Sunday, July 24, 2005

Shahi Tukra - the South Asian sweet dish

Today when a friend of mine came to my room in the morning (Sunday morning = 1 pm), he offered me the long-promised breakfast of a special bread from a local bakery. He left to get it leaving me to get ready for it. He came moments later to tell that the bakery closes at 12 pm. Now was the big problem of what to have as breakfast. We were both bored of usual breakfasts so wanted to try something new. Then he uttered the magic words "shahi tukray", although he said that we cannot make it as its very tough and involving. Just say "impossible" before me and see what happens. At once came the recipes rolling from Internet. After some consideration, I chose one recipe to be good, and the process began.

We collected stuff and I started preparing the thing. The recipe looked very simple and the end product didn't seem to be promising. Nevertheless, i decided to give it a try. It was prepared, i guess, in half hour since it was my first time with it. After putting it on plate and storing iin refrigerator, we two and two others chit-chatted for a few minutes. Hunger made good of my patience and the dish was taken out of the fridge. It looked beautiful. I tried the firt bit and wow; something extremely unexpected and tasty. It was very heavy (oil, milk, sugar); even then we ate the two plates hurridly. I suggest you try it. The recipe I chose was at:

Recipe - Shahi Tukra:
Bread Slices - 8
Milk - 400 ml
Sugar - 150 gms
Crushed cardamom - 1 tsp
Condensed milk - 100 ml
Fried Cashewnuts - 15 gms
Fried Pista - 15 gms
Khoya (sweet) - 50 gms

1. Remove the crust of the bread and cut into triangles. Deep fry.
2. Boil milk, reduce to half and add sugar and cardamom. Simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from fire.
3. Add condensed milk to the reduced milk and mix well.
4. Arrange the fried bread slices on a tray.
5. Pour the prepared milk over the bread slices and garnish with the chopped, fried nuts.
6. Place in a preheated oven for 3 minutes and serve hot (optional)

Note: This dish can also be served cold. Most use silver paper as garnish. It has been intentionally avoided for better health.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Transport System in Germany

Today i write some about the German transport system, said to be one of the best; and it feels like too. Since the moment i came to Germany. Trains, buses, planes, even cars. The best thing is the train system, which requires a separate post. Buses are not any less. Planes are as cheap as 1 euro (exlcuding airport tax). There are many online services through which you can find out exact routes, timings and stops for trains and buses. There are specific bus stops and the buses don't stop enywhere else. Doors operated only with buttons, ticket punching machine (sometimes the whole ticket-buying machine) located inside and displays showing next stop make the travel very comfortable. Just press one of the many buttons inside to stop the bus at the next bus-stop. Inter city buses are very high with stairs to climb before reaching the seats. Inner city buses usually come in two sizes here. The normal buses and the long-ones.

It was a surprise to see the long buses. It looks like made out of two buses. Remove the rear wall of one bus, remove the front part (including wheels) of the second , join them and walla!! you've got a worm-like bus twisting around on road turnings. Both parts of this bus are joined with flexible spring-alikes in between. So whenever the bus makes a turn, first the front portion turns and when it is half turned only then the second portion starts turning. Like two carriages of a train. People sitting in the front part of the bus disappear from view for a few seconds while turning if we sit in the back portion. Having doubted their stability, i find myself travelling many times on them.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Losing Keys

A friend of mine lost his key chain; again. Its nothing simple to lose keys in Germany. Keys are very difficult and costy to get copied; and worst, each copy has to be registered somewhere with the government. So first he paid to get the lock of his room changed (that's mostly the solution). Then he was directed to check regularly an office in the city where people give items they find on road etc. His keys were not found. The key ring also contained the key to his room in university. So may be they changed that lock as well.

The university also gives a special "transponder" to researchers which is used to unlock doors of the building which contains your room. This way, they can enter their labs or rooms at night or on holidays. This is a blue-tooth device which sends signal to the electronic door lock on every building. Each building has a different lock and hence different transponder. They told my friend that changing of these locks of one building costed them hundreds of euros, though they didn't charge him. He was shocked when he lost the keys the second time, but thanked God when he found them. The first keys are still nowhere to be found.

Friday, July 08, 2005

German Bar-B-Que night & a house on hill

Yesterday my advisor invited everyone in our group to his house for Bar-B-Que (Grill). We all went there in the evening from the university in cars and reached his house. It was in the North of the city. The house was located diagonally along the side of a hill. After parking the cars, we went up the stairs to his house. There the professor handed us some things to be taken to the Grill location which was located higher on the hill. So we climbed more stairs uphill and found a magnificent place there. It was a beautiful lawn with a small swimming pool and flowers all around. After some minutes, the professor came and said, "why have you stopped here; i asked you to go up". And at that moment we looked up, hust to find another storey up the hill. So we again climbed the stairs to find another lawn with a wooden cabin, a shed with lots and lots of fire-wood and a tree-house for the kids. This was finally the end of professor's house. It was sorrounded on one side by an iron fence and beyond were the woods.

Admiring the four storey house, we sat and started the Grill. It was a very cold period going on (even in July), so after eating, we sat under a shed and placed the fire near us, throwing wood every once a while into it. It is here that one German commented on my German speaking. He said that foreigners normally speak German in their own accent (close to their mother-tongue), but i speak without any accent and pronounce it very accurately. Anyways, they surprised me by sitting very late, although it was no holiday tomorrow. When they finally got up at 12:30 am, i was sure nobody would reach on time in the morning. But they are Germans after all. Everbody was on time, except of course. . .

I did catch a cold that lasted many days.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Chilling July

This week has been very cold. I can't blieve it is July. The temperature drops to 12 degrees. People are wearing jackets and drinking coffees. The weather changed in just one day. Last week was very hot. It has been raining as well during last half of the week. Weather forecast tells next week to be very hot. hmmmmm

I heard that there has been much raining and flooding in Pakistan as well. Even Multan is flooded. My friend's house's cellar was flooded among others in a nearby village of Germany. They say that this kind of flooding occurs once in a century here. Global warming!!?

Sunday, July 03, 2005

becoming philosophers

This weekend we went to a town called "Zwingenberg" near Frankfurt to meet some Pakistanis. They were really nice and served us with "parathas" and "pa'ay" (feet of an animal). This town was located in the lap of mountains and gave a very spectacular view.

On our return journey, we decided to visit Heidelberg once more. This time we wanted to find "iqbal street". We knew it was located on top of mountains but didn't know where exaclty. We also found out that there was a "Philosophers' Passage" near it. So we climbed the hill and finally reached the Philosophers' Passage. We didn't know where to look for Iqbal Street and there was no resident in sight: only tourists. We figured out that the tourists wouldn't know of Iqbal Street. So, we walked on the beautiful Philosophers' Passage. The Fortress on the hill and the old city were clearly visible from here. These were located on the other side of the river "Neckar". We returned soon as the time was short, hoping to find Iqbal Streest some other day. You can find the photos here: