October 10, 2017

For Old Time's Sake - Lahore's Most Nostalgic Hot-Spots



Remember Polka Parlor? I do, but not because the ice cream was OMG. Those back-lit photo-boards mounted high behind the counters featured my naughtiest frozen dairy dreams — a perfect Peach Melba, a beautiful banana split, a classic triple-scoop sundae topped with a cloud of whipped cream and a neon red maraschino cherry, and my holy grail, a huge watermelon, hollowed, carved, and filled with a million tiny scoops of ice cream — all a bunch of cruel lies. Dude, my frickin’ fantasy monster-melon wasn’t even on the menu...

Still, mention the name and I can’t help smiling, because, really, disappointing dessert was but a trivial detail, an annoying distraction, if you will, in a day that included a trip to the holy land of extreme 90’s-kid fun, Amusement Arcade!

You know the one I’m talking about — that musty basement that offered a grand total of 3 thrilling fun-time activities, including the iconic heart-thumping dodge-em cars with dubious brakes and long, bendy antennas that crackled and sparked against that wire-cage roofing. That lingering smell of hot metal was oddly satisfying. The mechanical horse-race felt as intense as the Kentucky Derby, beads of sweat forming on our foreheads as we screamed our lungs sore until the shrill buzzer finally ended the game. A mix of excited shrieks and disappointed groans always followed. And the pièce de résistance — the mildly shady and definitely moldy room known as the “Shooting Gallery.” Nobody ever won the game,but we all played anyway, just to get the creepy old cowboy to half-rise out of his creaky rocking chair and lift his lame shotgun to squirt water at us. 

After an hour of so of this daredevil awesomeness, the gang of cousins, and whichever Khala had been conned into watching the kids for the afternoon, descended on Polka Parlor and the rest, as they say, is history. 

Food is a powerful, emotional affair, folks. Not convinced? Hit up these five nostalgic Lahori hotspots and we guarantee some serious feels!


Gino's


Literally, eat ANY of Gino’s pizzas and it’ll take you straight back to every cool kid’s childhood birthday or last-day-of-school party you’ve ever been to. Yes, the dough is still thick and bread-y and the sauce is still oddly sweet and, no, there’s no epic stringiness to the cheese — it sits in one waxy, congealed sheet on the top, just like always — and it’s still so, so delicious. Nothing beats kick-butt kiddie party food.

March 11, 2017

Road Runner's Secret Service


Road Runner
Website: http://roadrunner.com.pk/
Phone: 0334 1310131 (OR) 0334 1311131
You can also find Road Runner on Facebook & Instagram

On a scale of 1 to Immobile Lout, how lazy are you? If you’re tipping towards stationary lump, a killer delivery service is a godsend. That’s why Road Runner rules the hearts of hermits all over Lahore. Aside from the fact that they’ll deliver pretty much anything — a winter blanket dropped off at your doorstep? Hell yeah — the service is speedy, the charges are reasonable, and, when you’re in no mood to step out, they’ll happily to trek all over the city for you. 

Near-instant gratification and almost zero hassle, I was sold the second Road Runner launched. More recently, though, they’ve got me hooked on to their latest secret service.

Ready? Okay. Hold on to your undies, because Road Runner had set up an in-house kitchen and they’re knocking out some of the most delicious Khao Suey in town. The chicken coconut curry is creamy, the noodles are tender, topped with a small mountain of crispy onions, a generous sprinkle fiery chili flakes, sliced scallions, and a big squeeze of fresh, zingy lemon juice — cozy night in a bowl, babies!

Literally, Road Runner, just take ALL of my money! Take all of eeeetttt!

For your chance to WIN A FREE KHAO SUEY MEAL FOR TWO FROM ROAD RUNNER*, don’t forget to enter The Road Runner Giveaway, happening on Facebook and Instagram. Giveaway starts on Saturday, 11 March, 2017 and closes Thursday, 16 March 2017 at 11:59 pm (PST).

* Prize generously sponsored by Road Runner

March 1, 2017

Lahore, THIS Is Why You Need To Grocery Shop Online!

I don’t know about you, but it took me decades to become a grocery shopping ninja. 

Through the pre-adulting wonder years, it was as easy as arriving at Al-Fatah, grabbing a Shezan mango and some Super Crisps, and watching Nano slice and dice her way through the entire ordeal like some supermarket sensei. 

The golden days of college entailed an obscene diet of dorm food, bean and cheese burritos and, once a week, cooking a massive, mostly desi meal to share with a horde of hungry friends, but pulling that off literally a no-brainer — hitch a ride to the nearest Indian store, pick up Shaan masalas, buy ingredients listed on the backs of those boxes. Boom. Done. 

And then I got married…*dun dun duuuuun*…and shit hitteth the fan. 

Basically, after moving in, like a good ghareloo bahu (and an A-grade idiot), I offered to take over the sauda-stocking scenario. I probably should’ve stopped to consider that a) I’d never gone grocery shopping on such a massive scale and b) I had no idea what these people shopped for, but, no, I was a fool in love. My mother-in-law resolved the latter dilemma by handing me a three-page (back and front) list scrawled in Urdu. Bullets of sweat broke out. I dialed in my besties for back-up and almost half the day later, we wrapped up an expedition that can only be described as waging war with over-zealous, jiu-jitsu trained aunties battling it out in a Game of Thrones: Ghee Edition. 

Between then and now, I’ve tried more than a couple of “systems” to make the entire process less painful — Excel sheets, streamlined lists, highlighting old receipts, memorizing the layout of my favorite grocery store, hefty tips — but about a year and a half ago I called it quits. Not because I’m a quitter, FFS, but because Allah Mian loves me and some genius launched 24/Seven.pk, Lahore’s first full-scale online grocery shopping app and website.

THIS is a goddamn revolution, folks!

Not only do they carry thousands of products from all of my go-to brands — from grocery items (including fruits and veggies), to toiletries, to cleaning supplies, to pet food, and pretty much everything in between — 24/Seven also has an awesome bakery section courtesy of Kitchen Cuisine and fresh, organic produce from Nadoz Greenz. Wikka, wikka, whaaaaa!

No lies, Lahore, this isn’t just a grocery shopping game-changer — it’s literally the answer to all my domestic house-wifey prayers and here’s why you need to hop on this gravy train, like, right now.

Convenience, Duh: You mean I can lounge in my ugliest nightie, sip chai with some light Justin Bieber playing in the background, shop at ungodly hours sans the kids, and buy a mountain of Doritos without being stared down by judgey, organic-only yoga moms? Why would anyone say no to that?

Zero Hassle: No traffic, no crowds, no lines, no tipping 10 cashiers because even though they didn’t do jack they said, “slalaikum, baji.”

February 20, 2017

Is Awesamosas Really THAT Awesome?


Awesamosas
Address: CSD Cavalry Masood Anwari Rd Lahore
Phone: 0332 8707390
You can also find Awesamosas on Facebook & Instagram
What’s the Sub-Continent’s most epic contribution to the world of deep-fried food? The samosa, obviously! Don’t argue with that, unless you’re up for a duel to the death. Garam samosa,thandi Coke — heaven is a place on earth, lovers.

Of course, reinventing traditional excellence, especially the carb-y kind involving soft, spiced potatoes smushed inside deep-fried triangular pockets of crusty, salty dough, is a tall order, but gutsy duo Daniyal Noorani and Seemi Sani of Awesamosas don’t seem fazed. 

Probably because they know that we know that those caramelized onion samosas are the bomb and every sensible citizen in the world would cease to acknowledge graham crackers if they could find chocolate and marshmallows melting inside a toasty samosa wrapper.


Chalkboards scrawled with menus, a 3-step ordering system, and their very own quirky lingo — burgers are served shareefana (easy on the sauce) or loose (animal style) and their chai is dubbed Khoobsoora-Tea — Awesamosas has got the cozy, casual, dhabba thing down. And, yes, the food is lick-the-bowl uh-mayzing, You can find more delicious details here, here, here, and here. Or, you could ditch the literature and live your best life by wrapping your maw around a spicy, sauced-up pulled-beef samosa burger with a side of herb-salted fries and a Reese’s a la mode.

You can thank me later.


But is serving decent grub in a cute cafe enough to cut it in Pakistan’s hyper-competitive food industry?

Probably not. 

February 6, 2017

The Cafe Upstairs: Casual Cool Is Finally Back

ADDRESS: 11 C Main Jail Road, Gulberg, Lahore
PHONE: (042) 35776774
You can also find The Cafe Upstairs on Facebook & Instagram

Think of a meal out in the Lahore and it’s not unusual for the mind wander to straight to the hotspots lining the city’s famed M.M. Alam Road. But let that thought linger for a second and let the reality of braving claustrophobic chaos and bumper-to-bumper traffic sink in…yeah, it’s all downhill from there. See, for the occasional special occasion, that kind of madness is totally worth it, but, on an average day, being cocooned from the buzz and bustle and having a bite in peace is positively blissful. 

So, where do you go to get away from it all? Right to The Cafe Upstairs, of course! Quietly tucked away off Jail Road, the ambiance is casual, the space is flooded with natural light, and the menu is constantly evolving. — that’s what you call hitting all the right notes. 


The Cafe Upstairs hits all the right notes AND offers plenty of options for every kind of appetite. 

For a light lunch, split some heat-packed Wasabi Prawns and a Classic Cheesesteak with a buddy and life’s all good. Keep the fries and coleslaw for yourself, obviously. 

Ravenous? Start with the Beet & Feta Napoleon, a delicious pairing of salt and subtle sweetness, followed by a classic Margherita pizza topped generously with melting mozzarella and fresh basil. The Bird’s Eye Chili Chicken Stir-fry is also a winner. Round it all out with a warm Bread & Butter Pudding made with croissants that are baked in-house and served with a divine toffee caramel sauce. 

P.S. don’t forget the Macchiato.

The Cafe Upstairs
ADDRESS: 11 C Main Jail Road, Gulberg, Lahore
PHONE: (042) 35776774
You can also find The Cafe Upstairs on Facebook & Instagram




August 26, 2016

The BEST Breakfast Spread That's Not On Your Table

Labneh


I wrote an adapted version of this article for Dawn earlier in the summer, when the heat was relentless and respite was nowhere in sight. Now, thanks to the lovely Lahori monsoon — God, I love that heady scent of the rain hitting the soil — things are cooling down and the idea of starting the day with a warm slice of crusty bread is calling out to me like a forlorn lover. And what will I be topping my choice of carbs with, you obviously don’t ask? Only the BEST breakfast spread of all time!

Intrigued?

Thought so.

Read on.

Not to sound like a dinosaur, but I miss the good old days when Ramzan would roll around in the cool, crisp winter and we’d wake in the middle of the night shivering, the tips of our noses frozen numb. Those were simpler times of racing my brother and sister to the lounge, hoping to claim the toastiest spot in front of the enormous gas heater. Those were the magical years of sitting down, still sleepy-eyed, on a colorful dastarkhwan laid out with a sehri-time feast.

Of course, now, thanks to record-breaking heat, I have no such notions. 

I mean, is it just me or is consuming anything more than a dry piece of toast and gallons of water at a pre-dawn meal actually a very real struggle? Plus, with the holy month coming to a close soon and temperatures still soaring, I’m guessing the prospect of breakfast isn’t going to inspire much enthusiasm either. 

Thank God, my grandmother taught me well and I’ve finally got a fix for all those early morning woes. 

See, on those chilly nights, while we all sat cross-legged on the floor, crowding around bal-wala parathas, and spicy desi-style scrambled eggs studded with soft tomatoes, sweet onions, cumin, and plenty of green chilis, and leftover saalan and daal, and sticky-sweet french toast, Nano’s pre-Roza ritual defied all the norms of stuffing oneself silly. 

She would quietly spend a few minutes pretending to nibble on the stodgy fare and then, sure as the rising sun, she’d abandon ship for her standard bowl of fresh unsweetened yogurt.

I found her minimalist choice earth-shatteringly boring! 

Why would you eat a bowl of bland white goo when ghee-shakkar and makhni roti were up for grabs? Really, why?

Well, now that I’m older and smarter and have serious acid reflux issues, I’ll tell you why. 

June 6, 2016

The Trump Card: Pakistan Gets Real About The Donald

American Flag Bald Eagle Image Credit: http://guff.com/20-bald-eagles-who-love-america






UPDATE November 9, 2016: Fittay moo, America!

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, a bigoted billionaire with terrible hair ran for president. He was arrogant, he was brash, and, amongst racists and right-wingers, he was all the rage.

At the same time, in another land, a land not so far way, a land far superior in its grace and piety, where molestation was a myth, and God’s wrath was predicted by fashion, and actors doubled as the moral police, the powers that be tut-tutted.

"Only in America," they sighed. 

And so they sat down to do what they did best; pen a heartfelt white-paper to this lost nation.

“ Dear Infidels,

Hello from the other side. We must have called a thousand times. To you tell that, under normal circumstances, we'd laugh at that circus you're running on your side of the pond, say lakh laanat, and be on our way, but not this time. This time, you've got us worried. Hello? Presidential election? That clown you’re actually calling your Republican nominee? Dekho, sachi baat hai, it's not like we're affected by your politics or anything, but have you ever asked yourself, log kya kahein gay?

Or have you forgotten those eight glorious years of Bush buffoonery? 

Khair, we're not going to be petty and dig up dirt from the past — some secrets will go with us to the Abu-Grave — but, really, at this point we think chaddi buddies like us owe each other complete honesty. 

It's worked so well all those other times. You know, like after 9/11 when we flipped you the bird and refused to be sucked in that War on Terror debacle.

Chalo, mitti pao, everyone makes mistakes. You more than others, but who's counting, right? Good news is, there’s still time to do the right thing, gentlemen. The exact same thing we would do if we were in your place (not that that would ever happen). Just take ownership of your bumbling behavior and be ready to make some big changes. 

Or find a General who's up to the task. 

LOL, just kidding. Military interventions are soooo 1997.

All you really need a nudge in the right direction. Perhaps, a vision. Maybe even a game-plan. Or, like, maybe, you just need us…and our unsolicited words of wisdom.

February 16, 2016

The LAHORE EAT Survival Guide: 12 Genius Tips For Braving The City's Biggest Food Festival


In case you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t heard, the biggest, craziest, most fantastical food festival this city has ever seen is set to kick off in 10 days! The Lahore Eat Food Festival is the highly anticipated off-shoot of Karachi Eat, a much hyped and wildly popular three-day event showcasing the city's finest in food and dining. And for the past three years, it's had Karachiites raving about the fun, casual atmosphere and how awesome it is to have Karachi's most popular eateries all in one place. 

I feel you, Karachi. Who doesn’t want to spend a weekend soaking up the sun and snacking up a storm?

Now, FINALLY, shukaralhamdulilah, us khaata-peeta Lahoris are about to get a taste of what's kept Karachi captivated.

Just one the thing, though. If you’ve ever attended a large-scale festival you probably know that things can get kinda crazy if you’re not prepped before the party gets going. Fortunately for you guys, Hunger & Haw Hai’s slapped together some genius tips and tricks for braving the city’s hottest food festival and having some serious pee-in-your-pants fun while you’re there. 

February 4, 2016

Why 2016 Is The Year Of No Regrets + Roasted Beet, Orange, & Shaved Onion Salad



So now that we're all comfortably into the new year, I have a question. Do you guys do New Year’s resolutions? Personally, even though I’ve played with the idea in past, I’ve always remained a little iffy about self-improvement schemes. Last year, though? Total game-changer. Very pregnant and very determined to avoid another round of postpartum depression, I silently made a vow — no more perfectionism. No more obsessing over inane details. No more “everything needs to be just right or my entire existence is worth pigeon poop”. 

Do you have any idea what decades of that drama does to you? It turns you into an A-grade indecisive procrastinator, paralyzed by the fear of making mistakes. So, I was going to try and spend less time stressing, more time getting things done, and be a little kinder to myself when shit happened.  

Long story short: nailed it. 

You guys! I think I might actually be adulting!

Khair, now, obviously, I’m all gung-ho about this whole goal-oriented personal-growth thing, so I’ve kicked the year off with another oath...

December 25, 2015

Happy Holidays: Spiced Gingerbread Cupcakes with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting


Is it just me or is the holiday season absolutely lovely. The cheer, the festive feels, the food — oh my God, the food! That’s what it’s all about, right? Peace, love, and obscene gluttony? Really, forget the formalities, just lead me to your table, and I’ll take it from there. 

Pro tip: the larger the spread, the better. Don’t worry. I’m wearing my Joey pants. 

Of course, because holiday feasting is all about abundance, all that cooking and prepping can get overwhelming, so I always encourage hosts to divvy up the workload. Asking friends and family to pitch in will give you a much needed break from the mayhem and it’s a great way to get everyone into the spirit of giving. 

All it requires is a little bit of pre-planning, but once those appetizers, and salads, and sides, or, for the ambitious ones in your group, mains and desserts, have been assigned, you’re on the highway to a happy holiday.

And in case you’re not hosting, offer to lend a hand. Do good, feel good, and all that jazz. 

Personally, I like sticking to the savory side of the menu — I suck at the sorcery that is dessert-making — but I’ve copped out of bringing something sweet to the table for so long, I’m convinced my luck’s about to run out soon. In anticipation of this crisis, I dug up and tweaked a super Christmas-y recipe I scored off petite patissier, Muneeze Khalid, a couple of years ago. Hopefully, these cupcakes should keep any confectionary fiasco from unfolding.

December 7, 2015

Getting Serious With Saad Haroon...Sort Of + Salted Caramel Popcorn

For tickets and details , hit up Don’t Jealous Jaani, My Heart is Pakistani on Facebook. 




You know what kind of people I love? Funny people. Yes, I know. The smart ones are pretty amaze too, but just hear me out. I fangirl over a killer sense of humor the way I imagine tweens do over Zayn Malik because, plot twist, the hilarious ones are usually razor sharp. 

How do I know?

Because I spent the summer reading memoirs by some of my favorite comedians — Tina Fey, Mindy Kaling, Amy Poehler, you are goddesses — and I’m convinced that even The Oracle and Paulo Coelho’s love-spawn wouldn’t have shit on these women. 

You won’t find a lot of wreck-your-soul-and-slave-to-rebuild-it style drama in these books. But what you will find plenty of are endearing, bare-naked anecdotes speaking the honest-to-goodness truth that life is awkward, and we’re all awkward, but the struggle doesn’t have to be so real — just stop taking yourself so seriously.

That’s the thing with great comedy, right? It’s relatable. And that is Saad Haroon in a nutshell. Talking to Pakistan’s funniest funny man is like chatting with an old friend. Comfortable. Easy. Unaffected. 


Bonus: his jokes are cracking, his gestures are all-over-the-place wild, and his eyebrows are totally on fleek.

You might know Saad as the creator of the super funny and wildly successful improv comedy troupe, BlackFish, or as the creator and host of Pakistan’s first satirical news show, The Real News. More recently, though, he’s been killing it overseas, winning the title of the 2nd Funniest Person In The World at The Laugh Factory in Hollywood and performing sold out shows around the world.

Now, he’s back on home turf with his side-splitting stand-up tour, Don’t Jealous Jaani, My Heart is Pakistani, so I caught up with him for a quick tête-à-tête .

It started out with polite predictability. “Hi.” “How are you?” “Thank you.” “No, thank you.” “No, seriously, thank you.” But a quick mention that we’re recording the interview and, suddenly, there he is. Saad Haroon, in all his hysterically comical glory, primping and pouting into the camera, fluffing his hair, pointing out how fabulous his imaginary “nude” lipstick looks. 

Ladies and gentleman, it’s show time!

November 25, 2015

How To Take Better Food Photos: 5 Simple Secrets


As much as it flatters me when I get emails asking for advice about food photography, I rarely have a good response. I don’t think of myself as a real photographer, I never learned accepted techniques. If you like my photos, you’ll probably agree you can get far without this information, though I suspect you could get further with it.”  Taha Ahmed, Ace Instagrammer 

Do you take pictures of your food? Is it impossible for you to dig into meal without a photo or two? Do you drool over those gorgeous, splashy images that are all over Instagram? Ever wished you could take such mouthwatering shots? 

Me too!

For most of us, our photography skills are a perpetual work in progress and I, for one, am always looking for pointers to up my food photo game. This time, I stalked, ace Instgrammer, Taha Ahmed, and asked him for his top tip and tricks. 

BTW, even though he doesn’t exclusively photograph edibles, Taha’s images are so clean and beautifully composed, it’s easy to fangirl over his feed. In other words, in case you haven’t had a chance to check out his work, do it now!

Taha's Instagram feed is to die for and definitely worth following!
To demonstrate the difference his advice makes, I used my iPhone 6 to take before and after photos using each of his suggestions. The results speak for themselves. 

So, let’s get started!

November 12, 2015

11 Legit Life Lessons From My Mother + Garlic & Herb Marinated Mozzarella Bites


To my mother: Some women are born to shine. Others are born to blind you with their brilliance. I love you. 
Once you have kids, there are a couple of things you realize very quickly. 

Some are rickety cliches, but mostly true. There is no such thing as “alone time”. You’ll be astounded by your own capacity to love. Your children are your greatest strength and your greatest weakness.

Others realities are a little more esoteric. You know. Like that overwhelming impulse to try and instill 7.2 billion nuggets of earth-shattering wisdom into those little sponge-like minds before they venture out into this wild and crazy world because you’re determined to equip your babies with everything they’ll need to know in order to tackle the pain in the ass that is adult life.

The struggle is real, people. 

My mom insists I’m overthinking things. 

Easy for her to say. 

When it comes to imparting the secrets of life, she’s like some sort of Shaolin monk. Totally fierce,totally slick. Her “you move, you die” look is on point and her “doing trumps saying” game is seriously strong. 

In other words, she’s almost never had to verbalize any of these rules. Instead, she’s quietly lived by them, silently allowing us to choose between f*cking up or following suit. 

That’s some mad power, yo! You can read more about her championship-winning child-rearing skills here

Meanwhile, here are 11 of the most life-altering lessons she’s taught me. 

October 28, 2015

Pomegranate Studded Cheese Ball With Crispy Sage & Nuts


I don't know about you guys, but I love the elaborate events…as long as I’m not the one hosting. When in charge of the festivities, though,I prefer the sophistication of simplicity. Six friends, comfy couches, small plates; slam-dunk! But a celebration does call for a bit a bang and a whole lot of indulgence.

This pomegranate-studded cheese-ball hits the mark on all counts and is dressed to totally impress. Plus, it’s a delicious way to be a knock-out host. Tart, sweet, ruby red pearls of pomegranate encase a sublime combination of tangy, creamy cheese, nutty sage-infused butter, and slivers of crunchy toasted almonds. Heaven, I tell you!

So the next time you pull out your cheese platter, remember to think beyond the wedge.


Ingredients
2 tablespoons butter
10 fresh sage leaves (or other herbs of your choice)
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
4 ounces mascarpone cheese**, softened
6 ounces freshly grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup slivered, toasted almonds (or other nuts of your choice)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup fresh pomegranate seeds
Crudités, crackers, nuts for serving
** Mascarpone Cheese Substitute: If you can’t find mascarpone cheese, substitute by combining 8 ounces cream cheese, 1/4 cup cream, and 2 1/2 tablespoons sour cream. 

Directions
Over a medium heat, melt the butter in a frying pan and when it starts to sizzle, add the sage leaves, frying until the sage is crispy. It takes about a minute per side and be sure to flip the leaves for even cooking.Remove the sage leaves from the pan and drain on a paper napkin to crisp them up. Reserve the butter.

In a large bowl, add the softened cream cheese, mascarpone, and cheddar and beat with an electric mixer until combined. 

Add the nuts, crispy sage leaves, reserved butter, salt, and pepper, mixing on a low speed until just combined. Over-beating can result in a light, airy mixture that’s too soft to shape into a ball.

Empty the contents of the bowl onto a sheet of cling wrap and slowly begin to pull up the corners of the plastic, gently pushing the mixture into the center to shape it into a ball. Don’t worry if the shape doesn’t look perfect. Stick it in the fridge for 30 to 45 minutes to firm the cheese up a little and then reshape for a smoother, rounder ball. 

While you’re waiting, spread the pomegranate seeds in a single layer on a paper napkin to drain the excess juices. Skipping this step is tempting, but it can result in unsightly red liquid dripping and staining the cheese and your platter. 

Remove the cheese-ball from the fridge and retouch the shape if needed. Then roll the ball around in the pomegranate seeds, gently pressing them into the cheese to make sure they stick. Then use the remaining pomegranate to fill in any cracks and crevices. 

Serve with crackers and crudités. 

October 15, 2015

Food Blogging 101: The 13 Dos & Don'ts You Need To Know

With Hunger & Haw Hai's third birthday is coming up next month, it’s been a few years into blogging now, and after poring over stacks of books, researching endlessly for advice, following a legion of food blogs, freelancing for a couple of publications, and keeping Hunger & Haw Hai afloat, I’m still nowhere near tech-ninja status, but I’ve definitely learned a thing or two along the way.

It hasn’t all been useful or practical or easy to decipher — damn you, Javascript. And plenty of it has just been plain redundant and vague — “write great content” — why thank you, Captain Obvious. But there are a couple of pointers that I’ve found indispensable as I fumbled my way through. 

I love these tips for a couple of reasons.

For one, they apply whether you’re a rookie or a food blogging savant. Plus, these guidelines  as just as effective at getting you started as they are at keeping you going. And, finally, because  I find myself referring to them over and over again when I need direction.

I’m not going to bore you with the basics. 

If you’re reading this, you probably already understand the importance of your blog’s visual appeal, and you get that posting regularly keeps readers engaged, and you know the struggle of precisely angling that fork to get the perfect photo. 

Instead, I’m going chalk out what’s worked for me.

September 29, 2015

The Moment of Truth : And The Winners Are...

When I started planning The Outrageous Eid Giveaway, I just thought it’d be a fun way to bounce back from my blogging break. Besides, Eid was around the corner and I’ve had such a warm welcome back that I needed to show you guys some love too. 

Actually, scratch that. 

I wanted to show you some BIG LAHV and, so, what began as an idea for a one single giveaway, with one single sponsor, and one single prize, sort of snowballed, taking on a life of its own.

I was hell-bent on handpicking my sponsors, only wanting to include places and products that I absolutely adore and would personally endorse. Well, thanks to my superior stalking skills, relentless stubbornness, luck, and, of course, the incredible generosity of all my amazing sponsors, what I ended up with was a mix of the hottest hangouts, most exciting eateries, and some of the most gorgeous tableware between Lahore, Karachi, and Islamabad. 

Several weeks of burning the midnight oil and running around like a headless chicken —totally worth it.

I knew it’d be exciting, I hoped you’d be enthusiastic, and, God, you all killed it!

With close to 1000 entries flooding Hunger & Haw Hai’s Instagram account and Facebook page over the past two weeks, The Outrageous Eid Giveaway truly was outrageous, and I hope you enjoyed the rollercoaster ride as much as I did. 

Finally, thank you, thank you, thank you, from the bottom of my angsty little heart, for being a part of it all. Thank you for all the love. Thank you for tuning in.

And now, the moment of truth…

Drum roll, please.
Congratulations to all the super duper lucky winners of The Outrageous Eid Giveaway! Enjoy those outrageous prizes!

Toodles, kittens.

xoxo

September 28, 2015

The Poached Pear: Getting Creative In The Kitchen

ADDRESS: Coming Soon (Karachi, By Order Only)
PHONE:0331-7327333
You can also find The Poached Pear on Facebook



Last year, I was lucky enough to swing by the legendary Dominique Ansel Bakery in SoHo, New York — birthplace of the cronut and home to some of the most modern takes on classic desserts in the world — the experience was magical. But it isn’t just a novelty confection or a fun twist on some oldies that gives this bakery its edge. 

Behind the counters of the tiny open-kitchen, a team of intensely involved and creatively talented bakers and pastry chefs are constantly pushing boundaries to create delectable new knock-outs to keep customers coming back. 

That’s the real secret to Dominique Ansel’s success.

Sorry, Magnolia, you’ve been banking on those cupcakes for 15 years. Change it up.

The Poached Pear launched it’s experimental kitchen in Karachi last year and, since then, there’s been no looking back for Masala TV star and owner, Chef Yasha Siddiqi.  Relying heavily on customer feedback, the team at The Poached Pear is well-known for endlessly tweaking and refining recipes, creating a careful selection of sumptuous, mouth-watering desserts that fly off the shelves. 

The Fresh Fruit Pavlova, clouds of perfectly soft, chewy meringue, generous dollops of whipped cream, crowned with gorgeous seasonal fruit, is their best-seller, the rich Belgian chocolate and salted caramel tart is to die for, and their recently introduced brownies with mint white chocolate sound totally tempting. 

In fact, The Poached Pear has been such a hit that what was Initially launched as an order-based service is now expanding into their first full-service brick-and-mortar bakery location, slated to open soon.

Looks like someone’s killing it with their dessert-game.

For your chance to WIN a decadent signature Banoffee Pavlova from The Poached Pear*, don’t forget to enter The Outrageous Eid Giveaway, happening on Facebook. Giveaway closes Friday, 25 September 2015 at 11:59 pm (PST). Open to residents of Karachi only.

*Prize generously sponsored by The Poached Pear.

THE POACHED PEAR
ADDRESS: Coming Soon (Karachi, By Order Only)
PHONE:0331-7327333
You can also find The Poached Pear on Facebook