Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Extracurricular activities: the way to succeed beyond the classroom

Extracurricular activities: the way to succeed beyond the classroom

Students are expected to study. But successful students are expected to be all-rounders. They manage academics and extracurricular activities equally well and the balance helps them grow into accomplished individuals. But why, you may ask? The answer is that extracurricular activities for students are not just a change from traditional classroom learning but a lesson in itself irrespective of the level of students. Be it high school students or university students, activities beyond the classroom give students the platform to practice their learning.

While young children find activities like theatre and performance attractive ways to have fun outside the classroom, older students find it extremely encouraging to flaunt their confidence. This is also true for students who otherwise feel pressured in the classroom or are unable to stand out. Extracurricular activities become the voice of these students and a way for them to be noticed among their colleagues and teachers.

The advantages of such an exposure are quite obvious. Students learn to do what they will do in real life. As adults know, most real life situations don’t involve sitting and listening to teachers for extended hours. They involve speaking, writing, performing, basically being active. And extracurricular activities give young people the opportunity to do just that.

Today, young people find solace in technology inside and outside the classroom, both. Thus, the need to promote healthy extracurricular activities has become more pressing. The merits of technology for students are well-established but they should not replace the role of physical activity or exploring their interests in students’ life. Sports and creative activities can in fact facilitate students in learning more about themselves.

To facilitate their children’s participation and strength in extracurricular activities parents are always on the hunt for nutritious supplement. In this regard, I have trusted Horlicks throughout raising my daughter for a boost of nutrition along with her meals.  It is easy to forgo nutritious food and get caught up in demanding academic schedules. On top of this when students get involved in extracurricular activities they find it difficult to remain on schedule and end up having health problems. Including Horlicks in their diet, which has become synonymous with a nutrition enhancer for school going children, will supplement the vitals they are missing in their food. It is also difficult to introduce new products to children’s diet as they are picky about taste but the fact that Horlicks is available in flavors like Malt and Chocolate becomes an incentive for children to consume it.

I have fond memories of sharing Horlicks with my little one all through her early years. As I return back from office exhausted, I would quickly stir some Horlicks with milk in a big mug for both of us and we enjoyed while she is settled on my lap. All refreshed to catch up on family time later the evening.

Extracurricular activities have strong ties with academics if schools and colleges develop them in a certain way and parents encourage children to be a part of them. These ties not only help in personal development but have direct links to how careers unfold. Culturally we place a lot of responsibility on young people’s shoulders to get A’s and top the class but we also need to extend our goals and advice to students to join as many extracurricular activities as they can manage so they are better adapted to the world. Instead of stressing on reproducing exact knowledge we need to make them adept at applying that knowledge in the work they do, in their daily lives and personal interactions. This will ensure we have all-rounded practical individuals as part of Pakistan’s future and not robots programmed to just know everything. 

This blog is sponsored by Horlicks

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Good Things Come in Small Packages

Wasabi Prawns

Wanted a quick bite but filling and healthy before a flight, not knowing when I will get next meal. I prefer taking off with full tummy. I wanted something fast yet real food! So a bunch of us checked in at Chop Chop Wok! And wise decision, it sure did it for me, bringing fond memories of eating out of roadside carts and stands in China, Singapore, Jakarta,  Penang, Manila and many other Pan Asian destinations that I have traveled to. That flavour and aroma of flame smoked stir fried food in wok when cooked on high flame. Ummmmm loved the bowl brimming with goodness. 

Nari Goreng

This tiny place Chop Chop Wok, tucked among the busy market place of Phase-5 Khadda Market-DHA is a small wonder.

I was invited at its opening last summer, but could not go since I was traveling then. Upon my return I made a few attempts at eating here and was mostly disappointed since the place is always full, yes the downside of a 20 odd people sitting capacity serving great food, it is always full. But well got lucky this time and found a table, and this one meal got me hooked to it.

So after so many meals here, it is time to come up with a blog for this go to place for me every time the craving to have asian food strikes. I got hold of the two dynamic young entrepreneurs Salman and Umair, holding degrees from Australia and UK, who own this restaurant.  I have had a wonderful afternoon with them, food talks, dreams, their future plans and great food amidst the drifting aroma from the woks of the open kitchen and leaping flames from the volcano burners. Responding to my complaints of the tiny place, they said they are building a bigger place that will be in operation in a few months time, so waiting and capacity wont be a problem any more. Good news indeed!

Chop Chop Wok is presented to Karachites as a go to spot for quality Asian Cuisine that is cheap and accessible. The overall ambience is very informal, we need not be dressed up, or wait forever, or pay a fortune to be served here, a really grab and go option for healthy meals.   

Just pick a protein from beef, chicken, prawns, eggs or tofu, select a flavor and a staple from the available white or brown rice or pasta, in 6-7 minutes you would get a steaming, delicious and beautifully plated Japanese, Thai, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Pan Asian, Oriental meal.  

Look at the mind blowing variation that has something for everyone.
How fun that is!

Magical wok atop volcano stove create a delicious bowl of Asian Meal in 5-6 minutes

You can see what is been put in your food
Black Pepper Beef with Rice

Thai Beef Salad
3 Step Wok meal
Some of the meals that really stood out for me and are my favourite includes brown rice (a rare to find staple in restaurants) with a combination of 4 proteins in Pan Asian spicy sauce.   
Salman, one of the owners told me they  use prime quality ingredients in  preparing the dishes, and just a couple of spoonfuls of Black Pepper Beef with rice explained that. The beef is totally succulent, fork tender in a thick shiny sauce. Great texture and presentation, every bite is a delight.  Could not agree more when the Executive Chef mentioned that it is one of their hot selling items. 

Don’t know how many bowls of this popular Asian rice dish Nasi Goreng I ate around the world, yet Chop Chop Wok Nasi Goreng will make it to the list of the ones I will always remember. 

Tom Yum Soup

The menu presents a good selection of appetizers, the recently added Wasabi Prawns were excellent. Mildly sweet, with the wasabi kick and tender U/20 size prawns. I ordered Tom Yum soup as well, but naah… that did not work for me, it was very very sour and broth based, I always go for the creamy version of Tom Yum, but others on the table liked it though. 

On many subsequent visits the past few weeks I tried Thai Curries that were served freshly prepared with distinct aroma of well blended thai herbs, all home made sauces that does not have glutamate, crunchy fresh vegetable and chicken tenders served with jasmine rice, I always get request for brown rice in place, which the kitchen staff serve happily and no extra charge.

This wok place is sure a keeper for me.  Good things indeed come in small packages is all I can say to sum 
It all up.

Chop Chop Wok is open  from noon to midnight on weekdays and until 1:00am on weekends. Average cost for a meal for two with fresh juice would be under Rs.1500/=. No reservation required, it is just walk in, and take away.


Blog Writer: Farah Kamal
Photography: Shahrukh Mughal

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Love Nutrilov

A bunch of Nutrilov been sitting on my desk for quiet sometime, it was sent to me for tasting. These are some neatly wrapped and packaged granola bars. Hummm packaged food I am not fond of them, so well they kept sitting there.

However one busy morning, I just grabbed a pack of it in a rush while running to teach a very early morning class at University, yes no time for breakfast, and it is three hours stint, I know I cant go without food, so lets give this baby a try. Checked its label on the way; good! no artificial ingredients or preservative,  wow for 137 calories a bar it is not bad, looks like I am gonna eat it.

Munched on it during the class break and it tasted totally awesome a beautiful blend of nutty, earthy and mildly sweet flavour. The toasted oats, chocolate bits, flaked coconut totally yum, gilt free, healthy and filled me up until 3:00pm, when I got to eat my lunch well that is definitly good mileage.

I decided to do a bit of talking with the enterpreneurs who came up with this idea and of course I wanted to buy more, so were my cousins and friends since I had been bragging about it.

Madiha and her husband with therr passion for healthy food, had hard time like many of us health and fitness freaks finding nutrient rich delicious food easily. They realized that there is a huge market gap for nutrient packed healthy organic food in Pakistan. Most of us either create and cook our own healthy meals and snacks or just eat the available junk. Yes making great granola bar is a speciality with Madiha and with this perfect recipe she tarted baking them to sell, her husband very fondly named it ‘Nutrilov’ and did fabulous branding. This is mainly an online brand https://www.facebook.com/nutrilovpk.

I asked Madiha ‘why Nutrilove when the imported granola bars are on supermarket shelves”? I could not agree with her response, ‘most of these imported brands are laden with sugar and additives’.

 Nutrilov is a wonderful blend of rolled oats, real fruits, nuts, honey and brown sugar. Freshly baked and have good keeping quality, the pack says it is good for 20 days in refrigerator, well mine been sitting on office desk for a month and taste perfectly fresh. I tuck a pack of it in my purse all the time now, specially if I am somewhere where I don’t know when I get my next meal, like traveling, photo expeditions or on fields. Keeps me filled, gives me energy and is nutritious. Love on the go it is.

The brand got an overwhelming response and is a straight hit with whoever tried them. Each bar is priced at Rs. 100, and can be ordered online via Facebook page, also are delivered all over Pakistan. Nutrilov is also stocked at IBA campuses in Karachi, T2F, and are a regular vendor at the Karachi Farmer’s Market.

 Nutrilov is my new love!

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Pan Seared Scallops

  Scallops are listed among one of the healthiest food. A 3-ounce serving of scallops contains only 80 calories from 14 grams of protein, 20 percent of the daily recommended value for phosphorus and vitamin B-12, 10 percent of the daily value for magnesium and smaller amounts of other essential vitamins and minerals. Scallops also are a source of dietary cholesterol which are good cholesterol.

Here goes my Panseared Scallops with Lemon, Herb brown butter sauce: I have marinated completely defrosted scallops that are patted dry and then lightly rubbed with garlic herb salt, pepper and lemon juice. Pan seared it in very hot skillet with a teaspoon of oil at one side for a minute and then butter for exactly 2 minutes each side basting with the butter from the skillet 


Sauce is made with browned butter, and then sauting minced onion in it followed by stirring some thyme, chopped coriander, lemon juice, salt and pepper in it. 

For side I have cooked quinoa and brown rice with garlic and scallions. To begin with soak a cup of mixed quinoa and brown rice. Now fry slivers of 6-7 garlic cloves in vegetable oil, take the fried garlic keep it aside. Drain the soaked and washed rice quinoa mix and fry them in the same oil for 3-4 minutes until fragrant, now add chicken stalk and some garlic salt, cook until tender but not mushy.

Before serving mix finely chopped scallions and green garlic chives in the rice and top with fried garlic.

Scallops are expensive food, can be cooked for occasional treats and celebrations, definitely the final meal will be much cheaper then what we pay for it in restaurants that has scallops in their fine dining menu.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Oven Roasted Mutton Leg

Roasting a leg or two of the sacrificed animals during Eid-Al-Azha qurbani is a traditional feast for us.

This Eid instead of sending the mutton legs to bakeries and getting them roasted at expensive cost, try roasting them yourself and enjoy delicious spicy mutton leg roast, your family and friends would definitly be impressed with your culinary expertise.

This mutton leg roast recipe is very simple , unique, and can be cooked with very few basic spices yet it is totally juicy from inside and fork tender. It can be marinated ahead of any dinner or party and all you need on the day of feast is to stick it in a pre-heated oven and serve.


Mutton Leg One, (1.5-2Kg)
either remove the shin or cut it deep so it can be bend to fit in average size roasting pan
Freshly squeezed lemon juice- 1/2 cup
Red Chillie Flakes, coarsely ground- 2 tablespoon
Black Pepper fresh coarsely ground- 1 tablespoon
Garlic paste- 2 tablespoon
Garlic cloves- 20-25 peeled
Ginger Paste -2 tablespoon
Sea Salt- 1 tablespoon or to taste
Mustard Oil-1/4 cup 


- Wash and dry the whole mutton leg
- Using a sharp knife to drill holes in the  meaty part of the leg simply by inserting the knife and twisting it
-Keep inserting  whole garlic cloves as you drill these holes, try stuffing as many cloves of garlic as you can, but one per hole.
-Now in a small bowl mix all other spices, oil and lemon juice
-Rub the marinate on the leg ensuring it covers the entire leg specially the meaty part and that some of the spices goes into the holes

 -Cover the marinated meat with a cling film or thin plastic and leave on kitchen counter for 2-3 hours and then refrigerate for at least 48 hours. 

I have also frozen it, it remains perfect for 4-6 weeks.


- Take out the leg one hour before you want to start roasting so it gets back to room temperature
-Transfer the it on a big piece of aluminium foil, cover the leg with  any remaining marination and juices.
- Wrap the foil paper and put in a roasting pan that can hold it

-Pre Heat Oven to 450F or 220C
-  Roast the meat for at least 2 hours
-If you have a meat thermometer use it to test the temperature, it should register 180. Alternatively just take the pan out carefully open the foil from one side use a knife or spoon to check if the meat is tender.
- Now open the foil and roast for another 20minutes or untill the leg becomes brown and crispy from outside.

Serve hot with paratha, chappati or nan, salads and your favourite chutney.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Taste of Home Away from Home

Shan Foods Eid TVC by Showbizbuzz 

"woh maula sab ki sunta hai" the new heart touching TVC of Shan Masala going on viral is simply so wow!! 

This  emotionally intense 3 minutes trip to a world of memories, tears, many skipped heartbeats and nostalgia got over half a million views in less then two days and 35,000 shares.

Coordinating high school student exchanges since 2003, I can totally relate to this TVC. Its not only on Eid that we miss moms cooking and family feast, craving for the taste and flavour from home is part of living abroad specially in countries besides South Asia . 

Shan spices has been an all time life saver and of course help not only to overcome homesickness but also to cook traditional Pakistani dishes for our hosts and colleagues we visit during international travels. This new Shan TVC beutifully reflects the  emotions, love, the family bonding so specific to Pakistani values, and the food memories one associate with home all set with a melodious sufi influenced lyrics as playback ‘maula sab ki sunta hai’.

Cuisine are by all means number one strategy to exchange and experience cultures. Shan spices comes handy for all my exchange students who are teenagers. They cook a Pakistani meal on special occasions like Eids while living with American families and turn their moments home sickness into opportunities to share the rich Pakistani culinary tradition and culture with the natives connecting the world together as they connect with their homes and families .  The cool thing is those delicious Shan spice mix are found in grocery store in almost everywhere in the world where we have even a small number of Pakistani community and a Desi food store. Making us feel home away from home having us enjoy the taste of home and happiness  #KhushiyanChakhLo. 


Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Pranzo-An Epicurean Surprise

I don’t like surprises but this one time pleasantly surprised and loved it to bits when I at random picked this new restaurant ‘Pranzo’ last evening and had truly a dinner night to remember forever. As I was looking for a place to take my daughter for a graduation treat, someone forwarded a Phegency promotional video of this place. I just picked phone and made reservation hardly ever thinking about it, considering it is easy to please kids, lets experiment with the new place.

 Wow it turned out an out of the world experience, the baroque style decor, the dreamy romantic chandeliers, the comfortable table settings,  the huge premises, high ceilings, and various levels and sections of seating including outdoors and indoors, all culminating into a beautiful overall uplifiting ambience that would linger on in our minds long after. Perfect setting for celebrations, unwinding or to just chilling out after a long day with friends and family.

Something I admired about the setting of Pranzo is that guests can have privacy and quiet dining experience even if the restaurant is full. The service is impeccable and the food is of course ravishing. Very few restaurants have such an extensive menu of  mutton dishes, and here we were digging our forks into tender juicy Lamb Shank, a huge rack of BBQ ribs drenched in awesome BBQ sauce, and creamy spinach shrimp pasta that is loaded with lots of medium sized shrimps that are just cooked to right tenderness and not rubbery as often the shrimp  dishes turn up.

Pasta Fettucinni in Spinach Sauce with Shrimps
Beside what we ordered the menu is extensive contained a range of meat dishes including seafood,  chicken, beef, mutton. A delicious selection of pasta and vegetarian entree is seen too. There were some great steaks on the menu too, will try them the next time.

BBQ Lamb Rack

I totally appreciate the generous servings unlike many fine dinning that has a morsel of food sitting at the centre of a huge plate. Yes we Pakistanis like our fine dining plates full, and Pranzo presented us  big plates laden with good sized servings right from salads, appetizers to main courses. All of this luxuries perfectly set amongst great music, looks like they had some international radio channel live streaming playing beautiful jazz that was aired all around on simply fantastic speakers giving the feel  as if there are live music playing somewhere.

The prices are moderate and justified, a three course dinner complete with fresh juices, we paid  5900/= for a dinner for three,  this includes the taxes and service fee/tip as well.

I had been limping with a hurting ankle for a week now, and finally got to unwind laugh and relax at this place. Yes Pranzo fit in my idea of fine dining in every way.

I have no clue when it is opened who conceptualized the idea or are the owners. But whoever it belongs to they  gave a great gift to us Karachiites.

‘Pranzo’! I see myself dining here many more times in the days to come. You are a KEEPER.

Note: These iPhone pictures all clicked in dark definitly did not do justice to the presentation and food we were served. 

Pranzo on Facebook

Location: Clifton-Karachi