My wardrobe is not properly equipped for hot weather, but what is the proper attire for desert adventures and camel-back riding? I booked my ticket to Dubai last week on an impulse and everyone who knows me is busy LOLOLOLing because I can barely handle an English summer … what will I do in Dubai?? I don’t want to imagine the struggle.
But after the year I’ve had I felt as though I deserved a break, and after my Aunt made a week-long surprise visit home last week I needed very little persuasion to join her there in June. My cousin will be joining me – we’re both nervous fliers and don’t do well in confined spaces, nor can we sleep whilst travelling. Our 8-hour flight will be interesting.
My plans for the next few months can be summarised as follows: Dubai! Ramadan! Summer vacation! New career!!!!!!!!! The blogging goes without saying, of course. And the excessive use of exclamation marks entirely appropriate.
I’ve never been in love but I’m pretty sure finding my perfect match will not be as easy as filling in a compatibility questionnaire.
Still, I went ahead and filled in my answers to Don Tillman’s questions at the end of the novel The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. You know, just for fun. It consisted of 24 questions and, according to Don, should have taken me no longer than 7 minutes and 9 seconds. Unless I didn’t understand a question, in which case I should consider myself ‘unsuitable‘ and not bother at all.
Eds. Note: Please welcome our newest columnist, London-based Nazia, who will be sharing her food column Your Sunny Side Up the third Thursday of every month!
It was just a few short months ago we were dancing at her engagement party, stuffing our faces with these cupcakes, and later indulging in a midnight feast of pizza and cookie dough (what wedding diet?). Fast forward a few weeks and we’re walking her down the aisle dressed in white to start the next chapter of her life. And now my beautiful (I-can’t-believe-how-grown-up-she-is!) little cousin-sister is expecting a baby(!!!), and I could just burst with joy for her. She is going to be an amazing mother. Naturally, I am so excited to take on the role of baby’s uber cool and fun aunt, who bakes shit and enjoys life.
She made the most beautiful bride. For privacy reasons I can’t share pictures, but just take my word for it. The wedding was small and intimate with just the closest of friends and family. My Granddad flew back to London especially for the wedding, to watch the first of his 21 grandchildren get married (if he keeps that up for the next 20 grandkids then his air miles are going to be insane!). It was the first wedding in our family in 10 years and it was pretty damn special.
So often Asian weddings are not about the happy couple. Instead, it turns into a matchmaking event where the focus is on all the singletons in the room, followed by an excited phone call the next morning from an ‘auntie‘ who noticed that “so-and-so looked beautiful” and wouldn’t she make a great match for her neighbour’s friend’s second cousin? As the eldest granddaughter, everyone automatically assumed I would be first in line to get married. That’s just the way it works in Asian circles. There were probably a few surprised faces when people learned it was actually my cousin (who is three years younger than me) who walked down the aisle first.
It’s a rare experience in our adult lives for us to think, “Oh, I’ve never had this food before!” But the childhood memories I have of that novel sensation survive for good reason.
I remember the first time I tried popcorn. I didn’t like it much so I fed it to the fish in the lake. I also remember the sweet, tangy sensation of my first sip of lemonade. But neither of these compares to the first time I tried the best breakfast food known to humans: Pancakes.
I know it sounds ridiculous, but I didn’t have pancakes until I was four-years-old. Seriously. My family emigrated from India to the US around that time and prior to that, breakfast food had simply meant eggs with toast, cereal, or aloo puri.
Amman, Jordan – 1998
I joined my family in the dining room, noticing immediately that there were no chairs at the table. Where did they go?
Pondering, I became distracted by the center of the dining table, mesmerized by a massive, round dish, called sider, towering with rice and lamb. It was time to feast. Everyone took their spots surrounding the sider, waiting to begin.
Standing next to my father, I asked him where all the plates and cutlery were.
He smiled and said, “We eat mansaf with our hands, habibty.”
I’m a foodie. I’ll admit it. I shamelessly look up pictures and videos of food on websites like Tastespotting and Instagram. It’s even more thrilling to do it while I’m fasting.
I grew up in a small city in Michigan. Food played an important role in bringing together my mixed family. As a child of an immigrant father from Pakistan and an Irish-Slavanian American mother, my parents imbued me with a passion for food.
I remember picnics as a child on Lake Michigan in Chicago, stuffing spicy, grilled masala chicken into steaming folds of pita bread, while watching my brother play Frisbee with my then-20 year-old uncles who had huge Afros and wore black leather jackets. I remember Mom making Thanksgiving turkey and Ammi Jan frying up the leftovers in MSG to serve with biryani the day after.
My grandmother’s name is Raj Kumari, which means “princess” in English. She has always been in my life and is part of my earliest memories. As a child, I had a habit of stealing butter and ghee from the kitchen, hiding under the table and eating it. My grandmother would walk in; see me eating butter out of the container, smile and say: “You look like Lord Krishna!”
Hands down, she’s the best cook in my entire family, and because of her we grew up eating great Punjabi food. Saag, muttar paneer, kheer, aloo paratha, gajjar ka halwa – ask for it, and my grandma can make it.
I’m now “of age”, so she is teaching me to cook and training me to become “a good Punjabi wife.” I use that phrase jokingly, but if I’m honest, it fills me with a sense of dread. I’ve grown up with an unusual family dynamic: my mother abandoned us eight years ago and my grandma stepped in to help bring up my younger brother and me. Many South Asians don’t understand our family set up and have often judged us quite harshly. I remember being told: “You’ll end up on welfare because your family is broken.” I never felt like my family was broken. My grandma was the glue that kept us all together.