Stories about chai

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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The Karachi Eat Food Festival kicked the Sindh Festival out of the park!

The Karachi Eat Food Festival (KEFF) was probably the event of the decade, at least for Karachi. In spite of so much chaos, paranoia and terror around, the brave Karachiites queued up for two spectacular days of culinary delights at this festival of its own kind. The opening day kicked off in a rather sluggish style with delays on part of the participating vendors which was a bit disappointing for the visitors. However, as things started to settle, the event saw civilised and cultured people, men and women, young and old, visiting the two-day food fest and spending some quality time with ...

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Sunday mornings with aloo ke parathay and chai!

Savoury aloo walay parathay and hot, sweet, milky tea have an unbreakable connection to winter in my head. The reason could be growing up in Pakistan; that’s how it used to be in our house. Waking up late on Sunday morning meant it was too late for breakfast and too early for lunch.  But the rumbling tummy could not be ignored. And so, chilly, winter Sunday mornings called for potato-stuffed buttered parathas for brunch served with shami kebabs or Pakistani style spicy omelettes. In my mother’s household all parathas were prepared either with home-churned white butter or with homemade desi ghee (clarified butter). As a little girl I remember watching my nani (maternal grandmother) ...

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Do you know where ‘chai’ came from?

The food we eat today is influenced by several cultures. I learned this after reading the highly informative book called Curry: A tale of Cooks and Conquerors by Lizzie Collingham. The historical references in this book are elaborate and provide an insight into our cuisine. Take spices for instance. Isn’t it almost impossible to fathom the idea of Pakistani and Indian cuisine without the use of different types of spices? But before the Portuguese entered Goa, our part of the world had never seen a chilli. And when the Europeans travelled to India, their aim was to increase trade, but as a result of this trade, new ...

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In the mood for some ‘disco chai’? Here is how the dhaba’s in Karachi do it!

Dhaba – a roadside restaurant of sorts – originates from the Indian Punjabi culture. It typically consists of a structure made from mud and wooden planks with charpais and the occasional hookah strewn around.  A dhaba’s tea is always adored among the local Pakistanis. PHOTO: MAANSAL STUDIOS/ FILE Desi food and ethnic props give these rickety restaurants their rustic environment. Dhabas are a reminder of a simple way of life that has been lost in the mundane affairs of our materialistic society. The dhaba culture has been prevalent throughout Pakistan, particularly in Karachi. And I have seen a shift in the function and status of dhabas from being an ...

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