Beef Cakes

being a recipe writer is a very tough job, we need to test recipes and make sure it’s perfect so that I can share with everyone. this is when buying a cookbook becomes safe as you hardly can say which recipe will turn out perfect. another responsibility comes to me as my blog carries the title “the recipe writer”, i am  responsible to post a few of my own recipes and ofcourse my inspiration is the internet but they are only inspirations not my source. my source is my experience and instincts. I have seen and heard people talk about fish cakes made of semolina. i also heard people say they make it with beef and semolina as well. I don’ t have a recipe but the way they spoke I understood the basic ingredients and techniques used to make a beef cake. that comes from experience in my kitchen back in sri lanka and dubai.

so i decided to make a simple and easy one pan breakfast for the weekend to prevent those extra washing load.  the basic ingredients were beef, onion and semolina. why i prefered semolina was due to it’s low carbohydrate levels. the other supporting ingredients were egg, milk and salt and pepper. surprisingly it turned out perfect and was soft. i baked at 180 degrees for 16 minutes and served warm with ketchup. my next step was to take it one step ahead and make a healthy version, to make it healthy i decided to use instant oats rather than semolina. oats were on my shelf lying for months and hardly i use them and now i started using oats for cookies and beef cakes. my next step will be soon revealed.

beef cake recipe

  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 onion chopped

lets bake the beefcake;  

  1. blend all the ingredients together.
  2. pour on a baking tray
  3. bake at 180 degrees for 16 minutes
  4. cut into triangles and serve warm with ketchup, mayonnaise or mash potatoes


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Global Village 2014

This year the global village visit was just to have dinner and walk around. Ever since the global village opened for its 19th season this year I was aiming to make a visit. It’s always better to go in the first few months of its opening as there is a lot of happening and entertainment. Like the news headlines on papers this season was bigger and better than ever before. I have been to the 16th and 17th seasons and never got fed up or tired of walking around the global village venue. Something always pleases me there and one of those is the food, but this season it was a combination of food and entertainment. I tried my hands reluctantly on a few fantasy games and wasted my money but had some fun and returned with a cow and dog soft toy 🙂
We started off with having an Egyptian fatayer dinner which was very filling at a small shop close to the entrance. The weather was amazing and the global village is the best place to hangout during winter in Dubai. There is some kind of entertainment for all ages and it’s worth the walk. If you are a mobile phone photographer its best to visit between 4-6 in the evening as you can get some amazing photos during that time.
Recently a friend online asked for suggestions for a place to take her visiting friends in Dubai and I suggested global village. She said her friends like food and like to be somewhere they can try a variety, can there be a better place than global village? Ofcourse not. So whether you’re a foodies or a person who is looking for different experiences global village is a not to be missed when you visit Dubai in winter.

The Egyptian fatayer rotti was more like the Sri Lankan thin rottis which we call beach rotti. The fatayer was so thin and very large. A cheese was spread on the centre and a layer of chicken or sausage which was then folded and looked like a stuffed flat rotti. It was fine but the sausage was a bit too salty for me. I guess the sweet version would be good too.

Our next try was very confusing as we walked along the global village food court all sorts of flavors and aromas were calling my name as I drooled along trying to read the names of the restaurants and admire the newcomers and their interior. I hardly can remember their names as I was so mesmerized by their appearance. Somehow we managed to pass the food court without trying anything as we were stuffed with the fatayer. It was the fantasy games that drove us nuts by calling us play a few games and finally spent some money and walked out of the games section and again we were drawn towards this lovely tiny cart shop that sold hot dogs and it says it German hot dogs.
Their concept was really nice and the way the cart was looked very cute. I decided to try hot dogs because of the look of the cart and really wanted to see them use those lovely squeeze bottles of sauce which was hanging in the front. Really it is a unique concept not sure if it’s available elsewhere but never seen in Dubai, Sri Lanka or India.
There was nothing unique about the hotdogs though, they were same as the hot dogs you get everywhere but the price was reasonable and a nice experience.
I guess why they called it German hot dogs must be they were from German am sure the hot dogs weren’t 

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Our final spend was at a karak chai shop which served us a tea and am sure it was not karak chai. I just tasted milk, tea and sugar. That particular shop was closing I guess and we asked for karak chai they served plain chain. Karak chai is something has spicy taste with a few spices like cardamon and cinnamon I guess so this had no sign of any spices, not even a pepper flake fallen by mistake 

Ok that was not the last stop we also got some kunafa from a Turkish stall and wow I have never tried kunafa before and this was so delicious and authentic. Yes the kunafa was totally Turkish, I know you’re wondering how I can be so sure its Turkish when I have never tried it, but this particular thing has a good taste that is so perfect to its name And I have seen videos and recipes which say how a kunafa looks or tastes so that’s how am sure it’s the very original Turkish kunafa.
I have seen stores sell this kunafa pastry but never wanted to try thinking the pastry might be hard but this was so soft and tender at the same time a bit of crispy. They served it hot and in this winter it was the perfect dessert to end a weekend. The cream cheesy filling in the centre was delicious. Now I feel like trying my hands on making this kunafa.
Sadly we couldn’t take a picture as it was the last stop and we were hurrying home and ate it in the car.

Finally the global village season 19 is visited and experienced. It’s big. Its better. It is very awesome. The only outdoor place to eat, play, shop and hangout during winter and experience 70 different countries this season.

Winter Bread Pudding

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Winter bread pudding
4 slices of bread
½ a cup milk
1 egg
3 teaspoons sugar
A pinch of cinnamon powder
Confectioners sugar for dusting
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 teaspoon orange zest
1 tablespoon orange juice
let’s do it :

  1. Break the bread into 2 and layer on a casserole dish
  2. Beat egg, milk, sugar, cinnamon powder and vanilla together
  3. Pour over the bread and bake at 180 degrees for 15-18 minutes until golden brown on top
  4. Take off the oven and sprinkle the orange zest and drizzle orange juice
  5. Dust with confectioners sugar and serve warm


  • make sure you drench and soak all the slices of bread so the are intact with flavor.
  • i suggest baking on a flat dish

The Small Bakery at the Other end of my block

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I have recently started using public transport to go around for my blogging events and find it very easy to get around in Dubai. The bus and train schedules are easily accessible from the RTA by calling and that’s the best way to plan any journey in Dubai and yea the Google maps also seem to be very accurate. Earlier i never went out for blogging it was always things in my kitchen or things I ran into while i did my grocery shopping that has been on the blog so far or the few restaurants and places i visited in Sri Lanka with my family. Although running around in buses and trains with a stroller and boy who is one and half is a bit tough I take it as a challenge. Sometimes it’s very stressful and I don’t take all events or activities just a few that are very informative or knowledgeable is what I look for when planning to attend events. The first event I wanted to attend was the just falafel but I couldn’t get a proper map so sadly I couldn’t attend the event. That’s when I decided I will be a recipe writer and tester. That’s when my blog found the new name “the recipe writer”. I have plans to make it a self hosted domain soon as I get a paid blogging job.
So getting back to my topic, recently I met two ladies from a company for an interview and had a good chat and that’s when I felt that they were surprised to know international city had a Carrefour. Of course international city has its own Carrefour and lulu express. They did have a spinney’s too and now it’s closed. This international city in Dubai is really a city as it’s surrounded with different sorts of restaurants and cafes and they keep growing day by day. One such restaurant I really like from the outside is the hush café which looks a bit posh. I have never tried it though. Carrefour is at the other end of international city from my block and it’s a 1500 foot steps which I counted the last time I went to get some bananas and check for a magazine. On the way I was so interested in checking out this tiny bakery which had a large amount of dough ready to become a rotti. Every time I walk for the bus I see the shop workers getting ready to roll that dough and grill them in this beautiful oven. The place is filled with the aroma of grilling rotti. These rottis are so large and soft while they are different from the Arabic rotti or the shawarma rotti. Shawarma rottis are a little hard while these rottis are soft in texture. Shawarma rottis have chances of getting harder when refrigerated or reheated and these rottis don’t. This rotti is the Pakistani rotti. They both taste good Sharma rottis are delicious when wrapped in shawarma meat while these Pakistani rottis go well with a chicken kurma or mutton keema. This world has a variety of rottis and they all taste unique in there own way. I decided to buy a rotti and try it which was only 1 dirham and the shop keeper asked me how many rottis I need, I said 1 and he was like 1? Yea they are cheap but it was for trying purpose and we hardly eat carbs on weekdays so I just got one rotti. It tasted good with my dhal and Sri Lankan chillie paste as I dint have any kurma or spicy chicken gravy in my fridge.
Finally I have discovered the difference between two large rottis which are both my favorites.
now am so tired of walking that far and writing this far.

so the quest for a Pakistani rotti has ended here.


Stollen : German in my Dubai Kitchen

It was last year in December that I heard about stolen on Dubai one, I was in sri lanka at that time doing my masters in sugar flower and cake decorating from Knightsbridge university UK. It was a busy time with sugar flower making for the exams and taking care of a 3 month old baby. I heard the word stollen and was wondering if that an ingredient but I dint have the time to browse the internet and find out the meaning. It’s been a year since then and only a week ago I came across some posts and images of stolen, it’s the winter season and seems like stolen is a good that’s famous in December. They call the Christmas season but I call it the winter season. So finally I goggled for stolen and went through the Wikipedia which gave a brief detail on what’s stolen and where it originated. I learnt that stolen originated from Germany and is kind of a fruit loaf but it’s special and is not called a fruit loaf because of it marzipan centre. This bread is made with less sugar but dusted with excess amount of powdered sugar to give it that festive look and sweet taste. The marzipan also acts as a sweetener in the stolen.

Trying out a German recipe was really interesting and according to me if you can’t travel around the world you need to cook international cuisines. Talking about international cuisines, I believe international cuisines means atleast one dish from one country. Once I went for an international buffet and was very disappointed to find just a few selections of dishes which were mostly from the eastern part of this world and not even a sushi for it to be worth having on a sailing boat. Don’t you readers agree with me?

So I decided my blog needs an international touch while my taste buds were craving to experience different flavors from around the world and in no way am going to get to travel around the world to taste the traditional food of different countries so I cook and bake different recipes. This stollen is said to be a traditional German good especially done during the Christmas season and I here that some bakeries have started getting orders for stollen as early as November so you know how the good is on demand now let me explain how it tastes and the role each ingredient used played a role in my cooking life.

As I went through the recipe on my big book of baking the ingredients were very interesting. The dried fruits and peels were some of which I am familiar or had on my pantry while a few I had to substitute and adjust to make sure I had the perfect stollen from German. The spices used on the stollen were also were readily available on my pantry. The cinnamon powder and cardamon pods which I later pound and used the inside were some I have tasted and used on my cakes and desserts. One spice I have never tasted or used on a sweet dish was nutmeg powder, yes, I never even imagined of using it. I was so reluctant to use it though I was generous to use the said quantity amidst doubts if the nutmeg will taste good on a dessert or cake. So only way to find out if it’s good or bad is by trying it, that’s what my hubby always mentions every time I say something. So I take it as an encouragement and try different things. One other ingredient that was mentioned was dark rum. We don’t use those or consume them in any form so I had to substitute it with my favorite malt drink the one and only Bavaria pineapple flavor. The moment I poured it on my dry fruit mixture I heard the sizzle of the malt drink. This malt drink works wonders on substituting for alcohol.

So finally my dough was ready and I popped it into my oven in a couple of hours. The moment it was done I could not wait but glaze it with butter and powdered sugar. As soon as it was done I sliced it and started eating a few slices. Trust me the fear of how the nutmeg would taste vanished the moment is saw my final product the snowy looking loaf standing on my kitchen top with the winter breeze squeezing itself through my window making the atmosphere wonderful with the aroma of a baked stollen with all those spice mixed filling the air. The perfect winter treat in this December in Dubai can never be better than a German stollen.

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English Stew in Dubai Winter

I remember when I was a kid loving the site of snow on movies, I used to watch home alone every school vacation with my brother and we would wake up early just to watch holiday movies. Mostly in December is when I love watching home alone. It just gives the holiday spirit with a winter touch and decorations all around. Although in sri Lanka we never experience snow or a very cool climate especially in colombo except during rainy days watching these movies that shows snowing scenes gives me a mere pleasure. I literally enter the movie as a viewer and experience the event and that’s why I love watching movies with snowing scenes or atmosphere.
Having moved to Dubai in June it was very hot and the beginning of summer in June 2011. It’s been 3 and a half years now and I’ve experienced 3 winters in Dubai. I just love the winter in Dubai and believe it’s better than snowing weather. I hardly can bear the cool weather yet I really really enjoy it. Like the movies I watched I see the interior and food fill the shops and stores in Dubai with winter goods and decorations. I just love roaming around here especially during the evenings as I enjoy the bright lit roads of Dubai.

“They call it Christmas, I call it winter”. mafaza haleem

According to me one other thing related to winter or makes me feel so like winter apart from the weather is food. Food plays a major role in winter. That’s when making large pots of stew at 4 pm in the afternoon make the house warming. Having hot chocolates over a movie and dinner is something I just love about winter.
It was a very cool evening as I opened the window and the house was filled with the aroma of my beef stew cooking on my pressure cooker at a very low heat.
I checked online for some British stew recipes and found felicity cloakes article on the guardian very informative. she had a detailed post on the basic ingredients used on a British stew and how they helped enhance the flavor of the stew. she has researched through many cookbooks on making a British stew. the article highlights the basic ingredients which were meat, onion, carrots and some vegetables. she also mentions barley or dumplings also can be added depending on the author. after reading this article it reminded me of the soup we make in sri Lanka. it’s like a traditional in our family ad some functions we have lunch which we call “soup and rice” as basically the best part is having rice with soup though there will be 5-6 varieties of curry and vegetables served along with the rice and soup.

usually the soup we call is like a stew, very thick but we preserve some extra liquid so we can pour on our rice and drink the remaining. basically our soup which has a stew like texture is made with the leg part of the cow or goat and some vegetables which we also call “soup badu” or “soup stuff”. In the local market if we ask for soup badu they with give a bag filled with  a slice of cabbage, a few leeks, a carrot, a potato, a radish and some green beans. we also use barley and dhal as a thickening agent and once I tried substituting broken wheat instead of barley which had no difference in the texture.  we season the soup with some salt, pepper and turmeric and some cumin powder.

so making this British stew was a different experience as I used some stew mix which i had on my shelf and needs to be used up before I leave for my vacation in sri Lanka. although my soup and British stew were having a similar texture they both are two different dishes because a stew is slow cooked while my soup id fast cooked or pressure cooked. though i used my pressure cooker for the stew it was cooked for nearly an hour on a very low flame which only released 2 whistles in that 1 hour.

I believe I have unlocked the British stew successfully and is moving onto some German food. lets get back with another food story until then have a nice day.





all images and words used on this blog are completely mine and please leave a comment if there is anything or email me at


mafaza haleem

South African BBQ

20141206_112301This world has a lot for us to discover and experience when it comes to the food section. Bloggers are not those who have the entire luxury in food they just try to find some time to share with the world on what they experience.  I am one such blogger I would like to say as I believe that trying something and posting about it helps people who have never got the chance to try it an idea of what’s it all about.
So let me share with you’ll my new spice.
Last Saturday I was passing by the Dubai garden centre and saw the farmer’s market board. I got 5 minutes to run and a have peep. As I walked through and found many stalls with handmade stuff I was drawn in further for the aroma of BBQ. I was given a small piece of bread to try and I rushed towards the BBQ grill to find a sausage being grilled with a stall opposite that sold fresh vegetables and spice mixes.
They had a variety but I quickly surfed through and got myself a BBQ mix. I was so tempted to grab those green chillies which said a dirham for a kilogram but time didn’t permit. As my five minutes were coming to an end I took two photographs and rushed back to the car. The BBQ spice mix was just five dirhams from the African kitchen and the Lady who sold it mentioned it was from south Africa.
So I just sprinkled my beef with a tablespoon of the BBQ mix and marinated for 3-4 hours and grilled it on the pan over a medium heat. The BBQ mix has a sweet sour and spicy flavor to please my Asian taste bud. The color of the beef was satisfactory and I am glad it turned out well.
Now I am going to turn this African bbq beef into the Italian osso buco so here the Italian-African osso buco I may call it.
I prefer the beef in osso buco style than steak as it’s easier to eat. The Italian masterclass at the Italian cuisine world summit has taught me a great deal.

i tried combining a beef broth with the the south african BBQ meat and baked it for half an hour with mushrooms as the african BBQ meat dried out due to refrigeration. i do cooking for a couple of day in one day so this BBQ meat was done 2 days ago and served last night. the gravy which i got after the final baking process was super delicious. i served my african BBQ osso buco with some shredded cabbages.

since chef walter potenza taught me about osso buco i have turned out to be a fan of that dish which is why I try using all cuts of meat to make the osso buco.





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