Arhama Siddiqa

Arhama Siddiqa

The author is a LUMS and University of Warwick Alumnus and is currently a Research Fellow at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI). She calls herself a bibliophile,a dreamer and an avid foodie. She also has a Instagram food blog: @chakhoous (www.instagram.com/chakhoous/) . She tweets @arhama_siddiqa (twitter.com/arhama_siddiqa)

When a reluctant hajji went for hajj

“Beta hum is saal hajj par zaroor jaen gai!” (We will definitely go for hajj this year!) This was my mother’s constant iteration since the beginning of 2019. Each time she would say this, I would inwardly cringe and make a silent prayer for this to not happen. I had heard hajj was difficult and some sort of a spiritual feeling was required from within. I didn’t possess even the slightest hint of the latter. Despite praying so much for it to be called off, on August 5, 2019, I found myself entering the Islamabad airport. Since everyone on my flight was a ...

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A simple yet grand Eid feast: rice-stuffed chicken and finger-licking Znoud el Sit

Eidul Fitr is almost upon us. Keeping in line with tradition, it is time to iron those shalwar kameez and new lawn outfits. Time to buy colourful bangles, matching jewellery and prepare for the arrival of guests. But those are not the only traditions. Another very important tradition is the Eid feast. This year I decided to ditch the usual chicken karhai/qorma and sawaiyan (gasps), and try something different. Something that is simple to make, yet looks grand on the table. So let’s get to it! Rice Stuffed Chicken My inspiration for the main course was a Middle Eastern delicacy of stuffed lamb ...

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Spinach-stuffed chicken: Easy to prepare and impressive to serve!

Chicken is always a popular and easy dish to prepare, especially given the fact that it comes in many variations, ranging from desi to non-desi. It is safe to say that for many people a week without chicken is not a satisfactory week at all. But because chicken is so easy to prepare, it gets a bit boring at times. So keeping in line with my 2019 resolution of trying out new things, I decided to prepare a non-desi variation, one that is both easy to prepare and impressive to serve: spinach stuffed chicken. Spinach is a superfood as it is loaded with ...

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Ditch the chocolate cliché this Valentine’s Day and reinforce your love with these berrylicious desserts!

Tomorrow is February 14th. Love is in the air once again, and so is the product placement. My cell phone has been buzzing constantly with Valentine’s Day offers, be it on clothes, food or even from Careem! I remember during my school days (I didn’t have a uniform during A Levels) there were certain colours we all avoided wearing on V-Day. Red, obviously, the other being black. The former because Pakistan prefers celebrating Sister’s Day on Valentine’s Day, and the latter because for many teens back in the day, black was associated with heartbreak. That changed in the following years, with every ...

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#20YearChallenge: 5 ways cricket has changed since the 90s

Cricket is known as the gentleman’s game, and what else could it be, given all the symbols and standards that distinguish it from all other sports? The signature leather ball, the chiselled bats, the pads, and of course, the helmet with grills! For me, sitting in my father’s lap, watching cricket matches, echoing his every applause (and occasional profanities every time a home wicket fell) was my earliest memory of the sport. Though I fell in love with the international version of the game a bit later – after a fair amount of investment in both English and Urdu ...

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Chilly, rainy winter? This besan roti and muzaffar will surely warm you up!

Pakistani winters always remind me of winters spent in my village, the simple life as I call it. No artificiality, no hypocrisy, just contentment. Since I have only ever spent time in a Punjab village setup, I can vouch for their sociability, entrepreneurial skills and of course the food! This is not to say other provinces do not have these characteristics,  just that I wish I can someday explore the unique elements they too are sure to have. Bringing our attention to the food, my mind recalls one village winter delight among many – besan ki roti (gram flour bread). Almost ...

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#OneSouthAsia: 8 delicious foods of 8 foodie nations, all on one table

There are moments when an idea simply drops onto your lap when you least expect it to. I experienced one of such moments recently. Last week, I was sitting and waiting for the sun to set when my Indian friend, Riya, sent me a link. I didn’t have the brain power at that moment to open anything remotely intellectual; however, my curiosity eventually gave in. The link brought me to a page detailing a competition conducted by the World Bank called #OneSouthAsia. Participants from eight South Asian nations were invited to submit a photograph showcasing what an integrated South ...

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Bored of the same ol’ bbq? Spice up your Eidul Azha with these mouth-watering yet easy recipes

Eidul Azha, more commonly known as Bakra Eid in Pakistan, is that time of the year when Muslims sacrifice cattle in the remembrance of Hazrat Ibrahim (AS). But alas, the majority of the population here is either immersed in a statement marathon or avails this festival as a money-making opportunity. A growing trend has emerged nowadays, where people prefer to buy their animals a couple of days before Eid to avoid the costs and efforts required for maintenance of the animals. That doesn’t feel like it is in the Eid spirit. However, there is still a glimmer of hope. A few months ...

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Munch on these easy, lip-smacking snacks instead of your nails while rooting for your World Cup team!

The stage has been set. Stadium lights are ablaze. Billions around the world are worshipping the black and white ball. Even those who don’t really follow football are simply tailgating and gathering in groups to cheer on their favourite teams. The FIFA World Cup is already shaping up to be more exciting than many had hoped. Hosts Russia kicked off the 2018 World Cup against Saudi Arabia in Moscow. There have already been some shocks: Russia, the lowest-ranked team in the competition, was the first to qualify for the Round-of-16; defending champions Germany have been knocked out of the ...

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Fry, bake or freeze: These iftar recipes will give delicious and easy a whole new meaning!

For me, fasting is like a reset button. It reminds me that I can still be whole without all the vast amount of consumerism I am involved in every day. It is also a reminder that I can do more with my time, my money, and my life if I wanted to. I can still be happy with little things in life. This Ramazan, I invested my time in a weekend guest lecture for kids from slum areas. While I love my work, sometimes one needs an escape to breathe and get a better perspective on life, and this experience did just ...

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