Virsa – a culinary journey from Agra to Karachi by Shehar Bano Rizvi

When Shehar Bano came over to my house for the very first time about seven years ago, she brought me two cookbooks. One of the books was ‘The Great British Bake Off’ and the other was a recipe book for ‘Sweets & Hard Candy‘. I instantly thought that was such a lovely and personable hostess present, as she knew I was fond of cooking. However, little did I know a few years later I would be holding Shehar Bano’s very own authored cookbook in my hands!

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The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi


Set in the 1950’s in Jaipur, The Henna Artist, follows the story of 18 year old Lakshmi who has escaped an abusive marriage, left her village and parents to start an independent life for herself. With time, she becomes the most sought after henna artist and confidante to the city’s most notable and wealthy families. Alongside her talent for applying beautiful henna designs, Lakshmi provides herbal remedies as well. As she moves in these circles, she must be careful with keeping their secrets safe and protecting her own reputation.
She is stunned one day, when her husband has tracked her down after many years and shows up with a young girl, Radha- Lakshmi’s sister, who she has never met.

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The Family Tree by Sairish Hussain

The Family Tree is Sairish Hussain‘s debut novel that follows the life of a British Pakistani family settled in Bradford, UK. The story begins when Amjad’s wife Neelam dies during childbirth leaving Amjad to care for his 10 year old son Saahil and his newborn Zahra. In his home, he is supported by his mother, Ammi, who is a caring and nurturing grandmother to the children. Amjad’s very close friends Harun and his wife Meana are just the support system Amjad needs and their son Ehsaan becomes like a brother to Saahil.


A few years later Saahil and his best friend Ehsaan are celebrating the end of university, filled with hopes and dreams, when an incident changes their lives forever. Meanwhile, Zahra has grown up to be someone who wants to voice her political opinions, and raise her concerns against injustice and pursue her dreams and aspirations.

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Book Lists for Raising Readers


After penning down my post on how to raise a reader, which explained how you can cultivate the love of reading in your children, I had promised a post on where to find books for your child. Often we go to bookstores, are browsing online, or are at the library, but we don’t know which books to pick up for our children. Here are some resources that you can check before heading there, so you know what to look out for.

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Thai Chicken Basil Stir Fry


If you are a fan of red thai curry, then this stir fry loaded with veggies is sure to be a winner in your home! The sauce of this stir fry is a concentrated version of a red curry with flavors of coconut cream shining through. You can add ay combination of veggies you like, though I do think these ones go really well together. This is a one pan (wok) meal! There is no separate frying or boiling required, and it literally comes together as a complete meal in one pan. I highly recommend you try this one out, because it is a favorite of mine!
If you like you can pair this with noodles or white jasmine rice, but we like to eat it as it is.
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Lemon Bars


Lemon Bars are such a quintessential summer dessert! Perfect to have at picnics, brunches, bake sales, bridal showers or just paired with a nice cup of evening tea. The key to a good lemon bar is using fresh lemon juice. I can’t stress that enough. It really brings out the flavor and is totally worth it.
For this recipe, I’ve made a buttery shortbread crust and the filling is double in size because I personally like more filling on top. However, if you prefer less lemon filling, bake this in a 9 x 13 glass pan and it will be perfect for you.

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Grilled Halloumi & Mint Salad


Grilled Halloumi is probably one of my favorite snacks to eat either on it’s own or paired with a salad. This cheese is similar to feta, as it is more on the salty side, but once grilled is probably the only one that holds it shape well – making it perfect for grilling.
In this salad, I have paired it with some of my favorite ingredients.
Candied Pecansthe sweetness of which perfectly offsets with the salty halloumi
Pickled OnionsRaw onions can be overpowering, so this is a great alternate
Berries and PomegranateStrawberries, Raspberries, Cherries – all work well here
Fresh MintThis just brings out the freshness in the salad!

The dressing is a basic mustard vinaigrette that doesn’t overpower, because you want the flavors of the salad to come through !

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Chocolate Caramel Cookie Bars


Best served warm, these chocolate caramel cookie bars are the perfect combination of chocolate and caramel. I use a little cheat with the caramel inside by layering Rolo candies that are chocolate covered caramel pieces of heaven!!

I find cookie bars so much easier than actual cookies, because they bake all in one pan!

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Baked Salmon Grazing Board


Grazing boards have come a long way and have become popular for both hosting parties, or just to have at home with your family. The versatility of grazing boards allows you to cater to many tastes and you can assemble it with what you have on hand.
For our family, it works great because the kids can pick and choose the veggies they like and plate it up as they like.For meals at home, I try to keep a good lean protein, colorful nutritious vegetables, assorted condiments, and some variety of bread.

I thought I’d share our family favorite salmon recipe along with some sides that help make this a complete meal.

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