The spice of life is not in tradition any more

Bahrain’s Spice Market may not hold charm for the local population any more but, tucked away in the lanes of the Old Suq in the capital, Manama, it is a must visit for tourists and visitors.
The conventional ways of shopping have, in any case, taken a beating in the last few years with the advent of supermarkets and suq’s (traditional markets) have been among the first to fall victim.
However, as I have often discovered, the real charm of shopping in the “good old days” was when one picked up a jute (or cane) basket and went to the neighbourhood bazaar to pick up the day’s groceries.
As expected, Bahrain’s Spice Market was deserted when I went there for a walk last weekend. Hardly any customers, but for a few very ‘touristy’ people, were seen actually shopping while most who were there preferred to busy themselves with devouring the food on offer at the several eating joints.
The pungent smell of spices and the very friendly, mostly Asian, traders were welcoming and eager to sell their wares but were equally at ease with me preferring to take pictures instead. Yes, one of them said, most visitors are more interested in taking pictures but they didn’t mind. He admitted many of them end up purchasing some as well.
The same is the story of the rest of the suq – be it clothes, electronics, toys, utensils and the like. People – most people – just don’t go there any more, thanks to the ease and the air conditioned comfort of shopping in the supermarket.
Clearly, the spice of life in tradition does not exist any more!
A pity, really!

Sitting stew

cookwithsingh

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This classic once again appeared last night on our dinner table. The weekend is always lazy, particularly in this extremely hot weather, so one has to try and manage with the ‘easy cook’ options. And what better way to do it than use the ‘slow cooker’!
Just get as many vegetables as possible, chop them, add tomato and onion, as well as a little ginger and garlic, mix everything in the cooker dish and ‘sit’ a large whole chicken in the centre, taking care to stuff some of the veggies into the cavity. Make sure you add the required spices (again, anything according to taste goes) – salt, chilli powder, cumin, coriander, garam masala etc. Also add a tablespoon of oil.
Set the cooker at 80C and leave it for five to six hours. The result is as one can imagine! It’s worth the wait!

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Slow – and tasty!

Tried my hand at making the traditional Punjabi Chicken Curry – in a slow cooker, and with a tangy twist! The deal is simple. For a full (1000 gms) chicken, take two large onions, two large tomatoes, four large green chilli, three cloves of garlic and a table tennis ball size of ginger. Coarse chop […]

via Slow – and tasty! — cookwithsingh

Spice Right

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The spice market in the Old Manama Suq is the place for the freshest and the best spices that can be. Brought to Bahrain from India, Iran and other parts of the Middle East and Africa, almost any spice ever known to humanity is available in this bazaar, tucked away in the lanes and by lanes of this historic and traditional part of the country. People from all walks, including smaller traders and even tourists come spice shopping to the area and go back with much more – the heart and soul of Bahrain!

Spice Not Right

20130822_210225During a brief visit to Kerala in Southern India earlier this year, I became more of a fan of the state’s cuisine. Three days in Kochi and I tried to sample as much of the specialties as I could. But time was clearly not on my side.
However, when I had an urge to have traditional Kerala Karimeen and Naadan Curry today, we were completely disappointed with the fare served at one of Bahrain’s supposedly well-known restaurants specializing in fare from that part of India. No spice. No tang. No taste. No zing.
It was more of a let-down since the ambiance was just right – artificial rain, a traditional house boat complete with a boatman, elephant paintings and traditionally dressed bearers.
We have had better Kerala food at down market places in downtown Manama though even that is not really authentic.20130822_205611
Strange how a country with half its population from India, and three-fourth of them from Kerala, cannot produce even one authentic place where one can enjoy traditional cuisine.
And this is only for Kerala food. The less said about the others, the better. 

We are planning another visit to Kerala in the near future when, I hope, I can convince a traditional equivalent of a master chef to make Bahrain his base. He will do roaring business, that I can guarantee!