Stories about sugar

Pakistani housewives and the economy: Converting rupees to dollars… for handbags

A couple of days ago I was confronted by an alarming fact. I was sitting with a group of housewives and was told that every month, 30% of those present, converted their pin money into US dollars every month. I was so surprised that I blurted, “But why do you do that?” One of the housewives replied very innocently, “Well, every year when we go on holiday, I buy myself a handbag. Recently, I realised that the value of the dollar is going up and I end up paying more PKR for a handbag each year. So now I just convert my savings into US dollars each month.” What ...

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Delicious home-made gulab jamuns that make every occasion extra special!

In my part of the world, every celebration is accompanied by a dessert. Be it a wedding, an engagement, a birth, a promotion, a graduation, purchase of a house, a new car, or any other achievement or joyous occasion like Eid – the tiniest of the joys are celebrated with our mouths full of sweets and desserts. Nothing is more loved on such occasions than the scrumptious mithai most commonly known as ‘gulab jamun’. It is a personal favourite! In Pakistan, people usually buy gulab jamuns and never make it at home. Specialised mithai makers called halwaees make these delicious sweets. However, I had to learn how to ...

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When the poor pay with their lives for fizzy drinks

Travel through rural Pakistan and two things will strike you. One is heart rending poverty and the other is hospitality. Visitors are greeted with warmth and selfless generosity. The poorest of the poor will immediately call for ‘paani’ for their visitors. Paani means water in Urdu, but in the local lexicon it has come to mean a bottled fizzy drink. And ‘paani’ brooks no refusal. Visitors can demur all they want but the host is not deterred.  “It’s only paani”, he says. “It can do no harm”. But it can and it does. The impression amongst the general public that it ...

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Gajar ka halwa: A little bit of Pakistan in Minnesota

Finding a desi sweet-dish here in Minnesota is not an easy task, so in order to extinguish that deep craving I had, I decided to make gajar ka halwa at home and fell absolutely in love!  Gajar ka halwa is a traditional Pakistani dessert, made with carrots, milk, butter and sugar. Even with the relatively small list of ingredients, there are different ways of making this dish. Some folks fry the carrots first, and then add the milk. I use my method of cooking the carrots in milk first until the liquid evaporates, simply because that’s how I learned to make it in middle ...

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Bella Vita: Satisfy that sweet tooth

Desserts do make life sweet; this is exactly what I thought as I entered Bella Vita in Karachi – the new classical and trendy Italian gelateria and dessert bar that was formally launched on May 19.  Serving a variety of gelatos, shakes, sorbets, coffee and a range of unique Italian desserts, this place is strictly for those with a sweet tooth. The brains behind Bella Vita are Omer and Hassan, two young business graduates who have started this venture after the success of Del Frio. The cozy outlet offers a relaxed atmosphere; the high backed chairs are comfortably cushioned, there is wood ...

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Beat the heat with a banana split

When  you Google ‘easy dessert recipes,’ more than seven million tempting results come up to make you drool all over your key board. But scroll down to the ingredients, and a wave of disappointment takes away all that joy as most of the ingredients are not available in Pakistan. Facing a similar situation, I came across this recipe. It required a ‘ready to cook’ pie crust and yoghurt filling. Sadly, these ingredients were not available here in Karachi, so I decided to make my own. This recipe is a scrumptious adaptation of the all time favourite banana split ice cream. It is a perfect dessert ...

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Who’s the froyoest of them all?

Until some years ago, I reckoned ice cream to be the best thing to happen to this world. But that was of course, until the obsession with healthier alternatives took over (and yeah I grew up too!). Here is where frozen yogurt entered my universe; the healthier treat with the consistency of soft serve ice cream, but having fewer calories, fat and perhaps sugar too. And I realize how delightful an experience it is to indulge in the relatively guilt-free goodness of frozen yogurt. The dilemma, however, is that the local market is still in its nascent stage, and there ...

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How to run the economy (for dummies)

Anyone can run the economy. Ask any lawmaker and he’ll point out exactly what is wrong with the economy, what is needed to fix it and what conspiracy has prevented a solution from being implemented. But the economy is still alive and kicking and the country has not defaulted on its sovereign debt just yet. The following is a collection of ‘winning’ arguments that have been presented by legislators. It is important to note here that even monkeys have been known to run an economy quite efficiently. I’m sure we can do better. Here’s what they said: 1. Eat less sugar – A legislator ...

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‘Tis the season for… Christmas cookies!

Picture a decorated pine-tree with presents lying underneath, a fireplace with stockings hung above it and a really old man dressed in red, ringing a big bell and crying out “ho ho ho”. Christmas is the most anticipated and widely celebrated holiday among the Christian community. The big day is just around the corner and even though I don’t celebrate it, I appreciate the values it represents. It’s not just about giving expensive gifts to your loved ones, it’s about sharing and caring for people who do not have the luxuries some of us have. For those who don’t understand the true spirit ...

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Sugar crisis: Fed up of food politics

Had we punished the hoarders of basic food items in 2008 and 2009, we wouldn’t have to face the current crisis. Surprisingly, our ‘suo moto judiciary’ did not take notice of it. No one can deny that the current sugar shortage is self-created and that RAW, XE, CIA or Musharraf have nothing to with it. This drama is an epic mismanagement by the policy makers we have elected to operate the public relief departments of this county. We should all know the reasons behind this crisis because we are paying exactly the double of what was available only a few ...

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