Friends. “God gives us our relatives, thank God we can choose our friends.” – Ethel Watts Mumford.
We don’t get to choose our parents, siblings, children, the random aunts and uncles nor our teachers, classmates and definitely not our bosses. Friends though, we absolutely can choose.
As important as friends are in everyone’s life, when you’re living away from home, in an unfamiliar part of the world, where you don’t really know anyone and English is not even the second language, having a friend can mean survival.
Moving from Bombay to Dubai wasn’t a shocking change for us; I mean every third person was south Asian. The expatriates in Dubai couldn’t speak Arabic but a majority of the locals (Arabs) could manage a few sentences in Hindi. And almost everybody spoke or at least understood English. And we had friends there.
Moving from Dubai to Jakarta though was shocking, very shocking. The expatriate population here is small and South Asians are a tiny part of that. English is hardly spoken or understood. It’s close to impossible to make friends when two people don’t speak the same language and so the expatriates here tend to socialize amongst themselves. We are lucky to be staying in an area that has quite a few expats (and Indians) and over time it’s nice to have become friends with some of them. A bunch of ladies from my apartment building have this thing where we get together for brunch, once a month, for the usual catch up. This month it happened to be my turn to play host.
I mentioned not knowing anyone when we moved here; anyone except Mamta and Neeraj.
Neeraj and my husband go way back. They were classmates when they joined Mayo College (a boarding school) at the age of eight and have been friends since. Neeraj was already working in Dubai when we moved there, and soon after we came to know that he was getting married – yes, to Mamta of course. I still remember thinking, what will Mamta be like? What if we don’t get along? Will we be like the ‘pretending to be friends for our husbands’ sake’ type of wives? As it turned out I need not have bothered with all that soap drama thinking. Our husbands have been friends for the longest time, Mamta and I became friends and now our kids are friends too. When Mamta and Neeraj decided to move, we were quite surprised it was Jakarta they were moving to. We often wondered why Jakarta and what it would be like. Six months later, we were packing our bags for Jakarta to find out for ourselves. Like I’ve said before, Jakarta is not the easiest place to adjust to and for me personally, if it wasn’t for Mamta, I probably wouldn’t have made it. We ended up living in the same apartment building and she has been my go to person for anything and everything, right from ‘where should I get my groceries from?’, to ‘how will I find a maid?’, to ‘which schools are good?’, to ‘hey I’m going to India for a wedding, please look after my son.’ I have asked Mamta for everything and not once has she said no. She is super smart, super intelligent and will absolutely call a spade a SPADE! She has also been my guinea pig for all the random food experiments (some of which are best forgotten) and yet constantly encouraged me on this food journey. Being somewhat of an introvert, I don’t make friends easily (if at all) and Mamta has been an absolute lifeline, the kind of person I would call in the middle of the night and not think twice about it. She has two beautiful boys, both of whom I’ve held as new born babies and seen growing up. Mamta and family are now leaving Jakarta and it makes me sad on so many levels. My closest friend, my problem solver (for the smallest and the biggest of problems), my gossip buddy, my shopping buddy, my sounding board and of course my guinea pig; I don’t know what I’m going to do without her. *sigh*
Getting back to the party, since Mamta is leaving, I thought this get together could also be a sort of farewell. And the only way I know of showing my appreciation is through food, so what could be better than cake!
Mamta, I can never thank you enough for always being there, you will be terribly missed. But if history is anything to go by, we all might just end up in yet another random part of the world, together again.
“Tis the privilege of friendship to talk nonsense, and to have her nonsense respected.”-Charles Lamb.
I had decided on having ‘roses’ as my theme for the party and so I wanted a rustic looking cake topped with fresh roses. I decided to play it safe with a vanilla sponge but frosted it with a lovely white chocolate raspberry buttercream. My cake had five layers and was about 8 inches tall, so multiply the below recipes according to the size you want.
Since it was a potluck, the other ladies were responsible for all the food. I did the drinks and dessert. The drinks were Rose Sangria and (Virgin) Hibiscus Rose Sangria. The dessert table had (of course) the Vanilla Raspberry Rose Cake, a Persian Rose Cake and Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes. The recipes for the other cakes and drinks will have to be another post since this one is lengthy enough. For now, here are some pictures.
For the cake
Recipe Source- Louise Wilson
- Butter (unsalted) – 113 grams (at room temperature)
- Castor sugar- 113 grams
- Plain Flour (maida) – 141 grams
- Baking Powder- 1 tsp
- Vanilla extract- ½ tsp
- Salt- ¼ tsp
- Preheat oven to 170C.
- Grease a 7inch round baking tin and line with parchment paper. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt.
- Cream the butter and sugar well, and then add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Add the sifted flour mixture and mix until well combined.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes or until done.
White Chocolate Raspberry Buttercream
Recipe source here
- 113grams white chocolate, chopped into tiny pieces.
- 60ml whipping cream
- 100grams unsalted butter, room temperature
- 330grams powdered sugar
- 1 tsp pure vanilla
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 3-4 tbsp raspberry puree (strained of seeds).
- Keep the chocolate pieces in a heatproof bowl. In a small saucepan, bring heavy cream to a gentle boil. Immediately pour the cream over white chocolate. Let sit for 2-3 minutes and then stir until smooth.
- Cream together butter and powdered sugar until fully incorporated. It will take a while, but keep with it.
- Pour in the white chocolate cream mixture and beat until smooth. Add vanilla and salt.
- Beat in raspberry puree to desired consistency. Increase speed to fully incorporate. Add more powdered sugar or puree to desired consistency. Refrigerate if not using immediately.
- Frost and decorate the cake as you like it. I wanted a rustic look so didn’t smoothen out the frosting. I topped it with fresh roses and macarons.
* If using salted butter, do not add any more salt.
* Make sure your oven is preheated, and the baking soda is fresh or your cake may not turn out right.
* To make the raspberry puree, just blitz the fresh or frozen raspberries in a mixer and pass through a fine sieve to separate the seeds.