Bahrain’s 42nd National Day celebration with Baklawa

20 Dec

Bahrain celebrated its 42nd National Day on the 16th of December. The entire island country is painted in the colours of red and white – the colours of the National flag. At night, it is a spectacular display of red and white lights which illuminate every road and building and turn it into something like a set from a Baz Luhrmann movie. However busy our lives might be, it is difficult not to get caught into the whole festive spirit of the nation. We enjoyed our long awaited 2 day off (16th and 17th December) from work and packed it with exciting things to do. Most of the restaurants were running  discount in the honour of the National Day and the Accession Day (17th of December). Most of the malls were jam packed with people shopping and dining. There were bands playing and entertaining the crowds too.

We managed to savour some authentic Bahraini breakfast at the Saffron in Muharraq. They have a set menu that they never change and despite that they are ever so popular. The breakfast is an extended affair so be prepared to be served courses after courses of wonderfully unique breakfast savories and sweets and breads. All this washed down with cups and cups of hot, karak tea.

Breakfast at Saffron, Muharraq

Breakfast at Saffron, Muharraq

On the personal accomplishment front, I managed to tick off two items from my culinary bucket list for the year during the mid – week holiday. One of them was baking my favourite dessert – The Baklava and the other was learning how to pipe. The piping post will follow soon.

B2

Baklava is a rich, sweet pastry made of layers of phyllo pastry filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with syrup or honey. The Baklava is normally prepared in large pans. Many layers of phyllo sheets, separated with melted butter, are laid in the pan. A layer of chopped nuts are also sometimes used is placed on top, then more layers of phyllo. So you have alternate layers of phyllo sheets and chopped nuts. Before baking, the dough is cut into regular pieces, often parallelogram, triangles, or rectangles.

B1

A syrup, which may include sugar, honey or rose scented or orange scented syrup is poured over the baked baklava and allowed to soak in for many hours. Baklava is usually served at room temperature, often garnished with ground nuts. I attempted the Turkish baklava which is traditionally  made by filling pistachios, walnuts and almonds  between the layers of phyllo dough soaked in cold orange-lemon sugar-honey syrup.

I used the recipe from the Purple Foodie’s blog.

I was less than satisfied with my attempt and wouldn’t mark it as a roaring success. After baking and post soaking the phyllo+nuts filling with the citrus scented syrup, the phyllo layers were quite flaky and not soft from the syrup. But from a taste perspective, it was beyond delicious. After much contemplation and reflection I realized my folly. I finished the ritual of laying down sheets of phyllo and buttered them with melted butter and then a layer of nuts on top and let it rest for more than 2 hours before putting it in the oven to bake. The butter sheets hardened and after became quite crisp. So if you attempt this recipe which is seriously amazing – DO NOT LET THE BAKLAVA REST FOR MORE THAN 15 mins and immediately put it in the oven to bake!!!

B2a

Despite that technical hitch, I shall confidently cross of the Baklava off my Culinary Bucket list and move forward to attempt the next one.

Here I share some random pictures from in and around my visits to different places in Bahrain and the interesting things that caught my eye.

The local Superman

The local Superman

The traditional Spice Market /Souq in Muharraq

The traditional Spice Market /Souq in Muharraq

Picture 11

A traditional kebab shop

A traditional kebab shop

Arabic Bread baking in a traditional bread shop

Arabic Bread baking in a traditional bread shop

fish monger

fish monger

Arabic Coffee flask

Arabic Coffee flask

Traditional Coffee shop

Traditional Coffee shop

Kebab

Kebab

7 Responses to “Bahrain’s 42nd National Day celebration with Baklawa”

  1. Poornima December 22, 2013 at 4:55 am #

    I actually am tempted by the idea of a crisp baklava, looks delicious! Love the random shots and Superman is hilarious!

  2. Ameena December 23, 2013 at 4:35 am #

    Culinary bucket list! I love it. I wish I had the talent to have one of those. :)

  3. Chai a Cup of Life December 26, 2013 at 12:19 pm #

    I see your food bucket list is getting shorter Anita, well done! I used to live next door to a Greek family that used to make Baklava so fresh,, they used to bring some to us, My Dad and I love it!! Like the random superman doll :-P

  4. TheWhiteRamekins December 27, 2013 at 8:15 am #

    Baklava is one of my favorites. And I so want to make it too, but fear of making phyllo sheets at home. wish we could get ready made phyllo in delhi!

  5. Ravindran Nair December 30, 2013 at 10:29 am #

    My parents used to live in Bahrain. My father used to work for Cable & Wireless there.

    • Anita Menon December 30, 2013 at 10:53 am #

      Oh that is good to know. I am sure you would remember how Bahrain used to celebrate its National day back then.

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