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

Monday, July 23, 2012

Some of my favourite things

The smell of vanilla lingering on my fingers. The first peeling of an orange in autumn. Or the bite of summer's first ripe, juicy mango. The smell of coffee in the morning. Or in the afternoon. Or at night. Cinnamon wafting with chocolate in the oven. Family photos. The wind scurrying through my hair. Winter's sun falling on my face. Friends. My pillow caressing my head, engulfing me in deep, peaceful sleep after a long, long, LONG day. The first bite of a chocolate. A warm, comforting hug and a kiss. Family. Listening to music on headphones while traveling in a bus. Long road trips. Cinnamon. Bob Marley. Slumber parties with my friends. Cats! and kittens! Cooking in the kitchen. Learning something new. Travelling. Reading. Snuggling in a warm bed with hot chocolate and a good book. Hot tea. Rain. Thunderstorms. The earth as it smells after a rain. Playing with my niece and nephew. My sisters. Photography. Winter. Christopher Pike. Long naps in the afternoon. Marbles. Going out with friends. Opening up the closet to take out clothes for the new season and realizing how much I missed wearing them, or forgotten some had even existed! Movies. Popcorn. Walking. Working. The smell of my hair after a shampoo. Dressing up. High heels. Long nights. Helping someone. Spongebob squarepants. Praying and meditation. Writing. Theatre. Nigella Lawson. Shelling peanuts on a cold, wet winter day. Vampires, vampire books and vampire films. Cluedo, the game. Origami. Playing with clay. Scribbling and doodling. Science! Chocolate fudge cake. Sweet strawberries. Tidying up my room. Memories. Pigging out on huge pizzas with friends or family. The smell of barbecue food. Nigel Slater. Cartoon films from my childhood. Doughnuts. Listening to the sound of rain. Quiet moments by myself. Perfumes. Laughing at a joke, or with someone. Trees. The idea of designing my own house someday, and from time to time thinking, as inspiration strikes, I would want that in my house, or I would like to have a wall painted this way, and hang that there, or put that there. Abida Parveen. A dream kitchen. Fresh fruit. French fries with cheese sauce on a cold, windy day. Cashew nuts. A  big, juicy steak. New clothes. Jewellery. The idea of what I would do if I had this and this much money. My college. Art. Meeting new people. Going to art galleries by my self. Archaeology. Bruce Springsteen. Love stories. Sea shells. Coming home after a tiring day to a house smelling of Mummy's biryani cooking. My books. The idea of a perfect bathroom with a bathtub to soak myself and indulge in, some day. Pasta. Colours. Stationary. Paints. Drawing with charcoal on a big sheet of paper. Chicken karahi. The smell of roses. Running my fingers through my hair, lying in bed. Sleeping. Packing for a vacation. Desi writers. The idea of going to Turkey, France, Italy, Egypt or Morocco some day and exploring the places and the local cuisine. Lasagna. Stringy cheese. Animals. 3D movies in cinema. Henna designs. Festivals. Nihari. Bulleh Shah. Books from my childhood. The smell of old books as I open them up, hold them near my face and close my eyes to let the fragrance sweep me away. Writing stories. Making up things in my head. Nat King Cole. A hot, juicy burger when I'm starving. Jazz music. Classical Indian and Pakistani music. Qatlamma with chilled coke. Pancakes, preferably with strawberries or blueberries and whipped cream and maple syrup. Anne Rice. Corn on the cob. Samosas. Parks. Old libraries. Oscar Wilde. Horror films. Mysticism. Chocolate melting on my fingers and in my mouth. Cinnamon rolls. Berry flavoured lip gloss. Getting ready for a party. Making hand made cards. Presents! A breakfast of paratha, aam ka achaar, spicy onion and chili omellete and chai. Wind chimes. Big warm sweaters. Cookies baking in the oven. My mother's hug! Monsoon rains. Sausages. Cold coffee. Nutella. Walnut brownies with ice-cream. Tutti Fruitti frozen yogurt. Marshmallows. Picnics in the outdoors in spring. Snuggling in the bed with the quilt and blankets raised up to my chin. Acting. Making films. History and Philosophy. Crunching into a fresh, juicy apple. Halwa poori. Crunchy sushi. Watching the sunset. Lemonade. Spicy noodles. A Song of Ice and Fire book series. Going out for sheesha with friends. Chocolate Molten Lava cake with ice-cream. Baby powder/lotion. Doing something stupid and then laughing about it later. Singing a song to myself. Coloured paper. Legends and myths.Cream cheese. Scrap-booking. Sidney Sheldon. Thick, soft, woolly scarves.

More will be added to this list soon... I'm sure of it.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Red beans, sweet corn and couscous salad

Middle Eastern cuisine makes a lot of use of beans of different sorts with couscous. So, to give it a Middle Eastern twist, for dinner yesterday, I made a salad in two parts, if you can call it that, since it can go very well with rice, with chicken, as a side dish with any meal, or simply on it's own. Given the high protein value of beans and health benefits of couscous, I could say that this is a very healthy, filling meal and very enjoyable, especially with all the colours and variety of textures.

I wanted to make a salad with lots of fresh, crunchy vegetables, and use couscous to add another dimension to it. I used tomatoes, cucumber, fresh green coriander, mint leaves, lemon juice, sweet corn and of course the red kidney beans.

The beans should be given a good time to soak, preferably overnight, or a good solid couple of hours. Then they need to boiled at a high temperature in salted water. To this I added cream, milk, some bbq sauce and the sweet corn and half of the couscous.

The veggies were chopped up in small chunks, the coriander and mint added to them and squeezed on top with the lemon juice, followed by the remaining half of the couscous.

Now, here is what you can do, you can combine the two together, i.e. the veggies and the beans or you could pile them separately onto your plate. Either way, it's pretty good, and excellent on top of freshly toasted buttered bread.

Thursday, July 12, 2012


On a bed of roses
I sit drunk on honey
falling into a dream
of pink petals
and red forests
with a thousand diamonds
shining through a lake.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Fusilli with spinach and couscous

Fusilli with spinach and couscous

I saw this recipe on tv, and added some variations of my own. A very easy one, and quite good for a summer lunch. I suppose it would be really good with some grilled chicken or some tuna, or even some white sauce, but there is no need to make a thick sauce for this recipe I think, since the fusilli seems quite delicious and refreshing without any sauce to weigh it down.

3 cups of fusilli pasta
1/2 kg spinach bundle
1 cup of couscous or breadcrumbs
2 cups chicken or beef stock*
1 egg
a couple of garlic cloves
1 tsp crushed nutmeg
dried basil
dried oregano
chili flakes
salt and pepper to taste
parmesan cheese for garnishing
extra virgin olive oil
vegetable oil for frying

*Omit if using bread crumbs instead of couscous, and use just a half cup of stock for making the sauce.

Boil the pasta as per the packet instructions in boiling, salted water for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and drizzle with the extra virgin olive oil to avoid clumping. Wash the spinach thoroughly to get rid of dirt. Cut the stalks from the spinach leaves and wash again, then drain away all the excess water. In a big pan, cook the spinach without any water just until a little tender, for about 2 minutes. Drain and cool in the fridge or freezer.

Heat two cups of water in a pan and dissolve ready made chicken stock or use fresh if you like. In a heat proof bowl, layer the couscous evenly. Then pour over1and a 1/2 cups of the hot chicken stock and cover for 20 minutes. Fluff it up with a fork and set aside.

After the spinach has cooled, blend it in the food processor. Add the couscous, salt and pepper, basil and oregano, and some of the crushed garlic and nutmeg. Finally add the egg and blitz well. Scrape out the mixture, and form cakes or balls and set in the fridge to cool. Meanwhile, heat some vegetable oil in a shallow frying pan and fry the spinach cakes on each side on medium heat for 2 minutes. Take them out on a kitchen towel to absorb the excess oil.

Reduce the half cup of chicken stock that was left and add some extra virgin olive oil, chili flakes, the rest of the crushed garlic, basil, oregano and salt and pepper to make a sauce. Toss the pasta in the sauce and serve in bowls immediately with the spinach and couscous cakes. Garnish with Parmesan cheese.


This recipe made a good amount of leftovers, so for lunch yesterday, I made a white sauce with cheese for the fusilli pasta, and guess what? I guess I was wrong about the sauce weighing the pasta down, for it complimented it brilliantly! Browsing through the history and recipes for fusilli pasta, I came to know that it's broad, spirally shape was perfect for dunking in bucket loads of sauce or gravy. So, I made the white sauce and melt some cheddar cheese in it, seasoned it well with salt and white pepper and sprinkled generously with basil and oregano. Dunked the fusilli in the sauce to absorb some of the gorgeous flavours and chopped up some breakfast sausages and together with the spinach and couscous cakes, they made for a fabulous lunch, which I ate in hearty mouthfuls :) 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Breakfast sausages with herby tomatoes

A fairly easy breakfast recipe AND greatly satisfying, too, if I do say so myself. A quick foray into the fridge this morning (and my craving for something meaty and herby yet fresh), revealed some small breakfast sausages, ripe, red tomatoes and Italian bread. So, here it is, plain and simple but so delectable!

4 small breakfast sausages
1 medium tomato
2 slices of Italian bread
dried basil
a splash of balsamic vinegar
a splash of extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Cut the sausages in half lengthwise. This will give you 8 pieces of sausage, 4 for each individual bread slice. Chop up the tomato. Splash with the balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with dried basil. Add in salt and pepper. Mix the sausages and the tomato well with this dressing. I loved using my hands to coat the sausages in the fragrant dressing and seeing the tomatoes glisten and come alive with it! Next, toast the Italian bread, and put the sausages on top and then spoon in the tomatoes with the herby dressing. That's it! Chomp away!

I wish I had a little patience to take a few pictures, but I was too hungry to bother about taking any!

Can't wait to try more variations of this one :)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


Fear makes us do irrational things. Fear of the unknown. Fear of the known. Fear of objects around us. Fear  of people. And sometimes fear of ourselves. We sometimes do not know what we are capable of and we become afraid of own selves. 

If the only thing stopping us from reaching our full, true potential as living, breathing human beings, is our fear, then why don't we let it go? Because, the fact is, it is not that easy to let go of these fears. They take root in our minds, and rise out like a shooting plant, sheltering and taking over everything else. 

Therefore, we must not let this fear handicap us. If you're afraid of the dark, stay in a dark room until the fear leaves you, transform it into something else. You'll often find that when you let go of fear, it will be replaced by some logical transformation or understanding on your part. When we were children, and were afraid of the 'bogey man' hiding in the cupboard or under our beds, what did our parents tell us? That it was nothing, all our imagination, that there was no such thing as a 'bogey man', and they would take our hands and maybe show us the space in the cupboard or under the bed, from where our fears took birth, and tell us, that look, see, there's nothing there, there's nothing to be afraid of. They would no doubt comfort us, snuggle us back into bed, tell us a story, tuck a toy under our chins, kiss our foreheads or hug us to sleep and we would know everything would be alright in the morning, and that their comforting embraces would be waiting for us in the bright mornings the next day and they would smile and beam at us and all our fears would magically dissipate.

As adults, we might not have the luxury of our parents smiling away at the ghosts in our life; that responsibility becomes ours as soon as we earn the title of adults, like a lot of other things. But sometimes, the residual fear from our childhood remains and lingers on like indelible ink, mingling with our thoughts and our beliefs even as we grow up and mature and long into old age even. It is almost like a bad wound, that just wouldn't go away. But like all wounds, it cannot just magically disappear. You have to treat it and take care of it like all other wounds. Give it time, take your meds, that sort of thing. But since fear is all in the mind, you have to take care of your thoughts. 

You have to will it to transform. There is no other way to make it go away. Do not be afraid. That is the worst thing you can do to yourself. Do not let it take over and control you. Be confident, be happy, and be sure that you have the power inside of you. You are capable of great things and of loving and caring for other people and everything that exists in this world. Realize the miracle that your life is and treat yourself kindly. This is what I want to tell people. That is what I think people today need to understand, because they don't have enough belief in themselves, for their fear has taken over their power. Do not let that happen to you. Be brave and fight it.