A Gastronomic Voyage at Roda Al Bustan

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Emotions on Sale

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Demons fighting in my sleep
Monsters rising from the heap

Nightmares keeping me awake
More of this, I cannot take

Wake up and I figure out
How to get rid of self-doubt

I will have a big yard sale
Set up everything to scale

Put my feelings on display
Everything must go today

Buckets of false hope for free
Jealousy in packs of three

Complex webs of greed hand-spun
Take the hatred, I am done

Get my worries, two for one
Bottled sadness, I want none

Stacks of guilt, I’m done with these
Paid all my subscription fees

What is left I will discard
Should not really be that hard

When my yard is all cleared up
Of this life I’ve had enough

I will pack up all my bags
Dress myself in simple rags

To the beach, I will head out
Take the solitary route

Won’t have anything to hide
Joy and I’ll enjoy the ride

Smile and sing along the way
Up until we reach the bay

Sip some sunshine from a glass
Watch the happy faces pass

Wash the remnants, dark and grim
In free waters, I shall swim

– Yousuf Bawany, June 2016

Coolers To Beat The Intense Summer Heat

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It’s that dreaded time of the year again. We are on the verge of summer and we all know what that means; the scorching sun mercilessly beating down upon us. The Pakistani summer is characterized by an exponential increase in the sale of all things cool and refreshing, like ice-cream, kulfi (a frozen milk-based treat with nuts and saffron) and juices. The number of juice-walas (read, roadside juice stalls) propping up all across the country is directly proportional to the ever-soaring temperatures. These juice-walas serve all kinds of tempting (albeit unhygienic) concoctions using popular ingredients like watermelons, lemons and rooh-afza (a Pakistani drink concentrate).

Commuting to work during summers is a chore most people detest, and there’s nothing more enticing than the call of the juice-wala screaming ‘Thanda Thanda Limo Pani. Sirf Panch Rupay, Panch Rupay, Panch Rupay!’ (Cool, cool lemonade for just five rupees). Please do not pay heed to the juice-wala, no matter how thirsty you may be. The contents of the juice are questionable at best and you never know when, if ever, the glass was last washed. Instead, pick up some fresh produce on your way home and make one of these five lip-smacking coolers to satisfy your summer craving.

Watermelon-Strawberry Cooler

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Ingredients:

  • 300 grams watermelon (just the red fleshy part)
  • 1½ teaspoon lemon juice
  • 4-5 strawberries (use frozen if fresh are not available)

Kiwi-Lemon Chiller

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Ingredients:

  • 3 kiwis (slightly ripe)
  • 1½ teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoon honey
  • ½ cup water

Pina Colada

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Ingredients:

  • ½ pineapple (use 4-5 slices of canned pineapple if fresh isn’t available)
  • ½ cup of coconut water

Lime-Mint Mojito

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Ingredients:

  • ½ tablespoon lime juice
  • 4-5 mint leaves
  • ½ tablespoon honey
  • 1 cup water

Apple-Pomegranate Cocktail

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Ingredients:

  • 2 apples
  • 1 pomegranate

For all the recipes listed above, use the method listed below:

  1. Put all the ingredients in a blender and mix well; if you have a juicer/extractor or a hand-blender, those would work too
  2. Use a fine-mesh sieve to remove the pulp from the juice; press on the pulp using a spoon to get all the juice out
  3. Keep the juice in the freezer for at least 1 hour
  4. Add a handful of crushed ice before serving

These drinks are an absolute hit at dinner parties, so why not be the juice-wala your guests desperately need you to be? Remember: with great power (read, recipes), comes great responsibility!

Enjoy!

p.s. Each of the recipes listed above takes a maximum of 5 minutes to prepare and yields approx. 250 to 300 ml sufficient for one large or two small servings, depending on how thirsty you are.

Ramadan Treats: Watermelon Strawberry Coolers

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With the heat-wave that’s causing abnormalities in the global seasonal patterns, we all knew what to expect this Ramadan, especially my fellow fast-ers (using this for lack of a better word) based in the Middle East. Just today, the weather in Dubai peaked at a whooping 47 degrees (Celsius, not Fahrenheit); I was soaking with sweat and completely parched by the time I got home from work. With still a good four hours to go before I could officially break my fast, it got increasingly difficult not to think about something cool and refreshing that would not only quench my thirst, but also give me the much-needed energy boost.

They say the best ideas come to you when you need something most. I came up with the Watermelon and Strawberry Cooler on a whim, without even giving the pairing of the ingredients a second thought; my hands automatically picked out the things from the refrigerator as they just ‘felt’ right.

The watermelon I had bought a few days back was slightly mushy (and I do not like mushy watermelon) so instead of throwing it out, I scooped out the flesh, placed it in a bowl, and mixed in a few ingredients instinctively. The result was a tasty sweet-and-tangy beverage perfect for Iftaar (breaking of the fast). Let me dive straight into the recipe so that you can try it out for yourself.

Ingredients:

  • 2 kg watermelon (with the skin on)
  • 3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 4-5 tbsp strawberry syrup (the one you use as a base for carbonated drinks)

Method:

  1. Scoop out the red fleshy part of the watermelon and place it into a deep bowl
  2. Using a hand-blender, puree the watermelon, seeds and all
  3. Take a sieve with a super-fine mesh and remove the pulp from the juice
  4. Add the lemon juice and the strawberry syrup to the watermelon juice; stir well
  5. Keep it in the freezer for at least 1 hour before serving
  6. Garnish with mint leaves (optional)
  7. Enjoy the refreshing drink at Iftaar and remember me in your prayers

The quantity mentioned is good for SIX servings of roughly 225 ml each. You can adjust the quantities according to your serving requirement. For those of you who do try this, do let me know how you liked it.

Ramadan Kareem and stay hydrated!

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Malted Chocolate Milk Shake

I’m a self-confessed Chocoholic and what better way to beat the heat than with a cold creamy glass of malted (dark) chocolate milk shake?

Here’s the recipe:

2 scoops chocolate ice cream
1/2 cup milk (chilled)
2-3 ice cubes
1 tbsp dark chocolate (finely chopped)
1 tsp Horlicks (milo, ovaltine or any other malt-based cocoa powder works too)
2 tbsp heavy cream
1 pinch salt
2-3 drops vanilla extract

METHOD: Just mix up all the ingredients and blend using a hand-blender (or a regular one). Garnish with chocolate shavings (I prefer using dark chocolate kit-kat). Serve immediately.