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Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable



Green Lemonade

There's something about the word lemonade.  Just say it outloud to yourself.  Don't you feel better.  It awakens a sense of sunshine and summer's that stretched into pink dusky skies.

Green well that word invokes a colour, which speaks of spring, rebirth, refreshment and new beginnings.  What could be better than an uber healthy, curiously morish smoothie which brings those two beautiful words together.

Green Lemonade is a glass of energy full of phytonutrients, and iron. Kale which is one of the main ingredients is packed with beta-carotene, calcium, vitamin C and vitamin K.  As the ingredients are blended rather than juiced you lose very little of the fibre, and the drink is surprisingly filling.  It's perfect for that mid afternoon slope off at the office, or a glass of energy to start your day.

Green Lemonade Recipe



  • 1 large handful of kale
  • 1 large handful of baby spinach 
  • 4 to 5 mint leaves
  • 1/3 cucumber roughly sliced
  • 2 celery stalks roughly sliced
  • 2 green granny smith apples cored and roughly chopped
  • 2 green pears topped and tailed and roughly chopped
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 - 1 pint water (depending on how thick you like your drink)




  1. Wash your ingredients
  2. Add the water to the bottom of the blender then add the rest of the ingredients, (add ice if you desire, I don't as it gives me brain freeze, cold water does the trick)
  3. Blend on high for a few minutes and serve.  


This green lemonade can be drunk immediately or stored in an airtight bottle in the fridge for 24 hours.

That's it for now ...


Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable


Maze Restaurant Belfast - Review

When I think of modern India and Eastern Asia, my mind is filled with colour and chaos.  Creativity.  And food.  Food, which is as far away from a tomato soup cream, based curry most likely devised in a back kitchen in Glasgow, as I am from Mumbai.

India does not just have one cuisine but thousands, the central theme that, threads its way through the curries of the Raj, to the days of the Mughal, via the spice trade, that saw chillies and potatoes introduced to the country by the Portuguese, religious food practices as well as climate, soil and culture is variety. 

And it is exactly this variety, which has been mixing together for over 5,000 years which, owner of Maze Restaurant, Belfast Michael Karan from India’s New Delhi understands all too well.

The colours Maze restaurant puddle through its large glass windows onto the dark street, entice passersby in for a drink, in a bar which boosts a large print of a golden budda’s head, a selection of statues of gods and deities, pops of clashing bold colour – black, white and orange.  Sitting in contrast to neon lighting, slate, chrome, zebra print, leather chairs, glided framed art, televisions and green plants.  The distinction of colour, theme and texture feel exciting, and ever so slightly chaotic.

Through an arch at the back there is still colour and energy but a more subdued romantic feel, this is where the main dining room is located.  White leather banquettes booths line one side of the room, with flimsy gaze separating the air above each area creating intimate and private spaces for dining.  Open dark wood tables, and white leather chairs, and banquettes fill up the rest of the space.  The whole effect and the juxtaposition of both spaces is clever.

The creative design of the space, sits well with the eclectic menu, both coming alive in their own way.

We started with a bottle of White Bordeaux, which had a lemon bouquet and a citrusy dry palate.  It drank nicely with the mix of meat, fish and vegetable starters we had ordered.  We followed this with a flinty Chablis that easily held the depth of flavour of our steaks.

There is a good wine list, reflecting a discerning eye on grape variety, style and price.  Wines are served in long, thin-lipped stemware which was a pleasure to drink from.  There was no cocktail list and when requested we were told cocktails weren’t available, which seems a shame as this space was made to drink cocktails in. 

There was a strong list of good bottled beers, spirits, liqueurs and mixers.  Service was polished, attentive and friendly without being intrusive throughout our evening everyone we spoke to made us feel very welcome, and important.

Maze Restaurant’s food has freshness, a blending of flavours and influences, which reflect both India’s history and its modernity.  The menu strolls through Europe, offering steamed mussels, tapas and goats cheese, hangs out in China with salt and chilli squid, and honey chilli chicken, visits Italy for seafood linguini and Polo Lorenzo and finishes up in India with rice, tandoori and spice.  Before it heads to Argentina to serve up some of the best steaks I have ever eaten.  If it sounds eclectic, that’s because it is, and it works.

Karan and his right hand men - manager Ramy from Singapore, head chef Marcus Diego from Florida and Jainal Abedin from India have chosen popular dishes from a wide variety of countries and brought them together on one menu in one space, cooking each dish with precision and exquisite execution.

We choose mussels, a tapas plate and a tandoor plate to share as starters.  

The tapas plate had three small bowls of fried crunchy almonds, deliciously light lemony herby olives and a hard cheese with sundried tomato.

The mussels were served in a plentiful portion with a white wine, garlic and chorizo sauce, and a piece of crusty ciabatta.   The dish had been well thought out and cooked as spice of the chorizo complimented and did not overpower the taste of the shellfish.

While the tandoor plate with three pieces of each: lamb sheek kabab, chicken tikka and king prawns came with a little glass of most amazing red chilli sauce, and one of a herb mayo.  Mixing the texture of the meat with the creamy sauce, dipped in the red chilli sauce brought a wide variety of tastes into the mouth at once, and was very pleasant.

The lamb was delicately spiced, the chicken and prawns charred and succulent.

But it was the small glass of red chilli sauce, which really caught my attention.

What began as a sweet chilli flavour, developed to gently warm the palate awakening all the taste buds, with a quivering warmth.

Even now I dream of sitting down to eat plates of cucumber, tomato and red onion salad, with warm naan, and a big helping of this red chilli sauce.

This is a sauce made by expert hands, chefs who truly understand the nature of chilli and spice, and the fact they should tingle and titillates the palate without burning it to tears.  The combination and depth of flavour the chef told me came from cooking down several varieties of chilli, with mustard seeds, vinegar, sugar and salt.

Without doubt this red chilli sauce should be bottled and sold.

Then one of the best fillet steaks we had ever eaten arrived.  

This piece of beef was handled perfectly, with just the right amount of seasoning, it was sweet, sticky, charred and textured.  Having been left to rest properly knives moved through it with no resistance and the meat simply melted on the tongue.  It came served with a tandoori prawn, a nice nod to the Irish ‘surf and turf’. Presentation was clean showing off colour, texture and variety.

Then pieces of fillet and sirloin were served.  These had been spiral cut, an Argentinean method of cutting steak, which ensures the marinade can evenly and easily penetrate the tissue of the meat, tenderising it and allowing for more succulence in the flesh when it is cooked.  They had been in a marinade of thyme, and for 48 hours.  These steaks hit the sweet spot and it would be wonderful to see such superb meat’s provenance on the menu.  They were served with a vinegary thyme split chimichurri sauce, a welcome reprieve from the endless creamy sauces which hide steaks wonderful flavour.

Cooking good steaks takes talent, which is in abundance in the Maze kitchen, but it also needs great equipment.  Karan has invested in a lava grill.  Pieces of lava stone heated to a white searing heat, sit under a grill allowing anything that is cooked on it to have its flavours sealed instantly.  Ensuring pieces of steak which were charred, tender, sweet and soft. 

Maze’s steaks are not only great pieces of meat, they are perfectly cooked.

Balsamic glazed vegetables, seared over a high heat allowing each of the vegetables to quickly turn sugars to starch were served crunchy, and provided a good accompaniment to the well flavoured meat.  Onion rings were lightly battered and crunchy.  Thick chips were crisp and crunchy outside with soft fluffy interiors. 

Maze’s team of chefs were doing some seriously top notch cooking, blending flavours and techniques that ensured excellent dishes for diners

Puddings were creamy.  A light milk chocolate cake was served on chocolate and mango drizzles, with a scoop of deliciously smooth vanilla ice cream, while a thick firm Panacotta was served with sweetly spiced honey syrup and cubes of rose jelly.  A glass of iced Amaretto heightened brought cool refreshment to the creamy flavours.

After dinner Michael introduced us to the chefs.   These chefs were full of smiles and it was clear they cared about the food they created.  They wanted to represent the fresh vibrancy of India in a menu and restaurant that popped with colour and breathed energy, and I think at Maze they have done just that.  

Jainel was making Naan bread, on the side of the tandoori oven, I wished I had room to taste just a little bit of it.

Maze Restaurant Belfast serves very tasty food, that has been cooked by clever, competent and experienced chefs who understand how to layer flavour, and cook with excellent technique.   The menu treads an enticing path, which brings together the vibrancy of India with the best of the world.  

Go now, order steak it is the finest fillet I have ever enjoyed, you will not regret it.

That's it for now ...


Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable


Maze Restaurant Belfast

11 Wellington Place, Belfast 

028 9508 6794 / 9031 1101


Salt & Sparkle dined as guests of Maze Belfast


Thoughts for your weekend 

Have a grrrrrrrrrreat weekend

That's it for now ...


Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable


Books I am reading during Lent

The Bible suggests 40 days is a spiritually significant and often transformative time period.  
  • Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness
  • Moses spent 40 days on Mount Sinai
  • The Spies spent 40 days in the Promised Land
  • David faced Goliath's 40 Day challenge
  • Elijah got 40 days strength from one meal
  • The coming of pentecost 40 days after Jesus ressurrection 

What does 40 days mean to you?  They say we need 30 days of continuously doing something to form a new habit - maybe he extra ten days just cements this in? 

This year as well as taking part in a Lenten Love Project, I am also reflecting, reading re-reading three books, all with a specific 40 day time period.

Richard Rohr's Lenten reflections open our thoughts to deep probing.  With wisdom Rohr writes simply and beautifully inviting us to fully participate in a divine dialogue with Jesus.  He gives us room for contemplation and thinking.


I read Rick Warren's book several years ago and found his writing, use of scripture, and suggestions, stimulating and thought provoking.  Recently a copy appeared in a pile of books, and I thought, its time to revisit this book, open to all I have learnt since I last learnt it, and all I can learn as I reread. 

I've heard a lot about this book and thought it would be interesting to pray from a place of presence rather than defence.

Are you doing or reading anything specific for Lent?

Lent I feel calls me to acknowledge Jesus Christ as my only hope.  It gives me time to pull away from addictions or crutches, which have taken precedence over faith for me this year, that's milk chocolate. 

For the next 40 days I am chocolate free - as I take time to contemplate the difficulties and trials, and look for the hope that always exists.


That's it for now ...



Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable


Lenten Love Project


Growing up without a liturgical emphasis, Lent has usually been a time of 'giving up' some sort of food - usually sweets, and usually failing.  But over the past few years I have been making a concerted effort to really think about what Lent actually is, and about why abstaining from a food source can actually be a really good thing.  

I've gone without chocolate, without processed sugar, without sweets - and to be honest, I haven't had any periods of intense craving.  Well maybe just that one for Ben & Jerry's Phish Food Frozen Yogurt.  But denying myself something has been a good experience, and lead to deeper thought.  About why I was eating that food in the first place - chocolate, and bars of it.  Or what caused me to crave sugar.

This year I read two books which really made me think about Lent in a new way, both are by Michelle Guinness.


 Chosen: An Autobiography

These excellent books provided much food for thought about the type of person Jesus actually was.  As well as the first thing we should remember when we think of him - the fact he was a Jew.  And, Jew's love to celebrate.  Michelle talks engagingly in her writing about how the Greek/Romano understanding of Christianity is very far removed from the Hebraic mindset.  A way of thinking Jesus would have used.  
Even though Lent is seen to parallel Jesus 40 days in the wilderness, were Jesus did fast, Guinness believes that alothough fasting can be a good thing, Christians have spent too long looking for things they can 'give up' rather than take up.  
For Lent she suggests taking part in this Mennonie Lenten Love Project in the six weeks preceding Easter.  It is a practical project which asks us to engage with those around us, as well as ourselves, with an emphasis on showing love to those around us, letting people know how much we appreciate them.  It's about connecting with people, taking time out to spend time with them and giving thanks for them.
Week 1 - The Hand of Love - write to someone telling them how much you appreciate them
Week 2 - The Voice of Love - Telephone or have coffee with someone and encourage them
Week 3 - The Feet of Love - Give a gift to someone - simple, seasonal, handmade - to encourage them
Week 4 - The Heart of Love - Make a list of five people to pray for daily
Week 5 - The Mind of Love - Reflect and be mindful of how you feel and your impact on others
Week 6 - A Life of Love - Get outside with friends and share in the joy of creation
Maybe you would like to join me as I partake in this Lenten Love Project.  I started today by writing some letters.  The idea of being meaningful, and mindful, of reaching out to others, as well as looking into myself, is appealing, and stimulating.  
That's it for now ...
Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable



Shrove Tuesday

Shrove Tuesday or what has become commonly known as Pancake Day is the last day before Lent. 'Shrove' comes from the medieval word 'shrive' which means 'to confess'.

Lent is one of the oldest observations on the Christian calendar.

Its purpose has always been the same: self-examination and penitence, demonstrated by self-denial, in preparation for Easter.

Church father Irenaus of Lyons (c.130-c.200) wrote of such a season in the earliest days of the Christian church.

In 325, the Council of Nicea discussed a 40-day Lenten season of fasting, which soon encompassed the whole Church both Eastern and Western.

The Lenten observance was both strict and serious. Originally only one meal was taken a day, usually in the evening. There was to be no meat, fish, or animal products eaten for the whole 40 days.

40 days is a significant time period in biblical literature, the most known event being Jesus 40 days in the wilderness before he went to the cross.

Until the 600s, Lent began on a Sunday, but Gregory the Great (c.540-604) moved it to a Wednesday to secure the exact number of 40 days in Lent—not counting Sundays, which were feast days.

Gregory, who is regarded as the father of the medieval papacy, began the ceremony that gives the day its name - Ash Wednesday.

As people began to confess their sins, and receive absolution and forgiveness Gregory marked their foreheads with ashes reminding them of the biblical symbol of repentance (sackcloth and ashes) and mortality: "You are dust, and to dust you will return" (Gen 3:19).

Just as the Jews had a huge feast before the Day of Atonement to help them survive the upcoming fast, Shrove Tuesday was seen as the last chance for self-indulgence before 40 days of abstinence. Pancakes were made because they used up the last fat, butter and eggs.

Did you enjoy your pancakes today?

Are you doing anything or giving up anything for Lent?

That's it for now ...


Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable