fabyummychic

Celebrating Good Food, Great Style & Living a Fabulous Life

My Resolutions for 2014

A new year, a new start. Thats how the idea of this blog came about and i cant believe its been almost a year since i started the blog. True i haven’t written as regularly as i should have and i may or may not have achieved all my goals for last year, but thats the great thing about a new year… Its a clean slate an opportunity to try again. So here goes my attempt at making it all come together in 2014.

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So there u have it, thats all i want to and will accomplish in 2014. This is going to be my year! Heard it all before? So have I! Which is why I’m determined not to repeat this conversation! This is the year I get done with my resolutions so that i don’t have to …err…resolve again next year!
So here goes …i hereby start my heartfelt effort at achieving all of my goals for this year. I promise to do my very best and not to disappoint you all!
Im going to need your support and encouragement as well as kick in the pants whenever needed!
So join me on my journey through another year and watch this space for my progress.
Happy New Year Everyone! ❤️

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My Shopping Cart at Loreal Paris Bridal Week 2013

Some of my earliest memories involve me accompanying my mom to the hair dressers. I remember sitting on a brown couch, the kind which squeaked every time you moved, either watching customers being transformed through various treatments and hairstyles or flipping through magazines pretending to be a grown up.

But truth be told, every time I went with mom to the salon, I was only ever hoping to see one thing…..A Bride! As a child the process of transforming an ordinary girl into a glittering and bedecked figure of beauty was beyond amazing…it was magical ! despite the over the top 80s make up and the overteased hair, it was still a sight to behold.

In Pakistan, as I imagine in many other countries, a bride is a figure of great  fascination and the center of attention. She is the embodiment of all that is feminine and beautiful, a symbol of modesty and dignity. Every year from October to March (depending on when Moharrum is) every city in Pakistan glitters with the lights of thousands of Marriage ceremonies taking place in the grandest of venues to the smallest of streets. The bride of course is at the center of it all.

Perhaps this is the reason that designers, no matter how many times they dabble in the contemporary and pret genres, at some point they always come back or in some cases stick to doing decadent, intricate and glorious bridal couture.

This year Loreal organized the second Bridal Couture week in Lahore and I had the rare opportunity to see the best of Pakistani couturier exhibit their bridal masterpieces all under one roof.

While flipping through fashion magazines and waiting for my mum to get done with her hair, I would play a little game of what would I buy from what I see in the magazine if I had unlimited funds. I would go through page after page picking up items to load into my imaginary shopping cart. To this day that’s exactly how I view collections on the ramp…what would I buy right here right now if money was no object. In my opinion, isn’t that what clothes should be about? Shouldnt you just look at them say God I just have to have that!…Dont agree…Not technical enough for you.hey I’m sorry I’m just a consumer…what the hell would I know!

So coming back to bridal week, If I did have the proverbial bottom loss shopping cart accompanied with a limitless credit card which i would never have to pay back, the following would be what I would buy hot off the ramp!

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Elan is always a favourite. Understated, intricate and elegant, Elan is the embodiment of the modern Pakistani woman. The finale outfit in my favourite colour pictured above took my breath away and is definitely what I could imagine myself wearing if I ever decide to take the plunge.

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Newcomer Deena Rahman did a great job of combining modern cuts and silhouettes with traditional embroidery and materials like tissue. However I still think she has a long way to go in terms of finesse but she has the talent to get there. Fairly new to the business is designer Misha Lakhani who also put on a good show in exhibiting outfits that combined tradition and modern styles together. These outfits are probably what I would choose to wear to a cousin’s or close friends wedding…formal and traditional but still comfortable enough to boogie in.

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You really can’t go wrong with the grand dames of Pakistani fashion Sana Safinaz. As always you can count on them to put together different materials, colours, textures and cuts together with complete ease and come up with something magnificent.  if I had my way I would have bought the whole collection but as I was eager to fill my cart with outfits from a variety of designers I curtailed my impulses to choose just two!

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The HSY presentation looked like a scene from a Mughal court, beautiful, grand and majestic! Similarly the finale at Ali Xeeshan’s show looked like a collection of exotic princesses from central asia. I particularly loved the mix of colours and work on his gorgeous lehngas paired with plain blouses. One of those and you’re sorted for any wedding!

As with every cake, or in this case I guess wedding cake would be more appropriate, it’s the icing that makes or breaks it. The icing in this case was the presentation  by the House of Kamiar Rokhni. It’s rare to see a collection that isn’t at all similar to previous ones but still bears the designers signature. Now that’s more than just design, that’s artistry!

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This line up is what I would love to wear to my best friends wedding. Every piece is the perfect blend of everything; contemporary, traditional, colour, style…..lets just say if you’re wearing any of these you will be in danger of stealing attention from the bride!

Now for the cherry on top, my most favourite outfit from the whole event, the one I don’t just want to imagine buying, the one I actually want to buy even though it will probably cost an arm and a leg!

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To me this outfit combines everything I love about clothes. Firstly its white which is my favourite colour. Its elegant, its discreet, its trendy yet the intricate embroidery and fabric make it very traditional. Its fun yet has a quiet dignity in the sense that I could imagine myself boogie-ing to balam pichkari in it as well as being formal and refined. It’s also very versatile as I could imagine wearing it to my best friends wedding, my colleagues wedding, a neighbourhood wedding……Hell I’d wear it to my own wedding (if and when that happens)!!

So there you have it my round-up of the Loreal Paris Bridal Week. The best of the best from a very exciting but hectic 3 days; I wish I could have covered more work from more designers but hey there’s always next time. I hope my humble attempt gives all of you some great ideas for the next wedding you’re invited to.

For those of you who are reading this (designers, friends, philanthropists) if you have any wish to turn my imaginary shopping cart into a reality, please know that all assistance and donations are more than welcome 🙂

The Week in Pictures

 

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well whoever invented the expression clearly had me in mind! In case you havent noticed, I am quite trigger happy with my camera and tend to take pictures of everything! Whether its my food, my friends, my travels, my nails, my experiences or indeed myself there is almost always a picture to match every occasion however big or small.

A lot of my pictures are the result of me thinking ooh this would make a good blog post and before you know it i have way too many pictures and blog post ideas and not enough time to put pen to paper, or even picture to paper for that matter.

Which is why I’ve come up with what I think is a great solution; Ladies and Gentlemen I introduce to you a brand new segment of my blog called…. you guessed it “The Week in Pictures”

It’s a fairly simple concept, I put together what I think are the most interesting or memorable pictures of the week, or a few weeks and put them together to share what I’ve been up to, what I wore, what I eat, who I met etc. That way I don’t disappear for weeks on end and you get to take a glimpse into my champagne wishes and caviar dreams lifestyle (NOT)

 

 

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Ok so in case you havent already figured it out from the collage, I am going through a mildly obsessive phase of nail colour  experiments and appreciation. I am one of those people who has always stuck to nude barely noticeable shades and who think red is a really daring colour but that was untill I was inspired by a friend of mine who does some amazing nail art and uses some far out colours and designs. Ever since I’ve been following her work on instagram I have felt brave enough to stray from the boring path of nude into the more adventurous terrain of mint green, inky  and slate blues with a bit of a classical turn with the deep red! You can check out her outstanding work at http://www.valiantlyvarnished.com/ or https://www.facebook.com/ValiantlyVarnished

The last week was the best of both worlds; six days off for Eid ul Adha and six days of constant socializing! Eid ul Adha is also called Feast of the Sacrifice or Eid e Qurban and is the second of two Eid festivals celebrated by muslims worldwide each year. It honours the willingness of the prophet Ibrahim/Abraham to sacrifice his young first-born son Ismail (Ishmael)as an act of submission to Allah’s command and his son’s acceptance to being sacrificed, before Allah intervened to provide Abraham with a Lamb to sacrifice instead.

Every Eid Men, women and children are expected to dress in their finest clothing and on this Eid those who can afford, sacrifice their best halal domestic animals (usually a cow, but can also be a camel, goat, sheep or ram depending on the region) as a symbol of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his only son. The sacrificed animals, called  also known by its Persian term, Qurbāni have to meet certain age and quality standards or else the animal is considered an unacceptable sacrifice. The meat from the sacrificed animal is divided into three parts. The family retains one-third of the share; another third is given to relatives, friends and neighbors; and the other third is given to the poor and needy.

You know what this means right? Lots of meat, lots of dinners and lunches, lots of playing dress up and best of all lots of time to hang out with ones best buddies.

Thats pretty much what the rest of the collage covers. Starting from the top left corner, you see me in my Eid finery, which was an outfit from Sana safinaz’s latest silk collection this year, below that is one of the many camels that would have been sacrificed this year. Below the camel is the coffee and cake I served up to my friend AA and his wife and adorable son when they came to visit me just before Eid wearing another sana and safinaz kurta which you can see in my poor attempt at a selfie!

In the middle of it all is my dressing table which seemed to be constantly cluttered with an array of make up and jewelry the whole week given the amount of times I had to apply, remove and reapply my make up to keep up with the flurry of comings and goings that went on in the last six days.

The  beautiful array truffles of on the top is from a visit to Butlers Chocolate Cafe where I went to buy my nieces a few treats for Eid. truly a chocolate lovers paradise, although i have to say I’m rather proud of myself for having stayed very strong and  not buying a single one for myself!

The bottom right corner is my favourite. I inaugurated my new Zara shoes and mango top and took them out on the town for dinner with my besties at Andaaz, a great restaurant in the oldest part of the city. You can see the delicious starters of mini paapars with an array of relishes which trust me were just the beginning of an amazing meal of traditional Lahorie fare. And as you can tell by the picture of me and my friends AA & BB (yes those are actually their nicknames!) the food, the uncontrollable laughter and the beautiful ambiance made for an amazing evening!

So that’s about it, a glimpse into my life for the last few weeks. I promise you all a nice long and insightful post for next time.

Till then, I wish you all a Belated Eid Mubarik!!

 

 

Mad About Macarons

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Ok so in case you havent figured it out  from the cover photo on my blog yet, I happen to be crazily in love with macarons.  It was a freezing December afternoon in Paris 6 years ago when I sat on a bench  in St. Germaine and bit into my first ever macaron. I knew then that this was the start of a lifelong love affair. 

Unfortunately macarons are not an easy commodity to find in Pakistan and to be honest the ones that i have found here have not been worth the search. So since that fateful day that i first discovered them, whenever I travel, or whenever anyone else travels for that matter, macarons have top priority. I have hounded everyone from colleagues, friends, relatives, even mere acquaintances to bring me a box of macarons. I have also been known to take a longer flight or even endure an eight-hour layover at Dubai airport just so i could buy some macarons on the way back home. Its madness, you say? well to that I say if it’s not crazy, it’s not true love is it?

So when i got a text announcing a 2 day macaron making workshop with baking prodigy/celebrity chef Muneeze Khalid, that too on a weekend, needless to say it did not take much to convince me to sign up!

So last weekend, I got up early, dressed carefully, checked and double checked that i had my notebook and a pen in my bag and then tapped my fingers and twiddled my toes impatiently till it was time to leave for class. I felt like a little kid all excited about the first day of school except instead of a class on history, or english or Math (God forbid) it was a class all about macarons! or as I like to call them, little pieces of happiness!

I got to class early and was greeted by a smiling and gracious Muneeze, who I have to say I was curious to meet having heard so much about her. I was not disappointed; I was the first one in class so I had a chance to have a nice chat and found her to be very friendly and level-headed not to mention full of interesting facts about macarons

Notebook, Pen and Recipe all lined up and ready for class!

Notebook, Pen and Recipe all lined up and ready for class!

The class finally started and I was happy to see I was not alone in my love for macarons as many of the students there had similar feelings to mine and were keen to get started.  Muneeze took us through each step of the process slowly and surely with a lot of patience for all of our questions. Her maturity and knowledge of her craft is really refreshing especially since she is still so young.

Muneeze guiding us step by step; the pink mixture almond and the green mixture is for the coconut ones

Muneeze guiding us step by step; the pink ones are almond and the green mixture is for the coconut ones

Muneeze got all of us to try at our hand at piping the macarons and the filling, as well as trying our hands at making our own piping bags out of newspaper. My school friend and old food and nutrition partner, Hina joined the class and was nice enough to take pictures of me while I learnt how to pipe.

Yours truly trying her hand at piping and filling the first batch of macarons

Yours truly trying her hand at piping and filling the first batch of macarons

Despite all the fun and conversation, the smell of baking had us all salivating and waiting impatiently for the fruits of our combined labour. Finally after a long wait after the macarons had been rested and baked and filled and refrigerated (yes its a long process) we got to the best part of the class….TASTING!!!!

LtoR: Basic macaron shells, Pink Almod Macaron, Coconut Macaron, The Holy Trio: Coconut, Chocolate & Caramel

LtoR: Basic macaron shells, Pink Almond Macaron, Coconut Macaron, The Holy Trio: Coconut, Chocolate & Caramel

The end result was worth all the wait. Not only did we get to gorge on our fill of macarons during class but all of us got to take a small boxful home as well!

At the end of the 2 day workshop,  I left armed with recipes, helpful tips and a tummy and box full of macarons.Now if that’s not a weekend well spent I don’t know what is! Best of all, I no longer have to depend on foreign shipments of macarons I can just whip up a batch whenever I want. Thanks so much for a great class Muneeze, you’re oa great chef and teacher and I would recommend your classes to anyone who wants to improve their cooking repertoire.

I shall be trying out my first solo batch very soon and will be sharing the recipe and the experience with all of you. Till then, if you have not tried macarons as yet, I suggest you do so asap! Trust me it is an experience not to be missed!

Drinking My Sorrows Away

Now before you say anything let me just apologize profusely for being MIA for the last couple of months!

I know even as i say it I can’t believe that I have not posted since the end of June! how could this have happened and where did the time go?? Well however much time I have lost, I refuse to let this negligence continue and I intend to make amends right away.

The last few months have been, shall we say harrowing to say the very least! Suffice to say they have left me mentally, physically and emotionally drained and I find myself in dire  need of a major uplifting of my spirits and some rest and rejuvenation for my mind and body!

I could feel my body and mind were full of negativity and I needed something that would cleanse, repair and replenish on the inside and out. An elixir of life if you will!

While on my search for this elusive elixir I came across this recipe for “Mean Green Juice” that was originally created by  Dr. Memet Oz, an American-Turkish cardiothoracic surgeon, author and television personality.  Apparently he swears by this juice and drinks a glass everyday. Not only that but apparently he has Oprah hooked onto it, and she refers to the juice as “a glass of fresh”. 

The green juice when taken on a regular basis is said to be a natural health aid for high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s prevention, liver cancer prevention, weight loss, bone protection, asthma, breast, lung & colon cancer prevention, improved digestion, lowering cholesterol, increasing antioxidants and blood circulation, arthritis prevention, reduced inflammation, blood cleansing and prevention of anemia as well as macular degeneration prevention …..and the list goes on!

Sounds exactly like what I need and hey if its good enough for Oprah, then its definitely good enough for me.

I found the recipe at the start of Ramzan and it seemed as good a time as any to start juicing and to cleanse my body and my soul.

The recipe could not be simpler

Ingredients: (makes 2-3 glasses)
  • Green Apples – 2 medium (3″ dia)
  • Celery – 3 stalk, large (11″-12″ long)
  • Cucumber – 1 cucumber (8-1/4″)
  • Ginger – 1/2 thumb (1″ dia)
  • Lemon (with rind) – 1/2 fruit (2-3/8″ dia)
  • Parsley – 1 bunch
  • Spinach – 2 Large handfuls
Directions

Process all ingredients in a juicer, shake or stir and serve. If you don’t have a juicer just put all the ingredients into the blender and add a little water so that everything blends easily.

And what you end up with is…….

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For those of you who are looking at the picture with some trepidation and thinking My God Thats Green, I have to say those were my first thoughts too!  However once I moved past my initial hesitation and actually drank the juice, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. Even though it was a bit “grassy” it was actually not that bad; in fact it was quite refreshing and filling.

I had this juice everyday for a month at Iftari after just eating a couple of dates to break my fast and I have to say it delivered on all counts. Not only did I have a lot of energy despite the 16 hour fasts and erratic sleeping patterns but I found that my asthma and constipation issues were almost non existent. My haemoglobin levels went up and my anemia improved visibly. I lost a total of 4 kg during Ramzan and not only that my skin was clear and glowing and I could actually see some of my cellulite just disappearing.

I know it may sound too good to be true but it actually is! I can’t remember a time when I’ve felt healthier, fitter or more motivated.

Unfortunately I havent been able to continue with the routine since Ramzan as the heavy monsoon rain has made it very difficult to find celery and parsley. However they will be in season in a couple of weeks and I plan to start having my juice regularly…atleast until the weather remains colder and all the ingredients are easily available.

So put down that cup cake or plate of pasta or biryani or whatever it is that you turn to when you’re having a crap day or in my case a crappy few months.  Get up off the sofa, go to the market get some fresh ingredients and get juicing! Trust me you will not regret it!

Stay tuned for more juicy posts,coming up  very very soon..I promise!

Eating off the Streets of Bangkok

One of the best things about travelling to another country is the opportunity to try the local street food.  A nation’s food and in particular the food that people eat off the street is an integral part of its story and its soul.

Which is why it really irritates me when people are in another country and insist on trying to find Pakistani food; what was the point in coming if you didn’t want to even try anything different? You could have saved that money and just stayed at home! In todays day and age there are halal options for all kinds of cuisine so there is no excuse for playing it safe anymore.

Here of some of the culinary highlights off the street from my recent visit to Bangkok. The variety is endless and there is something cooking on virtually every corner…

Fresh Fruit on Ice

Fresh Fruit on Ice

The freshest and juiciest array of fruit on ice to keep them cool. The bright colours and soaring temperature make this the perfect snack for a hot day

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Another great and equally colourful option is home-made blocks of ice cream on a stick…I could kill for one right now

Street Side Barbeque

Street Side barbeque

There is usually something being going cooked on the grill  on almost every street; chicken, fish, calamari..u name it and you’ll probably find it on a grill around the corner…

Food Boats at the Floating Market

Food Boats at the Floating Market

..or on a boat for that matter, along with something frying away in a wok ofcourse!

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Washed down with some fresh chilled coconut water…Bliss!

Woks are a familiar sight as well, usually filled to the brim with oil and something sizzling away in them

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Whole fish on the bone, chicken and loads of fresh seafood can often be seen sizzling away. A word of caution the smell of street food in Bangkok is a real turn off but if you can get past it and taste the fare on offer, it is well worth it!

From the Stall to the Wok

From the Stall to the Wok

The smell in part is attributed to the fresh seafood carts that are an integral part of  the street food scene in Bangkok. The sheer variety of the seafood on offer is enough to distract you from the unpleasant odour.

 

Picture 169Fresh boiled clams anyone?

There are also several stalls which offer fresh raw seafood only seasoned with vinegar, fish sauce and lemon

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Now I’m all for being adventurous but I’d stay clear of eating food off the back of a bicycle!

Food is not just something that is there to nourish our bodies but also our souls. When we eat something different, good or bad it creates an experience, a memory that stays with us for ever. Life is about creating memories and experiences, not about repeating the same experience again and again

So next time you are globe-trotting, please step out of the hotel, take a walk about and DO NOT look for the nearest McDonald! Find a stall you like, be brave, sample some of the local fare and create a memory.

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A Very “Braidy” Girls Night Out

Every once in a while, a girl needs to leave behind the drudgery of work, home and everyday life; put on something pretty and head out for a night of revelry with her girlfriends.

Which is exactly what I did the last weekend! every few months or so, a bunch of my school friends, all of us who have known each other either since age 9 or at the very latest age 16 (which brings the total year of knowing to a maximum of 23 yrs and a minimum of 16 years) get together for lunch or dinner for some good food and a good gossip session regularly interrupted by a fit of the giggles!

There’s something special about hanging out with friends from school when one is an adult. None of you are hung up on teenage melodrama and complexes. All that remains is a sense of ease that comes from knowing one another since forever. That sense of ease is both comforting and reaffirming.

Most people live under the misapprehension that women dress to impress men; what few people realise is that while that fact is true to an extent, women also dress to impress other women. In fact the later’s validation is actually more important. Now with such old friends, no one is out to prove how much more fashionable they are, however I’m sure my friends will concur when I say that we do make more of an effort than usual to look nice whenever we’re due to meet.

So it will come as no surprise that i took out my new printed pants, a nice blouse and spent 10 minutes more on my make up than usual before heading out for a blow dry before I met with the girls.

Now I’d just like to clarify that the idea of going to a salon for a  blow dry was not so much to impress my friends but more to escape the excruciating heat and unpredictable power breakdowns.

Once I got to the salon, the stylist suggested that i break out of my usual outward blow dry pattern and try a fishtail braid! Now I know they are very in right now but I have never..I repeat never had my hair in braids!

But the stylist was very convincing and I thought ok what the heck, if it doesn’t look good at least we will all have a good laugh about it. So I took a deep breath, half closed my eyes and let the stylist get on with it.

Taken at the salon by the over eager stylist

Taken at the salon by the over eager stylist

After 10 minutes the stylist was done and I opened my eyes fully to take it all in. To my surprise it didn’t look half bad, in fact it looked quite polished and soft.  I was also surprised at how long a plat it was!

I left the salon quite pleased with myself at having tried something new as well as a bit of trepidation as to the girls’ reaction.

I needn’t have worried, as they girls were full of compliments for the new look and were quite willing to take a lot of pictures and a lot of close-ups of the braid itself…all for the blog of course, I am not a complete narcissist. Well maybe a little bit! Here are some of the photographic exploits that ensuedbraidcollage

 Also here is a close up of the braid itself for those of you who want to try it or show it to a stylist. This is what gives the braid its “fishiness” braid

Just so you know we did talk about things other than my braid! We also laughed about a lot of silly things but then that is sort of the point of the evening!

How long has it been since you had a night out with the girls (or the boys)? If you can’t remember the last time, then I suggest you pick up the phone (or bbm, whats app, Facebook message etc) get your bunch together, pick out someplace nice, dress up and go have fun.

And if you have time, do try out the fishtail braid for your next outing; it’s a great option for an evening/afternoon out especially if you are in the midst of a scorching summer like we are! Pay a visit to your stylist or if you are really brave, you can try to do it yourself which is why I’m enclosing a link to a really helpful tutorial on how to fishtail braid

Let me know how it turns out or better yet send me pictures of your braids! Till the next post happy braiding and here’s to hanging out with the girls 🙂

This Little Piggy Goes to Market…..Khalis Food Market That Is!

This Little Piggy Goes to Market…..Khalis Food Market That Is!.

This Little Piggy Goes to Market…..Khalis Food Market That Is!

With the temperatures rising and the load shedding taking its toll on all of us, most of  us would rather hibernate in a giant deep freezer than venture out of the house.

So one can understand that it is with some trepidation and a lot of sunscreen that my mother and I bravely ventured forth to explore the new happening place in Lahore…..Khalis Food Market.

The word “Khalis” which means pure in Urdu is an apt name for the event as it seeks to bring together  bring producers of whole foods, organic vegetables, fruits, grains, hormone free dairy products, poultry, fish, baked items and much more together in one venue on a regular basis.

The world has been going back to organic produce for several years now however knowledge of organic, pesticide and hormone free produce is still very limited in Pakistan. Which is ironic considering that agriculture and livestock rearing is such a large part of the economy and of the general way of life in pakistan.

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This event was the second of its kind to be held in Lahore, and having missed the first one, I was determined not to miss this one.

The market did not disappoint. Offering a wide variety of fresh, fragrant and pure produce along with some delicious live cooking stations and lots of free samples, the market brought together a surprisingly large crowd of people despite the intense heat.

vegetables, spices, baked goods, Ayurvedic oils, aloe vera, meat & poultry. In short there was something for everyone!

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"Blooming Tail" Hair Oil...I love that Name

“Blooming Tail” Hair Oil…I love that Name

Ayurvedic Hairoil anyone? With such a cute brand name and pretty packaging its a great buy and I’m kicking myself for not getting some! especially since I saw more hair in my hairbrush this morning then usual (rants on that coming up soon)

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Freshly baked granola? I got some and have been having it for breakfast for the past week and it keeps me full till lunch time. Heathy, Nutritous and completely yummy, what more could you want?

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Now I’m not a chutney person; I am however a marketer by profession so it’s very hard for me to resist anything with such tongue in cheek brand names! I eventually boat a jar of spice me up, which was completely divine and goes well with….well everything!

Since the ever-present power outages have us feeling like we’re back in the stone age, why not try eating what the cave men used to eat?

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The caveman diet or the paleolithic diet as its technically called focuses on eating the same kinds of food that a caveman would have eaten back in the day. The diet consists of fresh organic meat, poultry, vegetables, and nuts mainly grilled or stewed. Hunter’s Cottage is taking us back to the cave ages by using organic produce and methods of cooking. On the day of the event they had some freshly grilled chicken and rabbit. Even though I didn’t buy any on the day I will be doing so very soon.

There was lots more stuff to try and buy but I have to say my absolute favorite stall by far was The Pantry by Hunger & Haw Hai

The lovely canvas bags were worth a visit in themsleves and are a great way to go green and eliminate plastic bags from your grocery run

The lovely canvas bags were worth a visit in themselves and are a great way to go green and eliminate plastic bags from your grocery run

First of all, the stall was beautifully laid out. It had the right amount of atmosphere in that it looked like a picnic table, with jars of homemade curry, humus and dips presented in lovely glass jars, large baskets and colourful ceramic bowls. Now that is great merchandising!

Yummy!

Yummy!

Another clever move was having huge bowls of samples for everyone to try and I have to admit I did go a bit overboard with several more helpings than was politically correct! But its simple math really; get someone to try something yummy and they are that much likely to buy it!

As the day wound to a close I headed home several bags heavier and several  rupees lighter! Khalis food market created  a lovely atmosphere by bringing together a group of educated and responsible producers and like-minded consumers. They also provided Lahoris with a much-needed alternative activity to just dining out, buying lawn and going to the movies!

I’m also really impressed by the people who set up stalls at the market. Its heartening to see the enterprising spirit that some people have as well as the committment towards going organic.

Kind of gets one thinking about setting up a stall oneself at the next market….What do you say? Would you like to see an FYC stall at the next market? Let me know with your comments as I’m seriously considering it!

I absolutely loved my sunday at the market and can’t wait for the next one!

Dining with Diversity

Dr_SeussquoteThe good doctor makes a fine point. The world wouldnt be such a wonderful place if it were made of identical, emotionless, cultureless, robots would it? Diversity, whether it be of gender, colour, religon, culture or thoughts is what gives the world its flavor……. Its also what causes most of the problems in the world but lets not focus on the negative for this post!

It is with this spirit and thought in mind that my office recently celebrated The World Day for Diversity. As part of the days celebrations we were required to wear our indigenious regional costume and also had an option to bring a regional delicacy for everyone to taste.

A day which combines fashion and food….Now thats my kind of celebration!!!

I’m a bit of “mixed breed” as it were; Persian & Pathan settled in KPK from my fathers side and Afghan &  Pathan settled in Baluchistan from my mothers side is a bit of a mouthful! and even more of a pain to explain when someone asks! However it does give one the advantage of drawing on a large pool of cultural variety, which is exactly what I did when choosing my outfit for the day 🙂

My choice for the day’s celebrations was the traditional balouchi suit, which is a frock like shirt with a lot of hand embroidered work all over worn with the tapered bottoms known as a shalwar. I had several of these handed down to me from my mother which were unfortunately too big for me but had recently acquired one handed down to me by my cousin (thank you hanoo) which fit me perfectly.

Et Voila!!

Moi all dressed up in my finery

Moi all dressed up in my finery

The suit in question was atleast 30-40 years old and the work on it took 12 years to finish!!

workcollage

Seemless embroidery on the neck & sleeves. Plus a traditional cuff bracelet and rings to complete the look

The work which is all done by hand is incredibly intricate. Traditionaly done by wives, mothers and daughters in baluchistan ,it is done without the tracing of any patterns! The women simply work their needles by working with the weave of the fabric and letting it guide their hands. Thats why it takes so long to complete and why its like wearing a piece of history.

By the way if you’ve noticed the braids in my hair, they werent there when I arrived at the office. The traditional baluchi women have long hair which they wear in a myriad of tiny braids which they then bunch up into an updo and cover with their dupattas. My colleagues were not going to let me get away with a less than traditional hairstyle!

Now I was not going to ruin my immaculate blowdry by having my hair braided into a gazillion tiny braids. I did however sit still while one of my female colleagues made 3 tiny braids on either side of my head and then drew and secured them at the back of my head with a bobby pin.

Left: Me holding the braids in place while my colleague hunts for a bobby pin Right: Me with my new hairdo

Left: Me holding the braids in place while my colleague hunts for a bobby pin
Right: Me with my new hairdo

Ok so enough about me and my outfit (although I could go on) lets shift our focus from fashion to food.

The office cafeteria was converted into a kind of national buffet with long tables laden with all sorts of regional fare and hungry people eager to try everything. The deal was made sweeter by the announcement that there would be a prize for the best dish as voted by the office!

My choice for the feast was a traditional Afghan Pulao (pillaf). Rice made fragrant with aromatics like clove, cinamon and star anise, slowly cooked with large cuts of meat (lamb but in this case beef) that melt in your mouth. Adding to the texture and flavor are raisins, whole mild green chillies and dates…..now if that is not a winning dish, I dont know what is!

So the serving starts and I start whipping out platefulls of the pulao as fast as I could to what seemed like a neverending line of people…

Yummy YummY Yummy!!!

Yummy YummY Yummy!!!

By the time I was done serving everyone, I looked around and saw that most of the other food was gone before I could even taste it!!

So I scavenged around the tables and came across some left over odds and ends…

Sweet, Rich and Luscious! Sohn Halwa; a speciality from southern Punjab

Sweet, Rich and Luscious! Sohn Halwa; a speciality from southern Punjab

Some rather excellent brie which I wolfed down withe some leftover crusty french bread

Some rather excellent brie which I wolfed down withe some leftover crusty french bread

 

Paan:  betel leaf combined with areca nut coconut, fruit preserves, gulkand (rose petal preserves), various spices

Paan: betel leaf combined with areca nut coconut, fruit preserves, gulkand (rose petal preserves), various spices

Please note the wrapping around the paan!! quirkiness at its best!

And finally, the best find of all…..Firni!

Firni: A dessert made by boiling rice with milk and sugar, and flavoured with cardamom, raisins, saffron, cashew nuts, pistachios or almonds.

Firni: A dessert made by boiling rice with milk and sugar, and flavoured with cardamom, raisins, saffron, cashew nuts, pistachios or almonds.

The traditional Firni like the one in the picture, once made is put into small clay cups and chilled. Once set, the cups are placed on top of one another and chilled further till they are sold in pairs. The two cups together look a bit like a large oyster, which when opened reveals the creamy fragrant firni. It doesnt stay that way for long as most people are only to eager to eat taste the delicate pudding…you’re lucky I managed to control myself and take a picture half way through!

When the time came for the results of the best dish competition to be announced, yours truly marched proudly forward to collect first prize!

I am fiercely proud of my Pathan/Afghan/Persian roots. They are all races which are famous for their bravery, honor, honesty and hospitality; so I’m glad I did them proud on the day.

At the end of the day, the thought that lingered in my mind was that the things that make us different like food, clothes, customs are not what divide us but what can bring us together if only we remove our blinkers and look around us to see the wonder that the world has to offer us.

No one is better or worse than anyone else…everyone is just different, and that is something to be proud of and definitely something worth celebrating!

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