Little Midsommar Frogs

Små grodorna, små grodorna är lustiga att se.
Små grodorna, små grodorna är lustiga att se.
Ej öron, ej öron, ej svansar hava de.
Ej öron, ej öron, ej svansar hava de.

Kou ack ack ack, kou ack ack ack,
kou ack ack ack ack kaa.
Kou ack ack ack, kou ack ack ack,
kou ack ack ack ack kaa.

The sun is shining brightly, the girls are meeting midsommar men, and the fishes are splashing around on our dining plates.

Welcome to the Swedish Midsummer!

Time to eat delicious strawberries, lax, sill, potatoes with dill, and of course aquavit. No midsommarfirande (midsummer festival) is complete without singing and dancing. Small frogs dancing around a maypole or seven pretty girls in a circle with flowers are essentials to the summer debauchery.

Seven girls in a circle:
Sju vackra flickor i en ring
sju vackra flickor i en ring,
vackraste flickor häromkring
ibland de flickor alla.

Flickorna vända sig omkring
flickorna vända sig omkring,
sökande efter vännen sin
ibland de gossar alla.

Vara vem det vara vill
vara vem det vara vill.
Den, som jag räcker handen till,
han har mitt unga hjärta.

Nu kan jag vara riktigt gla’.
Nu kan jag vara riktigt gla’.
Nu har jag fått den jag vill ha
ibland de gossar alla,
ibland de gossar alla.

This midsummer, I hope all of you are out of the city and in the forest or at Swedish countryside homes drinking brennvin and enjoying a true national Swedish holiday.

For all of you single bees, there are plenty of flowers to pollinate. Håkan Petersson from Folkungagillet, Linköping’s dance association said:

“Traditionally, Midsummer was a time where men and women could come together and flirt in ways that are much more subtle than today,” he says. “Many of these songs and dances reflect the flirtatiousness and are filled with innuendo.”

Maybe you can find a Swede in Sweden amongst the strawberry fields.

Yum! Indian Cooking Classes in Stockholm


Update, April 18th, 2012: I will be holding a cooking class in May and June. After that, I’ll be taking a break for a few months so please contact me and let me know. We can work out a custom plan for you as well!

I love cooking and one of topics readers wanted covered from the polling was more posts about cooking and different cuisines.

Now that it is spring and the weather is still terrible, it’s time to cosy up and cook lovely food. I will host a few cooking classes over the spring for Indian food. If you love Indian cuisine from the restaurants (the few, the proud, the delicious), learning to cook that same kind of food at home is easy.

Truly, Indian cooking is easy once you master the basics and understanding of the spices. The classes are a bit intense if you are not accustomed to Asian spices but certainly not at the level of Kendall’s Chicago culinary arts colleges or the Swedish Chef.

What I’m planning is to host a course made of three sessions in a one week period.

My mom, a fantastic cook, knows Gujarati, vegetarian, Marathi, South Indian, traditional North Indian, and even some Burmese dishes. She will lead the cooking class as her depth and knowledge of Indian food is brilliant.

In honor of my mom’s fabulous cooking, I will lead two more sessions.

What will you learn?

Because it is summer, we will have lighter meals. Simple, quick Indian dishes.

For drinks: mango lassi, sweet lassi, Indian chai (don’t call it chai tea, that’s calling it tea tea then), or chaas (a favorite Gujarathi drink made of yogurt).

Food: Chole bhatura (chick pea curry), paneer bhurji, dahl, biryani, egg curry, and fresh home paneer (cheese!).

Grilling: Tandoori chicken

Side dishes: Raita, papad.

Dishes may change but chicken tikka masala will be on the menu!

Naan cannot officially be made at home because homes do not have a tandoor, an oven charcoal pit. Instead, we will make roti, another typical Indian bread.

Class schedule:

May and June 2012. Classes are open dates at this time.
They are three nights of session but email me so we can work something out!

If you want to have the class on the weekend, that can be organized as well, please email me.

If you are interested, or want to gift it to a friend. Please post a comment or email me directly at ablacksapphire at gmail dot com. Half the payment must be received before the class starts. It will be held at my home in Stockholm.

This will be wonderful for all of you Indian food lovers out there looking to bring India to your home! Besides, how often do you get a chance to learning Indian cooking in Stockholm, Sweden?

And mumms the word!

Lördagsgodis: The Swedish Candy Obsession


Saturdays in Sweden are a special day, especially if you are a kid. It’s Lördagsgodis, translated in English as Saturday’s Candies. It is the day to stuff yourself silly with candy (in swedish: godis). As a Swedish child, Saturday is a special treat day to eat sweets and go to the candy store.

Shopping for candy is more of an adventure than eating it for me. The colors, the shapes, the sizes! Truly is eye candy of candy. Swedish grocery stores have bins stacked 10-20 bins wide and 6 bins tall. That can be as much as 120 different varieties of loose candy! It’s Jelly Belly madness for Americans who have seen the Jelly Belly bins at the candy store. Loose candies can be jelly, hard, chocolate, licorice, gummy, marshmallow, sweet, sour, just about anything you can imagine.

On top of the loose candy selection like our Swedish Fish, there are the chocolates, Läkerol, and more. I’ll have to take photos of this amazing obsession. Even full fledged candy stores all over the city exist!

To really get hyper, Easter time is when Swedes really go crazy for candy. People, adults and children, eats lots of godis. Chocolate, loose candies, whatever.
Påskeskum and Chocolate bunnies

Yet, what I haven’t figured out is how Swedes are still slender. I can count the number of fat people on both my hands, and that’s in all of Sweden. And candy bins along with candy isles are the quintessential staple of any grocery store. Even convenience stores and gas stations have loose candy. And yet they are skinny.

Maybe it’s the coffee and snus and skiing but I am fascinated by their obsession with sweets. Remember the Swedes even have a day for waffles.
How to buy plockgodis (loose candy) on Saturday:

  • Licorice {lakrits}– you either love it or hate it. If you buy any, get another bag. Trust me, their taste will ooze onto all the candies and turn your chocolates into lakrits. Eww, gross.
  • Avoid buying candy late on Saturday. The thousands of kids will have already picked over the good stuff and drooled on what remains.
  • Also avoid buying candy on Saturday afternoon as you will be there in the crush of madness.
  • As a matter of fact, avoid buying candy on Saturday and buy on Friday afternoon. But beware of Fredagsmys (friday cosy) as thousands of adults will swarm the candy and snack sections.
  • Avoid the chocolate candies.  They’re heavy and will weigh down your bags.  Just saying.
  • Buy candy from the grocery store where it normally costs 69-89SEK per kilogram.  7-Eleven and Pressbyrån charge upwards of 179SEK per kilo.

There’s also the strange ice creams in Sweden, like Piggelin and Päron and Sitting Bull. Not sure yet if that’s part of the Lördagsgodis.
Piggelin Swedish Ice Cream

Oh, my favorite are the sour candies, like the blue bottle caps. The licorice candies are a definite no go, unless it’s a licorice Jelly Belly jelly bean. And what candy do you save space for on sweet Saturday?

Indian Engagement Ceremony Photos

Indian Bridal Mehndi and Bangles
menhdi hands - indian engagement

Traveled with Air France on an unusually nice flight. We survived an Indian engagement ceremony. In India. With Swedes. And an occasional stomach problem.

Now that we have our Swedish engagement done, it was time for the Indians to take over and show what a Hindu engagement is about. An Indian engagement can be a large or small affair. A small involves 30-50 people. Okay, that is not small for Swedish standards but considering in India, we invite everyone for a wedding, 30 people is super duper small.

Giving Blessings
Blessings - Indian Engagement

We invited only family, i.e. my dad’s brothers and sisters and their family, my mom’s brothers and families and my grandmother’s in laws. Despite having a few extra people show up, we still had only 40 people.

For the ceremony, there are two parts: introduction and ring ceremony. We did this in a mainly Maharastrian style. How it differs from other Indian engagement ceremonies is anyone’s guess. The first part of the ceremony took 20minutes and involved giving blessings to the bride and bridegroom’s family, exchanging gifts and changing. I wore a very typical Maharastrian Paithani sari.

After the changing, we exchange rings and mithai (sweets). Traditionally you exchange sweets to ‘live a sweet life’ but modern tradition is to exchange rings as well. For the second part, I wore a typical Gujarathi chenia choli. This chenia choli is hand made Kutchi style with embroidery, ablah (mirror work), and bandhani (tye dye) design.

Both were lovely!

Indian Grandmothers
Respectfully bowing to my maternal and paternal grandmothers. They are awesome.

We’ve come a long way since last year when he met the indian family for the first time. And now we’re planning a wedding. Strange how the puzzles in life fall into place.

Våffledagen – Waffle Day in Sweden

waffle with whipped cream and strawberries

It is waffle day in Sweden. If you thought Swedes had a love for godis, they also are crazy for waffles.

This year I won’t be celebrating waffle day today but will over the weekend. For those interested my friend, E, gave me the best recipe for dinkelvåfflor. These are waffles made with spelt, a high fiber and protein flour. They are healthy and delicious!
Dinkelvåfflor recept:
2 ½ dl dinkelmjöl
1,25 tsk bakpulver
3 dl mjölk eller grädde
75 gram smör
2 ägg
1 tsk vanille

– All items should be at room temperature
– Make sure to melt the butter before incorporating into the mix
– Let sit for 10 minutes to allow the baking powder to activate

Toppings for Waffles:
Traditional toppings on waffles in Sweden are sylt (jam), fresh strawberries, and whipped cream. I enjoy all that and ice cream. That’s because I am crazy.

If you want a savory waffle, you can make waffles like mini sandwiches. Since waffles in Sweden are shaped as hearts, you can tear them apart and serve individually.
Some savory toppings on waffles: Basil cream (philly cream cheese mixed with fresh basil), ham, egg, mushroom, fresh shrimps (like a mini räksalad on top of toast).

What is your favorite topping on waffles?

double waffle iron

Mjölk, Mjölk, Mjölk – The World of Swedish Milk

Honestly, I should have learned something about Sweden.

That is, I should now be master of the dairy section of a grocery store. Because I failed that, I am crawling back to become the master of the milk section of the Swedish grocery store. Folks, take heed, learning the different types of milk (mjölk på svenska) takes a highly skilled, milk loving ninja to figure it out. And so, I tried.

Just at the Coop (one of the local grocery stores), I counted 20 different milk-esque items (including different fat levels of the same type). Yes, madness. Bear with me as I try to explain all the pretty cartons of milk varietals.

mjölk, latte art, everything swedish milk
Regular milks comes in 1 liter cartons or 1.5 liter cartons. Easy to fit in the fridge, but a bitch to keep fresh. I noticed, once opened, this milk stays good for 5-6 days. But hey, they are recyclable, easy to break down, and stores neatly in the fridge. Just use a chip clip to keep it closed tight once the carton is open.
Milk also comes in different color boxes, in case you are lazy, just know the color.
Mjölk – The Red Box – The all american Swedish milk. It’s the regular milk at 3% fat.
Mellanmjölk – The Green Box – Slightly lower fat at 1.5% and literally means “middle milk”
Lättmjölk – The Blue Box – We would call this skim milk at .5% fat.
Minimjolk – The Yellow Box – Almost fat free milk at .1%.
Gammaldagsmjölk – “Old time milk” which is to say, this milk is pasteurized but not homogenized, which means the fat floats to the surface and you have to give it a good shake. (Thanks Melissa for this) Raw milk is pretty delicious stuff and slightly higher in fat than regular 3% milk.
Latte Art – As you can guess, this milk (in cartons that are blue or brown) is used to make lattes and hot drinks. Definitely worth it if you love lattes and hot chocolates.

Important Note: Emma pointed out that the colors don’t correspond to regional milks, like Skåne milk. The colors listed above are for the company Arla.
lots of types of Swedish fil
Matlagninsgrädde – Orange container – Light cream, ie. half and half in the US, that is 15% fat.
Vispgrädde – Red container – Heavy cream or heavy whipping cream that is 36% fat.

The Filmjölk Family

The wonder of Wikipedia is awesome yet again. I’ll summarize what they say though.

Fil is like yogurt but less thick and a bit less sour. Fil is a major part of Nordic dairy culture, not just Sweden. But they all basically taste the same some more fatty, some with flavors, some plain. People eat fil with musli, very tasty stuff. But some folks have filmjölk with knäckebröd or just with jam. Up to you.

a-fil– Comes unflavored and flavored and anywhere from 0.5-3% fat. The “A” comes from lactobacillus acidophilus, a probiotic bateria. It’s advertised as a more digestive friendly fil.
Långfil– Has a slightly elastic feel to it because of the Lactococcus bacteria. This fil comes only as unflavored and in 3% fat.
Aktivfil– Has active cultures in the fil.

Fil, fil, fil, and Onaka
Filmjölk – The standard fil that comes flavored and unflavored. This fil ranges from 2.5-3% in fat.
Mellanfil – Middle fil as you can call it. Comes only in unflavored version and is 1.5% fat.
Lättfil – Light fil that is .5% fat and comes in a variety of flavors. There is blåbär/hallon (blueberry/raspberry), persika/hallon (peach/raspberry), jordgubb (strawberry), smultron/jordgubb/vinbär, and lime/banana (umm, strangest combination).
Onaka – Made with bacteria that is supposedly popular in Japan, which never made any sense to me since the Japanese didn’t really drink dairy until recently.
Thanks to Melissa of HuntGatherLove for some of these updates.
Kefir – Eastern-style fil, popular in Russia. There’s a similar style fil in Iceland called Skyr. It is truly delicious goodness.
Fjäll – This is not fil, it is a thin rich yogurt. Hjortron (cloudberry) is supposedly delightful.
Hälsofil – Literally ‘healthy fil.’ It’s been approved by the Swedish Medicinal Products Agency since this fil helps with immune and digestive systems.

And for kicks…
Turkisk yogurt
Greek Yogurt
On your next visit to the grocery store with your recyclable plastic bag, experiment with some crazy milk or fil.

For My Pappaji

With all good things during the Christmas season comes sad tidings. On the 24th morning, my grandfather passed away. He had Alzheimer’s and was in poor health; his passing I believe relieved his pain.

I wish I had some pictures to scan of him but hopefully when in India, I can find some. It’s hard to grieve for someone when family and the sadness is far away; it’s like being in another world.

But here’s to my pappaji who was a wonderful man. And while he died on Christmas Eve, his spirit lives on through the holidays and in my life.