Lets do it!

This blog has been on my to-do-list since years. The idea has always been the same and simple. A little platform to express and communicate my random thoughts and rants. A little disclaimer before i began. I am neither an expert in any field nor a professional writer. So expect a lot of grammatical errs and simple daily life lively reviews.

I am writing this first post to encourage all of you out there who have a wish to start up a blog, who wish to say something, who have a river of ideas and thoughts rambling inside them. Come on guys, write up. Its time. If i can do it, so you can. Time shall pass like always. Hold it this time and say it all.

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Pineapple Tiramisu!!

I am a tiramisu lover and i make it way too often. But bored with the regular one i have come up with different versions of it. Here’s the one perfect for summer.

Ingredients:

  1. Philadelphia cream cheese 200gms
  2. Thick Cream 500ml
  3. One large tin of pineapple
  4. Condensed milk to taste
  5. Italian lady finger biscuits 
  6. Caramel sauce 
  7. Candi biscuits (optional)
  8. Walnuts

Recipe:

  1. Whip cream cheese and add thick cream to eat and whip more.
  2. Add condensed milk to it  and mix well,  just enough to add sweetness as per your taste.
  3. Add pineapple chunks.
  4. Dip lady fingers in pineapple syrup and layer at the bottom of the dish. You may use sponge cake if you cannot find ladyfingers.
  5. Spread the mixture of cheese, cream and pineapple chunks that you prepared before over the biscuits layer.
  6. Break candi biscuits in small pieces and sprinkle on the top. You may use lotus biscuits if you cant find candi. (Optional)
  7. Sprinkle chopped walnuts and drizzle caramel sauce in the last, chill it well in the fridge and serve.

See how easy it is. You are surely going to love it. Try and give me feedback.

Note: I also make a spin off this version sometimes, which also tastes great equally. Instead of pineapple i use fruit cocktail. You can make it with cocktail as well. And i call it Tropical Tiramisu. So if you dont have pineapple you may use fruit cocktail. Enjoy.

The Tamarind Chuttney!

Ramazan Kareem everyone. Hope you all are having a blissful time. You must have done a lot of preps for ramazan or are you like me who dint do much. So when everyone around me was raving about ramazan preps, i was getting a little paranoid that i haven’t done much. A toddler in the house and living alone abroad isnt very easy sometimes. 

So to keep up with the ramazan preps what i did i ordered some home made aftari stuff and made this tamarind chuttney, which turned out amazing.

Before i start off with the recipe let me tell you a hack which may help you. On my last trip to karachi, i found this pack of tamarind paste at Motta’s which is free of seeds and the tamarind peel just strained clean tamarind paste ready to use. Tadaaaaa. So that means it will cut short the chuttney making time with no pre soaking or pre boiling required and the tedious process of getting rid of the seeds. Heres the pack that i got.

Here’s my recipe.

Ingredients: 

  1. Tamarind paste 400gms which is equivalent to 1 kg of normal imli you buy.
  2. Water 4 glasses
  3. Sugar 2 cups or to taste
  4. Red chilli powder 1 and a half tblsp or to taste
  5. Salt to taste
  6. My Secret ingredient: Chaat Masala 2 tblsp or to taste.

Note: i kept adjusting the spices until they reached my desired taste. So they may vary from the above stated quantity. Thats why i wrote to taste. You may start by adding less and build it up accoriding to your taste buds.

Method:

  1. Pour 4 glasses of water and tamarind paste in the pan and mix well.
  2. Turn on the heat and let it cook.
  3. Add salt, sugar and chilli powder, let it cook, keep stirring and you may adjust spice level according to tour taste. You may add more water if you like.
  4. Lastly add the secret ingredient thats the chaat masala. If you haven’t been adding it uptil now, add it and you will be surprised what zing it can bring to your chuttney.
  5. Check and adjust sugar and salt once again. Keep cooking until it has reached your desired taste and thickness.
  6. Cool it down, transfer to the jar and refrigerate.

See how easy it is to make a tamrind chuttney. You can easily find tamarind pastes in your super market. I have seen jars of tamarind paste in muscat as well. So if you havent made it uptil now. You may try making it this easy way. Happy Ramazan once again and remember me in prayers.

F for Frittata!

Last few days before ramazan means catching up with friends over breakfast, coffee mornings and brunches. So when i hosted a brunch over my place, i faced the dilemma to chose a breakfast dish to add to my duo.

After going through the recipes of several baked omelettes, shakshukas and breakfast quiches, i came up with my own version of Frittata. Luckily the experiment went great and it was a hit among guests. So here’s the no fail easy breezy recipe:

Ingredients:

  • Eggs – 12
  • Vegetables of your choice: i added Mushrooms, Capsicum all colours red, green, yellow and orange, Peas, Corns, Spring onion – Quantity as much as you like
  • Grated mozrella cheese – a hand full i took
  • Cheddar cheese slices – 4 ( you may use grated)
  • Milk – 100ml
  • Oil to grease the baking dish and to sautee veggies
  • Salt, black pepper, red chilli powder – to taste
  • Dried basil and oregano – a few pinches

Method:

  1. In a pan take a lil bit of butter, add mushrooms to it, sprinkle little salt and pepper.
  2. When mushrooms are toasted add other vegetables and just sautee a bit. For peas and corn, boil them first. Set aside the veggies to cool down.
  3. In a mixing ball crack 12 eggs and beat them up. Add milk and whip some more.
  4. Season the mixture with salt, black pepper and red chilli powder as per your taste.
  5. Add the sauteed vegetables and cheese.
  6. Add a few pinches of dried oregano and basil and mix it all up.
  7. Grease a dish and pour this mixture into it. 
  8. Refrigerate for an hour. I made it at night, refrigerated and baked in the morning.
  9. Preheat oven to 180 °C and bake for 30 mins or until a knife inserted comes out clean.
  10. Serve with your choice of sides, i did with beans along with herbed and grilled chicken franks and veggies. Enjoy!

    Can it conceal?

    When i was a child i wished so hard to wear eye glasses and it was granted. But ever since i started to develop panda eyes also because i love to read even in the worst light. Growing up, i realized eye glasses wasnt that fun and i need to improve my panda look. 

    So i looked around and tried various concealors, peachy, orangy and even the red lipstick tricks. Some of it worked and some dint. Since last year i have been hearing about Nars creamy concealor but than the reviews said its expensive and finishes quickly so i kept shrugging off the idea. 

    One day i saw a post on insta by nars about their new soft matte concealor pots. The reviews on the internet were good and everyone suggested a little goes a long way. So on my recent trip to italy, while waiting at the train station in florence i popped inside the sephora. Yes you heard me right they had a sephora inside their train station. 

    So i had like barely 10 minutes to decide and purchase (thanks to my dear husband who agreed to mind the cranky toddler and luggage). So i went straight to nars counter and picked up this tiny pot. One stroke on my under eye and i knew, it is not my usual concealor. It was blending beautifully with amazing coverage. I spent a few more minutes in trying on different shades and ended up buying it in shade ‘ginger’ medium 2. It retails for euro 30.5.

    The first time i applied it, i felt as if i wasted my money, i blended it with the beauty blender and it vanished leaving behind grey undereyes. A quick search on the internet suggested to blend it with fingers or a brush and i realized at the counter i used my fingers to blend. So the 2nd time, i applied it with my fingers and yes it did the magic. This time i made the mistake of setting it with powder and it creased towards the end of hours. So third time i wore it on its own and it went very well. And i also use a orange corrector underneath it. 

    Let me tell you a few facts about it. Its a matte concealor so it tends to dry up. If you have dry skin may be you should get the old creamy concealor version or make sure you moisturize the under eye area well and avoid setting it with powder or use very little depending upon your skin type. I would suggest moisturize your under eye any way before wearing it. It is indeed a full coverage concealor. 

    The shades have same names and are very much similar in pigment to the older ones, so if you know your shade in creamy concealor you can just pick that shade in this one. When you will use your fingers to blend, the warmth in your fingers will let it melt and make blending easy so try blending with fingers first and than adjust with the brush if you wish. A little of it does go a long way.

    So i will totally recommend this to anyone who is facing the dilemma of panda eyes. Happy concealing 

    Charcoal Chemistry!

    All my life i have been avoiding face masks that they may damage my sensitive skin. Now i even wonder why did i because they can actually bring good to your skin, if you choose the right type. During the past months i have been noticing the “charcoal mask fever” around and its apparent wonders to the skin but i wasn’t able to get my hands on one.

    On a recent trip to turkey, i popped in a shop on istiklal street to get a sunblock for my son. While looking around i noticed charcoal masks, ofcourse i had to i impulsively pick one which looked promising to me but since the description was in turkish and it made no sense to me i thought to confirm it from the sales girl.

    To my surprise she told me to get the other mask because the one i picked is not that good. I gave her that look, “oh you trying to sell me your favourite brand girl, i know this strategy”. The lady kept insisting the other one is better so i asked her to elaborate “why so?”. She told me the one i chose is peel off and is used only around the nose area not all over the face and its not that effective as it claims while the other one is better and you just put it on and wash it off. 

    Right in that moment i visualized that my mommy brain compeltely forgot that this peel off is around the nose only and i have put it all over my face and now i am one of those charcoal face masks disaster videos on social media. So i dropped all my dreams of that satisfying peeling that would have caught all the grime from my face and picked the safer option. 

    Back home when the boys went to bed, and i had a little me time, it was time to try my new mask. Its a nice grey colour and a pleasent odour, i think it felt a bit warm on my skin when applied ofcourse that us due to activated charcoal. I let it dry for roughly twenty minutes, it felt super tight towards the end and when i washed it off my skin looked better than before.

    Just to be sure if i am imagining the somewhat even tone soft glow or is it for real, i checked it in two different lights, lolzzz. Infact i thought to wait until the morning and yes it stayed. Also i felt some of my sprouting acne friends kind of submerged. Yes they are my friends because they never leave me. So my friends yes it seem to work well. Lets see with repeat applications what wonders it can bring to my tierd mommy face. Dont remember its price exactly but it wasnt big bucks. 

    The packaging says it helps with both white heads and black heads and overall helps with the unhealthy skin. It should be left for 10 mins on face, well i did 20 lolzz and can be used once a week or as needed. It has got activated charcoal, well ofcourse but with that there is dragon fruit and cinnamon extract too. A quick search on internet told me it is available at boots, i wonder if its here in oman as well. Anybody see this anywhere please update us. For the time being lets keep an eye on the next person who visits turkey. Lolzzz

    The Hijabi Newbie!

    Ok so first things first, taking a hijab or not is a matter of personal choice. I will not debate on that. I have been always in awe of those who do hijab and somehow the other couldnt muster up the courage to do it, until i actually did it and i was surprised how easily i breezed into this new avatar. 

    A part of credit i will give to my family and friends who kept encouraging me, were very supportive and kept telling me how nice i looked in hijab. Yes those words were very encouraging to someone who was scared of shifting into a new attire, thank you so much guys. 

    Taking hijab is just not the head covering thing, but actually it requires a change on the whole to your wardrobe as well. When you do hijab, you have to respect it in a way. In the begininng i was really skeptical about it, i will look like an aunty, no more pretty hairdos and so on. Scared of that ‘auntie-look’ when ever i mustered up courage to begin, i would take a random scarf or dupatta and try to drape it at home infront of the mirror and would quickly take it off and would just put off this idea. 

    The key is to prepare for it before hand and to go easy on yourself. Please dont worry about ‘what others will say’ and focus on your sanity. It is very important. Okay so what i did, i looked into my wardrobe and came up with some basic colours for my scarfs to match them. So first i bought a few basic coloured scarf. 

    The material of the scarf is very important. I chose 100% viscose scarfs. I liked the way those scarfs drape around your head and keeps your head cooler in the heat. I bought two undercaps for the starters as well, for the chiffon and silky scarfs. They wont stay put on your head without the undercap and will make you miserable otherwise. 

    Than i bought a bunch of nice scarf pins to hold them in place. Now comes the draping part. You may watch several tutorials on the internet and come up with something that suits you. For me it all seemed so complicated and made me even more confused. I even asked a few hijabi friends how they do it but it dint make much sense to me. 

    Honestly everyone has different facial cut so if something suits to one, it might not suit another one. Hijab style is kinda personalized, atleast what i have understood about it. 

    So what i did. I stood infront of the mirror and started to drape the scarf around my head. At first, i was taken a back, nothing seem to work for me, but slowly and gradually i came up with my own way of drapping and its nothing complicated. Seriously for all of you who are stuggling like me, try yourself, you will come up with something, it doesnt have to be fancy and slowly and gradually you will build it from there. 

    The other aspect is to work on your wardrobe. For shorter tops, you may pair it with a trench coat or use your old gowns with belt, over jeans or pair it with skirts. You may also try wearing long dresses and frocks. This season generation has come up with nice long frocks. For desi attire chose nice kurtas and pair them with matching scarfs. 

    A word on building your scarf treasure, give it some time, slowly and gradually keep adding to it. For printed clothes go for plain scarfs and for simple plain clothes go for printed scarfs. They are widely available now in pakistan and across middle east. So you need a mix of printed and basic colours scarfs. 

    What you can do is take a look at your wardrobe on the whole and come up with basics colours that would go with the most of them like i did. Get them first and than slowly build from there. Trust me i am still doing that.

    You may also get some nice hair accessorize like a head band or a fancy hair pin especially for weddings. You may also fold your dupattas in half and drape them over like a scarf for your fancy dresses at weddings and your lawn joras but wear a cap underneath if they are of silk or chiffon.

    So all those there who are in a state like i was in, if you keep these tips in mind, it may really help you to move in to this new avatar. Keep up the good thoughts and happy hijabing. 

    The best journey of my life!

    The one big wish for every muslim is to make that sacred journey to fulfill the rukan of hajj once in their lifetime. Last year i got blessed with this opportunity. Here, i am going to jot down my experience and a few tips which might come handy to anyone travelling this year and ahead. We chose a private hajj package by “alkhair hajj & umrah” and that was probably the best decision. They made our trip as much smooth as possible. Everything was so well organized and planned out. I will highly recommend it to any one who has plans to travel this year for hajj.  They assisted us in every aspect and made our experience truly comfortable. 

    We chose the 12 days package. We stayed in azizia and paid extra for a private room. Since we went near hajj and had very less time, we stayed only in azizia in makkah and not a hotel, because eventually everyone has to move to azizia and by the time we reached makkah people were already moving back to azizia for hajj. 

    Our building was good and accomodation was overall satisfying. The good part was that it was near mina which made our commute relatively easier to mina and jamarat. The key is to expect less, hajj is hardwork, though they will try to make it easier for you, yet it still would require a lot of will power and physical strength on your part. 

    In madina we were in hotel movenpick which was right infront of the gate of masjid e nabwi. It was the best experience. Below are a few tips which might come handy.

    1. Choose your package and organizer wisely: Don’t choose just any hajj service provider, make sure you have chosen your travel agent after strong recommendations. They may come with flashy offers but on the surface it may become very difficuilt for you in saudia. Also, if possible make plan with like minded family or friends, it will make your experience even more easier and memorable.
    2. Patience is the key: Hajj can be very tiresome and takes a toll on your mental and physical strength. There will be a lot of people, all from various backgrounds, different living styles and there you will have to interact with them and have to live with them eventually in mina, arafat and muzdalfa. You may experience pushing in crowdy situations, plan your rami and tawaf accordingly. Move to top floors if ground floor gets rushy and try to avoid peak hours yet you may find it anyway.
    3. Light handcarry: Carry a light handcarry like a light back pack, mostly provided by your travel agent. It will keep you comfortable. You may use a cross sling bag with it. The lighter back pack can be used to keep your shoes while in haram.
    4. Pack comfortable, light and soft clothes: I got a few ready made stiched plain malai lawn shalwar qameez from khaadi’s outlet shop which was on discount and cost me even below 900pkr each. The idea is to select the most comfortable, soft and breatheable material, since during summer days temperature soars, there will be a huge crowd and you will be wearing an abaya on the top.
    5. Carry three abayas atleast: You may get facilities to wash clothes but still i would suggest to take three abayas. Two of malai lawn in light colours to help with the summer heat and one you can take black in the regular abaya material. Try to get abayas with pockets, you will be surprised to see how handy those pockets will be during hajj days.
    6. Try the scarf and cap before hand: The scarf may be lose and the cap may become uncomfortable. For the cap, buy the one which ties at the back instead of an elastic one. During hajj you are not allowed to use hair pins or make a high hair bun and you have to avoid hair breakage. So you can make a pony or a braid and the cap with ties at the back can be easily adjusted accordingly.
    7. Personal care: During ahraam you cannot wear anything with fragrance. Even soaps and shampoos should be fragrance free. For soap either get fragrance free paper soap or cut the bar of fragrance free soap into small cubes which you can easily carry around with you and throw after using.
    8. Comfortable shoes: Take one pair of sneakers /joggers and some pairs of cheap socks, they will come handy in your long walks from azizia to mina and jamarat. Instead of buying a sandal last minute before leaving for hajj, either take your sandals which you are already using and you know are very comfortable, or test try the shoes a month before, so that you may know if the shoes can cause discomfort of any sort before hand. Invest in a good shoe but test try it because sometimes even an expensive shoe can cause discomfort.
    9. Protect yourself from heat: Carry a small umbrella which can actually prevent the heat from passing. Carry sunshades with you, if you wear glasses get yourself power sunshades. Take ORS tablets with you and drink up on them to avoid physical weakness caused by heat.
    10. Read up on hajj literature and make notes: You will be given lots of literature to read, some of it is to prepare you spiritually and other is for the practical aspects of hajj and how it is performed. Depending upon your time sift through them. Mostly the books which details the practical aspects of hajj are made in pocket size, to make them handy during hajj days. But the most helpful approach will be to skim through the books and make your own notes in a small pocket size diary. In this diary you can also write the duas and the names of persons who have asked you for dua. Get yourself educated on how hajj is performed beforehand, start learning talbih and duas, and if you have any friends going with you, you may sit togather and discuss the process and the method. It will also help you memorize.
    11. Prepare yourself physically: Prepare your body for the hardships of hajj. Make a routine to walk if your physical activity is minimum at the moment. If you have any elderly travelling with you, ask them to start going for a walk as well. It will help them to catch up with the tiresome walk during hajj days.
    12. Carry a small size spray bottle: It will help you to refresh yourself with a spary of water all over you in the sultry heat and you can do wazu with it where ever you are, because bathrooms are at a distance. Also public bathrooms might not be in a very good state. Alkhair have their own private bathrooms in mina only, which are cleaned regularly.
    13. Documents: Triple check your documents and make their photocopies and keep separate sets of your photocopied documents. You may require them at multiple places.
    14. Luggage tags: Usually private travel operators privide you with luggage and luggage tags but since all of them look alike it will be a good idea to tie a distinct tag to your own luggage like any particular colour ribbon. You will be surprised to see that how easily it will help you to spot your luggage among thousands of similar bags at the airport and afterwards.

    If any of you wants to know anything, feel free to message me or email. I will be glad to be of any help to you guys. Whoever reads this and is going on hajj, please remember me and my family in your prayers. May ALLAH give all of us this opportunity to make this sacred journey again and again. Ameen.

        Friday Lunch @ Cosmopoliton!

        Back than when i was working as a banker, i was told that “its a sin not to go outside for a friday lunch”. With time i understood the underlying meaning of this statement. Friday lunch break was like a blessing, a shinning star in your gloomy week and something to look forward to while you hang in there and wait for the weekend to come.

        Friday lunch culture is very common among work circles and if you religiously follow this norm you know already how important it is. Everytime me and my husband visit our hometown we still meet our friends over friday lunches. This time around we went to this ‘cosmopoliton’ in clifton. 

        Honestly i had little hopes of having good food when my husband initially told me about this place we were heading too. When you are hungry, you would rather try something old. But luckily i was wrong. The ambiance is quircky with catchy lines and scenes painted all over the walls particularly about karachi. The place had a good amount of lunchers when i entered. 

         
        I was thinking about the pasta first but when i saw the menu i opted for parmesan chicken with a side of steamed rice and sauteed vegetables and it turned out amazing. I loved every bit of it. The cheesy crusty roasted top of panko parmesan with an underlying layer of soft cheese and nicely done chicken fillet. This one was a winner for me. The drink that i ordered was strawberry pina colada and it was equally good. I really enjoyed my meal.

        Parmesan Chicken

         My husband ordered from “today’s special”, stir fried jalapeno chicken served with steamed rice. It was fine, chicken strips stir fried in a brown sauce with jalapenos and green bell pepper. The combination was fine but nothing over the top. The other drinks ordered were pinacolada, mint lemonade and strawberry banana smoothie which were equally good.

        Stir-fried Jalapeno Chicken

        The other friend ordered sicillian chicken, a chicken fillet topped with pepperoni, mushrooms and olives, very italian in its looks and taste, served with sauteed vegetables and mashed potatoes. It did remind of italian chicken that i eat at another place and was equally good.

        Sicillian Chicken

        Now i am not a beef person and would rather prefer chicken over beef options. One of us ordered stir fried beef and i fell in love with it. Crispy beef chunks in a slightly tangy and sweet sauce of soya sauce and seasame glaze served with steamed rice and sauteed vegetables. Usually when the beef is crispier from outside it gets harder to chew but this one was softer from inside. This was nice.

        Stir-fried Beef

        Overall the food was really good, the service was good, food was served hot, the ambiance was perfect, the drinks were nice, the food portion was big enough and reasonable price wise. Yes, i am going to visit this once again. If you haven’t visited yet. Go ahead and try it, you wont be disappointed.

        Irresistible Istanbul!

        Honestly, i have been a big fan of turkish drams like, ishq e mamnu, feriha and mera sultan. They surely urged me to visit this beautiful country. During our care free days we were able to hop to istanbul for a few days. Turkey is so pretty you, will fell in love with it in no time. We took turkish airlines and i have to praise them. The seats were comfortable, the service is overall a good experience and the food they served was also very nice. 

        Let me just tell you straight, once you visit turkey, you would want to go there again and again. The strolls on taksim square, the shopping at istiklal street, the historic marvels of sultanahmet, the grandeur of grand bazar, the breathtaking view of istanbul from the top of galata tower and the romantic ride on bhosphorous, will make a place in your heart for eternity. 

        Basically istanbul is divided by bhosphorous. One side is in asian continent and the other is in europe. You will actually see the difference among the two. The european side truly has a european touch and is more famous with tourists. We stayed at Marti istanbul, a five star on taksim square. From taksim you can easily walk up to bhosphorous, istiklal street and galata tower. Sultanahmet is a bit far so you have to take a ride. There is metro, taxis and havatas buses which makes the commute easier.

        Turkish people are very friendly and courteous. Turkish food is really nice though for some of those you might have to develop a taste. Dont forget to bag some mouthwatering turkish delight. They are absolute yum. So many flavours and so yummy. I am not talking about the boxed ones. Go to a proper shop in grand bazar where scores and scores of insanely flavoured turkish delights are displayed. You can taste test and buy them. They will seal the box for you and they are good for 6 months.

        You may also get some sterling silver for yourself. Turkish jewellery is so pretty, you wont be able to stop yourself from buying some. Just dont forget to do a good bargain. Many of them know urdu so be careful when you are chatting among you to bargain with him. He might be understanding all of it. Also you need to be a bit careful about your belongings and beware of taxi scams. Always take a taxi which has clearly visible meter outside or you may end up paying triple the fare. 

        At sultanahmet at every nook and corner you will find the historic monuments. So you can just walk around and take a look over them you can enter blue mosque for free but hagia sophia and topkapi palace would require a ticket. You might need to reach early to avoid line and both of these places may take your whole day. The experience will indulge you in the history of the ottoman empire. You can also dress up as sultan and his beautiful wife and a get a picture clicked.

        I am surely returning back to turkey because i have yet to explore the beautiful cities of anatalya, izmir, cappadocia and pamukkale.