2020, for all that it was, provided a much needed pause for a lot of us. It gave us ample time to reconnect with ourselves, our hobbies, our passion – and our friends too! That said, one fine evening, we caught up with an old friend – Eyingbeni from school (in Nagaland), who now works in Ireland. Someone having travelled the world via her work, we used to be fascinated with her low-key yet bountiful life. So we had a chat with her to delve deeper into her life in a foreign land, her travel adventures, and her food account @foodnotic, where she occasionally shares her home-cooked creations.
Hello Eying, so nice to be finally having this chat. Please introduce yourself to our readers 🙂
Hi everybody, it’s a pleasure to e-meet you and I hope you have all been keeping well. What an incredible year 2020 was. What a year it has been! But I hope we are all ready for 2021 – with the hope of a renewed year ahead.
So how do I start, well let me begin by sharing that I am normally not the best in describing myself, nor the likes that enjoy being in the eye of a reader ( you know always been the awkward very private kind). But since one of the co-founders of roots and leisure is a very dear friend of mine, let’s say this is a special one for her.
Having grown in a multicultural environment, where studies and work have taken me places, I had to occasionally acclimatise my name as well. What’s in a name anyways 😉 Most of my school and family friends know me as Eying/Eyingbeni, a name originating from Lotha Naga tribe, which carries the meaning of being calm and peaceful, the literal opposite of me really. As I gradually sojourned away from the motherland, Beni became my second name (not a family name!). For our readers, I leave it to you with the choice that best suits.
Professionally, I work in the development sector, hang on let me explain a bit here. Well, you could say work around humanitarian response actions (emergency response during natural/manmade disasters), peacebuilding actions in countries with protracted conflict, gender and women empowerment promotion work, advocating human right actions for an equitable and just society, policy actions at National and Global platforms to influence National governments and International Organizations such as United Nations, European Union to advocate for a world free of abject poverty. Enticing for you? leave me a text and I can share more.
As a Naga staying in a foreign land, how do you stay connected to your roots?
I would say, scavenging for any semblance of Naga green vegetables in Asian supermarkets and shrieking with utter joy with my findings such as the four-winged beans, pennyworth leaves, mustard leaves, king chilli etc. And of course, imbibing a weekend tradition of cooking a fine Naga dinner with pork and bamboo shoot on the menu (slurp!).
I suppose a non -intended tradition I have built for myself over the years is collecting local handmade trinkets and products whenever I am home in Nagaland and presenting them to my friends and acquaintances at work, telling tales of our culture, folklore, history and tradition. My bit of creating visibility of Nagaland wherever I can 😉.
Pennywort leaf is a wild herbal plant that is commonly used in most South-East Asian cuisines. It has a slightly bitter taste, but makes a very good salad and blends well with any non-vegetarian dishes.
What is your favourite Leisure activity?
I enjoy reading, binge-watching Korean shows 😊 and period dramas. Of late I have taken up strolling around the beautiful parks of Dublin with my Dog Mr Theo and playing Sherlock Holmes in co-discovering the little nooks and corners of the city and its secret lanes (shortcuts). Such a Joy I tell you!
Tell us a bit more about your love for cooking, baking – and exploring food in general. Where did you pick up this love – and talent!
Honestly, I was a terrible cook and never really enjoyed cooking. Being the youngest in the family, I was quite pampered when it comes to readymade food being served on the table (Yeah, those annoying lucky youngest ones, I tell you😊). But alas! when I moved away from comforts of home, is when necessity became the best inventor, and let’s say it brought out the cook and baker in me.
I was the worst baker whilst learning to bake, rather the likes who would enjoy having that nice slice of cake effortlessly baked by my much-talented baker of a sister (Editor’s note: Achum’s Cake, Kohima – is indeed one of the finest bakers in Nagaland. Highly recommend).
However, one fine day just as I was about to relish a heavenly piece of cake – I recall my late father telling me, “Eying! everything is to each her/ his own, don’t take the present for granted, you are not going to have your sister bake for you forever. ” For some reason this really struck me and that’s when I started learning the basics of baking from my sister.
Share some interesting discoveries about local food cultures around the world – as you’ve encountered in your travels.
Whichever country I am in, I love visiting their local farmers market and rummaging through their local cafes or restaurants, as these are the places where you will find authentic local cuisines served. I had my first brush of South American cuisine in Colombia, where I absolutely loved their local preparation of Mariscos (fish or seafood in Spanish ) and how in their very atypical Colombian restaurants, freshly pressed tropical fruit juice is served rather than aerated drinks, impressive isn’t it.
Another lovely experience was in Bangladesh, where a very nice lady cooked up authentic Bangladeshi food at our local office – the aloo petika with Chingri (Potato mash with shrimps) was delish!
Give us a glimpse into your travel bucket list.
I am very keen to make a hopping trip across South East Asia, a region I haven’t travelled much to. The furthest I have been is Thailand, but I am very keen to travel to Japan, Korea and Cambodia someday soon. Hopefully, when I do travel there, I will have loads of exciting food culture pictures and recipes up on my foodgram. 😊
Tell us about your hobby projects that you are working on .. if you have any.
As much as I enjoy my work, it also keeps me on my toes (literally!) but it is also this work that takes me zigzagging across the globe, which I feel very fortunate as it opens my eyes and my perspective to different culture and roots should we put it that way. The very reason I thought to start my multicultural foodgram @foodnotic on Instagram (… it’s a little defunct presently, due to COVID-19, let’s just say it’s in a prolonged quarantine until I get to travel about again).
Give us a little travel tip . . .
A little pre-planning helps, whilst travelling to a new country. Run a bit on your own research, map out the places you would like to visit and most importantly have your google maps set. Learning a few basic survival words in the local dialect of the place you are visiting comes to your rescue as well. I use an app called Dualingo, which has been very helpful.
Share a simple cake recipe for our readers 🙂
I am sharing a simple chocolate cake recipe which is very basic and easy to make.. I have named this cake Mr Theolove 😊 Hoping that you will give it a try and welcome the New Year sharing a freshly home-baked cake with your loved ones.
- Self-rising flour (substitute with normal flour): 200g
- Unsalted Butter (substitute with normal butter): 200g softened
- Caster sugar (brown sugar optional) :200g
- 4 large eggs
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 2tbs milk
- ½ tsp nutmeg powder (optional)
- ½ tsp cinnamon powder (optional)
- Sieve the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, nutmeg and cinnamon powder and keep it aside. (Dry mixture)
- In a large bowl whisk the 4 large eggs and bring it to a stiff consistency, then add caster sugar, milk and softened butter. Whisk for 5-6 minutes until the mixture is blended well. (liquid mixture)
- Add the dry mixture (no1) into the liquid mixture (no2), slowly in parts (best to add in 4 parts) mix well ( Cut and fold method ) until you get a flowing consistency
- Prepare the cake tin, if you have parchment paper (baking paper) use that to line the baking tin. Otherwise butter the base and sides of the baking tin well before pouring your cake mixture, to avoid the cake sticking to the tin when it is done.
- Bake the cake in 150 – 170 temperate depending on your oven type for 35-40 minutes. Keep checking the cake from outside (do not open the oven), so you can control the oven temperature accordingly.
- Leave the cake to cool for 10 minutes, remove from the cake tin and enjoy your freshly baked cake.
Happy New Year to you and yours!