Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home   |  Volume 6, Issue 37, Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Open spaces

In the South Asian sub-continent, living rooms have traditionally been a separated area from the rest of the house. These rooms, called "boithakhana" were often located in the front yards. In many parts of Europe, classical houses had a closed door living room. In the Victorian era living rooms, dining rooms and kitchens were on the ground floor and bedrooms and family living rooms were on the upper floors.

In the last couple of decades, there has been a landslide movement towards houses and apartments featuring large open spaces. After all, modern open floor plans offer advantages that cannot be replicated by the tight, closed-off rooms of the past. The modern plans have the advantages of light, space, flexibility and glamour. Open space floor plans date back to bohemian artists living and creating works of art in the mid-20th century. Now, even homeowners with old homes are knocking down walls to get a bit of that bohemian feel.

This week we highlight a 3000 square feet open-spaced apartment in Uttara. We kept the living, dining, family living and entertainment areas in an open space. The floor covering of entire common space is a unique and uniform marble that lends an element of conformity.

There are a few ground rules for decorating an open space interior. Although it can sometimes be challenging to create different functional areas within one open space, distinction can be made through subtle techniques.

Different spaces can be defined by creating furniture groupings. Floating furniture groups in the middle of a room will encourage conversation and interaction and make a room feel wholesome. On the other hand, furniture lined up against the wall will have the opposite effect, creating an incomplete bowling alley feel. You can also help define spaces by making use of room dividers such as open book shelves, screens, and even sliding doors that can close off an area or disappear completely to leave a room wide open.

We chose a single sofa set and two designer chairs for the living room to allow for more free space. Two open book shelves were also placed at opposite corner adding to the clutter-free appeal.

The dining zone, situated next to the living area, was delineated with furniture. Rustic tiles were used on one wall and a low hutch was placed against it.

Choosing the proper lighting gives an open space more definition. A variety of lights -- recessed lights, pendants, track lights, accent lights -- set off one area from another. For example, recessed lights on different switches can allow you to highlight an area near a bar, or, instead a reading corner. Here we also used a sleek false ceiling and indirect lighting. A standing floor lamp was also added to create a light and shadow ambience.

For wall colours, we opted for light and bright paints, which highlight the light and space in our open floor plan with a clear outline. The entertainment zone is designed with a six inch raise floor. Here we created some drama in the wall with rustic tiles arranged in a zigzag pattern and a black mask adorning the centre.

A lovely couch was placed in the family living room. In the old days, one could place a couch against the wall and not worry about what the back of the couch looked like. But in an open space floor plan, a couch might easily float to the middle of the room, necessitating the back of the couch to look good too. A TV is both instrumental and the focal point of a family living room and we opted for a sleek flat screen.

As final touches, the homeowner and I jointly purchased several paintings for the apartment. After all, accessories are expressions of our spirit and we used them in abundance.

Nazneen Haque Mimi
Interior Consultant

E-mail: journeyman.interiors@gmail.com
Photo credit: Tamim Sujat
Special thanks: Dr. Pushpo


Middle Eastern Twist

By Shawkat Osman

The adafina of Jews and Muslims alike was a kind of stew made on Friday nights to cook slowly and be eaten on Sabbath. During the Spanish Inquisition, the Marranos and Moriscos, converted Jews and Muslims respectively, suffered all forms of doubt about the sincerity of their conversions to Christianity.

One test of their purported newly-found Christian belief was the public eating of pork, forbidden to true Muslims and Jews. Traditionally, the adafina was based on chicken, or more often, on veal or beef udder with hard-boiled eggs.

During the Inquisition, it could be insisted that pork or pork fat was added to the adafina as a test to ferret out crypto-Jews and Muslims. This was a serious matter, because a Christian neighbour could happen by on a Saturday (the Jewish Sabbath) and one would be expected to generously offer the guest some adafina.

If there was no pork in it, the Marrano or Morisco was suspected of being a crypto-Jew or Muslim and could suffer dire consequences.

500g veal bones
1 beef or veal foot, or 4 lamb's feet
2 kg veal breast, trimmed of fat
1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 cup dried chickpeas (about 250 g), soaked in water to cover overnight, rinsed and picked over
250g small potatoes, peeled and left whole
1 head garlic, crushed
2 large eggs, beaten
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 cinnamon stick
1 tbsp ground turmeric
1 bay leaf
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 litres water

In a large casserole, or stew pot place the veal bones and feet. Cover with the veal breast and the remaining ingredients in the order in which they are listed.

Place the casserole over a very low heat (or use a heat diffuser) at about 6:00 pm, leaving it partially covered. Cook slowly until noon the next day. Check two or three times to see that the water level is fine, which it should be. Serve with rice or couscous.

Note: If you feel uncomfortable with an unattended flame, preheat the oven to 90 degrees C and place the casserole in until noon the next day.

Makes 4 servings.

Albóndigas, the Spanish word for meatball, is derived from the Arabic al-bunduq, (hazelnut), meant to evoke their form and size. The making of albóndigas date at least back to Islamic Spain for there are several recipes in the anonymous 13th century Hispano-Muslim cookery book “Kitab al-tabikh fi Maghrib wa'al-Andalus”.

In fact, the method of frying and then poaching in this recipe, or poaching and then roasting, as found in other recipes, is an Arab culinary influence because we find it employed not only in medieval Arabic texts but also in today's kitchen.

1 kg bone-in chicken breast
500g cooked veal, sliced
2 cups water
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
250g mince beef
1 cup fresh or dried bread crumbs
2 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
2 tbsp finely chopped cilantro
¼ cup finely chopped roasted red capsicum
Pinch of saffron threads, crumbled
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
¾ teaspoon salt
Juice from ½ lemon
6 cups soyabean oil for frying
All-purpose flour for dredging
1 large egg yolk

Bone the chicken breasts and set the bones aside. Discard any fat or skin. In a food processor, chop the chicken breasts with several short pulses. Remove to a medium-size bowl. There should be about 250g of breast meat.

Grind the veal in a food processor. Remove to the bowl with the chicken. There should be about 250g of veal meat.

Place the chicken carcass in a medium-size casserole or saucepan with the water and olive oil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes to extract the flavour.

Combine the ground beef, bread crumbs, garlic, cilantro, roasted peppers, saffron, beaten eggs, salt, and lemon juice with the chicken and veal. Knead the mixture well and form into meatballs with your hands, kept wet with cold water so the mixture does not stick. Make 18 meatballs.

Preheat the frying oil in a deep-fryer or an 8-inch saucepan. Dredge the meatballs in the flour, patting off any excess, and deep-fry in the hot oil until golden, about 2½ minutes (much less if hazelnut-size). Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon, drain on paper towels, and keep warm.

Remove and discard the chicken bones from the broth, strain, and return the broth to the casserole or saucepan. Place the meatballs in the broth and poach over low heat until cooked through, about 45 minutes.

Remove the meatballs from the casserole and transfer to a serving platter. Whisk the egg yolk into the broth and heat for 1 to 2 minutes, then pour over the meatballs and serve.

Makes 4 servings.


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