Ambreen Malik

Ambreen Malik

The author is a Microfinance Banker, food blogger, LSE Alum and a dragon in training. She tweets as @ambreen_malik (twitter.com/ambreen_malik)

Remembering Anwer Sultana with some Baisani roti and Afghani chuttney

Dill always reminds me of my Nani (maternal grandmother), Anwer Sultana. A couple of decades earlier, during winter vacations, all of us cousins would come down to Rawalpindi to spend winter breaks with our grandparents. Nani had a huge herb and vegetable garden at the back of the house. The garden always had one particular herb every winter – soy/dill. The shrub always grew taller than me, an eight-year-old back then, making me disappear in the dill patch while trying to catch ladybirds. The ladybirds too loved the perfumed dill as much as I did. Nani loved getting baisani (gram/chickpea floured) roti made at the tandoor (cylindrical clay oven) situated close by. ...

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January 9, 2015
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Appeasing the meat-eater in you with this Pakistani styled stir-fried spicy minced meat

As a kid I was never a mutton, beef or milk fan. I was scolded a tonne by Ammi and Nana (maternal grandfather) for that. I was told that I would never grow tall enough or excel in class or be physically fit. Turns out, I achieved all of that without eating much meat protein throughout my adolescent years. However, something else happened as well. As I became an adult and moved away from Pakistan, the flavours and tastes that I took for granted came back to me as a longing. I missed eating the very things I despised as a kid. And mutton was one of ...

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December 11, 2014
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Warming up the winters with Sooji ka Halwa and chai

Sooji (semolina) halwa was amongst the first few things I learnt to cook primarily because it took less time to cook and I loved its mild sweetness. I was never much of a halwa puri breakfast fan as the deep-fried puris don’t sit very well with my tummy. The halwa, however, if homemade, was my favourite with some tea during cold winter afternoons. Sooji halwa is especially cooked in Pakistan on Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) birthday and distributed amongst neighbours and poor households. Given the fact that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was born and passed away on the same day, the sweet halwa is cooked in the morning to mark the celebration of his birth. In the ...

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Craving for carbs or had a crazy day? Potato bhujia is the way!

There are days when nothing is more comforting than a meal as basic and simple as a potato bhujia. Whether it’s the plunging mercury which makes one crave for carbs or a crazy weekday when you don’t have time to cook an elaborate meal for the family, this humble dish never fails to satisfy and delight everyone. Leftover bhujia either becomes a sandwich on a weekday or becomes a stuffed paratha served with milky, sugary tea on a weekend. There is no waste and no matter how much you make, the cooking pan is always wiped clean. I tend to slice potatoes, tomatoes, onions and chillies all together in ...

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Winter delights and the heavenly gajar ka halwa

While growing up in Pakistan, gajar ka halwa was a winter staple in our home. Back then, carrots in Pakistan were a seasonal vegetable so Ammi made it regularly during winters as the new carrot crop would hit the market. These days, however, carrots are available all year round. But sticking to tradition, Ammi still makes gajar ka halwa only in the winters. This halwa is calorie-laden and heavy in nature as it is laboriously cooked for hours in full cream milk, ghee or butter and plenty of sugar. It is advised not to have it during summers when the mercury hits 40 degrees all across Pakistan as the heaviness ...

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No Pakistani can ever resist some palak paneer

I was in Pakistan for a few weeks to attend a sibling’s wedding. However, the trip turned out to be longer than expected because of the political situation in the twin cities that led to the cancellation and rescheduling of the wedding a few times. Because of this, many invitees were unable to attend the events. The happy affair turned into a stressful one as the two families tried to get through the logistical nightmare that blockages and the long march had created between Lahore, Rawalpindi and Islamabad. The mehendi was cancelled, the wedding reception was organised at a four-hour ...

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What’s an Eid feast without some Nargasi Koftas?

Ramazan is finally over! And here we are celebrating Eidul Fitr in the Far East on Monday. Fasting during the peak summer is a real test of one’s faith and endurance. My inquisitive non-Muslim friends often ask me how we, Muslims, survive the long testing hours of fasting without food and water in soaring temperatures. I am not sure they believe me when I tell them that it’s a mix of practice and unconditional faith that makes us get through the tough days of fasting and sleep deprivation. It’s that time of the year when we feast (read: over eat). Eid menus ...

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Hello Ramazan, hello Dahi Bhallay!

Sweltering summers and food-less Ramazans are a rather challenging, patience-testing combination. But not once does it falter the resolve of a believer when it comes to fasting. For people who fast, away from home and, in non-Muslim countries, things are even tougher. The work hours don’t change, meaning even when your energy levels are dwindling and your eyes are droopy due to sleep deprivation, you still need to keep on marching. This also means that the expatriate families hardly have time to prepare the elaborate iftar, which we are accustomed to in Pakistan or any other Muslim country. I personally enjoy a ...

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Preparing for Ramazan with potato stuffed samosas and a spoonful of green mango chutney

Like the rest of the world, few foods are associated with certain events and seasons and in Pakistan, it is no different. Like Kashmiri Chai, which is an integral part of the food menu during wedding festivities in the winter season, gulab jamuns and ladoos are served to celebrate joyous occasions, samosay and pakoray are served with fiery chutneys when the monsoons open up the heavens above to give us a little reprieve from the hellish summers in Pakistan. Our love for samosas, however, doesn’t end with the monsoon season. In fact, samosas take centre stage during the month of fasting – Ramazan. No iftar table is complete without vegetable or minced meat samosay, served with various types of chutneys. While ...

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Four cups of tea: Bringing people together for years

“If you want to thrive in Baltistan, you must respect our ways. The first time you share tea with a Balti, you are a stranger. The second time, you are an honoured guest. The third time, you become family, and for our family, we are prepared to do anything, even die. Dr Greg, you must take time to share three cups of tea. We may be uneducated but we are not stupid. We have lived and survived here for a long time.” – Three Cups of Tea. Last week became a little strange. First, the Express Tribune blogs team asked if I would be ...

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