Memories of Grandad & rice pudding (with a mango twist)

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We’re going away for the weekend to what has been dubbed the wedding of the century. My parents are in some way responsible for the union, and now, after three successful matches under their belt, they’re convinced they’re experts on love.

Their attempts to play cupid with their own daughter, however, have been slow and unsuccessful – and a little annoying. Whilst bachelor X may be good enough for person Y’s daughter, he’ll require a great deal more vetting, a strenuous grilling, and a very thorough (read: invasive) background check, before he’s approved for me. And that’s just Stage 1.
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Easy Chocolate Mousse Recipe for Ramadan or Eid

Eds. Note: What a delicious way to complete Ramadan or welcome Eid!

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After spending 10 days away being utterly spoiled by my Aunt and having the best time of my life, I’ve found myself struggling just a little bit to return to real life. It feels great to be home and back in my own bed, and not drinking out of a plastic water bottle no one will ever recycle, or walking around sweaty-faced with a drink held to my face, or getting sand in my shoes everywhere I go, or constantly fearing I didn’t apply enough SPF 50 to protect me from the 50C heat.

Hah, now that I’ve got all the not-so-great stuff about my trip out of the way I can focus on all the incredible moments, and there were lots and lots of those. But before all that I should probably sort out the strange sleeping pattern I have adopted after my time away. It’s the beautiful month of Ramadan and I’ll be fasting from approximately 2:30am till 9:20pm. I plan to take it easy for the next couple of weeks before I begin my new career (GAH SO SCARY), go back to dressing like an adult, and have to set my alarm clock the night before.

Speaking of taking it easy, this chocolate mousse is just that: easy and effortless but so gloriously satisfying. I used milk chocolate because it was the only type I had at hand, but feel free to opt for dark and play around with the toppings.

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Ice Cream for Suhoor

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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.

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My Mother’s Minced Lamb

Nazia

Nazia

I finally dealt with what could have easily passed as a birds nest on my head and got my hair cut a couple weeks ago. I can just about tie it back, but spend the first few seconds of wakefulness running my hands around my side of the bed in the dark trying to find my hair-tie. I can no longer tie it into a bun, but it hasn’t deterred Saira from experimenting with different styles.

My Mother has always been a fan of shorter hairstyles but has never thought she could it pull it off. I don’t think she’s ever had her hair done at a salon, except maybe for her own wedding, and even then I’m not too sure. I remember getting ready at a salon for a relatives wedding 10 years ago and my Mother insisted they leave her hair alone, but would they mind touching up her make-up? She has always trimmed her own hair, and before I reached an age when I could walk over to a salon and pay professionals, I would let her loose on mine too, and let her work her magic. I never did have the heart to tell her I hated my new hair, because hair grows back. Besides, it was the 90s and hats were really in.

For as long as I have known my Mother (23 years and counting) she has worn her hair in the exact same style every single day. And not only has she worn the same style, she has worn the same 2 hair clips, in the exact same position on her head. She even sleeps with the hairclips in her hair, only taking them out when brushing her hair in the morning before snapping them back in place a few seconds later. I’m pretty sure she takes them off in the shower though.

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Just Say Yes + Chocolate & Caramel Samosa Recipe

Chocolate & Caramel Samosa

Chocolate & Caramel Samosa

Now that I’ve managed to sit through my very first scary movie without wetting myself, I’m feeling pretty brave, and dare I say, excited for another. It’s the first time in my life where I’m actually looking forward to watching a scary movie as opposed to digging my heels in with a big fat no. Hey, look at me – all grown up.

In case you’re wondering, the movie was The Conjuring. I’m not saying I’m suddenly into scary movies, but I kind of feel cheated by the experience. All that build up and it just falls flat like that? I waited 10 years! But, if I hadn’t watched the movie, then I never would have discovered there was actually nothing to be afraid of. I would probably have continued avoiding them for another 10 years … thanks, Edward Scissorhands. Yeah, I know, they’re just movies. Humour me. I’m now turning to good old Wikipedia for a reliable and much scarier alternative.

I’m the kind of person who will try anything once, which probably explains why my bucket list is so long. I think it’s important to welcome new experiences and try different things otherwise you’ll never know how you really feel about them, or the ways they may change you and your life. You could spend 10 years thinking you would absolutely hate pottery classes, only to give it a go one day and decide it’s actually pretty fun. And, hey, don’t them sunflowers look just great in your lopsided vase on the mantle like that? Also, I just added pottery classes to my list. Does anyone want to come with me for lopsided bowls and a mud fight? Other things on my list range from hot air balloon rides, cycling through Amsterdam and horse riding, to things like camping, learning to ride a bike, and trying marmite. 

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Love has no respect for questionnaires + Sticky Toffee Pudding Recipe

Nazia

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.

Let’s see…

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Engagement Party Vanilla Cupcakes + Big News + My Love Life

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!

Nazia

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.

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