Tuesday, 23 June 2015

[Throwback]: Khushiyan Chakh Lo

It's been a while since I came back from college. Obviously, I have settled back into the good life - help at home, Mum's cooking, no need to clean up after myself, but I do remember those days in Johor Bahru when I had cook and clean for myself. God, that was hard. But more than anything else, it was lonely at times.

Yesterday, when my sisters told me about the new Shan ad, I assumed it would be another one of those over-the-top families frying food advertisements. Maybe it had Hamza Ali Abbasi for an added flavour. But this was a refreshing concept that I instantly connected with - away from home, hungry and missing Mum. I am pretty sure most of us who have been away from home for college understood it immediately. And the emo jingle just made it even better!

What's also interesting to note is that finally a food product saw the light and decided not to make the usual fried food in an unusually luxurious setting ad. And that they decided to release it digitally as well only ensures that it reaches the right audience.

Here's to more happiness and deliciousness this Ramzan! #KhushiyanChakhLo
Celebrating the precious moments we share with our loved ones.Shan. #KhushiyanChakhLo
Posted by Shan Foods on Saturday, June 20, 2015

Friday, 19 June 2015

[Men]: Hottest Muslim Men in Power

'Twas the night before Ramzan, and a young girl's fancies turned to .... politicians...
While traditionally not seen as a desirable lot, some politicians really stand out on the strength, power, credibility and honesty of their good looks. I am not very politically inclined, but when these men talk, I watch intently.

However, this list is by no means complete. In fact, it is far from it. I am sure there are many beautiful, powerful men I have been missing. Please feel free to add any suggestions in the comments below.

Let us begin.

Khawaja Asif, Minister for Defence and Water & Power, Pakistan

Hello ladies, can I get you some water and power?
First up, someone close to home (and heart) of course. Always sharply dressed with his grey hair perfectly in place, Khawaja Asif is the fabled Pakistani beauty of romance digests - with his perfect nose and coy smile (although it's rare). I find his angry old man avatar to be the most romantic. There were some serious feelings brewing as he scolded some members of the opposition in a recent parliamentary session. Even AR Rahman agrees! *cue Khwaja mere Khwaja*


Khairy Jamaluddin, Minister for Youth & Sports, Malaysia

Where are you going Mr, Minister?

Equipped with the signature Malay charm, Khairy has pulses racing across the nation and beyond. From a journalist to the federal minister for youth and sports, this outspoken Asian delight is best viewed in the traditional Baju Melayu outfit. Because real men wear pink skirts and still look hot!

Keeping it ethnic

Sediq Sediqi, Spokesman for Interior Ministry, Afghanistan.

That early grey
Regardless of the fact that every other man in Kabul is drop dead gorgeous, Sediq Sediqi is just special - with this affinity for pink shirts (that match this cheeks so well), contemporary hair cut from Kabul's finest barbershop and the ability to shake his what his mama gave him during an all male 'attan' dance. Even when he was spewing hate for Pakistan, inches away from me, I kept watching. Packaging is everything. And Sediq Sediqi is a coveted package for any ministry - good looking and gracious.

Talk to me baby, scream and shout....

Omar Abdullah, Former Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir, India

How does one say 'I love you' in Kashmiri

Now that's a Kashmir worth fighting for. That hair, that skin, those glasses - what a stunning man! Born to an English mother and Kashmiri father, Omar Abdullah deserves more pictorial evidence than the other men on this list. JUST LOOK AT HIM! India, you can keep Kashmir, just send Omar across.

Grey hair, charcoal suit, hearts on fire

Amagad! Shalwar Kameez!

Lead me oh Quaid

Once again, I urge you to add to this list of hot Muslim men in power. Ramzan Mubarak ladies and gents!

Sunday, 14 June 2015

[Food]: Sehri Made Easy (and Healthy)

In the first week of Ramzan, I am rather excited about waking up  for sehri, making sehri for the family, eating, talking, prayer. And then, the lethargy sets in. If you are like me, the will and stamina to eat at sehri drops. This leads to some serious suffering during the day. But I have discovered some tips and tricks to keep full during the day.

1. Beans, beans, beans

Beans are the poor man's (and dieting woman's) meat. Rich in protein and comparable to meat in terms of calories, beans are actually better than meat. The higher fibre and water content of beans means that we feel fuller faster. Fibre also means that beans take longer to digest and keep us fuller for longer during the fasting day. Beans also prevent us from feeling hungry. They are low in sugar which prevents insulin levels in the blood from spiking and causing hunger.
Mix and match your beans - make a three bean salad or four or five. Add an olive oil and citrus based dressing and you are set for a delicious, healthy and filling Sehri meal. I make one with red beans, corn and chickpeas. For extra power, replace corn with black eyed peas.

I add some cucumbers to my 3 Bean Salad. 

2.  Cheese and Bread

Too simple to be true. Get some cottage cheese and toast some whole wheat pita bread and you have a delicious sehri meal. Of course, you should jazz it up like I do. My mother makes different flavors of cottage cheese/paneer - with zaatir, chilli flakes, baby garlic etc. You can try cut the cheese into thin slices and stick them in the oven until it is slightly golden. Cheese is a high energy food that will nourish you and the whole wheat pita will keep you fuller for longer.

My mum makes excellent zaatir cheese

3. Loaded Omelette

Try to cram as many food groups into your eggs! Vegetables, grains, meats,dairy and even fruit! With  an omelette, you have the 'meat' covered by eggs but you can add in a sliced sausage or chicken chunks. There's an endless options of veges than can go into your omelette, so try to pick the healthiest ones such as spinach or broccoli. Throw in some cottage cheese/paneer chunks and some tomato or avocado to complete the dairy and fruit sections of the five food groups. As for the grains, you can have this omelette with half a whole wheat pita bread or just add from whole wheat bread crumbs to the omelette. The bread crumbs also help hold this giant omelette together.

You can add all your favorite flavors to eggs!

4. Haleem

Possibly my favorite food in terms of convenience. While making haleem takes considerable investment in terms of time and effort, once it's done you can freeze it in small portions and defrost when needed. It is also the kind of food that requires very little effort - just microwave and eat, even when you have woken up 15 minutes before Fajr. Besides, it's healthy! Packed with grains and proteins, it's a complete meal in a bowl.

Not just for Muharram, but for Ramzan too!

Sehri is one of the toughest meals to prepare and consume. And if you do it wrong, you are going to be in some serious during this warm weather Ramzan. I like to make Sehri fun - I ensure that I have a a variety of different dishes to keep me interested. It has to be something that's worth waking up for! Stock up your freezer with delicious, quick meals for Ramzan.

For more ideas on what to eat this Ramzan, check out YummyMummyAndMe.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

[Contest]: LUMS Young Writers' Workshop & Short Story Contest 2015

The LUMS Young Writers' Workshop and Short Story Contest 2015  (LYWW) is now open. It is an annual contest that seeks out  the finest young writers in Pakistan and then aims to hone their skills with an intensive session with some of Pakistan's most acclaimed writers. 

The LYWW is sponsored by Ferozsons Laboratories Limited  and  the Mushtaq Gurmani School of Humanities and Social Sciences at LUMS.

Please find the complete details of the contest below:

LUMS Young Writers Workshop & Short Story Contest 2015
A 5-day residential creative writing workshop at LUMS
August 17-21, 2015

The LUMS Young Writers Workshop was introduced in 2012 to address the lacuna of quality creative writing instruction in Pakistan. During the last three years, many young writers have received mentorship to nurture their writing talent. We are very pleased to announce the dates for this year’s contest and workshop.

Call for Entries for LUMS Young Writers Workshop 2015
Through an open short-story contest, we identify eight young writers from across Pakistan who are then invited to participate in a five day residential creative writing workshop at LUMS. All expenses other than travel are covered by the Workshop.

Mentor and Guest Speaker for the Workshop 2015
LUMS Young Writers Workshop 2015 will be mentored by Bilal Tanweer, who teaches fiction writing at LUMS. His novel, The Scatter Here Is Too Great, was published in India (Random House, 2013), the UK (Jonathan Cape, 2014), the US (Harper Collins, 2014), France (title: Le monde n'a pas de fin, Editions Stock, 2014) and is forthcoming in Germany by Hanser in 2016. It won the Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize 2014, and was the finalist for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature and The Chautauqua Prize. His translation of two novels by Ibn-e Safi, The House of Fear, was published by Random House India in 2010.
The guest speaker for this year’s workshop is Saba Imtiaz who is a freelance journalist based in Karachi. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the Guardian and the Christian Science Monitor. She reports on religious movements, culture and politics in Pakistan. She is the author of Karachi, You're Killing Me! (Random House India, 2014) and No Team of Angels (First Draft Publishing, forthcoming).

The Workshop
This workshop is built on the premise that writers—or those who wish to write—are, first and foremost, tireless and passionate readers of literature. The workshop will serve as an intensive reading boot camp for young writers where they’ll have the opportunity to deeply and closely engage with great writing and respond with their own creative work. The readings and discussions are designed to help young writers appreciate a broad range of works and writing styles.

The second aspect of the workshop is writing. Each day, after a rigorous discussion of the pre-assigned texts, writers will have a chance to respond with their own writing. On the fourth day, writers will meet and discuss Karachi, You’re Killing Me with Saba Imtiaz. They will then work on a story, which will be collectively critiqued on the fifth day.

Submissions for the contest
Writers aged 18-26* years are invited to submit one work of fiction of no more than 4,000 words. There is no entry fee and submissions are via email only.  Other rules:

·         Please do not submit previously published material. 
·         Submissions and the medium of instruction of the workshop will be English.
·         The deadline for submissions is June 30, 2015.
·         Students currently enrolled in LUMS are not eligible.

*You are welcome to submit your entry even if you do not fall in this age bracket. However, all other things being equal, writers between 18-26 will be given preference.

Please send your entries at: writersworkshop@lums.edu.pk along with your CV mentioning clearly: (i) your date of birth, (ii) details of your education, (iii) your contact details including email, mailing address and phone numbers.

Terms and conditions
By sending in an entry you express your consent to be available and willing to attend the workshop on August 17-21, 2015 and complete the reading assignment of four books prior to the workshop. (You will receive the books free of charge.) Boarding, lodging, meals, and tuition will be covered. Participants will be required to arrange for their own transportation to and from LUMS.

Please note: if you believe that you will be unable to fulfill either of the two requirements listed above, that is, the reading assignment and attending all five days of the workshop, please apply next year.

The results for the contest will be announced on July 14, 2015.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

[Music]: Feel Good Summer

The pop music industry goes into over drive to create summer anthems with the likes of Rihanna, Pitbull, Avicii running back to their studios to create five lines of lyrics and pull out a beat from Calvin Harris or Pharrell Williams' big bag of sampled tunes. However, for me some of the most enduring and endearing summer time music are off the beaten track

But what makes for a good 'summer song'? For me, it should have the following factors:
  • sing-a-longability: easy lyrics that you can remember and sing along to
  • easy melody: something that can get stuck in your head
  • memories: songs that evoke memories of last summer always seem to work this summer
And this does not mean that they have to be pop songs that are burning up the charts. There are the songs you can listen to every summer, year after year.

Weezer - Island In The Sun

Baby animals! Lion cubs, chimps, puppies, bear cubs .... SO CUTE! And that's just the video. The sunny disposition of the song talks of running away and never feeling bad anymore. Easy, breezy summer buddy time.

For those of you in Pakistan or without access to YouTube, click here to watch.

Scissor Sisters - San Luis Obispo

Now summer time, doesn't always have be to happy time. Perhaps, she left you, But now it's time to look ahead and fall in love with San Luis Obispo instead. Because places are so much better than people (primarily because they cannot leave).

For those of you in Pakistan or without access to YouTube, click here to listen.

Thelma Houston - Don't Leave Me This Way

Summer is incomplete without some classic disco! Time to retire your 'I Will Survive' karaoke routine and replace it with this 1977 hit instead.


For those of you in Pakistan or without access to YouTube, click  here to listen.

Estrella - Stay

This sugary single by Malaysian indie band, Estrella feels like reconnecting with an ex that you're not quite over yet. Clearly, I am not talking about myself. Add this to your summer playlist and smile to yourself.

For those of you in Pakistan or without access to YouTube, click  here to watch.

George Michael - Outside

Because it's summer time and sometimes you need to take the party outside. And who better to tell us to do things we should not be doing than George Michael. Possibly NSFW.

For those of you in Pakistan or without access to YouTube, click  here to watch

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

[Food]: All Day Breakfast At Fika

Over the summer, I am going to live the life of a lady of leisure. I have no deadlines, no pre-set alarms, no projects to complete (well one, maybe). So clearly, I am spending a lot of time milling about the malls and supporting cafes around the city. Being a lady of leisure also means that I no longer have breakfast at 6.30 am. So when the good people at Fika invited me to try out their yet to be launched all day breakfast menu, I was happy to oblige.

Fika has THE MOST extensive breakfast menu I have seen in Karachi - from the regular eggs and sides to salmon to the most decadent breakfast desserts. Because let's face it, if you are going to have breakfast at 2pm, it better serve lunch as well.

Having been to Fika On The Roof but not to Fika, I was pleasantly surprised to see a clean, white space decorated with quirky art and the slightest hint of pale mint green tables. And of course, having Bradley Cooper on every table did good for the senses.


Onwards to the things that really matter - the food!

This ginormous rectangular breakfast quesadilla is my favorite! Stuffed with a fried egg, chicken sausage, chicken chunks and sauteed onions and bell peppers, it's a filling and delightful breakfast wrap that you just can't go wrong with. The winning point for me was the thinly sliced vegetables. Hate big bulky vegetables in my sammich!

Beef lover rejoice!Steak and eggs that tastes god and won't break the bank. But there's on thing that's driving me crazy about this plate of food - the eggs!!! When will restaurant chefs or staff figure out that there is a relatively simple way of making eggs without these golden, crisp edges. That looks like something I made! A perfect sunny side up egg has NO crisp edges. Of course the succulent piece of meat next to the less than perfect eggs made it okay. But come on!

Fish for breakfast! Why not, especially when it tastes this good. Just a simple piece of grilled sole on a bed of mashed potatoes with garlic & herb vegetables. Sometimes a simple recipe that is well executed is all one needs for an exceptional dish. Order this one without any doubts!

Egg gone a bit astray once again, and some burnt potato bits on the hash brown. I suppose that's excusable on the first day of service. The salmon hash brown has a good combination of comforting flavors - potatoes, egg and fish. And the salmon was fresh and cooked just right. 

Right, now the final call. Will I go back to Fika for breakfast? Yes I will. I like the range of the menu. The pricing is not too exorbitant. The recipes seem to be simple and the ingredients are fresh. The only thing that needs work is the execution - which can only improve with time.  And I absolutely love, love, love the playlist! Go for the food, stay for the music.

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