Happy 2011

Happy 2011

Washington DC is the city where I arrived as a 2-year old from Lahore with my parents. My Baba tells me that it was raining the day we landed at Dulles Airport. We drove along the Potomac river in a chauffeured car which was sent by the organisation my father was to work for, towards the Dutch Inn, a boutique hotel located in Washington’s famous Georgetown. Baba still remembers those humid evenings in Georgetown as he carried me on his shoulders along cobblestoned paths amidst the students, in a new, foreign country. 

My husband and I went home for the holidays to see Ami and my youngest sister, in Washington DC. To the home where my favourite jasmine  tea lays in its box in the pantry; where my photos from secondary school in Nairobi are tucked into drawers in my bedroom; and where my cashmere coat hangs, the one that Baba gifted me when I got my first job as an economist.  Sadly, it’s not warm enough for the Toronto winter.

The home where I have my greedy eye on the Egyptian vase in the drawing room…

Where I make plush buttermilk pancakes for breakfast, smeared with globs of butter and drizzled with amber-gold maple syrup…served alongside cups of cardamom-laced tea…

The home from where it takes a mere fifteen minutes to find the most dense chocolate ganache cupcakes; the kind of ganache that sticks to your teeth and fingers with each bite…

My sister has stood in meandering lines in the humid DC heat to get me just one cupcake…

And where the sun streaks in through the forest beyond our garden and falls on the ivory curio we’ve had from our days living in West Africa…

And it is the home where my mother cooks for us, in her kitchen, whirling and swirling her arm over the pot while the fragrance of roasted coriander seeds and cinnamon leads us down from our bedrooms to sit at the table and chat with her while she cooks…

And it is followed by my chocolate sheet cake, with a spiced ganache…and more cardamom tea.

A lovely way to round off 2010.

Happy New Year, all.



  1. I love coming to the States for holidays, they always do comfort food so well. Combine that with the fact my grandparents lived there and you have the recipe for a wonderfully relaxing place to stay.

    I spent this Xmas in Georgia gorging on homemade buttermilk pancakes in the local diner, fresh Georgia BBQ and some great eggs – everywhere cooks eggs well, they take their comfort food seriously…

  2. a very happy new year to you Shayma and it goes without saying that home indeed where the heart is! I am absolutely in love with your attention to detail of every little thing you write about – enchanting is how I’d like to describe your prose. looking forward to reading lots on the yummy grub you prepare and write about with so much love and warmth.

    have a very blessed and a healthy new year.


  3. If there’s one thing I’d request you to cook for me if we meet it will have to be buttermilk pancakes. Just the sound of that with butter & maple syrup is mouth watering. And I reckon; by the way you describe it they are your fav. Happy new year S. Have a lovely one x

  4. @Grubworm- So true- the Americans really do know how to do comfort food so well: pancakes, mashed potatoes, all sorts of muffins- the list goes on and on. My mum was in Savannah recently and told me the food there is legendary- she even went to Paula Deen’s restaurant (she did, oh yes she did!). Happy 2011. x s

    @Rabya- A very Happy New Year to you, too. Thank you for the very kind compliments. I hope you have a blessed and healthy 2011, too. x s

    @Maunika So I do the pancakes and then for lunch we have your harri chicken? 🙂 Happy New Year, dear M. x s

  5. There is nothing like home, or a chocolate sheet cake with ganache frosting! Happy New Year to you Shayma, I’m excited to share more great food and stories with you in 2011. – S

  6. @shayma I love Savannah and for food it’s great. Did your mum also try Elizabeth’s? It’s one of my favourite restaurants worldwide. I had a wonderful Jambalaya there about six years ago.

  7. @Grubworm They were only in Savannah for a day, visiting from their friend’s place in South Carolina. But I shall pass on the message to my mum’s friend so she can go to Elizabeth’s as they go to Savannah often.

  8. Happy new year, Shayma!

  9. happy new year shayma! and guess where we spent the holidays? toronto! i would’ve loved to meet you but it was such a short trip, busy with khala, cousins, and hakka chinese! 😛 your pictures are delicious, sounds like you had a wonderful time in DC. next time i’m in T, you will hear from me!

  10. Lovely photos and prose and makes me long for these plush pancakes!

  11. Happy New Year, Shayma! Gorgeous photos! I’m drooling just looking at them.

  12. Shayma, next time you are in D.C. we should get together for lunch or dinner. I have many dear friends who live nearby and I do visit D.C. often!
    It always feels good to come home! I love the Egyptian vase and your mom’s bangle {me a jewelry lover} 🙂

    Happy New Year!

  13. Happy 2011 !!!!! 🙂
    Wish you the best.

  14. Wishing all of you the very best for 2011, too!

    @Sara So do I- it’s a lovely polki one which I suspect my youngest sister has her eye on 😉 Here’s to meeting in 2011. x s

  15. Wonderful post, love the photos. I can only feel really at home in my parents’ house at my own place.

  16. Lovely post. Home is where the heart is. My sister and I raid the attic for old photos. I have yet started taking the home decorations. Although, we have a beautiful table in my apartment that could use this beautiful lace table cloth that Grandma passed to my Mother. Perhaps, it’s my turn?

  17. Happy New Year Shayma..beautiful pictures..

  18. Hope you had a great time Shayma! Wish you a great year ahead!

  19. I’m all teary reading this post of yours Shayma! Have been away from home for a while now and your beautiful description of your home and your visit just took me to a short trip back my home and my room and my closet! There’s no place like your parent’s home and nothing can make you feel more secure than their arms!

  20. I live near DC and need to know where you buy these cupcakes. They look wonderful!

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