DAHI PHULKI (Mini Gram Flour Dumplings in Yogurt Sauce)

There are times when I want something savory and tangy and filling and yummy and the one thing which satisfies all these cravings is Dahi Phulki.

I am definitely not saying that there aren’t other savory things, the thought of which makes my mouth water, but this is something which you can whip up in a jiffy.

Eat it as is or enjoy it as side dish, Dahi Phulki has a character of its own,not to be confused with Dahi Bara or Dahi Bhalla.

Dahi Phulki is prepared is two steps. First is the making of the phulki (dumplings) and second is the assembling.

If you don’t want to make the dumplings at home, you can buy it and trust me you will survive. If you want to buy Phulki, I highly recommend trying the brand United King as I have tried it many many times and every time it works like a charm.

phulki

Without any wait here is the recipe……..

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DAHI PHULKI (Mini Gram Flour Dumplings in Yogurt Sauce)
Mini gram flour dumplings bathed in a bed of lightly spiced yogurt sauce with onion, cilantro, gree chillies and tangy tamarind sauce. Add some nimko or crushed tortilla chips on the top for the crunch factor.
Cuisine Pakistani
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
YOGURT SAUCE
VEGGIES AND BEANS
Cuisine Pakistani
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
YOGURT SAUCE
VEGGIES AND BEANS
Instructions
  1. Mix all the ingredients of phulki and add enough water to make a thick batter. Let it rest for 5-10 minutes
    gram flour for dahi phulki or bhalay
  2. Heat oil in a wok. When hot, add 1 tsp of batter and fry till golden brown.
  3. Right away put the fried phulki in a pot of water for 30 seconds. Remove and press to drain excess water.
    dahi phulki
  4. Separately boil 1/2 cup garbanzo beans and 1 medium potato. Drain. Chop the potato into small cubes.
  5. Add 1/2 cup of water, salt, sugar, cumin seeds, chaat masala, black pepper powder to the yogurt and beat well.
  6. Add the garbanzo beans, potatoes, and the phulki to the dahi.
  7. Mix well.
  8. Decorate with onion, cilantro, serrano chillies and tangy tamarind sauce and chaat masala.
  9. Top with sev or crushed tortilla chips for the added crunch and enjoy.
Recipe Notes

-In this recipe I used store-bought boondi and phulki from United King and it tasted amazing.

-When using store-bought phulki, make sure to soak it in warm water for at least 20 minutes or the phulkis will be hard from inside and your entire dish will be ruined.

-Make sure to buy and use good quality chaat masala as the taste will change drastically. I use Shaan Chaat Masala in this recipe.

-You can always make the phulki ahead and freeze it without dipping it in water.

-Try it with my Tangy Tamarind and Green Chutney.

-It is a perishable dish and will only last a day or two in the refrigerator so make it in small batch and enjoy it fresh.

 

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RANDOM LIFESTYLE FAVORITES-BEAUTY EDITION

A lot of people have asked me on random occasions about my favorite beauty products or what I am wearing at that very moment. While I am no fashionista or a makeup-ista (??) I do have some favorite products which I wear like a uniform.

I love me a simple routine. Less is better when is comes to makeup too. Although I looove to experiment, these are my go-to products for he past few months (some for the past few years). My mantra when it comes to beauty products is………………………..

 

                                  “If it works….stick with it!”

 

To give you an idea, my skin type is normal-dry and tends to get oily in the t-zone (not the fry egg type oily though). Thanks to the blazing California sun and my very own carelessness my skin has visibly darkened or should I say burnt in the last few years.

(Lesson learnt………….Start using SPF the moment you can say ABC 🙂 )

Without further ado here are my most enjoyed beauty products.

 

PACIFICA BEAUTY ALIGHT MULTI-MINERAL BB CREAM

 

bb cream

 

It is more like a tinted moisturizer than a BB Cream which provides a light coverage to the skin giving it a sheer illuminating glow. Perfect for every day wear. If you are looking for a matte bb cream then this is not for you.

The shade adjusts to your skin tone and blends well. Does not have any funky smell which is added bonus.

 

Who can buy???

Someone with normal or dry skin looking for that beautiful glow. Super oily skin types, stay away.

 

Where to Buy???

Amazon or Pacifica Website

MAYBELLINE INSTANT AGE REWIND® ERASER DARK CIRCLES TREATMENT CONCEALER

 

 

For days when you are sleep deprived (ring any bells??) and are a complete zombie with BIG DARK UNDEREYE CIRCLES, Maybelline Age Rewind concealer is God send. It works like magic. A little goes a looong way.

If your dark circles peek thru even after applying the concealer then first put the neutralizer and add the concealer on top. I have been using this concealer for the past soo many years and no matter how many high or low-end brand concealer I buy, I always end up reaching out for this slim baby. It costs less than $10, so next time you are in a beauty/drug store pick one up. No regrets!!!

 

Who can buy???

Anyone who doesn’t want to look like a Racoon. Easily workable with all skin types.

 

Where to Buy???

Amazon or Target

GARNIER SKIN ACTIVE MOISTURE BOMB SPF 30

 

I have confession to make. For the longest time I did not wear any SPF.

Why?

I simply hate, hate the white, weird smelling concoctions.

After much search I found La Roche-Posay Anthelios Face Sunscreen and it has been my favorite like for ever, but a few months back when I ran out of it and headed to my local Target to get it, it was sold out. Standing in the beauty aisle I panic-ly searched amazon, and it said “out of stock”. I wanted something right away, so I randomly picked up the Garnier Moisture Bomb. To be honest, I had no expectations from it and now it has become my go to sunscreen.

First of all I love the pump style cap which twists to get locked so no more oops it spilled moments. It is kind of watery but not runny and has a pleasant berryish smell (yum). There is no white residue and it gets absorbed super quickly without feeling greasy. Moisture Bomb doubles as a good base for the makeup and the best part is that it is super hydrating. Soo many benefits…..

Who can buy???

Anyone looking for a fast absorbing sunscreen/moisturizer without the nasty smell.

 

Where to Buy???

Amazon or Target

 

ESTEE LAUDER LITTLE BLACK LINER

 

 

This is the latest addition to my current favorites. During her visit to LA, my sister presented me with this liner and trust me I have wearing it non-stop every day. Love that it is dual sided with a fine tip on one end and a flat tip on the other so can wear your style. The color is blackest black.

As the box says you can wear it three ways. Ultra-fine, thin or thick. I love using the flat end side to wear it as a thick liner. Unlike some of the liners, it stays put the whole day. Cat eyes were always a challenge for me, but this eyeliner has made it possible to wear one everyday. Yes, it is a bit pricey but oh so worth it. I hope Estee comes out with other colors in this line.

Who can buy???

For those who find applying eye liner a challenge.

 

Where to Buy???

Ulta or Estee Lauder

 

TONYMOLY SHEET MASKS

 

 

 

 

 

A while back Korean beauty products took the beauty market by storm. Although there were a lot of products to try from, it was the masks which became an instant hit.

The first time I ordered these masks was via Amazon a while back and I still remember it took around two months to get them. Maybe it was the high demand or maybe they were being shipped internationally?? To be honest when the package came, I had completely forgotten about it.

I got the TonyMoly “I’m Real” Mask Set. There were 11 masks in the set. I will say for sure, that there were some masks I enjoyed more than the others. Each mask is individually wrapped and the benefits vary from calming, hydrating, pore tightening and much much more.

The mask is soaking in minerals and other ingredients which get absorbed in the skin quickly. You are not supposed to wash your face after using it. For some masks I found the eye area not to be completely cut off so I closed my eyes and covered my eyes with it too. At the end of a busy day, I love to unwind with a rich sheet mask I know my skin will be glowing in the morning.

Affordable price and good quality.

 

Who can buy???

Everyone. Different flavors to choose from according to your skin needs.

 

Where to Buy???

Ulta or Amazon

DERMA-E VITAMIN C INTENSE NIGHT CREAM

 

Lately I have seriously started taking care of my skin. Well that does not mean I am good all days of the week, but I can surely say most of the days. Thankfully I am blessed with healthy skin but to avoid the wrinkles from coming at a hare’s pace I have recently started using naturally potent Vitamin C night cream infused with rooibos and probiotics which promotes cell turnover while neutralizing daily toxins.

Though a night cream, it is not at all greasy and gets absorbed super easily. There is no shine and the smell is not over powering at all.  Love it!

When ever I use this product at night, my skin feels hydrated and soft in the morning.

I have also started using the Derma E Vitamin C Concentrated Serum and am enjoying it so far but it is still a bit early to say if it makes my favorite list or not.

 

Who can buy???

Anyone wanting to give the skin the necessary nourishment and keep the wrinkles away.

 

Where to Buy???

Derma-E or Amazon

 

YOUNGBLOOD MINERAL COSMETICS

 

 

 

 

Like always I like to save the best for last.

I have a confession again. I am the biggest fan of Youngblood Mineral Cosmetics.

I have been wearing Bare Minerals like forever and still do but it only provides sheer coverage. I accidently stumbled upon the Youngblood Cosmetics counter in a boutique store and instantly fell in love with this line.

My favorite product is the Liquid Mineral Foundation which I have been a crazy fan of since the past 4 years. It is definitely on the pricier side but its the natural ingredients which you are paying for.

Sometimes when I get bored with it, I will end up buying another foundation,  but I always find myself coming back to it. Its been happening for the last four years so I guess this love ain’t dying.

The coverage is medium but is buildable with a satin finish. Combine it with their Primer (Vegan and Gluten Free ) and enjoy the party without worrying about your makeup at all.

For the complete effect try their Contour and Illuminate Palette and don’t leave without some color on the cheeks (my favorite is the Luminous Crème Blush in Tropical Glow).

 

 

Who can buy???

Anyone wanting natural liquid foundation with coverage.

 

Where to Buy???

Youngblood Mineral Foundation

 

Did your favorite products make the list??

 

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DAY TRIP TO CATALINA ISLAND

I have been living in California for more than a decade but some travel plans never see their destination. One such was to Santa Catalina. Something always came up and the visit took a back seat. Finally this summer, we made it to Catalina. Wohoo!!!!

A short, sweet day trip with my munchkins.

 

ABOUT CATALINA:

Santa Catalina is a fairly small island around 22 miles long and 8 miles wide located around 35 kms South-West of Los Angeles, California. Total population is around 4100 with 90% of the population living in Avalon, the only incorporated city. The second biggest one being Two Harbors. It is a tourist paradise with over 1 million travelers every year.

Catalina Map

HOW TO GET HERE:

You can use boats or helicopters to get here. Ferry rides take around 1 hour while the air ride lasts 15 minutes.

There are two major ferries, Catalina Express and Catalina Flyer  while IEH is often chosen for helicopter rides.

We took the Catalina Express from Long Beach to Avalon.

 

catalina
Road Signs

 

Catalina
Catalina Express Building

 

Catalina
Our Ferry

If you want to go to Two Harbors then you have to board the ferry from Dana Point.

Roundtrip fares cost around $74 for adults and $ 58 for kids. The boat ride is about 1 hour long but it is so comfortable that you hardly feel that you are on board for an hour. Also if you are on the top deck you can walk around and enjoy the view.

Catalina
Tickets

 

Catalina
Lower deck seating

 

Catalina
Upper Deck

Do bring snacks with you as the ferry ride make your hungry, especially if you have kids accompanying. We bought snacks from the shop inside the building but there is a small café on the ferry to purchase snacks too.

 

 

Catalina
Ferry leaving the building
Catalina
View of Long Beach from the ferry

 

Catalina
View of Carnival Ship from the ferry

If you live close to Newport Beach then I suggest taking the Catalina Flyer to get to Avalon which costs pretty much the same.

If you are planning to go on a weekend or a major holiday,  do purchase the tickets in advance as the regular seats get sold out pretty quickly and you might end paying more for premiere seating.

AFTER REACHING:

 

Catalina
Landing Deck at Avalon

Once you reach Avalon, you can enjoy the island on foot, rent a bike or rent a golf cart. I would highly suggest renting a golf cart if you want to see all the tourist attractions and nice views from the mountains and if your little ones are with you.

 

Catalina
Golf Carts neatly parked

 

 

 

 

 

 If its a lazy day trip then you are good to go on foot.

 

Catalina
Veterans Park Avalon

 

 Again, rent the golf carts in advance as they tend to get sold out pretty quickly. There are a lot of rental companies with good rates to choose from. Sometimes you cannot reserve a cart as it is available on first come basis but keep it in might that during a busy season they will rent out pretty quickly so go with companies which let you rent in advance. The rental places are within walking distance from the ferries.

THINGS TO DO/SEE:

 Avalon is beautiful with boutique hotels, family owned shops and tourist attractions. A complete list of must see things can be seen on TripAdvisor. There is some kind of activity for everyone.

 

Catalina
Walk across town

Some must see attractions include Wrigley Memorial and Botanic Garden, Will Richards Studio, Catalina

Island Casino, Catalina Island Museum.

 

Catalina
Murals outside casino

 

Catalina
Casino Tours

 

Catalina
Beautiful Casino Building

 

 

 

Catalina
View of Houses perched up the hills

 

Catalina
Artistic Restrooms

 

Catalina
Veteran Memorial

 

 

 

Catalina is heaven for water lovers. You can do scuba diving, snorkeling, paddle boating, kayaking and also take glass bottomed boat tours.

 

Catalina
Underwater Tour

 

Catalina
Boats Resting

 

For lazy beach fun, head to Descanso Beach Club, a private beach open to public.

To relax and enjoy try the Tasting Tour or have calming massages,

For the adventure types, there is Zipline Tours, Parasail Tour, Jeep Eco Tour, Segway Tour.

 

 

Zipline Tours

FOOD:

There are a lot of places to eat depending on how much you are willing to spend and what you are in a mood for. There are alot of seafood options and if you dont want to spend a fortune head straight to Fish and Chips.

 

Catalina
Fish and Chips

Since my son eats gluten free and was in a mood for pizza we ended up going to Antonio’s Pizzeria. It was fun to see peanut shells all over the floors. The food was a bit pricey but the ambience was worth it.

 

 

 

 

Peanut shells on the floor

 

Gluten free Chicken Pizza

 

 

 

Catalina
Tuna Salad Sandwich

 

Chocolate Cake

 

 

Trip to Catalina is incomplete without  ice-cream from Big Olaf’s and salt water taffy from Llyod’s.

 

 

Catalina
Big Olaf’s

 

Salt Water Taffy

 

 

Catalina
Lemon Sorbet

 

Catalina
Lloyd’s

 

Catalina
Candy by pound

LODGING:

We didn’t plan to stay overnight but we saw some sweet boutique style hotels spread all over the Island. In my opinion a day trip is sufficient to enjoy Catalina but if you are visiting with a group then it might be fun staying over.

 

Catalina
Hotel Atwater

 

 

Catalina
Hotel Pavillion

 

Catalina
Hotel Metropole

OVERALL:

 

Day trip to Catalina was totally worth it. The ferry ride, island experience, good food…..

Do I miss it already? Probably not.

It is a good option if you want to do a getaway from the hustle and bustle of everyday life but since we did it on a weekend and since it is a tourist attraction, it was super crowded. Maybe it is less crowded on a week day???

Catalina
Boats parked in the water

 

Catalina
Beautiful Sunset

 

Catalina
Landing Deck Long Beach

 

 

 

Have you visited Catalina?? How was your experience??

 

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RAMZAN 2017

ramadhan

And one by one they disappeared…..

The serene and sweet month of Ramzan came and went. Like always the start was rocky and needed some adjustments but once the body learnt the rhythmic melody it became second nature.

 I always feel sad when Ramzan ends because for a lot of reasons that month is sacred and special. Prayers, actions, devotions, control, charity, food, sleep anything you name, tastes better. It’s as if you are feeling that feeling for the first time.

When you look forward to folding your arms to pray…..

When thinking of less blessed people makes you more and more grateful and humble……..

When food eaten at Sehri and Iftar has a unique flavor……..

When you try to find reasons to be good……

When you do zikr into the wee hours of the night and that even with full concentration trying to shun the sleep away……..

Such is the blessed month of Ramzan.

Every year I hope to carry on the torch of Shukar, Yaqeen and Sabr with the same enthusiasm but once Ramzan ends, the light starts to flicker making me realize that the efforts needs to increase.

If you make a lot of promises to yourself or desire to do a lot of good things even after Ramzan ends and are not able to live up to to your own expectations, don’t get disheartened. It’s okay to fall off the train, the more important thing is to get up and board it from another station because there is a train waiting for you at every corner. All you have to do is to take the first foot forward. Start small and build on it.

Let us keep on encouraging each other to be good and do good because this something the world needs today. Do a random act of goodness every day be it as small as brining a smile to someone’s face.

May Allah accept our prayers and fasts and bless us and write out names in the lucky people who will be blessed with Ramzan next year.

Ameen!

Thanks to my friends, here is sneak peak into some of the yummy food I enjoyed this Ramzan.  You will be in a food coma just by looking at it 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

ramadhan

 

 

ramdhan

 

 

 

 

 

 

ramzan

 

 

 

 

ramdhan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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ZARDAH

Growing up whenever there was  any kind of celebration, this sweet yellow rice dish would always be the grand finale of an amazing day. From weddings, babies, jobs, religious festivities, get together…..Zardah was always the star of the night. It is extremely popular in the South Asian region.

I have memories of my Bari Ami (grand mother) and later my Ami (mother) making this on numerous occasions. This wasn’t a dish they would make in a hurry. In fact it was like a baby…..gently cared for, loved and nurtured. From using special Sela rice, special food coloring, right kind of almonds, plump raisins and Murabbas (Candied Fruits), this is one royal dessert.

The word Zardah has its roots in the Urdu word Zard meaning yellow, hence the yellow color. Some people add other colors too but in my home we always stuck to the yellow color.

I decided to step out of my comfort zone and finally try making Zardah.  I know I can never make it the way they did so after playing around with their recipe I finally came up with an easier version. As I love me my short cuts, here is an amazing recipe which will give you pretty much the same results but with less than half the effort 🙂 and trust me your mother will think you spent hours in the kitchen 🙂

 I don’t like candied fruits or a lot of nuts so I kept it simple, but you can go ahead and add as much as your heart desires. Also I don’t like super sweet Zardah so I’ve kept the sugar a bit less. Feel free to add more sugar if you like your desserts with a kick of sweetness. Some people also top it with khoya and shredded coconut, so decorate it what ever way your heart desires.

Let’s get started…..

 

Print Recipe
ZARDAH
Pakistani Royal Dessert made with Sweet Yellow Rice and loads of nuts, raisins, murabbas and khoya.
Course Dessert, Main Dish
Cuisine Pakistani
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Passive Time 2 hours
Servings
People
Ingredients
Course Dessert, Main Dish
Cuisine Pakistani
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Passive Time 2 hours
Servings
People
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Soak the rice in 4 cups of water for atleast 2 hours. After 2 hours drain the water and wash the rice several times till the water runs clean.
    zerda
  2. Meanwhile in a big pot put 4 cups of water. Cover and let the water boil. Once the water comes to a boil, add yellow food coloring and rice. Let it cook uncovered for 7-10 minutes.
    zerda
  3. After 10 minutes drain the water. To check if the rice is done, break it with your fingers, it should break into 2-3 pieces but not be smooshed or feel soft.
    zerda
  4. Take a few cardamoms and crack them.
    zerda
  5. In a separate pan put butter and melt on low heat. Add the cardamoms.
    zerda
  6. Once butter melts, add sugar.
    zerda
  7. Slowly add 1.5 cups of water and make a sugar syrup. You will know its done when bubbles form on the top.
    zerda
  8. In a rice cooker/ deep pot, add the drained rice and pour the sugar syrup. Mix gently. Top off with nuts or candied fruits of your choice. Cover and let it steam on low heat for 15-25 minutes.
    zerda
  9. Garnish with your favorite toppings and serve hot.
    zerda
Recipe Notes
  • If its hard to find sela rice, try to use the best quality Basmati Rice.
  • You can also use Desi Ghee instead of butter.
  • To make it dairy free, omit butter and use oil instead.
  • I've made it in a rice cooker and also on the stove and the result is pretty much the same.
  • If after 25 minutes you feel the rice are not done, let them steam for another 5-10 minutes.
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STEP BY STEP CRISPY CHICKEN BURGER RECIPE

Ever since I watched the commercials of KFC Zinger Burger I have been craving a good juicy chicken sandwich.

Halal burgers near me have ground chicken patty but since I was craving a spicy,crispy chicken fillet one, I had to make one myself. As compared to a lot of online recipes, this recipe uses fewer ingredients.

I kid you not, it tastes more yummier (if that’s even a word 🙂 ) than the KFC Zinger Burger back home and since I made it myself, I had control of what goes inside.

The ingredients are simple and readily available in all pantries.

Enough said…..Lets get to work…..

Print Recipe
STEP BY STEP CRISPY CHICKEN BURGER RECIPE
Flavorful crispy, boneless, skinless chicken breast fillet sandwiched between two buttered buns with cheese, mayo and lettuce. YUM!
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American, Pakistani
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Passive Time 1 hour
Servings
people
Ingredients
MARINADE INGREDIENTS
BATTER INGREDIENTS
COATING INGREDIENTS
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American, Pakistani
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Passive Time 1 hour
Servings
people
Ingredients
MARINADE INGREDIENTS
BATTER INGREDIENTS
COATING INGREDIENTS
Instructions
  1. Mix all the marinade ingredients. Coat and cover the chicken and let it rest in the refrigerator for atleast 1 hour.
  2. Make the batter. Make sure that the batter is neither too thick not too runny.
    zinger kfc recipe
  3. Mix the coating ingredients and put them in a big bowl.
    kfc zinger recipe
  4. After an hour take the chicken out of the refrigerator. It soaks up all the juices and spices.
    kfc zinger recipe
  5. Make an assembly line for faster results.
    crispy chicken burger
  6. First dip the chicken fillet in the batter. Shake to remove the excess off.
    zinger recipe
  7. Coat the fillet in the tortilla and rice flour mix.
    zinger recipe
  8. Final fillet should should like this.
    zinger recipe
  9. Add oil to a pan and shallow fry the chicken till golden brown.
  10. Put butter on the buns and toast them. Apply mayo, put the lettuce leave and add the fillet. Place the cheese on top and close with a dab of ketchup
  11. Enjoy your Crispy Chicken Sandwich with fries and coleslaw
    zinger recipe
Recipe Notes
  • You can use All Purpose Flour instead of Rice flour. The reason to use rice flour is that it gives a very light, airy coating.

  • To make it dairy free add non-dairy milk in the batter and enjoy with a vegan cheese like Daiya.

  • You can also use regular chips if you do not have tortilla chips.

  • Fry on a medium heat or else the outside will burn and the inside will be raw.

 

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THE UPSTAIRS WIFE

The Upstairs Wife Book Cover The Upstairs Wife
Rafia Zakaria
Beacon Press
2016-01
264

The Upstairs Wife entwines two emotional stories and unfolds them in a brilliant manner. The main story revolves around Amina and her husband Sohail but in their shadows is the history of Pakistan itself. Later the history of Pakistan, the conflicts, the revolts, takes over the book and the story of Amina goes in the hiding.

Written by Rafia Zakaria, an attorney and political philosopher and a regular columnist to Al Jazeera and Dawn News, this is one book you don’t want to put down.

The book begins with Rafia’s family eagerly waiting to hear the news of her Aunt Amina’s husband but a bigger news breaks. The death of Pakistani Political leader Benazir Bhutto . What follows are riots and turbulence in the country.

The book goes back to Amina coming back to her father’s, as her husband, Sohail has decided to take another wife. Bear it in mind that at that time polygamy was not that common. Rafia at that age thought that a man could not have two wife. Amina is broken and the family, humiliated.

The book then goes further  back to the creation of Pakistan infact waay before the time of partition. A great deal of information is provided on the events which lead to the partition and its aftermath.

The story of Amina and Pakistan go on in a non-linear manner. She eventually is sent back to live with her husband. There is a partition in the house and both the wives live on separate floors. The life of Amina is woven with stories of Pakistan.

This book provided information which I didn’t know about. For example, one of the main reasons for Pakistan-Bangladesh split was the Bhola Cyclone.  Also I didn’t know a lot about PNS Ghazi and the mystery which surrounds it.

What sets this book apart from other history books, is in the intimate details. The focus is not on the ruthless or oppressive policies but its effects on the people. Once a land full of hopes and dreams is now dwindling.

The only flaw in the book is that it does not go in a linear manner and the personal and political events have nothing in common. But overall I think it is a brilliant book which delves into migration, coups, riots, political traumas. The sad part is that women no matter how powerful are  powerless in the face of laws and policies. Sad that such dreadful things happen in this day and age.

The Upstairs Wife: An Intimate History of Pakistan is beautifully told and is highly recommended.

Till then,

Keep Reading 🙂

 

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END OF YEAR GIFT IDEAS FOR TEACHERS

Last week was my younger son’s graduation. His teachers worked so hard, year around that I really wanted to give them something special as a token of thanks. And so began my internet search for gifts ideas.

The most important thing when planning farewell/ graduation/ appreciation gifts, is to have a budget or else you might end up over spending. Also adding a little note or a hand drawn card by your kid works like magic dust and makes things unforgettable.

The internet is loaded with ideas. Some are pretty simple while others tend to be too elaborate. Here are a few ideas. Click on the pictures and it will take you directly to the concerned website.

 

SUCCULENTS/POTTED PLANTS WITH OR WITHOUT GIFT CARDS:

This is something which I personally did. It is simple yet adds  kind of a pleasant personal touch.  You can add a gift card or just add a sweet personal note for the teacher.

 

 

 

 

 

This is what our gift looked like. Succulents in a beautiful pot with a gift card and a hand written note from my son.

 

TEA/COFFEE GIFT CARD WITH A CUTE MUG:

When in doubt, choose tea or coffee. Get a cute mug or tumbler. Add a gift card or some teabags/coffee sachets and wrap it all up with a personalized note. Voila! You have a perfect gift.

 

 

 

 

HAND SOAP/LOTION/BODYWASH/SPA CARD WITH CUTE TAGS:

Who doesn’t get mesmerized by the indulgent hand lotions, body wash smells. Dress them up, add a handmade card and you have a clean gift 🙂

 

 

 

SCARFS/ JEWLLERY:

Scarfs and small trinkets are always welcomed by the teachers as you can never have many scarfs. Discreetly ask the teacher her favorite color or jewelry item and surprise her all  boxed up in a beautiful wrap.

 

 

 

COLLECTIVE GIFT FROM THE CLASS:

Instead of giving individual gifts, all parents can pool in money and give one big gift card bouquet from the entire class. We did this last year and it was a biiiig hit.

 

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HASAN MINHAJ: HOMECOMING KING

homecoming king hasan minhaj

Hasan Minhaj is a writer, comedian, actor but is mainly known for his political satire.

He is a senior correspondent on  “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah” and recently hosted the White House Correspondent’s Dinner (WHCD) for which he got much applause since it was a hard gig to pull off without the presence of the President himself.

Homecoming King is his first stand-up special aired on Netflix,  in which he mainly talks about what it is like to be an immigrant in America. The show is the story of his life, lit with photos and seasoned with Urdu/Hindi phrases which makes it more entertaining.

From pressures of immigrant parents to being bullied at school, to the aftermath of 9/11 and so on and so forth, this is one comedy which is totally relatable to anyone belonging to the South Asian Belt. I totally understand that it might not seem funny to people who don’t share the same cultural background but it will be interesting and educational for them.

The main reason why I really enjoyed the show was that it wasn’t full of the typical desi style humor or simply talking in a different accent. Hasan covers harsh topics like racism, bullying, effects of 9/11 on immigrants in a light tone.

The stories are simple and to be honest not something unheard of, but what sets him aside is the impeccable timing, dialogue delivery and the way he keeps the audience smiling by either squeezing in a joke here and there or by showing photos which make it personal. Yes, there are times when the show falls flat but overall as a first time comedy special, Hasan has done a good job.

Head over to Netflix to watch the special.

 

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THE AUTISM DIET

autism diet asd

First of all why a special diet?

 There is a very famous quote by Hippocrates which says:

“LET FOOD BE THY MEDICINE AND MEDICINE BE THY FOOD”

It’s a no brainer that how we feel depends a lot on what we put in our mouths.  When there is a special health condition, it is plain common sense to avoid foods which aggravate the condition and instead, give the body healthy nutrients for it to thrive. It does not mean that you are depriving the body, instead you are helping it to heal from inside and function like it is meant to.

When it comes to Autism, there is no fixed diet. In fact, there is nothing approved which will have a sure shot affect on the overall health of the child.

 However, that being said, there are a couple of diets to try, which many parents (including myself) swear by. The benefits of these diets include but are not limited to :

-Improved speech

-Refined social skills

-Better eye contact

-Good focus

-Reduced hyper activity etc.

Like I said in the previous Autism related posts, since it is a spectrum, the progress varies from kid to kid.

A general rule of thumb is to try the diet for good 3 months and if you see no improvement that means that it is not working for your child. Also make sure during the three months, that there is no cross contamination.

Keep a notepad handy to take notes on your child’s mood, health, sleep etc. so you know the reaction to certain foods. Do not however, expect to see overnight progress. Healing with food is a slow process with loads of trial and error.

Let us now discuss the diets in detail.

 

GLUTEN FREE/ DAIRY FREE/ SOY FREE DIET(GFCFSF)

This is perhaps the most popular and the most tried diet when it comes to ASD.  It includes removal of gluten and dairy and soy products from the diet.

Gluten is a protein found in many grains including Wheat, Barley, Spelt, Rye etc. Unless the Oats are grown in a gluten-free manner, they too come under the gluten umbrella.

Casein is a protein found in all mammals milk.

Most of the Soy Crops in America are highly genetically modified therefore it is best to avoid them.

Kids with ASD and ADHD generally have elevated levels of Gluten, Gliadin and Casein and have gastrointestinal problems. Eliminating these proteins helps in reducing the gut inflammation and help lift off the foggy effect off the brains.

 SCD GAPS

SPECIFIC CARBOHYDRATE DIET (SCD) AND GUT AND PSYCHOLOGY SYNDROME (GAPS) DIET

SCD was created by Elaine Gloria Gottschall who based her research on the findings of Sidney Haas, M.D. More details on SCD and her research can be read in her book  Breaking the Vicious Cycle: Intestinal Health Through Diet.

This diet severely limits the carbohydrates. The model is based on the theory that most carbs convert to sugar and are difficult to digest so by allowing only specific carbs which require minimal digestion, gut inflammation can be reduced.

GAPS diet is derived from SCD diet and is created by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride. More details on her research and GAPS can be read in her book Gut and Psychology Syndrome: Natural Treatment for Autism, Dyspraxia, A.D.D., Dyslexia, A.D.H.D., Depression, Schizophrenia.

The  GAPS diet focuses on removing foods which are difficult to digest and replace them with nutrient rich foods which gives the body a chance to heal.

People usually combine the SCD and GAPS diet and find a good medium which fits their need. One concern about this diet is that it is very restrictive and must be supplemented with vitamins and minerals to make up for the nutrition lost.

 

 

FEINGOLD DIET

 

THE FEINGOLD DIET

 

This diet has been said to work wonders for kids with ADHD.

Feingold Diet is an elimination diet created by Benjamin Feingold M.D. The theory behind this diet is that food additives can cause hyperactivity in children and by elimination of those additives one can figure out which food acts like a trigger for their hyperactivity.

Sheri Davis’s book All Natural Mom’s Guide to the Feingold Diet: A Natural Approach to ADHD and Other Related Disorders is an excellent resource for trying out this diet. She writes in detail how to do this diet, what to include and what to eliminate and also how to reintroduce things back to the diet.

Other notable mentions are

A very good read by Julie Mattews , Nourishing Hope for Autism: Nutrition and Diet Guide for Healing Our Children [Perfect Paperback] talks in detail how nutrition affects children with ASD and the different types of diets to try. If you are unsure which diet is right for your child, this book will give you a good idea firstly on how different foods can cause certain behaviors and secondly, a guideline on how to carry out the diet.

My kid has been following the GFCFSF and mostly low sugar diet for the past 4 years. It works for us.

How you ask?

The day my kid has a regular muffin or dairy, he is bouncing off the walls, inappropriate laughter kicks in and he has a hard time falling asleep.

Since I can safely call myself a pro at the GFCFSF diet, I will do a detailed review and help you do this diet, step by step, if you want to try it with your kiddo too.

Feel free to contact me via email if you want any kind of help regarding your kid’s diet.

(DISCLAIMER: These are my views and should be taken for information and education purposes only. Not two on kids on the spectrum are alike. If you think someone you know needs help, please talk to the concerned Pediatrician today.)

 

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