Keralan Stew

If ever there was an internationally recognised doyenne of Indian food, it’s Madhur Jaffery. As a teenager, I stumbled across her programmes when satellite TV finally reached Abu Dhabi air space. I remember feeling like I was caught off-guard, blind sided and utterly mesmerized by this well-spoken, articulate, classy Indian ‘Aunty’. It was the first time I had seen an Indian woman, complete with sari and bindhi, represented so gracefully on the international screen and I admired her. She was straight spoken, but never condescending, her tone was that of an enthusiastic clever teacher, charming the viewer with her wit and her cooking. Her confidence and knowledge engaged your trust.

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Calvin, Hobbes & Peanut Butter

Calvin and Hobbes ‘got’ me. I got them. I felt the unfairness of the world same as them, the rebellion against conformity, the over-the-top reactions, always pushing just that bit too far and the love of that one special friend who saw past the one-man-band kind of bedlam that was me.

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Chestnut Soup

And it’s 2014!! December whizzed by in a flash of ripped wrapping paper, sparkly lights and clinking glasses. I selfishly surrendered control of my kitchen to my houseguest and she pulled out all the stops, dishing out one cracking meal after another.

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Pear, Chocolate & Hazelnut Strudel

Pear & Chocolate Strudel - The Patterned Plate

My mum is a sucker for apple strudel. Just mention those hallowed words and watch the mist come over her. She’s no fool with them either, dismissing several local offerings with authority. Having never put a toe anywhere in Germany until then (and this was the early nineties), it does beg the question – how on earth did she know what she was looking for?

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Cherry Pie

The best way to eat cherries? Fresh, straight out of the greengrocer’s brown bag. Preferably while sitting on a park bench, people watching. Wet wipes would be handy, but the stains are a small price to pay for such a delectable, short lived summer treat. For years, I argued with some, err, liveliness on the sin that was a cooked cherry.

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Tis time for a party…

Good friends are the seasoning of life. They make my day, even in just the small things. Pals in Doha are routine victims of my pathological forgetfulness; they laugh at me and I join in. My best friend in Abu Dhabi gets bizarre photo messages, demanding her honest opinion of me in some florid outfit in a badly lit changing room – and honest it is.

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