Monday, December 26, 2011

The Judging Factor

Its holiday season everywhere and almost anyone you talk to has stories about events taking place which they plan to attend, or as is the case in Lahore, Pakistan, loads of weddings piled up to attend. People abroad are busy attending Christmas parties whilst wedding season is in full swing in Pakistan. I have noticed how at some events people just get together to discuss and gossip about everyone else there. That is okay I guess, except when things take a turn for the negative, with spiteful remarks taking over the discussion.


I am glad I am not associated with people who indulge in such judgmental behavior. However, whether we admit it or not, it is a predominant ugly truth of society. People sadly like to pass comments over others behind their back, often derogatory and belittling in nature. It is quite disappointing because there are so many beautiful aspects of human nature that can be highlighted instead of rummaging through the shadows to pick up flaws. I am not here to preach on whats good and whats bad. I just hope people think what it would be like to be in the shoes of the targeted people before yielding to such activity. And I think I have the perfect video to make my point, which I came across courtesy of fellow blogger Nas.


video


Lets leave the judging to God, who has an insiders view on everything. God bless.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Their Last Love Letter

This article has also been published in the Express Tribune newspaper at the following link:   http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/9573/rutties-love-letter-to-jinnah/

I have been quite busy the past few weeks and haven't really had much time to come online, let alone blog. This blog is about Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan in honor of his birthday today, which also happens to fall on Christmas so Merry Christmas to all reading. The television has been showing stories about Jinnah's life and newspapers are flooded with anecdotes regarding the Quaid. Jinnah's tomb today has been site to millions attending a historical rally by the political party Pakistan Tahreek-e-Insaf (PTI). However despite all the stories about his political achievements and leadership persona, the one that captivated me the most is something personal about the enigmatic, charismatic leader who has been very secretive about his private affairs.


I randomly stumbled across the last love letter written to Jinnah by his wife Ruttie Jinnah. Most Pakistanis are aware that Ruttie was born in a Parsi family, met Jinnah and they both fell in love despite her being only 16 and him 39 years of age. On opposition from her family, Ruttie waited till she turned 18, and left her family forever to marry Jinnah. The two had a few very happy years of marriage, however some misunderstandings arose due to which they separated. Sadly things took a turn for the worse with Ruttie getting diagnosed with cancer, and before she died at the tender age of 29, she wrote the following love letter to Jinnah:

"Darling- thank you for all you have done. If ever in my bearing your once tuned senses found any irritability or unkindness- be assured that in my heart there was place only for a great tenderness and a greater pain- a pain my love without hurt. When one has been as near to the reality of Life (which after all is Death) as I have been dearest, one only remembers the beautiful and tender moments and all the rest becomes a half veiled mist of unrealities. Try and remember me beloved as the flower you plucked and not the flower you tread upon.

I have suffered much sweetheart because I have loved much. The measure of my agony has been in accord to the measure of my love.  

Darling I love you - I love you - and had I loved you just a little less I might have remained with you - only after one has created a very beautiful blossom one does not drag it through the mire. The higher you set your ideal the lower it falls. 

I have loved you my darling as it is given to few men to be loved. I only beseech you that the tragedy which commenced in love should also end with it.


Darling Goodnight and Goodbye.
Ruttie.

I had written to you at Paris with the intention of posting the letter here - but I felt that I would rather write you afresh from the fullness of my heart. R."


The above letter was written in Merseilles, France on 5 October 1928. The reason I felt like sharing this letter on my blog is because it seems to have captured Ruttie's feelings in it. When reading it, one cannot help but be gripped by the intensity of her feelings for Jinnah, along with a haunting shadow of sadness woven in her words. The fact that Jinnah and Ruttie never stopped loving each other despite the misunderstandings remains undisputed. The founder of our nation Mr. Jinnah has been very reserved in showing emotions except on two occasions. Jinnah could not control his sadness on Ruttie's funeral and also when he went for the last time to visit Ruttie's grave before leaving for Pakistan.

I hope the two are happy and finally together in life after death. Posted below is the original version of the letter.



Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Great Culinary Experiment

I realize its been a while since I last blogged about food. I do sometimes take pictures of food when I'm cooking, to make the process more interesting, given the fact that I can always blog about it later. Today I want to share a great culinary experiment I did some time back. It turned out to be a mix between Pakistani and Mexican cuisine. Honestly I was bored, I got some random stuff from the fridge and voila, the result turned out to be a pleasant, yummy surprise.



The random ingredients I selected at the spur of the moment were chicken, two capsicum, an onion, some baby tomatoes, green chili according to taste, black olives, a can of mushrooms, some tomato paste, Dijon Mustard and Worcestershire Sauce.





I put some oil in the wok, added whole cumin seeds along with chopped onion pieces. Continuously stirring the wok till the onions were a lovely golden brown, I then went on to add a teaspoon of ginger and garlic paste, chopped green chillies and some salt. Mix in the tomato paste, the chopped tomatoes and whilst stirring go on to add the chicken along with some Dijon Mustard. Proceed to now add the chopped capsicum.  Note what a delightfully vibrant and colorful dish this is turning out to be.



Add some Worcestershire Sauce and then also add the contents of the can of mushrooms. The lovely aroma of all the ingredients mixing together will envelope your kitchen.


Keep the wok on the pan until the chicken is cooked, stirring from time to time to ensure the contents do not stick on the pan. Once the chicken is almost done, add the diced black olives.



Once done, the chicken should be moist and tender, and should cut easily with a fork.


Put the contents on a plate and enjoy hot. It is quite a different dish with lot of flavors mixed together. On hindsight, I am glad I was in an experimenting mood that day since it led to this scrumptious culinary delight.



Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Convicted for Innocence


The types of movies that I like are the ones that make you think, that absorb your mind and demand your attention. The kind that kick your resting intellect to take notice, provide food for thought and especially the ones that are based on real, true life stories. I would like to recommend two movies worth seeing, based on true stories that make us think and question the dogma.


 The first movie is ‘Conviction’ in which a working mother joins law school to become a lawyer and free her brother who has wrongly been accused of murder. This takes her two decades since she was a high school dropout but she eventually manages to prove her brothers innocence.

The second movie is ‘In the Name of the Father’ in which 4 people are wrongly accused of IRA bombings in Britain. Two of them include a father and his son. Many years later, a lawyer stumbles upon their case and manages to prove their innocence, but by then it is too late for the father who dies in prison.

These two cases highlight something that is predominant in our society yet goes largely ignored. People are wrongly accused and put in prison to serve sentences of crimes they did not commit. This is especially the case for the poor, who do not have enough resources to even bail out their relatives. Those who require lawyers do not have the money to pay for them.

During Eid in Pakistan, I came across a case in which police arrested a relative’s gardener who had been employed at their place for the past five years. My relatives claimed they were sure of his innocence since he was a decent, trustworthy employee who had served them well. He was blamed for robbery at a house which had employed two new servants, both of whom had run away with the assets. The poor man came crying to thank them for the bail money, and you could tell from the bruises that he had been badly beaten up in jail to confess to a crime he didn’t commit.

I remember back in LUMS I went to attend a conference where an NGO had come to highlight this issue and ask for student support to go to prisons where they could talk to poor prisoners, and act as lawyers for them to bail them out if they were innocent. I do not remember the name of the NGO, but I asked a lawyer friend to look it up, and it is ‘Prison Fellowship Pakistan.’ I could not volunteer for them because my parents forbade their only daughter from going to different prisons, but if you can, it is definitely something to pursue that could make a huge difference in the lives of innocent people who have no other hope. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Hero for Humanity: Abdul Sattar Edhi

This article has also been published on the Express Tribune Website at the following link: http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/9152/edhi-we-love-you/

On 28th November 2011, the Prime Minister of Pakistan nominated Abdul Sattar Edhi for a Nobel Peace Prize. For Pakistanis and most other people in the world, Abdul Sattar Edhi is a name that requires no introduction. The founder of the largest welfare organization in Pakistan 'The Edhi Foundation', he has been referred to as an inspiration, a savior and a living saint. For those who know his story, he is no less than a living legend who has overcome the odds to accomplish not a selfish goal but one that has helped millions see a glimmer of hope through the darkness.




The journey started when Edhi was eleven years of age. His mother got paralyzed and mentally ill. Edhi took full responsibility of caring for all of her needs, from changing, bathing and feeding her to being there as a source of support. Despite his caring, unfortunately his mother died when Edhi was 19, and it affected him to such an extent that he could not complete high school.  Instead of growing bitter that no one had helped them when they were in need, Edhi instead focused on what he could do considering the millions of other helpless and suffering people out there. With little resources and a big dream, Edhi set off to beg on streets for money with which he bought his first ambulance, an old van. Equipped with the prayers of those whom he helped, and continuing forward on mission, the Edhi Foundation today runs the worlds largest ambulatory service.

At the age of 20, Edhi volunteered at a charity in Karachi. However, he was appalled to learn that the charity only helped a certain sect of people, ignoring the other needless. He protested against discrimination towards the poor, and set up his own charity shop instead. However he earned the enmity of the sect he had protested against, and considering his life was in danger he left Pakistan and begged his way through Europe. Becoming an admirer for the Welfare State System, he decided that if the government couldn't help the people, he would do whatever was in his capacity to fulfill that gap.

The remarkable journey that followed has helped Edhi operate not just the largest ambulatory service in the world, but also run free orphanages, old peoples homes, medicine dispensaries, clinics, rehab centers, women shelters and home for abandoned babies. Edhi has not only touched lives in Pakistan but has helped people in Middle East, Africa, Europe and even USA. He has won countless national and international awards for his humanitarianism and philanthropy. Speaking on the news on Monday, Edhi said he was honored to having been nominated the Nobel Peace Prize as the prize money and recognition would further his aims of helping others. Edhi said he plans on giving the Pakistani government a plan for a welfare system for the poor. Best of all, the Edhi Foundation doesn't take any aid from the Pakistani government to maintain its independence. There is indeed a lot that our government, and people around the world, can learn from the selfless, true hero for humanity that is Abdul Sattar Edhi, who commands the respect of millions including that of the author of this article.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Transcendence

I was going through my poetry and came across a poem which I thought I would share on my blog today. I vividly recall the night when I wrote this poem. It was the year 2007. I was fast asleep in my room in Lahore, Pakistan, before being rudely awaken by a loud rainstorm. My room had been enveloped in darkness, yet when I opened my eyes, I could see everything lit up by a stroke of lightning.




Behind my bed there is a huge window, and from it you can see our backyard with the lemon trees and other few perennials my mom had had the gardener  plant there. I woke up, turned aside the red curtains, and sat on my bed, watching entranced the frequency and size of the raindrops getting bigger right before my eyes, lightning possessively showing mere glimpses of the backyard at night from time to time, my ears submerged to the mercy of the roaring thunder. There, that fateful night in 2007, instead of going back to sleep, I wrote the following poem:

Sleeping, tired, troubled daze,
Wake me from this blurry haze.
Darkness envelopes, thunder strikes,
The night enchanted by its eerie lights.
For a moment I see it all,
The beauty, galore, magnificence standing tall.
Before it is snatched from my grasp,
With the wind, deafening in its sordid rasp.
Yet I know in my heart,
I always did from the start.
The lightning will show it all,
The backyard cascading with dancing rain fall.
With a secret smile, transfixed, I fly,
From the temptress past, its seducing cry.
From the morbidity of that gloomy land,
trying to devour me like quicksand.
It is heart-wrenching, yet I know,
this time I veritably must go.
Closing my eyes, I succumb to my fate,
Trusting it before it is too late.
Time transmits me through its chimerical illusion,
The universe empowers me with positive fusion.
Away I transcend, searching for my alchemist's gold,
As memories slither from my hand,
When I unclench my fist, the wind creeps them away like particles of sand.
And finally I can give a sigh of relief,
I have let go, I have transcended from my grief.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Stumble Upon a Lost Prayer

I have the tendency to be a Socratic tourist, inquisitive, curious and excited to learn more. I love history, exploring places and not just by listening to what the guide has to say, but by going and getting a feel for myself about how the place must have been back in the old days, by exploring the hidden nooks and corners. Holy sites form a huge part of history and culture of most places in our world. I have had the opportunity to visit Muslim mosques, Christian churches, Hindu and Buddhist temples, Sikh gurdwaras and even pagan worship sites such as Stonehenge. I am a Muslim and I visit the sites of other religions as a tourist, yet respectful towards them as I would like others to be respectful when visiting Muslim holy sites.




Earlier this year, I had the opportunity of visiting one of the old churches in London, Southwark Cathedral. My visiting the site, which later turned out to be the oldest cathedral church building in London, was quite an accident. I was coming back from someplace, and this was literally in my way. I decided instead of going around the church, I may as well go through it. It was a nice, beautiful cathedral and my curiosity got the better of me, so I decided to explore it. While exploring it, I came across a small old tomb, with some inscription on the wall besides it, containing information regarding who was buried there. I had really liked what was written there and had taken a picture with my cell phone. While browsing through my images gallery in my cell today, I came across that picture and decided it was definitely worth sharing on my blog.

The inscription informed us that the person buried there was Bishop Lancelot Andrewes. It then went on to quote a prayer by him, and I quote verbatim:

'Thou, O Lord, art the Helper of the helpless,
the Hope of the hopeless,
the Savior of them who are tossed with the tempests,
the Haven of them who sail, be thou all to all,
the glorious majesty of the Lord, our God be upon us,
prosper thou the work of our hands upon us,
oh! prosper thou our handiwork.
Lord, be thou within us, to strengthen us,
without us to keep us, above us to protect us,
beneath us to uphold us, before us to direct us,
behind us to keep us from straying,
round about us to defend us.
Blessed be Thou, O Lord our father, for ever and ever.'

I don't know if it was just the soothing aura of the place, the peaceful ambiance or just the sincere beauty in these words, but they touched me and I stopped to capture the moment with my phone camera. Apart from the last line, which is Christian specific considering the 'our father' bit, this is actually a beautiful and simple prayer that transcends religious boundaries. That is of course just my opinion, however the sincerity in it has definitely stood the test of time, and enchanted many a tourists visiting Southwark Cathedral. God bless.


Friday, November 18, 2011

The Waiting Area

God bless PIA (Pakistan International Airlines). My flight was scheduled for 10am today. Around 5am in the morning, I got a call from the PIA personnel, informing me that it had been delayed and was now at 6pm. When I called to confirm the timings at 2pm, the flight had again been delayed by 15 minutes. By the time I reached the airport, I found it was now at 6:45pm. Considering the exasperating experience of a family member  weeks ago with the same airline, I am hoping the flight doesn't get delayed any longer. Fingers crossed.




Somehow, whenever I end up in such situations, my laptop and ipod batteries are almost dead, and either I forget to bring a book, or as is the case today end up packing it in my checked in luggage. The phone battery status isn't reassuring either so I thank God that I have two empty pages left in my trusty old notebook to scribble my thoughts upon. With my writing hand injured, the scribbling bit would be S.L.O.W. and hopefully legible enough to read later.

Alhamdulilah I have never had a fear of flying, despite one or two bumpy rides endured in the past. I never really delve into the morbid thoughts of planes crashing, God forbid. Until recently when I had no choice. There comes a popular TV show on National Geographic called 'Air Crash Investigation'. Hubby is a huge fan of the show. I questioned watching such shows, especially since it can inadvertently induce an aversion of air travel. In a debate on the pros and cons of the show, I ended up watching an episode myself. That particular episode told the story of a very well established airline with no history of plane crashes. Until one fateful day. After intensive forensic investigation, the cause was found to be cost cutting. In an effort to reduce costs, instead of replacing a rusting component on the wing of the plane, the engineers kept welding over it. This worked for quite a few years but eventually backfired, costing many precious human lives. Although this incident took place in the US, I could not help but think... this is soo Pakistan! Hopefully not, but the thought definitely crossed my mind.

That said, inshAllah there are no common links between this story and PIA. Having a random realization that this is not the best story to write about when you're about to travel. Too late now. Oh well, life and death is in the Hands of the Almighty. In the meantime, I shall seek refuge in our trusty 'Safar ke dua' (prayer for travelling).

That said, instead of dwelling on this story I shall now pay attention to the chai I just ordered. I glimpse at the clock. Two more hours to go. Tick tock, tick tock.


Saturday, October 29, 2011

Bereavement

I have been missing my Mother a lot lately. Its been 9 months since she passed away and sometimes I just get dazed and confused about how and why all this happened and  that too so suddenly. People are supposed to pass away after fully living their lives, at the ripe old ages of at least late 70s, not suddenly have their lives cut short due to a deadly bout of cancer.



It is very hard to find someone who understands this, because your pain and the lost attachment you are bereaving is something extremely personal. I remember when I was took a course in Islamic Studies while at university at LUMS, I asked my Professor Kamaludin about what exactly happens after death. I had recently lost a close family member at that time, my Maternal Uncle 'Mamo Jaan'. My professor refused to answer directly, saying it was unsure. I asked if the dead could see what was going on, and he answered how it could be painful for the dead to see since they would want to join their loved ones whom they left behind. The answer was left vague. I guess the only way to find out is when we die ourselves and by then it would be too late...

I did however come across a beautiful poem which is what I would like to believe happens after death. The poem was written by Mary E. Frye and is titled 'Do not stand on my grave and weep'.

Do not stand on my grave and weep.
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush.
I am the swift uplifting rush.
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
I am the birds that sing.
I am in each lovely thing.
Do not stand at my grave and cry.
I am not there. I do not die.


May Allah bless my mother with Jannat (Heaven). She fully deserves it. Ameen.

Purity of Divine Love

There is something about Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi, and the purity of his words that touches our souls. The passion and hunger with which he pursues Divine Love is inspiring, endearing and at the same time humbling. There is a raw beauty in his words, which shines through his phrases, lit up by the power of pure, unadulterated, genuine love for the Divine.




Listening to Rumi's poetry is like eavesdropping on a personal conversation between his soul and the Creator of the Universe. The mystical allure of this conversation, the engagement it commands, the feelings it uncovers is proof that we all have the same yearning for Divine Love, which is sadly laying dormant most of the time, ignored for the practical issues we face in this 'real' world. With these words, I would take the honor and privilege to share with you a beautiful poem by Rumi, wonderfully done in this video by Sina.


video


Rumi's beautiful words remind us that despite all the illusions we get distracted with in this world, what we are actually missing and what is really important is the concept of Divine Love. See for yourself, as you get enveloped by peace when listening to his words in the video above. God Bless. 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Fall Trend 2011: Animal Magnetism


Whilst walking around in a mall or the High Street, one cannot help but notice one predominant trend. Animal print is everywhere! Women are proudly sporting the hottest trend of the season and shops are displaying it in their windows. Animal prints have remained an old favorite, they look hot and express the raw beauty of nature in a way that meshes the wild with the glam. Correction. Animal prints are great as long as real animals remain unharmed. Faux animal prints are the only way to go for a true fashionista.

 
One thing is for sure. Animal prints have always remained ever green. The thing to keep in mind however is the old adage ‘Less is More’. Save the top to bottom animal print statement for Halloween. Instead try to incorporate the animal craze this season a little here and there for a classy yet updated fashionista look. I would suggest sporting either some high heeled shoes in animal print along with a matching bag, or a scarf, jacket or shawl. Animal print accessories make a bold yet sophisticated fashion statement.

The favorite animal print being showcased by different international designers is the classic Cheetah/Leopard print. This is followed by the Zebra print with Tom Ford pulling some fantastic numbers here. Snake print follows not too far behind, with Chloe doing a wonderful job with it this fall. Dolce and Gabbana had some sensational numbers in Tiger Print. All in all, animals have been a ‘roaring’ part of this seasons collection, and not just animal prints. Major designers have come up with clothes showcasing pictures of animals in their fall collections such as the Reindeer used by Marc Jacobs, Doe by Anna Sui and Wolf by Balenciaga.

For those ladies who love their bling and can afford it have the option of cashing in on some great jewellery to sport this fall. Marc Jacobs came up with a white and black diamond Zebra ring and Rolex came up with a black sapphire and white diamond watch. If you are planning to spend so much on jewellery, the French brand Cartier has always been front line in quality and majestic beauty with its classic jewellery animal collection. And while you are spending so much money on jewellery, why not show some good will and donate to save the endangered majestic beasts who inspired them also?  Check out WWF.

International celebrities seen sporting the haute couture animal mania include Sarah Jessica Parker, Mandy Moore, Rihanna, Halle Berry, Beyonce, Katie Holmes and Kim Kardashian to name a few.

With winter here, getting a faux fur jacket or a sporty animal print one would make a statement whilst keeping you warm. If you want to get hold of bare minimum accessories to stay upbeat with the trend yet not invest so much, my suggestion would be to opt for the Leopard print which has got everyone going Wild!

It’s time to let loose the animals into our wardrobe for some serious seasonal upgrading in the fashion jungle out there.





 















 








Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Something Fishy

At the risk of turning this in to a cooking blog, I have decided to enter yet another post regarding, dare I say it, cooking! Yes I know I know, I need to blog about something even relatively intellectual soon to ensure that doesn't happen. The truth is that I have officially started cooking and well, it does make the whole ordeal more entertaining when I feel I can always blog about it later. So here goes...


I love seafood so decided it would be a good idea to have some 'marine cuisine' today. I decided to make a relatively simple Pakistani dish of Lemon Shrimp Curry , and since shrimps cook oh soo very quickly, this is an ideal recipe to try when you need to conjure up something delish with little time at hand. 

To start cooking, you need the following ingredients: Cooking shrimp, which have already been de-veined, an onion, ginger, garlic, some green chili, a lemon and tomato paste.


 Chop the onions in to small pieces. Take a wok/karahi and add about half a cup of cooking oil. Add also some whole cumin seeds to the wok. When the oil is warm, take the chopped onions and fry them. Once the onions start to turn golden brown, add half a teaspoon of ginger garlic paste, the chopped garlic and chopped green chilis, all the while constantly stirring the contents of the wok. Now add salt and red chili powder according to taste, half a teaspoon of turmeric powder, half a teaspoon of coriander powder, and a teaspoon of garam masala.


Add the tomato paste. This will give a vibrant red color to our curry.


Add around half a cup of water to the wok, to make a nice gravy paste. When the water comes to boil, add the shrimp. Squeeze half a lemon into the wok to give it that lovely citrus and tangy flavor. Stir thoroughly to ensure proper mixing of all the flavors.


Place the lid of the wok over it to cover it and let it simmer for a few minutes. After around ten minutes, when the shrimp turn opaque, our lemon shrimp curry would be ready to eat.


Take the ginger and cut it in to thin slices. Use it as garnish and enjoy your Lemon Shrimp Curry hot with rice.


Saturday, October 1, 2011

Some Mexican Flavor

Today I tried out an old recipe that my friend Niki used to make for us when we used to live together in London. This is the old favorite and well known Mexican recipe of Burritos. Not only are Burritos extremely yummy, they are also easy to make. This dish is perfect if you have little time on your hands yet still want a scrumptious recipe that's a bit different from the usual desi food.


The ingredients you need would be: 2 capsicums, tortillas, cheese, a can of mixed beans in spicy tomato sauce, chili garlic sauce and some thick and chunky salsa for that extra bite of flavor. You can get any kind of tortillas, ranging from the normal to the wheat ones but I personally like salsa tortillas so I chose those.


Take a frying pan, and add some olive oil. Put the pan on the stove at medium temperature. Add the capsicum, and fry them in the oil. Not only will these add some crunch in our burritos, but they will also add a lot of lovely color and some gusto.



Once the capsicum is done, add the contents of the can of mixed beans. Stir around to ensure proper mixing. Also add a teaspoon of chili garlic sauce for some zest. If you like your food extra spicy, you can also add some chopped chilis as per your taste.


Take a plate and place one of the tortillas on flat on it.


Take some salsa and place a thick and chunky bit of it on top of the tortilla. Spread it all over the tortilla.


Add the mixture of beans and capsicum from the sauce pan over the salsa. Spread it generously all over the salsa and tortilla.


Take some cheese and spread it all over the tortilla. Add cheese according to taste.


Now slowly wrap the burrito up like a roll, carefully ensuring the contents don't fall out. Place it in the microwave for about a minute, to make the cheese melt and mix all the contents inside. Enjoy some Mexican flavor hot, tangy, full of salsa zest and dripping with yummy cheese.



Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Pakistani Culinary Classic


It’s that time again. The time when I have to cook. Honestly if I had my way, everyone would just eat chocolates and take multivitamins to fulfill the rest of the human dietary requirements. This diet plan however isn't met with as much enthusiasm as I would have liked. People react by looking perplexed, then passionately debating about how we need our basic food requirements of Carbohydrates, Proteins and Fats, along with much needed fiber, vitamins and minerals that chocolates can't substitute. My own family looked confounded when I brought forth this brilliant idea after years of experience as a chocolate connoisseur. So until I find a research team of nutritionists who can research my ingenious idea which I can then patent, sell for millions and give the 'I told you so' look to all the doubters of chocolate only diet out there, I have no choice but to stick to old fashioned cooking for the time being. 



Despite all the groaning, moaning and procrastination towards cooking, I feel I am surprisingly quite a decent cook. I would like to share an old Pakistani recipe which I cooked a few days back. The recipe is Boneless Chicken Karahi. Not only will this hopefully be helpful to someone who wants to try out some yummy Pakistani dishes, it will also motivate me to get off the sofa and go start cooking today. The things you have to do for a healthy meal.

I took some pictures again to make the experience a bit more visual. Boneless Chicken Karahi is an old Pakistani favorite and I am sure almost all Pakistanis who have ventured into the world of culinary ‘delights’ have enjoyed making this recipe. Okay sarcasm aside, this is a pretty yum and easy to cook recipe. To start, you will need an onion, ginger, garlic, tomato paste, tomatoes, lemon, coriander, yogurt, baby green chili and of course boneless chicken.



Cut the chicken into medium sized dices. Take a bowl and mix 2 tablespoons of yogurt, red chili powder along with ginger and garlic paste. Marinate the chicken in it for at least an hour. Remember, if you are in a hurry, cut the chicken in to smaller pieces. This increases the surface area to volume ratio, ensuring the chicken is cooked quicker. I had ample of time so kept the chicken pieces medium sized.


 
Cut the onions into small pieces. Again the surface area to volume rule will apply here, so the smaller the pieces of onions, the faster will be the rate of cooking. Take some vegetable oil in a wok (known in Urdu as karahi, hence the name boneless Chicken Karahi), heat it, add whole cumin seeds and the chopped onion. Fry the onions, and whilst continuously stirring the contents of the wok, add a clove of chopped garlic, half a teaspoon of chopped ginger, a quarter of a teaspoon of turmeric powder, half a teaspoon of coriander powder, and salt according to taste. Continue stirring until the onions are a lovely light golden brown color.



Once the onions are done, add about a quarter of a can of tomato paste. This would give a lovely bright red color and tangy taste. Not only will this be a delight to look at, the mouthwatering aroma from all the added spices will like magic take over your kitchen.



Add the boneless chicken in the mixture and stir it around to fry it a bit. Do this for about five to ten minutes. Then take 4 tomatoes and chop them into small pieces. I like my gravy to be thick, so I kept the chopped sizes relatively big. If you like thin gravy, take the fresh chopped tomatoes, and grind them to form a paste. You can then add it to the rest of the contents in the wok. Add also a few drops of lemon juice for some tangy flavor and chopped baby green chili according to taste.



Stir the contents of the wok for a while to ensure the ingredients are mixed together properly. Cover the wok and let the mixture simmer for a while. After about twenty minutes, the time could vary, come and check on the mixture. The chicken should be soft and break easily, and the mixture should be giving off the oil drops in the karahi.



Chop some coriander and use it to garnish the boneless Chicken karahi. Enjoy with a roti the tangy flavors, the passionate red color and the assault on the senses from the yummy aroma due to all the herbs and spices in the recipe. Mmm...



This is one recipe that is definitely worth a try if you want to foray into the world of Pakistani cooking. I am now encouraged to start cooking again also, phew. God bless!