Blog Archives

Lal Qila Seafood Festival

Image

So everybody who’s anybody has been to the restaurant Lal Qila at least once. Being a replica of the famous Red Fort of Delhi, the restaurant tries its best to stay true to its name. With dishes bearing names like ‘shahi Batair’ (royal partridge) the place takes you back a century or two into a completely different era.

Recently Lal Qila held a Seafood Festival for all seafood aficionados. Already famous for its jumbo prawns, which diners flock to for large helpings, the entire menu was altered to fit in dishes to go along with the theme.  However some of the usual dishes were also offered.

The manager informed me, that while in the past the restaurant has held a mango and a barbeque festival, this was the first time for seafood and with the positive response it was receiving, they plan on having it again soon.

While on my way to Lal Qila, I had already thought of things I would say to a plateful of jumbo prawns, but kept an open mind (read appetite) for the rest of the menu.

Jumbo Prawns

Jumbo Prawns

Oh and remember the guy usually dressed up as Shahzada Saleem who goes around reciting poetry? In light of the seafood festival, that guy was ‘samandari lutera’ as he called himself. A pirate my friends. He dressed up as Captain Jack Sparrow. Tried really hard to take his picture but couldn’t.

I started off with a Seafood Chowder soup. Light and creamy, the soup had chunks of fish to add to the already delicious taste. Accompanied by the refreshing lemonade I was offered, I was in a food coma, and I had yet to ‘eat’.

Seafood Chowder soup

Seafood Chowder soup

Lahori Fish, Prawn Masala, Methi Prawn, Fish in Honey Sauce, Fried fish, Fried Prawns, Fish Burgers and jumbo Prawns were just some of the names I managed to note down before the gluttony began. I tried out the methi prawns, which were fine, the jumbo prawns, which like always were delectable. However I liked the other fried somewhat sad looking prawns better. The fish in honey sauce with some rice on the side left me wanting more.

Sad looking prawns - my favorite

Sad looking prawns – my favorite

Keeping up with the theme, diners were also given the opportunity to catch their fish live, before it being cooked. I went to try my luck at it, but those clever fishes outsmarted me and went and cluttered in the corner where the net didn’t reach.

Fishing anyone?

Fishing anyone?

Fresh from the "sea"

Fresh from the “sea”

To end the wonderful meal, I indulged in some delicious desserts that were being offered. Gulab Jamun (who can refuse), Gajar ka halwa, a lemon tart, and some jelly (I happen to be a kid at heart). The chocolate crunch kulfi of Lal Qila is my absolute favourite.

Desserts. Perfect way to end a meal.

Desserts. Perfect way to end a meal.

All in all, I had a great time. The food as always was delicious. The service impeccable. I asked for a well lit table and was given one. Placed up on it was a call button which diners can use if they need service. Next time you are stumped when deciding a place for dinner, I would recommend you visit Lal Qila.

Advertisements

The Noodle House – Open for All.

Image

First it was for the Lahoris. This time around, the foodies of Karachi got the treat they deserve when The Noodle House opened its doors to the public from October 1st at PC. The moment I had been waiting for all my life finally arrived. I was invited to attend an exclusive prelaunch event organized by Catalyst PR on September 28th. I was finally a food blogger.

The event in itself was fancy stuff. Red carpet and all. Spotted quite a few people, Humayun Saeed and Tapu Javeri to name a few. Not a fan of the former, so kept my sanity intact. A fan of the latter, yet still managed to remain poised. Looked around to see a person from Vibe TV interviewing the chef. Vibe? Let me assure you, it was still very fancy. Had my awkward pictures taken, with my equally awkward fellow bloggers, mingled a bit until it was finally time to enter.

The noise was the first thing that hit you. Considering how it was a prelaunch, launch you would expect some order. However things were to sum it up, chaotic. Also considering how I was just the blogger, I allowed the servers to take their sweet time in bringing food.

I didn’t get to eat much, but what I did eat was delicious. What turned me off was the plastic fork! I absolutely detest plastic cutlery. I also refuse to eat without a knife. I am someone who eats kulfi with a knife(here’s a picture to prove it) so how can you expect me to eat noodles with just a plastic fork? Ignoring the comments of my fellow bloggers, I managed to eat some, and graciously offered the rest to a friend.

The ambiance was pretty much what you would expect. Lots of plush leather, wooden interior.. oh and much too dark. A live cooking table gives you ample view of your food being cooked so you can be sure, no one’s spitting in your food. All in all a pleasure to visit. Hoping to go back once again now that its open  for all.

What I ate:

A Revival of Craft

Image

There is no shortage of talent in Pakistan. However, there is a serious dearth of recognition. The local artists and the handicrafts industry in the country suffers from the lack of care and genuine interest in the items. Talent, the skill to beautifully craft things is passed down from generations, often getting lost in the process when people are forced to resort to other means for survival.

Adorn – Artisans Development Online Retail Network, is one social enterprise ensuring a proper future for the local artists. The network came into being solely for the purpose of providing support to the artists and promoting their work through social media. This way, a genuine interest in their products is created and a proper channel to market those goods both nationally and internationally is formed. As a result most of earnings and benefits find their way to the pockets of the artists, not the middle dealers.

Adorn partners with various NGOs working in Pakistan particularly with women and children, teaching them valuable skills that can help them run their household. The list of products available by Adorn includes quilts, home accents, children’s bedding and other gift items.

Last week Adorn held an exhibition ‘A Revival of Craft’ featuring the work of the local artists. A number of NGOs participated and displayed their handicrafts. Organizations like Development In Literacy – DIL, SABAH Pakistan, Ra’ana Liaquat Craftsmen’s Colony – RLCC, Indus Resource Centre, Thardeep Rural Development Programme and Aik Hunar Aik Nagar – AHAN.

Once I entered the building, it was like stepping into a completely different world. The wide array of colours left me speechless. The beautiful bags, embroidered clothes, pouches, accessories made my wallet scream in protest. Stalls each bearing the name of the organization proudly exhibited their good and scores of starry eyed women made circles around each buying whatever they could.

My heart set on this gorgeous blue handbag by AHAN, which I unfortunately didn’t buy. But someone in front of me did, and I silently implored them to take care of it.

Creating a proper market for handmade goods which have a demand all over the world is a great way of connecting the artists with their buyers. This way not only do the artists reap maximum benefits for their hard work, the buyers too can be sure of the authenticity of the items they buy. This also is a great way of bringing to light the tremendous potential a country like Pakistan has and can offer if given half the chance.

People interested in viewing these products can either browse through their online store on Facebook page ADORN or visit their website www.adornonline.org.

Lux Style Awards 2012

Image

Being a blogger sure has it perks. I recently enjoyed some of them after being invited to the Lux Style Awards 2012. I was of course the ‘social media’. Such a cool ring the term has to it.

Held at Expo centre Karachi on July 10th 2012, the star studded gala was everything you can think it to be. Over the top, glitzy, glamorous and numerous other adjectives ran through my mind. Being one of the few nerdy bloggers in the sea of ‘cool’ people, yes I thought of adjectives to describe the night later in my blog.

The trophy

While others posed and ‘cheesed’ for pictures, the nerd (me) was busy tweeting about how people posed and ‘cheesed’ for pictures. The Ponds waiting area, a perfect substitute to the play area at other venues kept the guests occupied as hour after hour passed by with no signs of the event starting. People took turns to ‘cheese’ yet again with two golden Ponds women, for whom one couldn’t help but feel sorry after a while.

The Golden Girls

Once the show started everything was forgotten. Ahmad Ali Butt was the host of the show, and pulled off quite a number of well maila jokes at other people’s expense. But of course it’s always funny when it’s about other people so I laughed away. (Did I mention I secretly love him now?)

The awards for the best film, actor and actress without doubt all went to the movie Bol. But that might have to do with the fact that Bol was the only movie made and nominated. End of story.

Recognizing the gems of the industry for the work they dedicated their life to is always heart warming. And the tribute paid to Ahmad Rushdie was no less. After being given the award for lifetime achievement, numerous celebrities grooved onstage to his beats. One of them was Faisal Qureshi. All those times I complained about him being the judge of a dance competition, I take that back. The guy can shake it indeed.

The performance

Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy was also presented with a Special Appreciation Award, which she said meant more to her than the Emmy, since her work for the first time was appreciated at home.

The show had its share of highs and lows. My favourite moment was of course Ahmad Butt ramping it up on stage. The not so favourite moment included Sadia Imam trying to act cute while announcing the winner’s name.

The most awaited moment of the night came when Ali Zafar paid a tribute to the late Mehndi Hassan. His performance of the ever green hit ‘Mujhay Tum Nazr Say Girah Tou Rahay Ho’ will be remembered for a long time to come.

And the award goes to:

Best Film Bol by Shoaib Mansoor
Best Film Actor  Manzar Sehbai for Bol
Best Film Actress Humaima Malik for Bol
Lifetime Achievement Award Ahmed Rushdie
Special Appreciation Award Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy
Best TV Actress  (Terrestrial) Sanam Baloch for ‘Sehra Teri Pyaas’
Best TV Actor (Terrestrial) Noman Ejaz for ‘Aao Kahani Buntay Hain’
Best TV Serial (Terrestrial Tera Pyar Nahi Bhoolay
Best TV Actor (Satellite) Faisal Qureshi for ‘Rog’
Best TV Actress (Satellite) Savera Nadeem for “Qaid-e-Tanhai’
Best TV Serial (Satellite) Mera Saeen
Best TV Writer Sameera Fazal for ‘Mera Naseeb’
Best TV Director Sarmad Khoosat for ‘Paani Jaisa Pyar’
Best Song of the Year ‘Woh Humsafar Tha’ by Quratul Ain Baloch
Best Original Soundtrack Woh Humsafar Tha
Best Music Video Director Adnan Malik for ‘Mera Bichra Yaar’
Best Music Album ‘Jhoom’ by Ali Zafar
Best Emerging Talent Bambu Sauce
Best Emerging Talent in Fashion Zaheer Abbas
Best Fashion Photographer Rizwanul Haq
Best Hair and Make-up Artist Nabila at N-Pro
Achievement in Fashion Design-Pret Kamiar Rokni
Achievement in Fashion Design-Luxury Pret Sania Maskatiya
Achievement in Fashion Design-Lawn Sana Safinaz
Best High Street Brand Khaadi
Best Menswear Designer Omar Farooq @ Republic
Lifetime Achievement Award Faiza Samee
Model of the Year (Female) Cybil Chowdhry
Model of the Year (Male) Abbas Jafri
Best Dressed Red Carpet Male Umair Tabani
Best Dressed Red Carpet Female Sanam Chaudhry

Online Shopping – Confession of an addict!

Image

Ever since I learnt about it, online shopping has become the bane of my existence!  The ease with which one can buy things online is unmatchable. While many people believed that online shopping in Pakistan cannot flourish, the numerous website operating within the country have proven them wrong.

I myself fell a victim to online last month, when a friend introduced me to a website selling high quality branded cosmetics. Going by the name ‘Just4Girls’ http://www.just4girls.pk/ this site is cosmetic heaven.. especially for people like me.

It took some serious effort on my part to make myself push the place order button, but once I did, there was no stopping me. I would add items to cart, fill in the details, but when the time came to place the final order, I always chickened out. But then I saw these gorgeous nail polishes from Beauty UK, being sold by Just4Girls at a discount, and instantly I was onboard.

Wild Child, Matte Top coat by Beauty UK from Just4Girls

I have since purchased four Color Studio Professional nail polishes from them, along with a matte top coat also from Beauty UK. I have also been eyeing the Sally Hansen cuticle remover which they are out of but I signed up to be notified as soon as it’s back in. (Yes you can do that).

Color Studio Professional from Just4Girls

The thing you gotta love most about online shopping is the facility of the things being delivered to your doorstop. You select things you want when you log onto the computer ‘pour passé le temps’. And soon enough they are arrive. The service by Just4Girls was highly satisfying. Providing cash on delivery services, my orders arrived within two days of my placing them.

A regular online shopper Atiya Abbas who hooked me to online shopping thinks online shopping is a great way to get your hands on brands it’s not possible to find in Pakistan. ‘I remember watching videos where people showed products and I thought I would have to make do with cheap and possibly dangerous substitutes available here. Not anymore.’ Here is a snapshot of Atiya’s haul from various online websites. Atiya is a frequent visitor of webpages like Splurge, International Makeup in Pakistan, Beauty Unleashed and Just4Girls.

Owl pendants from Splurge, China Glaze nailpolishes from International Make up in Pakistan, lipsticks from Just4Girls, blush from Beauty Unleashed.

Another customer new on the online shopping scene, Ayesha Ahmad swears by the snake ring she just bought online. A home based enterprise operating on Facebook ‘Dhanak’ sells various female products, from skin care items to jewellery. Branded products like body shop, Nyx, Avon etc are available from the page.

Snake Ring from Dhanak

Numerous pages such as Dhanak operate through Facebook. Pictures of things available through them are uploaded and interested customers can browse through these albums and place orders for what they like. I too purchased this beautiful pendant from Dhanak. However these pages do not offer cash on delivery services and payment has to be deposited in an account number provided by the owners before the products are delivered.

Pendant from Dhanak

I also chanced upon another webpage selling jewellery. Going by the name HAYA, this page is run by another woman entrepreneur. I preordered two necklaces I absolutely fell in with the minute I saw the pictures. Even though I suffer from some weird condition where wearing metal causes my skin to break out with crazy hives and rashes, I was still undeterred from buying these babies!

Necklace from HAYA

Necklace from HAYA

Where so many advantages of online shopping exist, there are also some disadvantages. As Ayesha recounts, she ordered a clutch from one such webpage online. The order was finalised and she deposited the money in the account. However when she received the clutch, she found out the color was brown and not black as she previously thought.

Issues like these will bug you no doubt, but look on the bright side. The birthday of my nephew was around the corner. Everybody gave him toys. I wanted to do something extra. I had recently come across a webpage selling custom made cushions with personalized messages and images. And viola, the idea for the perfect present. I got these lovely cushions made for my niece and nephew. Courtesy RTW Creations. They arrived within a week.

Personalized cushions from RTW Creation

This blog on online shopping cannot be complete without me mentioning my most prized possessions purchased online. Books. Yes. I admit I am a book worm. I have been looking for these everywhere but couldn’t find them. One visit to Liberty Books and delivered to my doorstep!

Books from Liberty Books

One of the coolest t-shirt brands to hit the country, Azad is already making a name for itself. Launched very recently quite a number of people have purchased their shirts. So when I had to buy my brother a present, guess where I headed? Online of course!

Azad T-shirt from IAmAzad

I also managed to get my hands on this Kajal by Rivaj from Eye Love Makeup So dark it is it makes me look like a raccoon! I still love it even though at times it seems I have been punched.

Kajal by Rivaj, Eye love Make up

Most of these pages do charge an additional fee for delivery. However Azad tees delivered through Blue Ex carried no extra charges, with cash on delivery! The is an entire online store available on the webpage with products ranging from tees, to branded lawn from Deepak Perwani all delivered to your house, with no shipping charges. Pay cash once your order is delivered.

All this I purchased in the month of May! Thank God I just got my paycheck. June watch out!

Bear with the poor quality photographs. I am a writer not a photographer!

Shopped anything online? Tell me.