Bite A Snap

A bite of dessert and maybe some train journeys too.

A Portrait of Bhaji Gully

The Bombay winter sun has barely risen. The sleepy streets stretch and  sprawl in an honest attempt to wake up. The early boys are all wrapped up in their dreams, engrossed in their own little worlds, unaware of the noisy school-going children or ringing bicycles. A small fire illuminates the indigo chill, while the rough bristles of the old broom scraping the stained pavements suddenly eclipses the din.

Gradually the empty baskets and stands are loaded with fresh fruits and vegetables. Shutters are pulled up to reveal overflowing shops and stalls, filled with buttons, ribbons and other bits and bobs. The men and women drowsily arrange and rearrange their goods, in solemn preparation for another great day of trade.

This is a portrait of Bhaji Gully (meaning vegetable market).

This market, which evolved during the 1930s flooded an entire street with the freshest of fruits, vegetables and everything else. Let me take you a for walk with the people who make it what it is today, the men and women who stand and fight against multi-national giant brand names, supermarkets and even online grocers. Surrounded by the only life they know and the by-lanes they call home, they drown in a cacophonous symphony of trade, everyday.

Except Sundays, of course.

Bhaji Gully, Grant Road, Mumbai

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Red Ribboned Pies

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Come, guard this night the Christmas pie,
That the thief, though ne’er so sly,
With his flesh-hooks don’t come nigh
To catch it.

From him who all alone sits there,
Having his eyes still in his ear,
And a deal of nightly fear,
To watch it.

William Henry Husk

Songs of Nativity, 1868

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Apple & Grape Chutney

Apple & Grape Chutney

At our home, we always had a little place mat on the dining table, which held a hand-made basket to keep all our chutneys and aachars.  As we gathered around the table for dinner, the steaming rice took its place next to the warm earthy vegetable and the slow-cooked meat gradually made its way. We then helped ourselves to generous servings of the steaming hot food that was laid before us. Then some one would reach out for the jars of pickle, fingers lingering over the few that may have complimented the spicy brinjal, so what would it be? Hot Raw Mango or Lime and Chilli, or maybe some Whole Gooseberry Pickle to slide into our plates.

Spoons.

That’s what we always forgot, so it was quite normal to realize that once someone had carefully made a decision of which Chutney would feature on tonight’s meal, they needed a spoon and annoyingly enough there were none. So I would run, to grab a handful of spoons should someone choose to experiment with more than one chutney. Our pickles were mostly spicy and sometimes saccharine with a sharp edge, but fruit preserves somehow never seemed to satisfied my spicy cravings, or so I thought until the Apple & Grape Chutney.

There is quite possibly an infinite combination of chutneys and pickles that are made across the world. Vegetables, fruits or spices and all good things beautifully combined into a jar and sealed to preserve the richness, that’s how I imagine chutneys are made.

Tonight, of course, I am lovingly fed a spoonful of this brand new chutney, and the spices and warm fruit explode in my mouth. As each individual ingredient was slowly added the aromas that filled the air were gradually dancing and transforming one fragrance to another. The toasted cumin and coriander seeds gently took over the room and the green chillies came alive as it sizzled in the fire with the light pink onions and rustic ginger. Then suddenly, the dense air turned sweet as the heat softened the peeled apples and the white grapes that floated in the boiling vessel.

By now as you can imagine, the sun has set and the cool autumn winds rustle the falling leaves outside. The house is warm with the spicy aromas and the sweet fragrance of the hand-made apple & grape chutney.

Surely, you want just a dab of this beautiful concoction.

Made by Sylvia Scott, London

Rhubarb Rhubarb

Stewed Rhubarb with (many spoons of ) Clotted Cream Ice Cream.

Red Pepper Crusted Chicken

 

A Sunday Afternoon Festival of Flavours

Cooked by Sylvia Scott, London

Lunch at The Breakfast Club

As soon as I realised they could create this beautiful work of art for me – I ordered – well to be fair my friend sitting across me made the final choice (between two great ones). And so I waited. Avocado, Poached Egg on Toast with a side of crisp Bacon and Red Chilli. Reading the menu over and over again after I had ordered was certainly not helping. Finally, it was gracefully placed before me – the hungry kid. As soon I saw the beautiful burning red of the chillies, I reached out for a sliver.

What happened next was that I lost my sense of taste, overwhelmed by the ‘hotness’ of this tiny flake of red hot chilli was eye-watering exciting* but also numbing. Thankfully my chilled glass of fresh orange juice came to the rescue and the cool minty lime induced avocado relaxed the heat. My lunch just began to unravel this fantastic sense of flavours and I did not stop until I was finished. Believe me I was NOT dining on any empty stomach, in the end however I scraped my plate clean. The Breakfast Club, I decided, was going to be a regular and maybe next time I can get some ‘breakfast.’

*Considering that I am Indian, I am used to ‘hot-chilli.’ Most places I go to serve stuff that may look like chilli, but tastes nothing like it. The Breakfast Club – they have the real stuff, and it felt so right.

visit www.thebreakfastclubcafes.com to find out more

The Giant Cupcake

She stood across me in her flushed pink apron tossing eggs through flour between bursts of icing sugar and a hint of vanilla essence. I watched the giant cupcake come to life. It rose through the warmth of the oven and was then smothered with generous layers of fresh strawberry jam and thick double cream. And then the swirls ascended into the warm summer air only to sprinkled down with sweet pink nothings that seemed to leave an impression in the soft cream frosting. And when it was time to settle into it, the giant cupcake was neatly (and skilfully) sliced into giant slices and slowly devoured with a glass of white.
Cake Baked by Rosie, Devon

Little Whoopie Pies

Drink Tea

Read

Bake

Dress-up

Walk

Conquer the World

 

Those were our options of things to do today.

We Baked.

Chocolate Whoopie Pies with Cream Filling.

We probably made a hundred pies, and now we are not sure what to do with them.

We will start by eating a few I suppose.

And then conquer the world.

Scones, Strawberries & Sleepy Smiles

Warm toasted scone halves pop out of the toaster as my Twinings Everyday quietly brews. The cool knife slides into the pot of thick clotted cream and gently paints the scones a melancholic shade of ivory. The Great British Summer (if there is one) then rolls out a few blushing strawberries. Even though the sun hides behind the dark grey clouds, my cup of tea will keep me warm and my dollops of cream will keep me happy.

The Queens Jubilee

As Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her Diamond Jubilee – 60 glorious years of service, I watched her graciously address her subjects. The towns and cities were splashed in the Union Jack colors of Red, White and Blue. Flags flew from buildings across roads, from speeding cars and homes. However my jubilee moment was this beautiful cake. A double tribute in itself, it was the Victorian Sponge Cake with a glittered version of the iconic Union Jack. On 22 June, 1897 Queen Victoria was the first  monarch to have celebrated a Diamond Jubilee. And this year on 2 June, 2012 Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her reign in London. I am certain she may have had her share of Jubilee cake, but I cherished my slice with a cup of tea. The warm cream and strawberry jam were perfect on this cold rainy day in June. One that I will always remember.

Cake Baked by Eunice Watkins, Ipswich

Union Jack Glittered Pattern by Charis Watkins and Sukruti Staneley