always remember only if they notice and feel we are truly enjoying this adventure will they be willing to become our partners in the journey. Our children learn more from what we are than what we teach them.
I hope these ideas and tips will help you raise “little travellers” and with summer vacations round the corner who knows you and we just might be going around the world in 60 days!
Do you have any ideas or stories that you’d like to share? I’d love to hear.

Images: If you like any of the pictures on the blog and would like to use those please write to me. I put in hours of work behind each post and would love to share it with you but it would hurt me if  use those without my permission.Just ask!  
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