Stories about tea

Dear Advertisers, no, we do not start dancing in the streets when we sip on tea!

A few days back, while I was on my way to college, I came across the road near Expo Centre, where the traffic was choked. Naturally, I flipped my hair and smiled at the people in the neighbouring cars; and what do you know, they smiled back! After that we got out of our respective cars, started dancing in the middle of the street with cups of tea that magically appeared in our hands. We danced and swirled while others clapped and hooted. Then, all of a sudden, the traffic opened up, everyone got back into their cars and drove on ...

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Let’s have a cup of chai together, India

It is a truth acknowledged in the subcontinent that no meeting is complete without a cup of chai (tea). The freshly brewed combination of masalas, cardamom or a frothy cup of doodh pati touches the tip of the tongue, instantly refreshing one’s mind. Some have even argued that chai purifies their souls. We all certainly love our tea!  The addiction is tremendously mind-blowing, in its literal sense, and on a serious note, I often think Pakistani and Indians need a tea rehabilitation centre. When have you last visited a household where you weren’t offered chai? The alternative options are, of course, thanda (cold drink) or pani (water), but the fervour of making fresh chai for the guests is ...

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Dear finance minister, your new budget is killing us

Dear Finance Minister, I belong to the class of ‘common men’; some people also call us ‘mango men’ or ‘aam admi’. Ours is a species that is found in abundance everywhere in Pakistan. If you ever look out of your bullet proof BMW, you will notice one of my fellow beings selling something or the other on a footpath. We are also found polishing shoes, unloading trucks, offering window covers during a traffic signal, pouring hot tea in a cup at a tea stall, pushing a fruit or vegetable cart or driving a donkey cart loaded with a number of things. There ...

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Did you know that basil leaves fight cancer and help you quit smoking?

While you might only think of basil as an ‘herb in your pasta sauce’, it can also provide various surprising health benefits. As we all know, the basil plant is the best and most beneficial plant that we can grow in our homes or in any garden. It is the perfect source of different vitamins and potassium. In addition, it also shields us from different diseases and harmful insects. A basil plant has immense benefits but I will be discussing the 10 major benefits a person can get from this plant. Bone Strengthen This plant is an excellent source of Vitamin K, the overlooked ...

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New Quetta Super Sharjah Hotel: The dhaba monopolising the chai, paratha market!

Did you know that there is a chai ka dhaba (tea cafe) in Karachi that has four branches in one of the most affluent parts of the city? Similarly, were you aware of the fact that this said cafe has only three items on its menu and it operates from 6:30 in the morning till late in the night? No? Well then, don’t be disappointed; I didn’t know these facts either. In fact, there was a lot more I didn’t know about this peculiar cafe, until I decided to investigate and find out more. Photo: Saadia Tariq Almost every other morning, as I ...

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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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Pakistani sports channels and death by advertising

As I write this, Umar Gul has just bowled out a Bangladeshi batsman. Gul screams in celebration, begins to jump with his fists in the air and then there’s Rameez Raja with a cup of tea in his hand. Wait… what? That can’t be right. Sadly, it is. Few things get under my skin as much as excessive advertising during cricket matches. Whether we’re being convinced that a slab of not-so-expensive chocolate will suffice as a midnight anniversary present (take it from me, it doesn’t) or that the amount of egg in a biscuit is reason for six women to put on shiny clothes and ...

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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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