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.

‘Tis the season to mango it up, with these sweet, delicious and easy desserts!

It’s that time of the year again when we find ourselves replacing wholesome meals with the indulgent sweetness of mangoes. A delicious variety of Langra, Sindhri, Anwar Ratol, Chaunsa, Desheri, Himsager and Sammar Bahist, to name a few of the desi aams (mangoes) are readily available in Pakistan. These mangoes become a delicious addition at breakfast, lunch and dinner. In his book ‘The Last Mughal’, William Dalrymple quoted the following, defining our love affair with mangoes aptly. “For Mirza Ghalib, the late evening was the time for indulging in mango related pleasures, especially the exquisitely small, sweet chaunsa mango, a taste he shared with many other discerning Delhiwallahs, past and present. At one gathering, a group of Dehliwallahs were discussing what qualities a good mango ...

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Impress your guests this Eid with these scrumptious yet easy mini kebab rolls, achari chicken, mango sawaiyan and ginger peach drink!

For a month that was perceived to be extremely slow, Ramazan sure flew by. The one Eid I got to celebrate in the UK was surely a memorable one. Our desi crew went to the campus mosque, offered prayers, then headed back to the dorms where we all had doodh patti (milk-based tea). Later on, we all dressed up in our desi attire and went to watch Salman Khan’s Kick (not a memory I cherish). Afterwards, we headed to Akbar’s for some good old desi splendour. It’s funny and maybe it’s only me, but Eid abroad feels more like Eid. I still have not been able to pinpoint exactly how or why, but ...

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Date shake, hummus, bite-sized sandwiches and peri bites – what more can one want for iftar?

Once again, I’m reminiscing about UK times. Iftar was an exorbitant affair. We used to open our fasts in the campus mosque where different groups of people, usually from the local community, used to host iftars. The menu was different every day, and in addition to desi pakoras, jalebis and samosas followed by qorma, biryani or pulao, we got to experience different dishes from around the world. They ranged from Malaysian satay and lemang to Arabian Margoog and Kabsa. Rooh Afza was of course the staple drink, the undisputed favourite transcending all cultural barriers. In Pakistan, we are experiencing long ...

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15-minute recipes for a scrumptious and easy sehri: Spicy daal and fried qeema

The month of Ramazan is just a couple of days away, and for Muslims around the world, it represents patience, compassion and self-restraint. Oh, and of course thirst and hunger. Naturally, all this demands a fulfilling sehri to help us survive the long summer days we’re about to experience. I still remember the good old days when Ramazan used to fall during winter. The roza used to last for mere seven to eight hours – something that seemed never ending back then, but compared to these summer rozas, seem miniscule. One of the best Ramazans I spent was when I had gone for my Masters to the UK. Sehri used to ...

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Too hot to handle? Beat the heat with these refreshing and delicious summer coolers

Is it just me or did spring completely skip Pakistan this year? Anyhow, summer 2017 is here, the lawn aunties are done squabbling over their purchases and school’s almost out. This is the season when it is especially important to stay hydrated for optimal health and of course beauty. Your body will crave more fluids as you are naturally perspiring more; sometimes I feel like a camel in the summer and just guzzle away fluids, which is saying something since I don’t get thirsty easily. Of course pure water is always the best, but if you are like me, a little flavour is ...

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These mac and cheese balls are little bites of deep-fried cheese heaven

Now if there is one dish I have never been able to get right, it’s macaroni and cheese (yes collective gasp I know). After successive failures, a friend (who I shall call ‘lion’) suggested mac and cheese balls, Chaye Khana style. Since I have never had them but had this dimagi keera (bug in my head) to conqueror this elusive dish one way or another, I decided to give them a try. After plenty of search engines, I finally decided to mash together not the usual (roll the leftover mac and cheese into balls and deep fry them) recipes, but to execute a slightly spicier version. Even though ...

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Too tired to cook? Fret not, this easy and delectable chicken handi is here to save the day!

This one is for all the working women (and men) out there! Have you ever come home too tired to cook? Or have you ever struggled your way through some very low emotional time? Recently, I have started expanding my arsenal of relatively quick dinners that can be cooked in a jiffy. Chicken is one of the easiest ingredients to work with. There are so many ways one can use it to satisfy the taste buds. Chicken handi has its roots deeply engrossed in tradition. Although this isn’t a traditional handi recipe – it is more of a desi-retro version – I ...

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When pizza meets French toast, love transpires

During my time at LUMS, if there was one thing I looked forward to before going to those early morning classes, it was the Pepsi Dining Center (PDC) French toast with a cup of steaming illaichi chai. Another thing I remember from university was the all-nighter sessions, where pizza was our staple, our means for survival… let’s just say pizza saw us through many a tough one. We owe pizza a lot. I have already done a piece on pizza bread and one on French toast so today, I am going to be very creative and combine the two to turn ...

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Gulab Jamun: The quintessential Pakistani dessert

It’s March 1 and Isloo is on lockdown. Since my brain is fine tuned to waking up at 6am, I decided to make my mid-week sudden day-off as productive as possible. I am of the firm belief that it is important to treat yourself – it’s the philosophy I follow in my cooking. However, too much of anything will not make anyone appreciate the time and effort that goes into making a dish. Hence, for me, moderation is key. Now I am not a huge fan of desi sweets but if there are two desi delights I would pick over any ...

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To all my ‘berry’ special someones, these recipes are for you

I shall start off by highlighting the importance of the strawberry emoticon in my life. For me, hearts are over-rated. So if I have ever used a strawberry on someone – even once – it must mean they have some special significance in my life. I know it’s cheesy, but I’m possessive when it comes to using this particular emoticon.   Now when rairi wala (fruit cart) stands are laden with bright red fruit, you know the season for the king of berries has arrived! Strawberries are by far my favourite fruit. I could eat them all day long and there are so so so (I cannot put enough emphasis ...

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