...these silver lines, travel from my thoughts to yours, wavering, floating like spirits dancing...

Friday, December 3, 2010

The story of the pencil

I thought that from time to time, I might share a little story or two with you, something to reflect on and think about. Today I bring to you a little story from Paulo Coelho's book 'Like the Flowing River', which is basically his collection of articles, stories and anecdotes that he has published or heard over time as his career as a writer.

Today the story that I am going to share with you is called 'The story of the pencil', and is one of my favourites.

'A boy was watching his grandmother write a letter. At one point, he asked:

‘Are you writing a story about what we’ve done? Is it a story about me?’

His grandmother stopped writing her letter and said to her grandson:

‘I am writing about you, actually, but more important than the words is the pencil I’m using. I hope you will be like this pencil when you grow up.’

Intrigued, the boy looked at the pencil. It didn’t seem very special.

‘But it’s just like any other pencil I’ve ever seen!’

‘That depends on how you look at things. It has five qualities which, if you manage to hang on to them, will make you a person who is always at peace with the world.

‘First quality: you are capable of great things, but you must never forget that there is a hand guiding your steps. We call that hand God, and He always guides us according to His will.

‘Second quality: now and then, I have to stop writing and use a sharpener. That makes the pencil suffer a little, but afterwards, he’s much sharper. So you, too, must learn to bear certain pains and sorrows, because they will make you a better person.

‘Third quality: the pencil always allows us to use an eraser to rub out any mistakes. This means that correcting something we did is not necessarily a bad thing, it helps to keep us on the road to justice.

‘Fourth quality, what really matters in a pencil is not its wooden exterior, but the graphite inside. So always pay attention to what is happening inside you.

‘Finally the pencil’s fifth quality: it always leaves a mark. In just the same way, you should know that everything you do in life will leave a mark, so try to be conscious of that in your every action.’

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Spanish omelette

I once saw this recipe on BBC Food, but added a bit more here and there to improvise it a little further. Totally good if you want to have a relaxing, leisurely breakfast in the morning. And not a hassle to make either.

4 eggs
2 small potatoes
2 green chillies
1 small onion
2 cloves of garlic
salt and pepper to taste
1 tomatoe
a small bunch of corriander leaves
dry basil
2 tablespoons olive oil for frying
one lime
toasted brown or bran bread

Beat the eggs together. Heat the oil in a frying pan and peel and slice your potatoes thinly. Fry them on high heat until almost done. Cover the pan. Chop the onion, chillies and garlic roughly and add to the potatoes. Stir and cover again. Add the eggs now and turn the heat on medium. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Add some of the chopped corriander and basil on top and the tomatoes as well. Cover. The eggs should be done when the top side looks set but still soft enough. Remove from flame. Cut into triangular pieces, sprinkle some lime juice and serve with toasted bread of your choice. Garnish with chopped corriander.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

I see your true colours...

Eid would be incomplete without mehendi and its intricate designs and patterns to adorn our hands, its sweet heady scent, bangles and new clothes, sweet things to eat and family and friends to meet! And of course, lots of meat! :)

Season's greetings and Eid Mubarak!

I can think of no better way to welcome winter than through this simple yet delicious apple crumble with whipped cream to mark the holidays and get in the festive spirit!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Okay! So much to write about, where to start? Well, recently I’ve had quite an inspiration, no epiphany rather, and was presented with a lot of ideas in my head to cook something up and create something interesting. I’ll tell you one thing though, it’s amazing how much you can get accomplished when you have loads of free time on your hands. So, as it goes, I’ve made my ginger bread, vanilla cupcakes, chicken and mushroom soup with garlic bread, in the last few days and for dinner last night, I made chicken chile dry with honey and fragrant basil rice, with some freshly baked roast potatoes. I love the combination of chili and honey with the chicken, it’s a hit in the palette!

And here are the photos that go with it!

Chicken Chilli with honey and mustard, with baked oreganao garlic butter potatoes and fragrant basil rice.

Ginger bread with whipped cream frosting

Vanilla cupcakes with whipped cream and bluberry topping

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

So, the day before yesterday, I finally get down and make the ginger bread which I'd been itching to make ever since I saw the recipe on tv. But sadly, that's the thing with following stuff on tv, these recipes are often faulty and their production team should really get their points straight. I guess some of the fault also lies with the cook itself, who doesn't know the difference between one or one and a half teaspoon of baking powder in baking, or who proposes 2 tablespoons (I mean c'mon, really?! you think we are that stupid?) of cinammon powder. So obviously, the recipe I posted of the ginger bread, clearly, CLEARLY needs to be revised, and let this be a headsup to anyone following recipes on tv, be on gaurd, and use common sense too!

Here's how it goes. Use one teaspoon of baking powder. Use one teaspoon of cinammon powder. If you want your bread to taste as cinammony as gingery, by all means use two teaspoons, but since we are making ginger bread, and not cinammon bread, for me, one teaspoon would suffice. AND, last but not the least, and in addition to the last point, use two tablespoons of ground ginger, using a mortar and pestle, this way all the lovely juices come out and it would flavour the bread most deliciously.

When I was going through the recipe, I clearly found 2 tbsps of cinammon to be too much, so I used 2 tsps, but the next time I make this bread, I will use 1 tsp only. Also, I found the bread not gingery enough for me, and although the cinammon wasn't really overpowering the ginger, it almost did, and I wanted to taste the bite of the ginger. So, I decided to decorate the bread with some whipped cream.

Here's what I did. I took a pack of cream, whipped it with some icing sugar, till it was light and fluffy. Then ground some ginger, about a tablespoon of that, and added that together with its fragrant juices into the cream and finally the juice of one lemon, to add a little sour taste to it. I cut my bread lengthways in half, and put one third of the cream on the cut side of the bottom piece, and put the top piece and dolloped the rest of the cream on the top and sides, and made little swirls in the cream with the help of the edge of the spatula. Left it in the fridge to set for a while, and in the evening, had it with some ginger and lemon tea.

Alternatively you can use flowery infusion teas or even some coffee if you prefer.

By the way, this faulty recipe on tv was the creation of Farah Jahanzaib on Zaiqa. Just a headsup you know.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Saw a really delicious Nigella Lawson cookbook, called Kitchen, Recipes from the heart of the home, at a bookstore. I practically drooled over it, but I had run short of cash by then and then decided against buying it, one because I can find almost all of her recipes online, and so I don't really need to get the book then, and two, because most of the recipes by British cooks, or even American or French or Italian for that matter, use ingredients which are either not available here at all, or not readily enoungh. And of course, cooking should be about using innovation, good taste and old methods using what you have in your kitchen and store cupboards. You don't have to go overboard and get this and that, burning a hole in your pocket. That said, I'll have to be a little careful next time I go food shopping, if I go that is, cause I tend to get a little carried away with the money in my hands (read plastic) and so much food to choose from and ideas swimming in my head, especially now since I have no job.

That said, something new and exciting is right across the horizon, and my old love for theatre is being reignited (I say reignited, though it never extinguished or even faltered for a bit), and I have something to look forward too, and something to keep myself busy too, cause heaven knows I need it.

PS. Why do people make sad love songs?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Apple Crumble and Ginger Bread recipes

Here are two recipes for you to enjoy! I haven't tried them yet but saw this on tv, and it looked easy enough and delicious, so I'm looking forward to making this maybe on the weekend.

Apple crumble

3 apples

Juice of one lemon

¼ cup water

½ cup flour

½ cup walnuts

½ cup brown sugar

½ cup grated coconut

6 teaspoons brown sugar

2 and a ½ teaspoons butter

Cook apples in a little bit of water and some sugar, pour over pie dish. Make crumble with all the remaining ingredients, use your hands if neccesary and use cold butter and tumble on top. Press with spoon and bake for 20 minutes for 180 degrees.

Serve with a scoop of vanilla or praline icecream. Usually eaten at breakfast or after dinner treat. Easier than making apple pie! While I was reading up on its history, I found out that it's supposed to smell so good while it's baking and when it comes out of the oven, that you just want to dive right in and... die in it's heavenly sweetness!

Ginger bread

1 and a ½ cup flour

½ cup butter

One egg

½ cup maple syrup

1 or ½ tsp baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons cinnamon powder

1tablespoon ginger grated and pounded

Beat butter with brown sugar.

Add egg. Beat

Add ginger. Beat

Add maple syrup. Beat.

Add flour mixed with baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon powder. Beat.

Add a little water if mixture is too thick.

Scrape into loaf tin and bake at 180 degrees for 30 minutes.

Serve with nutella spread on top, or with a fresh flowery or fruity infusion tea, or your favourite coffee!


Saturday, October 2, 2010

Fried potato and cheese cakes with baked tomatoes, basil and garlic

One of the good things about working with fresh foods is that you can get the maximum amount of flavour from the food without really having much to do with it. And I think its great to work with fresh fruits and vegetables, not the least because there is so much you can do with them, with so little.

Today I made these wonderful little potato and cheese cakes, which are sort of like aaloo cutlets, except they are much better, if I may say so, and for some fresh infusion in the palatte, some baked tomatoes in basil and garlic.

So here's what I did.

For the potatoes:

I had about 5 medium sized fresh potatoes, and the thing to look for while getting fresh ones, is look for ones which have their skin breaking out in places, revealing the golden flesh inside. You boil them till they are tender. Meanwhile, I took half a cup of mozerella and half a cup of cheddar cheese, grate them together finely. Plus set aside a few cubes of cheddar to be filled inside the potato cake. Now you can use any kind of cheese you prefer, but I really like the milky strands of mozerella and its mild sort of pungent taste.

Ok, so when the potatoes are boiled, I peel them while they're hot, the skin comes off so much more easily that way, then mash them up with a fork in a big mixing bowl, add the grated cheeses, a good shake of salt, fresh ground pepper, chilli flakes for some heat, a tablespoon of mustard paste, some fresh corrainder leaves chopped roughly and the juice of one lemon. Mixed it all together. Then heated some olive oil for frying, got shallow bowls for some bread crumbs, cornflour and one beaten egg. Shaped each potatoe cake with my hands, put a tiny cube of cheddar in each, dipped them in the egg, then the cornflour, the egg again, and finally the bread crumbs. When I had shaped four of these, I fried them till they were golden brown, then put them on a platter, spritzed some lemon juice on top, and garnished with fresh corrainder leaves and lemon.

For the tomatoes:

Use the freshest tomatoes possible. I got together four medium sized tomatoes, cut them in half. Slicked a baking tray with some olive oil, put the tomatoes, cut side down into the oiled tray, then put the cut side up again, and covered them with crushed garlic, fresh ground pepper, salt, and last but not the least basil leaves. Wonderful aromatic little leaves, these will do wonders for your tomatoes. Finally some more olive oil on top of the tomatoes and the juice of one lemon squirted all over. And what this is going to do is, that its going to make some wonderful aromatic juices blended together with the tomatoe, garlic, basil, lemon. Give them about an hour in the oven on gas mark 4, turning them the other side with some tongs after about 30 minutes. When they're done, I take them out of the tray with the tong, and pour all the delicious aromatic juices over the tomatoes. And I'm telling you the flavour is going to hit your mouth and infuse it with a fresh almost summery taste.Voila!

And you can serve it with roasted lamb chops, baked chicken, or beef steaks. All yum!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Blueberry and Pear cake recipe by Nigel Slater

So, after making this rather delicious feel good cake, I thought I'd share this recipe with you all. It's Nigel Slater's from his book the The Kitchen Diaries, a cookbook, that is not at all like a cookbook, but rather like a diary, with seasonal food cooking and absolutely gorgeous pictures. And here you'll see some of my own pictures.

Here's the recipe! Enjoy! Also I've made slight variations of this recipe, adding whatever fruit that's in season, a teaspoon of cinnamon and vanilla extract, some brown sugar for a lovely goldenish colour to the cake, all go very well.

Blueberry and Pear cake

Butter – 130 g

Unrefined caster sugar – 130 g

Ripe pears – 2

Eggs – 3

Plain flour – 130 g

Baking powder – a teaspoon

Blueberries – 250 g

A little extra sugar

You can use any fruit you have at hand, apples and peaches work really well too and serve it with fresh cream or vanilla ice cream.

Set the oven at 180 C/Gas 4. Line the base of a square 21-23cm cake tin with a piece of baking parchment, or line with a little butter and flour.

Beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy in the food mixer. Whilst this is happening, peel and core the pears and cut them into small chunks. Break the eggs, beat them with a fork, then gradually add them to the butter and sugar. Sift the flour and baking powder together and fold them gently into the mixture. Scrape into the lined cake tin. Rinse the blueberries, then tip them up, together with the pears, on top of the cake mixture. Scatter a couple of tablespoons of sugar over the top. Bake the cake for 55 minutes, then test for doneness with a skewer. If it comes out clean, remove the cake from the oven, then leave to cool for ten minutes.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Food Shopping Splurge

Recently went out and really splurged with food shopping. Its such a comfort to choose good food, and select from a wide variety, estimating and planning. And its a such a pleasure to have something stored in your kitchen to eat and to cook :)

Obviously when the things were rounded up by the cashier, mum's eyes popped open, but I was taking care of it, so it was ok.

So here's what I bought, and all are needed in your kitchen and in the storage, so it was all good! I wanted some fresh fruits and vegetables but there wasn't enough time for that.

Some really good mature cheddar cheese
cream cheese spread
blueberries in syrup
preserved cherries from Swat
a good fresh french bread
brown bread
fruit and nut bread
mixed nuts
penne pasta
green olives
chocolate bars
Frankfurter sausages
chicken nuggets
chappli kebab
custard mix
vanilla essence
brown sugar
baking powder
instant soup packets

And this should take care of it!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Met my bestie after a long long LONG time today! It was so much fun! Madiha makes everything happy and good and cheerful and chirpy again, just the kind of person she is!!! I love you Madi!!!

We went for some pasta at this really noisy place, which of course we didn't know would be this noisy, cause we tried it for the first time. But the garlic prawns were good. After a long chit chat, and loads of much needed catching up, we decided to go to cinnabon for some sweet. Loved their warm cinnabon with coffee, plus with her around, it was sooooo much better!
You know how sometimes, food tastes that extra bit special cause you have someone special sharing it with you, or the time becomes extra special because you have that special someone to share food with. So either way, you end up having more fun, than you would've if you'd been alone, or if you had no good food to enjoy. Of course...

Life is short, so you should fill it up with people you love, and who love you, and always be positive and enjoy each other's company as much as you can.

There are many human relationships which we have or make during our life time. Some are naturally given to us by fate, such as parents, siblings, relatives etc, and others we choose, such as friends or partners or lovers. And I think its the variety of these relationships that add beauty and meaning to your life.

When while talking to your best friend you realize that you can achieve anything, be anything, do anything you want, because you have the potential for it, because you have what it takes, and because you can go the distance. They've known you and you've known them. You know each other's weaknesses and strengths. You know what the other is capable of. And you know the troubles, the grief, the little eccentricities about one another.

By the way, here's the recipe for the cinammon buns!

Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls

1/2 cup warm Water

2 packages dry Yeast

2 Tablespoons Sugar

3 1/2 ounce package Vanilla Pudding mix

1/2 cup Butter, melted

2 Eggs

1 teaspoon Salt

6 cups Flour

1 cup Butter, softened

2 cups Brown Sugar

4 teaspoons Cinnamon

Cream Cheese Frosting:

8 ounces Cream Cheese

1/2 cup Margarine

1 teaspoon Vanilla

3 cups Confectioner's Sugar

1 Tablespoon Milk

Make Frosting:

1. Mix all ingredients until smooth.

Make Rolls:

1. In a bowl combine water, yeast and sugar. Stir until dissolved. Set aside.

2. In large bowl, prepare pudding mix according to package directions.

3. Add margarine, eggs and salt. Mix well.

4. Add yeast mixture. Blend.

5. Gradually add flour; knead until smooth. Place in a greased bowl. Cover and let rise until doubled.

6. Punch down dough and let rise again.

7. Then roll out on floured board to 34 x 21" size.

8. Spread softened butter over surface.

9. In bowl, mix brown sugar and cinnamon.

10. Sprinkle over top. Roll up very tightly.

11. With knife every 2 inches.

12. Place on lightly greased cookie sheet 2" apart.

13. Take hand and lightly press down on each roll.

14. Cover and let rise until double again.

15. Bake at 350 15−20 minutes. Remove when they start to turn golden. DON'T OVER BAKE.

16. Frost warm rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Impulsive Cooking

The joys and pleasures of cooking. Believe it or not, few things hold as much pleasure as cooking on an off-from work day. There might be things that I would have lined up to do on my off day, but I would wilfully and happily, put them off, if sudden inspiration struck me on that very day, prompting me to act on impulse, and get up and cook something in the kitchen. Oh and the kitchen! My parents lovingly decorated and furnished it a couple of years ago, and it truly is a pleasure now to work in it. I truly believe that your work spaces should be places of joy and happiness and in which you work with full confidence and reliance on your kitchen and trusty utensils.

So, it being an off-from work day, (mine is Tuesdays this month) I got up from the sofa while watching TV, when sudden insipiration struck and I was quickly thinking of making a pie. I wanted apple pie, but there being no apples in the house, decided to go for the next best fruit - and that was mangoes! They're in season, and the ones I had were small and sweet with a soft flesh, so they were perfect were cooking.

They say an apple pie is very easy to make, hence the saying 'as easy as apple pie'. I have never made a pie in my life, let alone an apple pie, but I was going with intuition and acting on impulse. A few rummages through a couple of cookbooks, and I found the proportion of flour, butter and water to make the pastry for my pie. Nigel Slater's cookbook advised making the dough with hands and using cold butter and ice cold water, as the 'tactile pleasures of pastry making' could only be enjoyed if you went in there and grabbed the bull by the horns, so to speak.

And it was amazing. Absolutely amazing! and so wonderful how the flour and butter mixed together in my hands, and became so soft and fluffly and so beautiful in my hands! And I can't help but agree with Nigel on this! It truly was a pleasure! And I would recommend that to anyone who was thinking of making a pastry at home. Use your hands! Nigel says you can always use a whip or a beater but there's really no need. And I agree! There's  really no need!

Ok, so the filling for the pie... I have been making a fruit jam-my sort of thing with syrup and butter and honey for my pancakes so I decided to go along with that with a few modifications. Into a saucepan, some butter, my peeled, chopped mangoes, and loads of sugar, cooked on medium high heat, till they become sort of soft, and then some water. Now on low heat, till it becomes gooey and delicious, with a final sprinkling of good cinammon powder (LOVE that stuff!), and set aside from the flame.

Next, greased my pie pan with a generous amount of butter, lined it with pastry, and put in the oven to heat up for a few minutes.

Got it out of the oven, and filled it with the mango mixture, and topped it with the pastry lid, covering the sides well, making a few pastry leaves for decoration on top :) that was optional of course. Perforated the top and sent to the oven for baking till golden brown, for about 55 minutes, checking every so often on it.

When it came out of the oven, it smelled oh-so-good, and looked good too, so I decided to take some pictures.

The acting-on-impulse thing continued into the evening as well, and I decided to make some cheese samosas with olives and oregano and black pepper. Gave me a few ideas for further modifications for a good tea time snack! The best part of it all, was working with flour. I absolutely LOVE it!

Inbetween it all, I watched Julie and Julia, for the third time, and fell in love with it all over again.

I want to read both of the books that the movie is based on, it would be great to read them! Want. Want. Want.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Sometimes it becomes necessary to view life from another perspective. I know that might sound clichéd, but it’s true, and without even realizing it, we all do it from time to time. The thing is, we – living in big cities, in our big buildings, with media all around us, and teachers and family and friends often dictating what we think, what we do, how we do what we do, how we look, how we talk, how we behave as human beings in general – often become disillusioned. The reality of what we perceive is not reality at all, but in fact, a distorted reality, meant to be fed as reality to you. And in the process of this feeding, we somehow become disillusioned ourselves along the way. So we don’t stop to ask ourselves, what is happening? Why it’s happening, what’s happening? Who allowed it to happen? Could it be cover-up to hide something from us? Are we being fooled into believing that there is no other world out there?

Well for me, the signs are everywhere. I have wrote about death, and how that’s not an end, but a beginning of something beautiful. I would continue with that line of thought in this post, by telling you about my recent venture into a personal research area that I have undertaken, primarily, to make sense of it all. You know, how often you find yourselves at a junction where you stop and think, what does it all mean? Is there a purpose to my existence? Why do I feel so clueless? How strong is my faith in God? How much does faith dictate and decide things for my life, and how much does society, or my own personal whims?

So as I said, the signs, that this life is in fact a small part of a much larger journey, of us journey beings, are everywhere. And the righteous, or the pious, or the spiritually attuned, if you will, are aware of this fact. But, there are those who do not want you to take that train of thought. There are those who want you to submerge in this world fully with all this eccentricities, its materialism, its shallowness, its fake and artificial principles, and become a part of the machine. Become a part of the system. The system that is made by them. The system that is designed to achieve a specific purpose. For you to keep on consuming from this system and to keep on producing for this system. And for you to believe in everything that the system dictates. To take everything the system dictates at face value.

When you think about death what do you think? Do you think of it as an end? Do you think of it as an end to your existence in this world? Or rather do you think of death as an end to your physical existence, but the continuation or the start of your spiritual journey? Something that I think about and believe is that we are spirits on a human journey, not humans on a spirit journey. When you think about that, all the mechanisms of this system will become clear to you and you would begin to understand what is happening around you. The consumer society, a part of the system, which wants you to get all, while you can, to hoard to stock, to invest in objects made by the system for you, to keep you busy, like ants, to keep on working in the system, so that you don’t ever have time to question yourself, if there is a higher purpose to your life, and to your existence in this world, is doing all it can to keep you in the mist.

Should you dare to lift the curtain of mist all around you, you would undoubtedly find the meaning of your life and existence on planet earth. Now I know this may sound clichéd too, but the fact remains that we become so used to our usual way of thinking about things, that we often don’t get the full picture. Part of the fault to this, lies with our brains, and how we use them. But ultimately, it’s the fault of the system, because it has made our mind into a machine, and boxed in our imagination of what can and can’t be. But the sky is the limit, remember the saying your teachers told you when you were young, referring to what you can achieve out of life. That is true. The sky really is the limit.

The thing to do right now, is to shed our outer layer so carefully designed by the system to adorn us. The exercise is to think about what human beings are doing to each other in modern times, in the past, and to question, and research why they did what they did. What we must do in order to live our life fully, is to forget about materialism, to forget about objects, money, career, in essence everything that ties us to this physical world, and find something that bonds us with the spiritual world, something that frees our minds.

Sunday, June 6, 2010


The times they are a-changing. But despite these changing times, and no matter how difficult goes the going, no matter how hard or difficult your journey is, the pursuit of happiness remains one of the most essential part of being human. Our human experience in this world is marked by this very pursuit. We seek something eternal beauty, eternal bliss, eternal happiness, eternal joy. And all the while, we are dying. Every single moment that you spend on this earth, living, breathing, brings you closer to your death. It is no wonder then, why we forget death. Because the experience of being human, being a living creature on this glorious planet, is just too beautiful to think about death. Yet if we observe even a small living creature on this planet that we live in, every plant, flower, insect or animal, we would find that there is an ultimate end to everything. No matter what, death is always looming there. And it is not an end, but a beginning of something else. Lending beauty and life to something else. Part of something, becoming the whole of something else.

In that sense, you go on living. You never cease to die. You never cease to exist. You are there in the earth, after you die. You are there in the flowers that grow on the earth. You are there in the air. You are in the animals that roam about the earth. You are part of every living thing that exists in this world. And you never go away.

So when you think about how hard your life is, or the problems that you are facing, of if you’re thinking that you just can’t handle all that’s going on in your life at the moment, then think that one day, you will be gone, and become part of the earth you are treading on. And it won’t matter how much money you made or did not make. It won’t matter if you managed to get that job, or that cute girl or guy, or that thing you have always wanted to get, you know the thing you coveted, and saved up all your money for. So forget your fears, and jump into the pond of life. Swim in and… live!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Free will versus Control. What comes to mind when you think of these terms? You wouldn't be surprised if you came across these terms held together with present times. But on closer research and inspection, you would find that these practices by government, state run institutions and federations have actually been with us since a very long time.

Everything you see in controlled. You are living in a controlled environment. You can't be free, unless you break free of the shackles around you. That is a long process. But absolutely essential if you wish to live a life without control. Freely.

More on this later.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

My Amazing Basic Pasta Recipe (with or without mashed potatoes)

I love pasta. I love it extra special if its creamy and juicy and full of flavour. Today I had an inspiration strike me in the afternoon, while lunch was almost done. This basic recipe can make any italian pasta of your choice, the best ever, depending on what you add in it afterwards.

Choose any kind of pasta you like. By all means, play around with ideas and get as creative as you can with food, that's the good thing about cooking, cause even if you go wrong once, you'll know what NOT to do next time, and hey, if you're right, then you're RIGHT! Kudos to you!

I used macaronni, cause that was the only one on the house. Boiled it with some salt and a spoonful of butter. You can use oil too if you like. Then in a separate pot, I boiled some wonderful golden potatoes for my mashed potatoes, cause I was having a huge craving for mashed potatoes with my pasta. Then got things together for the pasta. Finely chopped half an onion, a couple of cloves of garlic. And for mashed potatoes some corriander leaves, also finely chopped. It's fun to see your leaves diminishing in size as you chop, chop, chop them up. And the fragrance released from the oils of the leaves is just amazing, and will make your hands smell so nice.

Ok, so, then I got a pan ready for the sauce that goes with the macaronni. I made white sauce, which is so simple, yet so underrated, because, THAT I think is the magic ingredient to any pasta! Got together about two tablespoons of butter, let it melt on high medium heat. Added one and a half tablespoon of flour. Mixed it well with a wooden spoon. Slowly and in very small amounts added milk to this mixture, not adding more till the previously added milk wasn't completely mixed in, so as not to leave any blobs in it. Kept on doing this till the sauce gave a runny consituency, added salt and pepper, and my favourite, oregano - just a pinch and mashed between the palms of my hands. Superb! Some people also add cheese to their sauce, but I don't add any. There really is no need! :)

With the flame now set on medium, I added the boiled pasta into the sauce, so that all of the sauce coated it gorgeosly. And you're done!

Now, for the mashed potatoes, peeled them off one by one, broke them up in rough little pieces and all of it went into a big yellow bowl. Then with a fork (yes, a fork, it makes great mashed potatoes! A simple utensil like a fork can do wonders!) mashed them all up, and while they're still hot after being taken out of the boiling water, added butter in it, so it melted into the potatoes so wonderfully, and beautifully, I could see the golden butter abssorbing into my potatoes, and becoming so soft, I knew that if I put some in my mouth that it would melt almost instantly and most deliciously. Next, the chopped corrainder. Then for some salt and pepper, and the secret of my mashed potatoes, a little bit of milk, also added in intervals, and mixed together well, and some feta good cheese, only a spoonful, to add a little bit of sour taste.


Good variations can be made by adding pieces of chicken, mushrooms, olives, or pepperonni to your pasta. And I didn't follow any recipe here, I followed the basic structure, and then trusted my instincts with it. That's the best thing you can do!

And that was followed by a delicious, healthy cucumber and vegetable youghurt Mummy made! Mmm... perfect lunch on a hot summer day!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

What it takes...

A colleague once asked me to write something about what it takes to be a good news anchor, and mix it with food anologies. I thought it was an interesting topic, and could make for an interesting post. The conversation we had, was something to this effect:

So, what does it take to be a good news anchor?

Well, he/she should be spicy, full of energy and good nutrients.

Oh, but it takes long to prepare a good one.

Yes, but it's worth the effort.

There are many varieties of this dish.

Yes! and its one of the oldest recipes man has known.

It should ennervate you long enough to last you throughout the day's chores.

You have to know all, and I mean, ALL the ingredients to make it though.

Never go to the kitchen, without knowing that you have all your ingredients.

Be sure to add heat to it!

And spice! That's the life! The spice!


Those sound like the good parts of being an anchor. But, when it comes to delivering bad news, its just horrible. If its bad news, its double the responsibility of getting it done right! But there are good stories to be told too! Of human courage, and wonders and marvels, and human accomplishment, bravery, sacrifice... love and humanity. But still, those are few and far between.

I like the journalistic part of this job, the delving for information, getting information across to the viewer, treating it as your own personal story, while staying objective at the same time. There are still a lot of avenues yet to be discovered in this profession, espicially in a country such as Pakistan, with a considerably young media, that I would like to discuss in more detail in later posts.

As they say, Stay Tuned! :)

Monday, March 22, 2010

While we're on the subject of food, and strawberries, I thought it would be great to write this post, about the latest adventure with strawberries!

While waiting for my class to begin, I decided to stroll to the Pancake Lounge, and it being a hot and tiring day, decided to help myself to some strawberry kiwi milkshake and a strawberry cream tart.

Now, there's something about fresh strawberries and cream that are bound to cheer you up any day! I don't know the recipe for this one, but it should be easy enough to make.

Here is one more :)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Strawberries and Chocolate

Yesterday, I had a quick inspiration with some Cadbury chocolate and some fresh red strawberries! Yeah I know, the strawberries are just not finishing! There are still some in the fridge right now I think. With the old marriage between chocolate and strawberries being ever so popular, I decided to make my own version of it.

Some mini Cadbury's went onto a plate and into the microwave, (now I know, that's not the ideal way to melt your chocolate, you should be doing it in a saucepan, giving it some indirect heat, but I was using such a small amount of chocolate to begin with, that most of it would have been stuck to my pan, and wouldn't have left much for my strawberries!) then simply wash your strawberries and use them out of the fridge, so they're cold. Dip them in your melted chocolate, and enjoy each bite. This is so yummy, you'll want to eat this every time you're hungry. But only eat a small portion, otherwise, you'll get sick!


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Savoury fried toasts

This simple recipe also demands a little bit of more time than your usual rushy mornings, and would be best to make if you have time on your hands in the morning. A breakfast recipe like the previous one. My mother has been making this for a long time now, so we practically grew up eating this! Its made from a local ingredient, chickpea powder, which I think is available in most markets everywhere across the world now. You make a paste with this powder, like you do with a savoury snack such as 'pakoras', eaten frequently in rainy seasons and during Ramazan.

So here's what you do. All the ingredients are very simple, and nothing that you cannot find in a typical Pakistani kitchen.

In a mixing bowl, take about one to one and a half cups of chickpea flour (or locally known as baisan). In it mix about one tsp of salt, one tsp red chilli powder, one to two tsp cumin seeds, ajwaain seeds, which my mother tells me this morning are very good, and aid digestion (btw these are cellery seeds), a little bit of freshly crushed black pepper, dhania powder or khatai powder. Now mix in a little water and with a spoon mix it well until it gives you the consisteny which can cover the back side of your mixing spoon well, so its neither too thick nor too runny, and should ideally cover your toasts well.

Now heat about 2 tbsp of cooking oil in a frying pan. Next, cut your bread slices in whatever shape you want - I like mine in triangles. Take these bread pieces, dip them in your batter well, so they cover both sides, be careful not to allow them to soak up too much of the mixture, otherwise your bread pieces will break, and gently lower them in the pan on high medium heat, until they get a nice golden colour on both sides.

Serve them up with ketchup or salsa sauce, or smear a little garlic paste on them.

Today I had them with fresh strawberry milkshake. Totally divine! And very delicious!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Chocolate Pancakes

If you wake up one morning, and you realize you have some time on your hands, without the rushing to the office/getting ready for your work nuisances to bother you, try this simple recipe, of chocolate pancakes, that is bound to make your day, any day! And I'm not just saying that, I really mean it, cause I've tried it!

In one of my previous posts, I wrote about pancakes, but I couldn't make any day, since there was no flour in the kitchen. But a few days ago, I was having a huge craving for some chocolate pancakes, so decided, today's going to be the day.

So here's what you do. A simple no fuss recipe. I've been making pancakes (simple ones, with vanilla essence and no chocolate) for some time, so don't measure my ingredients any more, instead go with instincts, and the good old bowls in the kitchen.

Ok, its pretty easy.

First get some bowls and spoons handy. Next measure out and sift about 2 cups of flour. Add in 2 to 3 teaspoon (tsp) baking powder. Now add about 4 to 5 tablespoons (tbsp) good quality chocolate powder. I use Cadbury's. You can never go wrong with Cadbury's.

Mix it all in with a spoon.

Now, in another bowl, you beat together one egg with about 6 tbsp of white sugar, but you can use golden or castor sugar, whichever you prefer. Take this egg mixture to your flour mixture and mix together. You'll find that it doesn't really mix well, which is ok, because you have to add the milk in it now, which is the last ingredient. About 2 cups of thick milk and give it a good whisk, till you can see no visible lumps. Its worth the effort, even if it tires you out, because your pancakes are going to be great.

Some people use butter or oil for frying the pancakes in the pan, but I mix mine in the batter. About 5 tbsp of good quality butter or margerine, melted goes into your pancake mixture and this is really great, as it adds a good, smooth texture to your mixture, and makes great pancakes.

Fry on high-medium heat, till both sides are golden, and oh, use a non-stick pan, that is absolutely essential to make great pancakes.

Serve out and stack one atop the other. Pour over some chocolate syrup, whichever you like, I use Hershey's. And here's a little secret! If you have strawberries, slice them up and crown your beauties with the red fruit! MMmmmmm!!!


Dig in with your favourite coffee, and your having a breakfast fit for a king!

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Today as I'm sitting in my workplace, on this golden March morning, I witnessed something not too strange or out of the ordinary, yet it deserves to be mentioned here, because it brought forth some memories of my previous workplace.

I'm sitting in the newsroom, across the door that leads to the rooftop passage leading to the other part of the building, going into the studios and other departments. The door was left ajar to let the fresh air in, and before you knew it, a sparrow had made its way inside the newsroom. The bird fluttered here and there and perched on top of the metal box containing wires and electrical outlets, near the ceiling of the wall parallel to me.

I sat watching it, looking at its small brown intelligent eyes, looking at its surroundings, before it flew away from its seat further into the distance.

At once, images flashed across my mind, of a pigeon I had seen, similarly flying in the top most floor of my previous workplace, trapped for several hours, finding no exit. As soon as people tried to come near it to take it away and set it free, it would fly away to some other corner, near the top of the walls of the floor. This carried on for quite some time, and people came up with their own suggestions and solutions on how to set the poor creature free. The little bird must have been exhausted from flying this way and that, and hungry and thirsty no doubt. After a while, we saw how the effort was taking its toll on it, as its little white feathers were scattered throughout the office.

I don't remember who captured the bird finally, but somebody did with a cloth wrapped around its body, and its little heart must have been beating frantically at this point...

Funny how some things, trigger some memories.

Like a bird trapped in a cage...