Stories about mangoes

When your son asks you “what is a mango”

While flipping through a book of fruits that I brought for him yesterday, my three-year-old son stopped on a particular page. Curiously, he gazed at the picture for some time. He tilted the little book, first left then right, and even gave it at a full upside down rotation in hopes that this thing would look familiar once he sees it with the right angle. As I was watching him making these attempts and inwardly feeling excited on actually witnessing my toddler’s cognitive process (yes, parents have these weird, rather creepy moments of exhilaration), out of frustrated curiosity, my son asked ...

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Can the real American desi please stand up?

While Pakistani-Americans receive some notice in news because of their professional and social achievements, there are several amusing habits of desis which are hardly ever explored in the media. Noted writers like Kumail Nanjiani, Ayad Akthar and Mohsin Hamid have portrayed Pakistanis in America close to reality, but have missed some interesting facts about them. After living in the US for over a decade, I have observed several habits of American desis which distinguish us from other members of society. Mentioning them is not an attempt to stereotype all Pakistani Americans; it is, in a humorous way, my take on my ...

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‘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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Soufflé, the mango-licious way!

Mangoes, especially the luscious Chaunsa, evoke happy memories of sultry summer evenings with my late father when a mango mania of sorts would prevail over our home. A connoisseur of fine food, he would narrate numerous stories of the famous 19th century Urdu poet Mirza Ghalib’s love for mangoes as part of the ritual of devouring them. It is well-known that Ghalib’s love for mangoes took precedence over his love for poetry and this oft repeated anecdote about a donkey is my favourite; a close friend of Ghalib’s, who saw a donkey sniffing and then turning away from a heap ...

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Fruity summers and mango treats: Desi mango lassi

Even though the temperature is rising every day, the best part about summers is the amazing variety of mouth-watering fruits in season, mangoes being the most favourite of them all. So, I decided to beat the heat with a simple yet refreshing mango and yogurt drink. Not only does it taste delicious, with the sweetness of the mango and the tart flavour from the yogurt, it’s immensely refreshing and super healthy. Mangoes are enriched with vitamins A, B and C, which when combined with protein packed yogurt or milk, turns into a delicious nourishing beverage that will keep you energised the entire day. It’s a great ...

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My love affair with Sindhri mangoes

Yesterday, I tasted my first mango of the season. It was like falling in love all over again. I was sitting on an elaborate dastarkhwan on a 10th floor apartment’s spacious balcony in inner Karachi. “Saroli is the most amazing mango, is it not?” asked the elderly host. I sheepishly begged to differ. I am a biased Sindhri lover. Every year, the sweltering May heat that becomes unbearable as June comes closer, is a blessing for Mango lovers. “Ramazan will be unbearably hot this year. But chalo, at least there will be mangoes in the fruit chaat.” This sentiment resonates inside so many of us. And of all varieties of this ...

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How do you explain ‘the lota’ to a foreigner?

We miss many things when we’re living away from home – mangoes, bun kebabs, paan, the dust, the loadshedding. Okay, okay, just kidding! We miss some of these things, but we manage without them, one way or another. There is one thing you cannot do without, though, and that’s the lota. It is such an integral item of sub-continental and Muslim culture, that even a short term visitor such as the famous American designer Charles Eames couldn’t help but notice it most particularly when he visited India in 1958.  He had this to say about it: “Of all the objects we ...

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Summery treats: Beat the heat with some refreshing and tantalising drinks

Ah, the scorching heat of summer is here. It may be hot and humid, but one can’t deny that it’s also the season of delicious, juicy fruits and vegetables. Watermelon, succulent mangoes, seedy falsa berries – you name it! All the healthy gifts of nature are here for you to avail. During the summer, especially when the humidity rises, it is very important to stay hydrated in order to avoid a heatstroke or unnecessary exhaustion. A lot of sweating decreases the body’s water level resulting in summer ailments. Opting for home-made drinks over packaged and preserved beverages is the way ...

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Karachi summers: Easy, breezy and beautiful

May is a seminal month in Karachi, an intermediary that hints of the pleasures of a South Asian summer. The searing April heat is omnipresent but in late afternoons you can hear the cuckoo’s song that makes it palatable. Since youth, I have heard the melodious sound and to this day it brings back memories of final exams, the never ending wait for summer vacations, gola ganda (ice cones) and all the other things that made summer the most important season for a child. It truly is the sound of Karachi’s summer, a redoubtable counterpart to the robin’s warble ...

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Oh summer, thou art fabulous!

With the scorching heat and indefinite amounts of loadshedding hours, summer is not exactly the best of seasons here in Pakistan.  However, there is always a silver lining and in spite of such gruesome circumstances, there are always reasons to shun away the cynicism that the three hours of loadshedding might bring. Here are just a few of them. The musical treats by “Coke Studio” No matter what the naysayers might say, “Coke Studio” is and will remain one of the best things to have ever happened to the Pakistani music industry. Never in the history of Pakistani music have people followed folk and ...

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