Saturday, 1 July 2017

What They Don't Tell You About Eid

Today, I'm going to talk about the other side, the dark side of something that millions of people around the world celebrate; Eid.

Where I live, the sightings of the moon dictate the arrival of holidays. So the night the moon is sighted signifying Eid the next day, is called chaand raat (chaand = moon, raat = night). And its so sad how something designed to be happy and celebratory has become so synonymous with something so negative. Not many people know of the negatives so I'm here to blog about them in the hopes that someday it will all come to a definite stop.

Here's what you don't know about Eid:

The exploitation of labour.

Every year at chaand raat, thousands of girls are hired for henna application purposes. Some, that are fortunate enough to have contacts of their own are directly hired by these individuals and so they spend the whole day working. Then, at the end of it, they go home with all the money have earned.
Most girls, however, are not so fortunate. They are hired by salons or some other form of middle-man, that takes gives them only a percentage of the total earnings. This is ridiculously unfair. Henna application is something that's labour intensive and then giving that labourer less than half of what they have earned for the salon is ridiculous. 

As if the unfair pay wasn't bad enough, these girls come in every age  group! I've seen girls of not more than 10 years of age, sitting there in those tents and salons, working so they can make a quick buck. This is child labour. They aren't paid right. And its not as if only the really sketchy places and shady areas of town hire these under-age girls. Just this year, I saw a 15 year old working at a well known sports club. And I'm sure she wasn't the youngest girl there.

To top it all off, these girls work long hours and into the late hours of the night. The classier establishments and salons close around a standard 1 a.m. while there is no definite closing time for the other places. Those young girls are responsible for their own transport home. Those young girls live far away from those well known, classier, establishments so they get home around 4 a.m. But before they can go home, they must deal with women straight out of a nightmare. They get yelled at by women who aren't satisfied with their henna. It's a sad and ugly truth but they do encounter a few such women that will yell at them, whole-heartedly so.

They also have to deal with constant comparisons. So because people can choose which girl applies their henna, they will go around judging the girls' work. There's nothing wrong with picking the girl who's application you like most; after all, you do pay for it....but it isn't fair when people go around and voice out negative opinions. These girls are human, they have emotions. You can't tell her you think she's a horrible artist. You can't say "Oh, you're a horrible henna artist, I'm going to the lady behind you". Those girls have been working like robots, pausing only to take sips of their tea in between customers, and they sit there and take your yelling and your criticism and the antics of your little children and then take home less than half of what they earned. Well guess what? They didn't sign up for your shit.

No one's asking you to praise them for work that isn't quite what you wanted. But you don't need to be a jerk about it. But when you do like your work, or even if its not the best you've seen, please do tip your henna-girl. They come from families that aren't as financially stable as yours. They do this because they need this extra money. They might need the change to pay for their transport home. Please understand that establishments also hire girls that have zero experience with henna application Please keep in mind that this girl with zero experience...SHE'S BARELY THIRTEEN YEARS OLD. She goes to school, of course she's not as talented as that instagram artist you want her to copy. And please for the love of God, don't yell at her. You chose to have her do your henna. The hand you are dealt is on you. Even if it does look horrible, speak to the management about it and have them drop your fee. Or just be a nice person and let the henna-girl make a little more money. Your henna will fade away and no one will think less of you if your henna didn't turn out that great.

EID IS ABOUT GIVING. EID IS ABOUT SHARING. EID IS ABOUT CELEBRATING AND BEING MERRY.  STOP RUINING THE SPIRIT AND PURPOSE OF EID.

--Chandni

Monday, 22 May 2017

What do Pakistanis Eat? Hanifia!

I'm back with another food post, only this time I have more than just food descriptions and pictures. I've got food history and it spans all the way back to a hundred years!! Also, it's exclusive to Karachi (heheh in your face Lahore-walay πŸ˜‹πŸ˜†πŸ˜)

Right so I'm assuming the name Hanifia (hun-ee-fee-a) comes from the name "Haneef". What it actually is....well...it started out as a teeny tiny shop that sold hunter beef, hunter chicken and hunter beef burgers.And according to their website...they were the first people to ever sell burgers in Karachi....err... that I'm not too sure about but I know for a fact that they were the first people in Karachi to sell hunter beef; it's what they were famous for. 

Coming towards the history bit; Hanifia started up in 1889 in subcontinental India in Simla by Al-Haj Muhammad Hanif Shimlavi. After the Independence and Partition between Pakistan and India they moved themselves and the business to Karachi, Pakistan. They have since expanded their menu and services and sell fried chicken and a variety of sandwiches and wraps.

So essentially, about 30 years ago, students from all over, frequented the small joint at New Town, Jama Masjid in Karachi and would hang out after school/university... grab a bite of "fast food" as it was known then (keep in mind McDonald's opened in Karachi in the early 2000's). At 75 paisas a burger its not hard to imagine why. As of today it costs 160 PKR (about US$2/ £1.30) and its the same one they've been selling for about 70 years..

On to the sub-par food photography!! *sarcastic yay* If you take a look at their website here you'll see some pretty pictures of their food...it looks like something out of a commercial. It's also not how their food really looks unfortunately.

So a takeaway burger comes in a styrofoam box. I'm pretty sure the design of this box has also remained the same for the past 70 years πŸ˜•. The burger comes with the "secret" mustard sauce they created back in Simla. I can tell you for a fact that this mustard sauce does not taste like mustard at all...in fact I don't think I know what it tastes like because my mouth feels like its burning if I try to use it as a dipping condiment. So the secret ingredient is probably red chili paste or something. AKA; not something I want to dip my burger into.

The Original Hanifia burger
And this is what the burger looks like. I got the original beef burger. So its a traditional bakery bun with hunter beef shredded and tossed into that chili mustard sauce.

What it actually looks like
So looking at the bun you're probably thinking that the bottom half is a lot thicker than most buns. This is what a traditional bakery bun looks like in Pakistan and to be completely honest I think this is the best bun to use for this burger. Its a lot denser to it doesn't get soggy as quickly...which is saying a lot because they drench the thing with that mustard sauce! Also.. as I said earlier...the sauce is really spicy so having that thicker bottom half of bread helps ease some of the spice factor.

Inside the burger hidden in the plethora of that sauce you will also find a slice of tomato and maybe two slices of cucumber. For me...its just a hassle really, because I don't like raw tomato and hate cucumber in any sandwich.

Despite its successful history as the go-to burger for young people, I don't think anyone with a low spice tolerance can eat this without feeling sick. It's pretty spicy but if you ask the guy at the register to go easy on the sauce, that helps tone it down a lot! Also, if you're really hungry or have a big appetite then just one of these burgers won't suffice as a meal. And a personal note is that a Coke really is necessary with this burger because even with a controlled amount of sauce, the burger is hella spicyπŸ’€πŸ’€!!!

And this concludes the third part of my 'What do Pakistani's Eat'. I hope you enjoyed reading about this Karachi-exclusive, "secret" mustard sauce drenched burger!

--Chandni

Friday, 21 April 2017

Oriental Nail Art Tutorial


A couple days ago, I had to muster up the most Oriental mani I could manage with the given theme.... navy blue and purple with white flowers. Because yesterday was my dear friend Angela's birthday. You see, us nail ladies like to surprise each other on their birthdays and the distance between us nail-friends is nothing compared to the nail parties we have! And so, we all showed up with navy blue and purple manis with white flowers for the party!

Angela lives in Singapore....So I wanted to do her country's national flower on a navy/purple base. So after some research (read: google-ing) I saw that the national flower is an incredibly cool hybrid orchid that they created out of 40 different flowers....30 of which were orchids! And this is all very cool and scientific but very hard to paint freehand πŸ˜… and I wanted a pretty mani that I could submit with confidence to a group of incredibly talented ladies and of course, for Angela!

So I decided to forgo the anxiety that comes with painting flowers freehand and to just stamp some on. Which is how I came to the Oriental bit. I figured since I couldn't do the national flower, I should at least stamp the most Oriental looking flowers I could find in my collection.


And before we get started on what I did and how I did it, here's the picture of the Vanda Miss Joaquim Orchid, the hybrid flower I was talking about:
Courtesy pixdaus
Okay now onto the nails! I used a stamping plate from Aiyoohehe. This is hehe plate number 071 which on the whole is quite appropriate for an Oriental mani. Look how angry that dragon looks!!


Hehe-071

As I said earlier, the set theme was purple and navy blue so I smooshed the colours onto my nail using a squishy stamper that is quite worse for wear, which is why its not pictured xD

Navy blue and Purple smoosh
After the smooshy dried completely, I picked up the flowers individually on a clear stamper and placed them onto my nails. As you can see, the flowers are of various sizes so I actually used different flower images for each go 😁 The great thing about that is that you don't have to clean off the image before each use because *angel voice* you're not using the same image! Lazy stamping hack right there!

hehe-071 and a smoosh sneak peek xD

And I didn't want it to look like a Hawaiian shirt print so I didn't co-ordinate the placement of the flowers. And so this is what I ended up with! Let me know what you think of it in the comments! πŸ’œπŸ’™

Oriental Nails

I hope you liked this post/mini tutorial πŸ’“ !

Have a great day,
Mirza!


Thursday, 13 April 2017

Where I've been

I couldn't just not talk about the fact that I haven't been on my blog for well over a month. Its not that I didn't have stuff to write about; I have a whole list of posts that I want to write and it just gets longer with time. My absence was personal. And now I'm going to share the reason and it's kind of a long story so as I said on my previous post; I hope you've brought a couple cookies to munch on while you read this.

Right so introducing the characters in this story..... There's that cute cube of butter you see on my logo and a slighter bigger cube...but uhh...not of butter.... so... peanut butter? Yeah, Peanut Butter.

Okay then, now for the backstory of tiny Butter and Peanut Butter. They were very good friends. Met up at least once a week and Peanut Butter was like the cool older sister. Their parents were also close. But they grew apart. Now they don't talk at all. Once a year, or maybe once every two years Peanut Butter comes to visit. Butter and Peanut Butter talk and get along and share jokes and maybe a meal or two; and then Peanut Butter departs and is never heard from again, until the next year or maybe even the year after that. No texts, no calls, not even an e-mail.

Now obviously this can only go on for so long before I start to hate Peanut's guts. How could she continue to call me her little sister when I don't hear from her for years at a time? How could she come visit me and hug me and look me in the eye and tell me she'd missed me? I've known her for a good fifteen years and not only do we not know each other's favourite colours but its just as if she's forced to come down to visit me. It's that she HAS to visit, and because I'm there...she'll carry on with this facade and so will I because if I don't I'm the kid with no manners and a horrid upbringing. I would much rather prefer that she show up when she has to and completely ignore me aside from the greeting formalities. I don't want her to be fake nice to me. Its not as if I'll hate her if she doesn't continue with it, in fact I would actually be grateful.

So one day she read my blog. I was angry. There's a link to here in my instagram bio. Its not that I don't want strangers on my blog...I love it when people read my blog. But with her, I felt that it was so unfair of her to know what I'm up to and what I'm writing about when I don't know a single thing about her anymore. So I didn't write anything. That's why I had been missing for more than a month.

But I know its ridiculous that I should press pause on my life because lets face it, Peanut Butter is always going to be here a year later on one of her visits. So I decided to put this up so that if she sees this she gets the hint.....but before I could unleash this bitter rant I had to do two things:

1. Find the courage to put this up here:
This post is basically me complaining about someone in my life who has the audacity to call me a little sister one day and then disappear the next day for another couple years.
Every one I know reads my blog and its not easy admitting that to every one. And like I said before, Peanut Butter also reads my blog. And while its easy to sit behind a screen and say what ever mean things you want to on the internet, its real people that this is about. This facade has been going on for more than ten years. Its easy to just go with it instead of facing reality and permanently severing ties. That's a hard pill to swallow. So I needed time and courage to come to terms with this "confrontation" as well.
I say confrontation because I know she will know I'm talking about her when she reads this.

2. I needed a cookie. Or twenty....:
That's why I put up this blog post first.

And this is the end of today's post. I'd say that I hoped you enjoyed it....but this is something that not even I enjoyed writing. Its bitter. And I like dangerous amounts of sugar. But because this was necessary to confront, I had to bear the bitterness.

Have a good day every one!
--Chandni.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Brownie-Cookie Sandwich-Things

Because I couldn't decide whether I wanted to bake a pan of brownies or a batch of cookies, I thought I may as well bake a cookie that kind of tastes like a brownie πŸ˜†

Okay, time for the real story, I'm relatively new to baking...in fact I started just last summer. And I had a pretty good experience with cookies so I was a bit intimidated of actually taking the plunge with brownies....because lets be real, brownies are either awesome or they suck. There is no in-between. So in my mind I had already made my decision to make cookies.....but at heart I still wanted brownies.This right here is the actual reason why I decided to spend a good thirty minutes looking up "brownie cookie recipes".

And so I came across some recipes....and the pictures looked promising (read: utterly mouthwatering) so I read the comments on those blog posts just to see what people thought and some said the dough came out too liquid-y to form proper cookies and one of the commenters wrote that she used a lot more flour than the recipe had called for....and some recipes leaned more towards being actual brownies and not so much cookies and alas my heart was set on the perfect cookie-brownie hybrid, so I CREATED MY OWN RECIPE!

.....after reading about ten different blog posts that is πŸ˜†πŸ˜„  Just to get an idea of what to do...how to do it and what I want in my cookies.

Read on to see how my efforts fared and if you want the recipe that's down there too!

Right. So start off with melting butter and chocolate over a pot of hot water...AKA double boiler.
I used 80 grams of salted butter....the butter I buy comes with markings of 40 grams so it was easy to know exactly how much I used. But if you use cup measurements then I know half a cup of butter is 115 grams so if you reduce about two tablespoons of butter then you'll get the same amount as 1 tablespoon of butter is about 15 grams. As for chocolate....I eyeballed about two cups. Heheheh more chocolate and no measuring worries!! Can you already tell these cookies were bomb? xD


After the chocolate and the butter completely melts, take it off the boiling water and put it on the side to cool. 

 COOLING AT THIS STAGE IS IMPORTANT. Why? Because we've got eggs right here that will scramble and be half cooked the moment you pour that hot chocolate on them.


So in a separate bowl whisk together 1 cup of granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons of floor and 3 eggs. I did it using this hand whisk thing for about five minutes...you could use an electric whisk but I just think are a hassle to wash the stuff out of so I don't use them unless I really really need to.


After the egg thing gets a little fluffy and you know for sure the chocolate and butter is cool you can add the chocolate to the egg mixture.


It will thicken a bit at this point because of the flour in the egg mixture....and also because the eggs and sugar weigh down the chocolate.



Look how pretty the chocolate dots look. I would have tried marbling them but I wanted cookies as soon as possible! So give it a mix until just combined. Not more or else the flour will toughen up and you'll have hard cookies. It will start to look something like this.



Dense chocolate-y goodness. DENSE. Which means they'll be hard to stir. So ditch the whisk and grab a rubber spatula and mix through 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, 1/2 a teaspoon of salt (you could use a half teaspoon more if you used unsalted butter with the chocolate) and a leveled cup of flour.


It should look something like this. It will be thick and dough-y. Just like regular cookie dough...but a lot more dense because of all the additional fat from the chocolate. Which means the cookies will be fluffy like a cookie but dense like a brownie. AKA exactly what I wanted.


 Now line a baking tray with parchment paper and scoop out heaped tablespoons and bake for about 12 minutes in an oven preheated at 180 degrees C


 They will be slightly crinkly and crisp on the outside but soft and chewy on the inside when you pull them out of the  oven. I would advise you to lift them up by sliding a fork underneath and transfer them to a cooling rack so that they don't get soggy as they cool.

This recipe made me about thirty cookies.... I ate three straight out of the oven in the name of taste-testing and research purposes.. That's why there's a fork in the picture above xD


 Now coming onto the sandwich part of the title. I had some left over buttercream frosting so I spread an even but thin layer on the back of each cookie and then stuck them on to their best matched cookies and ate three more πŸ˜…πŸ˜†


And this concludes my post. I hope you guys enjoyed reading this and I hope you try out my recipe and let me know what you think of it!

I'll be back tomorrow with another blog post. I think it would be wise if you grabbed a cookie or two to munch on while reading it!

Much love,
Chandni