21 April 2014

Easter Traditions in France Vs. Australia

I remember the day I had my first hot cross bun. I was already living in Australia. I was 26. One might think it is a bit late to have your 'first hot cross bun ever'. That is because in France we do not have them. Nor do we have scones. Or crumpets. Or English muffins. Let me tell you how we celebrate Easter in France.


The French Flying Bells  

Like in many countries, French children have Easter egg hunts on Easter morning. However another cultural difference is that in France, it's not the Easter bunnies that bring the Easter eggs, it's the "flying bells". The tradition finds its origin in the 7th century, when the Catholic church forbade the ringing of the bells in homage to the death of Christ between Maundy Thursday and Easter Sunday. French Catholics believe that on Good Friday, all the church bells in France fly to the Vatican in Rome, carrying with them the grief of those who mourn Jesus' crucifixion on that day. These flying bells return on Easter Sunday morning and bring with them lots of chocolate and eggs (no sure why!). In France, we also eat a lot of chocolate fish at Easter time, called 'friture de paques'.

How I like to celebrate Easter in Australia
I've lived in Australia for nearly 5 years and what I love about Easter here is the HOT CROSS BUNS indeed! This spiced yet sweet little bun marked with a cross on the top is traditionally eaten on Good Friday in Australia and other anglo-saxons countries like England, New-Zealand and Canada. While France missed out on that one, I'm catching up! Most Australians eat their hot cross buns with butter, jam or other spread, but my favourite are the Bakers Delight chocolate chips hot cross buns. Can you believe that each bun contains over 100 choc chips? That a lot of goodness in a small bun. To be fair, while many people add butter and other delicacies to their hot cross buns, I like mine 'al natural'. I enjoy them on their own with a nice cup of tea

My second favourite way to celebrate Easter in Australia is to spend time with my Greek friends. Have you tasted anything better than a slow cooked lamb with roasted potatoes?


How do you like to eat your hot cross buns?
How do you celebrate Easter in your home?




17 April 2014

Bon Voyage: India - Another Dream Comes True

In May 2012, I wrote "Bon Voyage: African Safari in Kenya & Tanzania - A Dream Comes True". Nearly two years later, another of my dream is about to realise: I'm off to India! Bring on the Taj Mahal, spicy curries and sacred cows.



Where we are going 
Our tour departs from Delhi and our first destination is Jaipur. The city is known for reflecting the beautiful fusion of the yesteryears and modernity. Jaipur is known as the Pink City because of the extensive use of the locally abundant pink plastered stone, painted so in honour of the visit of the royal consort of Queen Victoria. Jaipur thrills the soul with its massive forts, magnificent palaces, exquisite temples and lush gardens. We will attend the AARTI Ceremony, which involves oil lamps being lit and waved, in order to awake and invoke the deity. Indeed we will visit the Amber Fort and its palace and will even ascent the fort by an elephant back ride. 



Our second stop is Agra and of course the Taj Mahal. Built by Shah Jahan, Taj Mahal is a white marble memorial to his beautiful wife Mumtaz Mahal. This monument took 22 years to be completed and was designed, and planned by Persian architect Ustad Isa. We will also visit the famed Mughal emperor Akbar in 1565 AD, Agra Fort is predominantly of red sandstone. 

Back in Delhi we will have more time to visit the old town including Raj Ghat, a simple memorial to Mahatma Gandhi, the Red Fort, and the Jama Masjid. Our tour will finish with New Delhi Qutub Minar, India Gate, the Parliament building and the Rastrapathi Bhawan, the President’s residence.

I can't wait to share with you the photos from my trip. I'm very much in need for a break, and an overseas holiday, so this pre-wedding trip is very exciting! See you in 10 days and happy Easter to all. 


Is India a destination of interest to you?
Have you been?


Photo credit: Ar-ka

09 April 2014

Harira: Moroccan Lentil & Chickpea Soup

I love Morocco, I love its food. Moroccan food is incredibly diverse, thanks to the country's interaction with other cultures and nations over the centuries, including Berber, Moorish, Arab and French


Today I'm sharing my own adapted version of the famous Harira soup. This vegetarian recipe calls only for a few ingredients, is low in calories, high in protein and a wonderful winter warmer! 


I have been making this recipe for a couple of years, and can't get enough of it! Using my pressure cooker I whip it up in a few minutes. Mr Slim loves it too and to be fair we have it all year round.

Ingredients

  • 200 g dried lentils - [Soaked in water for 24 hours]
  • 50 g of dried chickpeas - [Soaked in water for 24 hours]
  • 2 litres of chicken or veggie stock
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly chopped
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon of chilli flakes (optional)
  • 2 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoon ground coriander


Method
  1. In a large saucepan (or even better in a pressure cooker) combine all ingredients. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer until lentils and chickpeas are soft.
  2. If using a pressure cooker, cook for 5-7 minutes. With a normal saucepan, cook for about 45 minutes.
  3. Serve with a slice of multi-grain bread with butter.

Do you make your own soup?
What is your favourite soup recipe?

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