The Charm of Desserts at Celebrations - Eats and Treats by Tania Rebello
TDT | Manama
The Daily Tribune – www.newsofbahrain.com
The favourite of many, dessert is usually served as the last course of a meal but is often the first thing on our minds. I am yet to find someone who does not get excited when presented with a morsel of sweetness.
After all, it is the perfect way to cleanse the palate after a savoury meal. Dessert has become so important that there are exceptional chefs called ‘pastry chefs’ who create jaw-dropping desserts to win your heart.
The temptation of eating dessert before a meal is real. A blissful bite of sugary delights lifts the mood instantly. The word “dessert” originated from the French word desservir, meaning, “to clear the table”. This suggests that dessert is the last bite after the table has been cleared of the main meal.
Have you heard the saying ‘Save room for dessert’? No matter how satiated you feel after a meal, somehow, there will always be room for dessert.
Warm or cold, cooked or uncooked, elaborate or simple, soft or crunchy, every dessert has its own identity, with each country producing their unique creations. Fresh fruits, honey with nuts/ dried fruits and jams are some sweet fixes that were popular during ancient times.
Over the years, millions of tasty indulgences have made their way into festivities. This is due to the invention of several pieces of equipment and the discovery of new cooking techniques.
Desserts take the centre stage at occasions, and celebrations are incomplete without them. Eid is one such occasion. Various countries have their own beautiful and delicious desserts to brag about.
I still reminisce about the luscious and chilled phirni (an Indian rice pudding) which I had at my friend’s house for Eid decades ago. It was creamy, cool and sweet with a hint of cardamom.
It was perfect after the spicy biryani that we had consumed.
The flavours are still embedded in my mind. This is nothing short of a confirmation that desserts temporarily occupy a space in your tummy, but the memories linger for a longer duration.
Have you tasted a dessert and recalled it to this day? I have often observed people of all ages swoon over Umm Ali- A traditional and popular Egyptian dessert that can be compared to bread pudding.
Umm Ali is usually made with Egyptian flat breads called roaa , but nowadays, many equally good substitutes are used, including butter toasted croissants and puff pastry.
This Egyptian recipe has an interesting name that always made me wonder who this mysterious Umm Ali (Translated as ‘Ali’s mother’). I later discovered that it is named after Sultan Ezz El Din Aybak’s wife (in the 13th century).
She prepared it to celebrate a victory, and somehow the name has stuck. Interestingly, apart from the title, the purpose has remained the same too. Make Umm Ali for Eid this year and sweeten up the celebrations.
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