Friday, 25 November 2011

The Pakistani Tea Party: Some Point to Note


Tea is huge part of the Pakistani culture. So much so, that if you say "I don't drink tea" you get something similar to the reaction of Toula's aunt in My Big Fat Greek Wedding to her fionce not eating meat: "you don't eat MEAT?!?!" Shocking.

You see, a cup of tea with your family, curled up on the sofa, watching tv at the end of long day can be the best thing in the world. But serving tea to aunties you havn't seen in months and have little in common with, while your tea-serving standards are ruthlessly scrutinised  = not so fun.

It goes something like this, and if you are Pakistani/South-Asian/live in an area with a large population of Asians, chances are you can relate to at least one of the points below:

  1. First thing to note, Pakistani "tea guests" will rarely call before coming over. If you do get some notice, it'll be an hours notice max. More likely is a call to ask "are you home? because we've just pulled into your street!"

  2. A minimum of three-four snacks to accompany the tea are expected. No way around this. You only have one thing to serve? Just biscuits? Well forget it. Forget the tea altogether. Thats just insulting. Its an insult to the tea itself! Your going to be cussed much less for not offering ANY tea than you are for a half-full table of accompaniments.

  3. There should be at least one deep-fried snack. Acceptable are: kebabs, samosas, pakoras, spring rolls and cutlets. Not acceptable is anything healthy. What is this brown bread, low fat, sandwich? Or sugar-free rusks? Conclusion: too cheap to buy enough oil to serve proper (ie. fried) food.

  4. You must, I repeat MUST, offer your guests everything at least 5 times. Do a count in your head. If you fall short, they are going to call you inhospitable. And if you really want to impress them, use different words each time. Forget the normal "would you like some cake?" You've got to mix it up with a bit of "I made this cake especially for you" (ie. I was saving this to eat whilst watching Glee later, dammit) with some pushy "have some more." Simulatenously shoving a slice on their already full plate helps too.

  5. And finally... if your guests don't leave an inch wider around the waist and fuller than if they'd had dinner with you instead, then its all over for you.

Disclaimer: All of the above is true. All characters appearing in this post are not fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely the truth.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Birthday Honours!


Happy Birthday to NR and IR, the two mummies, correction: YUMMY mummies of our group! Our go-to ladies for all queries on happy homemaking ;-)

Last month NR turned.... we'll just say late 20's! And today, its IR's birthday! In her honour, the rest of us want to share our favourite birthday memory of her:

JN: for IR, I'll always remember her bday at the restaurant with the belly-dancer! That was nice, but even better was the year we took her to a Sainsbury's carpark in the middle of nowhere, put her in a shopping trolley and bombed her with water baloons...! She was completely soaked!!!

SK: I second that, water bombing her in the middle of a car park on a freezing November night!

And in honour of NR, here's where we see her in 10 years time: 

SK: babysitting our kids because her own will be too old and she'll be feeling broody but her husband will say no more kids, babysit ur friends! OR she will be a supercool mum who will become a personal shopper for babies on the side, making them dress up in designer wear!

To two of our most beautiful (inside and out) friends, from all of us: HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Why Comfort Eating is Overrated and Banana Cupcakes Recipe


For reasons I'll explain in my next post, I am feeling DE-pressed right now. Majorly. So I'm on the dangerous slope that is Comfort Eating. I finished the box of chocolates I treated myself to less than two weeks ago and as the store that sells imported chocolates is a bit far from home, I've taken to baking. It all started off with an innocent enough Zuchinni/Courgette Cake and pretty much went downhill from there. Chocolate cupcakes, orange yoghurt cake, trifle, chocolate mousse... I've made them all in the last couple of weeks alone! *gulp*

My family, on the other hand, must be loving this little "phase" I'm going through. Like yesterday, when my husband was full from dinner and then I bought out a tray of banana cupcakes, he was so pleasantly surprised that for a split second I thought "hey, maybe this won't be just a phase. I should do this everyday!"

And then I ate three of the cupcakes and actually felt my clothes slowly yet surely get snugger around my waist and almost burst into tears.

Comfort eating is not supposed to have guilt attached to it at the end! Whats that about? So I go to all that effort to feel better (comforted!) only to end up feeling tired and guilty AS WELL AS still upset?! Well thats crap. I need a new comfort plan.

Comfort painting?
Comfort cleaning?!
Comfort movie fests??!

Anyway, whenever you feel guilty after eating something, it generally means it turned out good. Really good. So I'm going to spread the guilt a little and share the recipe!

Banana Cupcakes with Pastry Cream Topping
(Makes about 15)
Recipe inspired by and adapted from Brown Eyed Baker


1 1/3 cups plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla essence
3/4 cup ripe, mashed bananas
1/4 cup yoghurt 

Preheat your oven to 160 degrees celsius (320 fahrenheit).

Meanwhile, put the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl and using a hand whisk, stir them together. Or you can sift them together but this takes longer and you can achieve the same goal (ie. combining them all evenly) but just stirring together with a whisk too.

Then, put the oil, sugar, egg and vanilla in a seperate bowl and using an electornic whisk, mix it all up. Add your flour in two additions, alternating with the yoghurt. So you would add some of the flour, whisk, add some yoghurt, whisk, etc. Don't over whisk at this stage; a couple of seconds is enough. You just want the flour to be incorporated without ruining the texture of the batter by over mixing.

Finally, stir in your mashed bananas and thats your batter done! Pour into cupcake cases and bake for about 20 mins. Of course, this will vary from oven to oven so just keep an eye on it from 15 mins onwards.

For the topping,  Brown Eyed Baker suggested pastry cream goes well with this, instead of traditional icing. I've never made pastry cream before. In fact, I wasn't even sure what it was!! A bit of reading up told me I do know this actually: its used to fill eclairs and also known as crème patisserie. I was super excited about making this because I love, love, LOVE ecalirs, profiteroles, etc! To be honest, I was a teeny bit disappointed as it was more from the custard family than it was from the cream family. But I persevered and piped some onto my cupcakes anyway and am glad I did. It goes really well with these particular cupcakes. Alone, the banana taste in this might be too rich, but this gives it a really nice balance without the heaviness of icing.

I used Joy of Baking's pastry cream recipe, because there was a video with it too. Note. you need to make and refrigerate this for a couple of hours before using, all explained in the video.

I didn't take any photos myself because my camera was upstairs and I was being lazy! So you'll just have to trust that they looked exactly as the original creator's did:

Taken from Brown Eyed Baker's blog. Links above!

Friday, 11 November 2011


Posted By IR

This is probably one of the things that ticks me off the most. If I've ever said this to anyone, please forgive me for being a complete dog.

I hate it when random people tell me I should be planning my next baby now. Worse still...that I should have had my next one by now. Or even worse....that I need a boy next. Just ssshhhh will you people. I'll plan my next baby when I want.

My daughter is turning two this i'll wait another year or more to start planning no 2. So what! I want to enjoy my time with her. I want to work. I want to concentrate on myself. I want 'me time'.

Please read NR's post on 'Me Time' and you'll understand why I dont want to rush! That Blog post is enough to make anyone stop, think and sit in the bath before there's no bloody time!!!

But i'll tell you what makes me go doolally; when my husband, who knows, and is happy about the plan of waiting, decides to push my psycho button. I was telling him how before daughter, I made 4 roti's instead of the now 5. (I promise this conversation sounded interesting to me at the time....but for those of you who aren't married yet....this is as exciting as breakfast gets when you're married). So he says:

..... 'so love, ain't it 'bout time we made 6 roti's instead of 5?'


If you thought the above was me being psycho, you're wrong. I then got the margerine knife and stabbed his toast....with force.....

I dont think he'll forget 'The Plan' now.......

The Local Library

Posted by IR

So I went to my local library last week as I needed some books on teaching. Before I could get any books out, I needed a library card. I hadn't been to this library in 11 years! So here's how the story went:

IR: I need a library card please. (Sweet smile...all is good)

Librarian: Have you been to this library before?

IR: Yes, but many years ago.

Librarian: Ok i'll have to look at the records.

She took my name and address.

Librarian: You already have a card here. And you have two books outstanding on the card from 11 years ago. Do you have these books at home as you need to pay a fine.

I'm thinking you what! You want me to pay a fine from 11 years ago. And would I have these books at home....of course not! I obviously don't have the books.

IR: How much is this fine?

Librarian: Well if you don't have the books, you've got to replace them so the fine is £16.

Well I thought what the hell again. I'm not paying £16 for Jane Austens study guide and a chemistry book that I havnt used in 11 years. I sound so aggressive in this blog. And I suppose I am a bit fierce when I think to myself and then I speak and am ten notches calmer! So I told her I'd get back to her as I wanted to still see if there were any books on teaching. But she wouldn't leave me alone.

Librarian: Can you look for these books at home?

I couldn't possibly have these books you see as you should know that in the last 11 years I moved out to uni for 3 years. Moved back home. Got married and moved out again. Had a child. And in all that time never ever came across my Jane Austen study guide.

IR: I really don't have these books.

Librarian: But maybe you should look for them.

IR: I havn't got them...really I havn't. (cool as a cucumber)

She looks like a typical librarian...Glasses. Knee length pencil skirt. Grey hair. And then she tuts!

IR: So anyway. Can you help me to look for the books that I've come here for?

And her reply just made me laugh out loud!

Librarian: The can I help you to look for the books...they're in your house!!!

Ughhhhhhhhhhh. Silly woman! Why would I ask you to help me to look for my books in my house? Why?

That feeling of wanting to hit my head against a brick wall was so overwhelming.

Needless to say I didn't find the books I wanted at the library and didn't even attempt to pay the fine. Kind of legged it out the library like I was committing a crime.

Oh and guess what my label is now:

biblioklept, biblioclept
1. A book thief or someone who steals books.
2. Besides the direct biblioklept there is the indirect thief who borrows and never returns books to their proper owners (including a library).

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

An Ode to Take-Out!


You know those days when just the thought of the kitchen makes you feel like hiding under the bed? When that whole "Happy Housewife" malarkey feels like a distant concept as understandable as Sanskrit (or as NK would say, something a Man probably came up with)! Well the morning after Eid felt exactly like that. After slaving away in the kitchen till 1am the night before, the number of total dishes served alongside MIL's cooking turned out to be such a ridiculously large amount that no-one really noticed the velvety texture of my chocolate mousse, the creaminess of the béchamel in my moussaka or even the six layers in my trifle! The next day, the thought of even looking in the direction of the kitchen made me want to puke.

God bless my Husband for occasionally saying the totally and completely right thing at the right time. Times like that a wife is suddenly flooded with the "yes-thats-why-I-married-him!" feeling, which (if you are super lucky) lasts ALL the way till he next speaks ;-)

What were these golden words of his? "Don't cook. We'll get take-out."

I swear I actually heard that operatic "Hallelujia!"

Its become a sort of weekly thing for us, getting take-out. It might be more or less in your houses, but how often do we stop and really appreciate the possibility of picking up the phone and ordering food to come to you? My god, in Pakistan you can even order a milkshake from McDonalds to be delivered to you if you really want! (I've done this... Ultimate definition of "a moment on the lips, two years on the hips").

Anyway, so this particular occasion, we went for BBQ Tonight, a favourite of ours. We always get the "charga" (a full chicken, barbequed with Pakistani spices) and then add things to it, like pilao or a karahi. There was even some charga left over for me to shred and chuck into an omlette for breakfast this morning! Dee-lish.

I love how despite the fact that in many ways, moving to Pakistan has meant leaving behind a lot of "luxuries," there are things I can do here that I couldn't do in London, like:

  • have any and every restaurant deliver to me, including the internationals like Nandos, Chicken Cottage, McD's etc;
  • eat freshly barbequed food as if it was just bought in from my back garden, without doing any of the hard work myself; and
  • marvel at the delivery boxes! None of the standard cardboard affair for BBQ Tonight my friends... Their food comes in those sturdy, microwave-safe, plastic storage boxes you can stuff your leftovers in, which I'm pretty sure I have about 10 of now! (I guess the not-cooking was as far as I could leave behind the Housewife in me).

Incase You Were Wondering What Muslims Do at Parties...


So this Eid we played Eid games:
 >      Pin the Sahaba on the Kaaba
 >      Musical Tawaaf statues
 >      Races between Safa Marwa
Then loads of fireworks. One went into a tree and set it alight. My mum and aunties panicked and started running to the kitchen to fill handis (bowls) with water. Luckily, hose pipe was ready and we caught it in time before the fence set alight! But 999 was also on the ready. So much fun.

Friday, 4 November 2011

'Me' Time


Time: 2pm 
Location: My Car
Situation: Little One (a.k.a Tiny Terror) FINALLY asleep in her car seat. I am parked right in front of my house. Will need to collect her big sis in an hour.
Quite simply I need to get out of the car as I mindlessly do many times a day, go around to the back of the car, open door, unbuckle car seat, pick her up, hug "ssh there there, sleepy sleepy, it's okay", lock car, down the path to the front door, unlock door, into the house put her down on the sofa, try to take coat off without waking her, cover her with blanky, gently turn away...."MAMA...waaaaa"....
Nope! Can't face it, not today, not right now. 
SO instead I lean further back into my car seat close my eyes and take in the silence. 
A potential hour to myself, one whole hour to do whatever I please...well as much as can be done when one is confined to their car. 
Where to begin, look in wipes...old tissues....aha my MAC

Group e-mail to friends:

NR: IR and HA I just want to say I don't know how you do it all and so well. 
HA: What u talking abt woman ur the one who has two babies, a hubby, a house to look after, in laws and own family nearby to keep on top of, PLUS u just helped ur sister with her new baby AND u help ur mum with lots, plus school run, plus cooking and last but not least, u manage to look like a hot mama while ur at all of it!!!
HA: By the way I washed and ironed all of hubby's white dress shirts yest, about 6 in total, only for him to tell me this morning he wants to wear a blue one. Its like something out of a sitcom. Its almost 12 hours later and I still can't believe it!
NR: Lol see you do everything so well, I can't even iron a shirt.
But I am sitting in the car applying a bright new lipgloss and about to repaint nails. Haha. Baby sleeping in the back. 
Half an hour left, enough time to draft my well overdue 'being us' blog and as HA managed to sum up my life so far there's not much left to write...except that the hot mama bit is debatable.
Oh shoot old lady from across the road has been staring at me probably wondering why I still haven't left my car. She normally comes over whenever I get out and has a LONG chat about people today,sentences begin "no offence" all the while offending me of course. Time to drive to the other end of my road. After all it is still 'ME' Time and I'll take it any way I can get it!!!!

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Men and Food: As Straight Forward As We Think?


The way to a man's heart is through his stomach, right?

Who the heck even came up with that?! Ok, I know some people think men are "simple" creatures (note. from the sentiments towards them you'll have read in NK's posts, clearly we are not those people) but SO simple that a good meal is enough to win them over totally and completely?! And if that is true, where are these men?

I live in a house with four other men: my husband, his two younger brothers and my father-in-law. That's a lot of testosterone for anyone but can you imagine what its like for me, the only child that lived with her mother and no other male for 25 years? I often see them do things that are probably SO normal to people used to being around guys, but I'm like *jaw-dropped*

For example, all the nudging to each other when an ad with Katrina Kaif in it is on tv, and then the no-blink stares at her. I'm uselessly yelling, "these kind of ads objectify women! Imagine if that was your sister that random men are oggling at! We should be united in our war against portrayals of women as marketing tools! This is beyond sexist!"

Yes. I am way over the top sometimes.

Ok I may be not be big fan of hers (ie. slightly jealous) but even I can't resist a London photoshoot!

Anyway, point of this post being that before I came here, and even during the years I was engaged to my Husband, I had only the standard male stereotypes to guide me on what living with men would be like... and now I'm wondering why has no-one corrected these? They are not (that) true....

Take dinner time. Prior to getting married, I honestly thought that you feed a man an AMAZING meal and hey presto! He's so grateful/impressed you can pretty much he's like "Katrina who?" *Ba Dum Chhh* so off I ventured into the kitchen to produce these extravagent dinners: curries with fresh cream, homemade sauces, breads in every shape and flavour, roasts, casseroles, humungous sandwiches and desserts to die for!

Only for my awesome Husband to politley inform me he is the least fussiest eater in the world. I needn't kill myself; he'll eat "whatever!" Can I just point out here I am actually grateful he's like this (in SHARP contrast to his brothers... the abuse over food their poor mother deals with!) and its not like I'm trying to win him over or anything, we are very happily married! BUT now I'm actually an okay cook. And everytime I make dinner, theres a secret part of me that wants him to make those ridiculous "mmmm" noises on the first bite and exclaim "you are just amazing! best.wife.ever!"

Such self-absorbance, I know.

Funnily, its actually my girl friends that are super impressed with a fancy meal! NK practically begins her day with a message to me asking what I'm cooking today (eternally grateful for her support in my self-absorbance) so maybe we have all the stereotypes the wrong way round?

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