Things Carma ’14 (and my trip) Taught Me

  1. It isn’t so easy to trust people and first impressions are definitely not the last impressions.
  2. There is no end to the list of stupid, easily mislead people in the world and I head that list.
  3. The all-nighters I used to pull in Khi are nothing!
  4. I sleep a lot.
  5. Coffee (and tea) is a gift from Allah.
  6. Chop Chop is the best (in terms of taste, ease, service and reasonablity) place to have 4/5 meals from in 3 days.
  7. The guys I’d hated ever since we were kids and studying together, are actually the most caring. Thanks a lot for carrying our luggage and also for making us feel secure by providing VIP protocol at Joyland.
  8. There is something wrong with our female faculty advisor.
  9. Sir Saeed, on the other hand, is as “cooool” (to quote him) as the boyses (esp when he’s walking backwards on a Lahori street and singing We Will Rock You with them :D)
  10. Berrah is one hell of a rapper! And Zoha isn’t the most annoying girl I have ever met; she’s the coolest and the craziest! <3 And Ifrah is veryyy scary (she wants to marry a rich guy and then brutally murder him *gulp*) but not the scary I used to think she was. :)
  11. Bareeri whines when she has to wake up early (I have the recording to prove it) ;)
  12. Aleem needs to get his eyes checked. -_- I did not cry inside the lab.
  13. Trump. (Thanks Anas!)
  14. Contacts help. ;)
  15. A certain person who has a certain level of authority in Generation’s is kanjooooosss!!
  16. LUMS CARMA requires people (or a team) with 3 major qualities: Good speakers, Good in IT, and Able to attend events the whole day and stay awake to work the whole night and yet remain fresh throughout.
  17. Live concert songs aren’t as amazing as music recorded in a studio.
  18. There is at least one guy in the whole of Brazil who is “movie-star hot”. *blushes and faints*
  19. LUMS is possibly the most bigri-hoi-place that I have ever seen with my own eyes.
  20. Girls smoke. I’m still shocked. :o
  21. Rice dishes in Lahore are pheeki.
  22. Africans resemble Red-Indians. As if.

And one thing that I never learnt or understood:

  1. Why do people have ‘girlfriends’ and ‘boyfriends’, when eventually they are going to have this really big fight and then they will never want to face each other again, and even if they have to, they will only be uneasy themselves and make everybody around them feel awkward?

Enjoy Winter Nights the Italian Way

Mmmmmmm…!!!

I just had a cup of the BEST hot chocolate this planet has to offer.

I’m still drooling. Forgive me.

*shakes head to get out of dreamworld* This is the bestest hot chocolate I’ve come across in my whole life! Steaming hot, almost as thick as pudding, great with or without marshmallows/whipped cream: I’ve finally discovered the true taste of Love. One sip –> Addiction!

Sadly, I drunk it as soon as I poured it into the cup, and so, I’m left with a burnt tongue and no pictures. But, this is just proof of how fantastic this Italian delight is! I must say, Italians are geniuses ^_^

Without boring you guys any further, here goes this MARVELLOUS recipe:

Ingredients (for one cup):

4 tablespoons roughly chopped chocolate (I used Hershey’s milk chocolate chips but a bittersweet chocolate like Cadbury Bournville would definitely be much better)

3/4 cup milk

1 tsp cornflour

1/2 tbsp sugar (if using milk chocolate chips but use 1 if using bittersweet chocolate)

a pinch of salt

Method:

Heat the chocolate along with a tablespoon of the milk in a saucepan, until the chocolate has just melted. Keep stirring with a silicon/rubber/wooden spoon/spatula throughout the cooking process. Slowly, pour in the remaining milk. Add the sugar. After the sugar has dissolved, quickly add the cornflour and keep stirring so no lumps form. Now keep cooking (and stirring) over low heat until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and pour into a cup. You may drink it immediately, and get your tongue burnt ;) Or, you may wait a minute or so, but then, a thick coating forms on the surface, so you have to stir it before drinking. Needless to say, you’ll enjoy it! :D

I’d love to hear about your first experience with this so please…comment below! :)

Microwavable Treats

All around everybody’s like: “Microwaves are HARMFUL!” “The radiations can cause cancer!” “Don’t use a microwave…EVER!!!” and yada yada yada… *yawn*

But who cares when you can be assured that a microwave would enable you to whip up some really scrumpilicious, chocolaty treats in a couple minutes just when you’re craving for a no-energy-wasting-midnight-snack? And the best part: it’s single serve! :D

Mini Chocolate Cake

  • 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp good quality cocoa powder (try Hershey’s)
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tbsp caster sugar (if you don’t have it at home, grind normal granulated sugar)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/8 tsp vanilla essence
  • To garnish: Nuts, Bananas, Chocolate chips, Multicoloured sprinkles, Vanilla/Chocolate/Cookies and Cream ice-cream, Chocolate syrup, Mini marshmallows etc.

In a small bowl, combine together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and sugar. Add in the egg, milk, oil and vanilla essence and stir well so no lumps remain. Lightly oil (or spray) a cappuccino cup and pour in the cake batter. Microwave on high for two minutes.

This cake tastes great, but tends to have a little dry, slightly rubbery texture, so serve it with chocolate syrup, ice-cream or fruit.

Gooey Chocolate Brownie

  • 6 tbsp (sweetened) hot chocolate mix (I used Cadbury’s Drinking Chocolate)
  • 4 tbsp all-purpose flour or maida
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 3 tbsp water
  • Milk, if batter seems too thick
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla essence
  • Chocolate chips

In a cappuccino mug, mix the flour and drinking chocolate mix. Add the oil, water and essence and mix it well using a fork or spoon. If batter seems thick and hard to stir, add in a little, just a little milk. Fold in the chocolate chips. Microwave on high first for 60 seconds. If not done, microwave for 10 10 seconds more until the sides are cooked and center is molten. Now, you have an option: either wait a couple of minutes for it cool down, or dump a heaped spoonful in your mouth as soon as you take it out of the microwave, and get your tongue burnt like I did.

Chocolate Chip Cookie

  • 1 tbsp melted butter
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1/8 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Just a little less than 1/4 cup all-purpose flour or maida
  • Chocolate chips
  • Chopped nuts, if you want

In a cappuccino cup, stir together the melted butter, sugars, vanilla and salt. Add in the yolk and mix well. Add the flour and mix again. Fold in the chocolate chips and nuts. Microwave for 40-50 seconds (in any case, less than a minute). It will have a soft center and golden brown edges. Serve immediately.

It’s Iftar Time!

Almost 1/3 of Ramadan has passed by. There’s very little time left till a joyous Eid. But to make this Eid really joyful for all of us, we need to work hard to attain it. Working hard here, obviously, does include fasting from Fajr to Maghrib, but it also means abstaining from lies, mockery, physical and verbal abuse, and all other forms of sins. Leaving food and drink alone is not enough. Our fasts should be accompanied by intense devotional activity-Ibaadah.

Sahih Bukhari :: Book# 31 :: Hadith# 127

Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, “Whoever does not give up forged speech and evil actions, Allah is not in need of his leaving his food and drink (i.e. Allah will not accept his fasting.)”

God is so merciful on us that after every fast, we have a good Iftar waiting for us on our dining tables. In this condition, we must be thankful to Him for all the countless blessings He has bestowed on us, His subjects, His people. And what will make our lives even better is charity. As a follower of Islam specially and a human being generally, it is duty on the well-to-do Muslims among us to donate generously to the poor and the needy, so they can have a Sehr and an Iftar, and clean, presentable clothes to wear on Eid, along with the other necessities of life; they should not suffer like this:

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Here are some ‘typical’ Iftar recipes which are a favourite at my home. They make ample servings for eating at home and sharing with our neighbours, relatives, friends and most importantly, those people of our society who really do need our help and support.

PAKORAS

For the batter:

  • Very approximately 1/2 pao or 125 g of besan (gram or chickpea flour)
  • Just a little less than 1 tsp salt
  • Just a little less than 1 tsp red chili powder
  • Approximately 1/4 tsp baking soda (meetha soda, khanay ka soda whatever)
  • 3-4 pinches each of cumin seeds (zeera) and coriander seeds (sabut dhaniya)
  • Water, as required

(I’m really really sorry for all the approximate measurements. My mother makes this and like all desi mums, she uses approximation and not measurements. This was the best I could do to convert her approximations into measurements.)

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a dry bowl. Add water, little at a time, and mix with fingers until the desired consistency is reached. It should not be as runny as cake batter and definitely not as thick as dough. The consistency should be such that you can scoop up some with your fingers and it does not fall too much but it should still be more liquid than solid. (It’s kind of hard to explain so I’ll upload a picture tomorrow.)

Types of Pakoras:

  • Aaloo (Potato) pakoras

For this much batter, you’ll need around 3 medium to large potatoes. Wash and peel off their skins and cut thin round slices (I sometimes find it easier to use a vegetable peeler to cut very thin slices). I soak them for 15-30 minutes in water, though I do not think it is a very necessary step.

  • Palak (Spinach) pakoras

Remove a few spinach leaves from their stems and wash thoroughly.

  • Sabzi (vegetable) pakoras

You can add pretty much any kind of vegetable to this. My mother adds thinly sliced onions and green chilies, coriander leaves. You could also add grated cabbage, carrots and chopped green onions.

  • Onion pakoras (Desi version of onion rings :P )

Cut 1/4 inch slices of medium to large sized onion(s). Separate the individual rings.

Depending upon the type of pakora you’re making, dump the potato slices, spinach leaves, onion rings or vegetables into the batter. Mix with hands so that everything is covered with the batter. Deep fry the potato slices, spinach leaves and onion rings individually. For the vegetable pakoras, scoop up some of the batter and drop it in form of small balls in the oil and then deep fry. When the pakoras are equally golden-brown, remove and place on a newspaper or paper towel to absorb excess oil.

ONION RINGS (the ‘angreji’ version)

  • 1 large onion
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (maida) (Do NOT use besan or gram flour)
  • 1 tsp baking POWDER (this is not exactly a ‘pakora’ as I initially thought so, so don’t add soda)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • Bread crumbs
  • Oil, as needed for deep frying.

Peel and cut the onion into 1/4 inch slices and separate the individual rings. Mix together flour, salt and baking powder in a bowl. Coat each ring with the flour mixture and set aside. Add the milk and egg into the flour mix and whisk using a fork or wire whisk. In a different plate or tray, spread the breadcrumbs. Dip each onion ring into the batter and let the excess batter drip. Then coat the ring with the breadcrumbs and set aside. Do this until all the rings have been coated. Now, deep fry the rings until golden-brown and place on a paper towel or newspaper to absorb excess oil. Sprinkle salt and pepper if you want and serve.

Couldn't get a better picture..sorry :/

Couldn’t get a better picture..sorry :/

Egg/Spring Rolls

*This recipe makes around 50 rolls.

  • 1/2 kg (approx. 1 pound) Chicken or minced beef
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp cornflour
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • Ground black pepper, to taste

I used chicken because of my non-beef/mutton/fish/other seafood brother, though I wanted to use minced beef. You’ll need boiled, shredded chicken. If using minced beef, skip the boiling and shredding step. Marinate the shredded chicken/minced beef with all the other ingredients. Leave for some time.

  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely minced (or you could just save time and use garlic powder)
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 head of cabbage, shredded
  • 3 carrots, shredded
  • Corn, as much as you want
  • Boiled (with salt) spaghetti or chinese egg noodles (I didn’t measure this, sorry)
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp olive/sesame oil
  • Ground black pepper, to taste

Heat a wok on high flame. Add the cooking oil and swirl to coat it completely. Add the marinated beef/chicken and stir fry for 2-3 mins (until the beef is done). Push the meat to one side and add the vegetables (cabbage, carrots, garlic, ginger, corn) on the other side. Stir fry until the vegetables have softened. Add the soy sauce, salt, sugar, olive oil and black pepper and mix well. Now throw in the spaghetti and mix everything together. Stir fry for another minute or so. Spread the whole mixture on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Use a paper towel to blot the filling to get rid of extra juices.

Make the rolls using the wrappers but use only 1 heaped tablespoon of filling per roll. Seal the rolls with layi (flour mixed with cold water to make a paste). Deep fry the rolls in a wok and serve warm, accompanied by ketchup, and chutneys made of coriander leaves or tamarind and dates. I’ll try to upload the recipes for the chutneys as well.

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Please try out these recipes and be sure to tell me if you liked them in the comments.

Have a blessed, Ibaadah-filled Ramadan and don’t forget the poor!

Chocolate Biscuit Cake

Sinful. Delicious. –> The two words that come to my mind when I think of this beauty…

Chocolate Biscuit Cake was what Prince William had on his special day. Yup, he has goooood choice!!! It is what I had never tasted until a few minutes before now. It is what I took to a family dinner yesterday (but never got a chance to taste it :/ ). It is what intrigued me so much that I made it again.

I dunno why but this tastes so much like a magnified Twix bar, and Twix is my all-time favourite chocolate, so I loved this. I guess it was kind of caramel-ish because of the condensed milk.

I first came across this cake on wikihow and then kept googling for recipes until I found a suitable one on edible ireland. I did change the recipe a little according to our taste and here’s the result:

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Although many recipes call for golden syrup to be used, but I chose the condensed milk version because I had condensed milk but not golden syrup at home, and also, because on Edible Ireland, it says that using condensed milk makes it easier to cut the cake. So here goes this MARVELLOUS recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 150 g roughly chopped Milk Chocolate (I used 1 1/2 100g bars of Dairy Milk)
  • 150 g roughly chopped Dark Chocolate (I used Cadbury Bournville. The second time, however, I didn’t have enough Bournville so I added Hershey’s milk chocolate chips because they’re still too dark for me to eat normally)
  • 1/2 cup (100g) diced butter/margarine (Blue Band, of course)
  • 1 tin (400 g) condensed milk (Comelle, my favourite)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp espresso powder* (Nescafe)
  • as many Digestive Biscuits and/or Tea Biscuits (I used Marie biscuits) as you want

*The espresso powder is purely optional, but doesn’t everyone love the taste of coffee+chocolate???!!!

Method:

Melt the chocolates and butter/margarine in a heatproof bowl, either in the microwave, or in a double boiler (the  better option).
Remove from heat and stir in the salt and espresso powder with the help of a rubber/silicon spatula.
Pour in the condensed milk and stir well.
Add the digestive and tea biscuits, broken into 3-5 pieces each. Stir until each and every piece is covered in the chocolate mixture.
Pour this concoction in a lined loaf or springform cake pan. The loaf pan should be lined with plastic wrap (clingfilm). I lined the base of the springform with aluminium foil and plastic wrap on top of that, and lightly oiled the sides.
Refrigerate for at least 3-5 hours (preferably overnight). If you reside in Pakistan, do place it in the freezer overnight.
If you want, you can spread some chocolate, or white/vanilla buttercream frosting on it, but it’s very rich as it is.

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ENJOY!

To Beautiful Memories and Glorious Days

Those little little moments that have a special place in your memories and in your heart. When you have only laughed, without any thought of the world surrounding you, without any stress or worry. When you, for a second or two, just dived into Utopia. Those little little moments that you wish you could snapshot, so later on, they would just not be a part of memory but something palpable; something to be touched, to be hugged.

Those times when you were happy, in every true sense of the word. Those times when you felt optimistic and buoyant. Those times when you either sunk into a glorious, ecstatic trance, or you felt like jumping up and yelling your joy to the world. Those times that are better than the discovery of being in love. Those memories that you cherish. Those moments that are the best incentives of living; because of which, you struggle each day to keep on breathing the fresh air, to keep on living.

Those days when you wake up, with the sun’s rays falling on you, a beaming smile on your face. And you take a deep breath and are in RELAX mood. When you chill, and you love it. When you do not take offence at anybody’s remarks. When you feel that everything is perfect for once, and you do not want to be the one to change any minute detail about Nature.

Those times when, when your teachers compliment you, you feel more loved than you do when your parents do. When nothing matters except inner beauty and love and bliss. When your heart expands with joy and elation even due to small, seemingly insignficant victories. When you attain the maximum level of satisfaction and comfort. When, like me at this moment, you feel blessed and loved and praised and adored and jubilant and content. :)

Reflections: An Amazing Life

It was some 13 years ago that I entered Pre-Nursery as a teeny-weeny child. As my mother tells me I was pretty glad to be away from my brothers for once, and so, I was laughing. But, I expect to leave as a rather chubby teenager, grief-stricken, to leave the best home she’s ever had.

(*A very bored audience…“Another reflection…UGH”*)

I have no such definite recollections of my pre-primary days, expect for the fact that I met two of the sweetest teachers God ever created: Ms. Humaira Shahzad, and Ms. Fehmida Jamal.

As I grew up throughout the Starter and Junior sections, I met some really amazing and some maybe not so amazing teachers, but what’s true is that all of them had a hand in my social, moral, intellectual, and emotional development. Ms. Shahida, Ms. Huma Khalil, Ms. Umbreen, Ms. Rahila, Ms. Khadija Noorani, thank you for being there whenever I needed you.

Then came along another wonderful addition to this very long list: Ms. Humaira Salman, probably the strictest and yet, one of the most loving teachers I’ve had. Ms. Sainora, Ms. Saima, Ms. Nadia, Ms. Farkhunda, Ms Hemani, Ms. Abida were all like precious gems.

Ms. Farida, thank you for initiating that spark of love for one of my most favourite subjects now, which, back then, I loathed.

And Ms. Ayesha Nizami: all the dictionaries of all languages combined together don’t have sufficient words to describe your elegance and perfection!

The Middle Section, I can confidently claim, consisted up of the four years in which I grew up the most. Okay, so nobody in their right senses would call me ‘mature’, but I am relatively more grown-up now than I was back in class VI, and I want to thank Ms. Rabia Jamal for being the only teacher who acknowledged this change. (*I meant this to be serious but many laughed at the mature thingy -_- *)

Ms. Ayesha Muneeb, who taught me the meaning of the phrase ‘motherly teacher’. Ms. Qaisara, who is total sweetness overload! The amazing time I spent with Ralph, Piggy and Jack (Lord of the Flies): I owe it to Ms. Kanwal. And Ms. Beena, for her perfect-o smile, the love for Literature with which she taught ‘Ode to Autumn’ and ‘Macbeth’, and for the admirable ease with which she could handle when I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

Ms. Beenish, Ms. Iffat, Dr. Kanwal are amazing science teachers. And special thanks to Ms. Haider for being the most enthusiastic teacher ever! (*Laughs and (pleased) hoots from the audience*)

And because it was under Ms. Nighat Khalil, that I first stopped hating Urdu, so thank you for that.

And now that I realize it, thank you Ms. Sabiha for giving me a reality check and for making me a better person; for changing your opinion about me, because not many people would do that.

And…Ms. Rukhsana…well, what can I say about you? Thank you for assuming that I am a master ventriloquist, while really, I’ve tried and tried and I can’t even whistle! (*My class gets the sarcasm and laughs :P *)

Ms. Sadia Abdul Qadir, you are the sweetest, the most admirable (and not to mention the prettiest) person, I’ve come across in my life. Thank you for existing! (*clapping*)

Ms. Amin, thank you for being so sincere and so flawless. (*more clapping –> proof: everybody loves her :) *)

Sir Zeeshan, for being a really amazing Physics teacher.

Ms. Fauzia Samreen, thank you for being patriotic, for making the driest of dry subjects (*she nods sarcastically-at least that’s what it looked like*) so much more likeable (*she starts smiling :) *) and for accepting an apology. I’m not the kind of person who’d normally be associated with emotions, but it really meant so much to me.

Thank you Ms Noreen, Ms Khadija for being super-cool sports teachers. Despite your fearful anger, Ms. Noreen, you rock when you’re in a good mood. (*The moment where I started laughing so hard onstage that I couldn’t speak*) And thank you Sir Asim, for forever calling me ‘Chota Huzaifa’! (*Huge Applause*)

Ms. Razi, for adding fuel to my hatred every Literature block! (*It was Staff APPRECIATION Week and I did not have the liberty to insult people, so I never said this either*)

Ms. Uzma Shakeel, though you haven’t taught me ever, but you have taught my brother. Jazak Allah for being a very supportive class teacher. And Ms. Asma (*she looks really bewildered at me mentioning her*), despite the first impression I got of you being so very strict, you are actually really sweet.

Ms. Farzana Sarwar, thank you for never handing  a tardy slip if we ever were late after the Opt. Subjects. Thank you for loving Biology and for making me love it too. Is there any way, we can book you for next year??

Ms. Farzana Aziz, you don’t believe us when we say this, but you’re sooooo cuutttteeee! (*Audience laughs hysterically, claps AND hoots :D *) Thank you for making History bearable and for all the not-possible death threats. (If you don’t stop talking, I’ll throw you out of the window!)

Ms. Farah Bukhari: thank you for always being generous with compliments.  Ms. Gul-e-Zehra: your awesome style of teaching Urdu, your smile and your always matching bracelets are something I’ll never forget! And lastly, if I haven’t missed out anybody, Ms. Uzma Khan: You are perfection personified!

So, thank you Generation’s for giving me such an amazing life, and HAPPY BIRTH-WEEK (belated now :P )!!!