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January 2017

chicken Chicken Biryani Food Pakistani Quick & Easy Quick Fix Recipes Shan Foods

Quick Fix Chicken Biryani with Shan Biryani Paste

  • By
  • January 30, 2017
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Everyone has their favorite dish that they love and never get tired of having. But this one dish that is unanimously loved by everyone is Biryani. With it’s different regional variations, one is spoilt for options when it comes to savoring this classic dish full of flavors. My mother makes the Best-est Biryani (I’m sure your mother does too!) she doesn’t use any spice mixes and makes it with her own spices – maybe that’s why it has a distinct flavor.

For people like me who are full-time employed and don’t have much time to prepare the maslas (spices), the ready-to-use Spice Mixes have been a saviour. Giving you the same rich taste in much less time and with much less effort. I’ve been using Shan Masala powders from quite sometime now and have been really satisfied with the taste of the food prepared, every time! These masala powders have already eased cooking so much that Biryani once known as a festive food has now become an everyday dish in homes, which in itself is a celebration of bringing a traditional dish to every home.
Shan Foods has now taken it to another level by introducing their ready-to-use Curry Pastes & Sauces. Which means no more waiting for the onions to caramelize or for tomatoes to soften. No more spice mixes (masala powders) needed, just one cooking paste and your Biryani is ready in no time at all! Now isn’t that great?

At first I was a bit skeptical about using the Biryani Paste because was so unsure how it will be like. The taste,  the amount of spices and what all it contains. But after reading the ingredients list on the back of the jar and the instructions, I was like let’s do this! After all it’s Shan’s bottle and I can trust them with their products.

In a few simple steps and with so less ingredients: Chicken, Yogurt, Biryani Paste and Rice – we had a delicious, aromatic and flavorful Biryani. Although the chicken curry was a bit darker in color compared to what we usually make but the taste was Ahhh-mazing!

These Curry Pastes are available at select store in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad. Get one today and trust me you’ll love it too.

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Chicken Biryani with Shan Biryani Paste
by January-01-2017
Quick Fix Chicken Biryani with Shan Biryani Paste – aromatic,rich in flavor,delicious Biryani in just 45 mins!

Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: serves 6

Ingredients

For Rice

  • 500 grams Rice
  • 2 1/2 liter Water
  • Salt

For Chicken Curry

  • 1 Whole Chicken
  • 1 Cup Yogurt
  • 1 Jar Shan Biryani Paste (I used half Jar)
  • Ghee or Oil for Cooking
  • Yellow food color for layering

Instructions

  1. Chicken Curry: In a pan heat the ghee or oil add chicken and let it cook. It will release its own water, let it cook while stirring occasionally until the water dries completely. Now add yogurt and continue cooking on medium heat, when mixed well add half the jar of Shan Biryani Paste and let cook for 25 minutes till the chicken is tender and the gravy is reduced but not liquid
  2. Rice: Wash and soak rice in water for 15-20 minutes and drain. Boil 2 1/2 liters of water with a little salt. Once the water starts to boil add rice and cook for 5-7 minutes until they are half cooked. Drain the water
  3. Layering: Oil a heavy bottomed pan, place two-thirds of rice on the base, followed by gravy. Keep alternating layers of rice and gravy making rice as the top layer as well. Sprinkle some yellow food color. Cover the pan tightly with the lid and cook on low flame for 10-15 minutes till the rice is done and steaming
  4. Serve with salad and mint raita
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Avari Lahore Restaurant Review Reviews Seafood Seafood Bonanza

Review: Chinese New Year Celebrations at Dynasty, Avari Lahore

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  • January 27, 2017
Gong Xi Fa Cai! Happy Chinese New Year 2017 – The year of the Rooster. The most celebrated Chinese festival is on Saturday 28th January but at Dynasty, Avari Lahore the celebrations have started already wishing everyone good fortune and prosperity for the New Year.

Dynasty Restaurant at Avari Lahore is one of the best Chinese restaurants in the city that offers authentic Szechuan dishes. On this Chinese New Year the restaurant is celebrating in true spirit with it’s Seafood Bonanza featuring a delicious selection of seafood by it’s talented Chef Erbin Yang.

The setup at the restaurant was very warm and welcoming. The display of Roosters and Chinese Lanterns symbolizing luck, longevity and good fortune were accustomed to the fiery year of the Rooster and Chinese Celebrations.

 The celebrations kicked off with a grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony by the honorable guests Mr. Atif Nadeer (COO Fauji Foods) along with Mr. Grant Raubenheimer (GM Avari), Chef Erbin Yang, Chef Zaheer, Mr. Arif Chaudhry (Director Food & Beverages Avari) and the restaurant staff.
The spectacular seafood on ice display was one of the highlights of the celebrations at the restaurant. Chinese New Year is not complete without a Fish prosperity toss, which was not only the part of display table but also had a prominent place on the special menu.

The menu by Chef Erbin Yang featured some of the most revered seafood specialties such as Whole Red Snapper in Chili Sauce, Braised Trout Fish, Lobster in Butter Cheese Sauce and Prawns with Lychee to name a few.

 
There was a Chef’s Special Menu for Soup and Appetizers and from the menu we ordered Seafood Hot & Sour Soup that had a lot of different flavors of diced prawns, fish, calamari, crab and vegetables and had a very appetizing spicy and sour taste. For appetizers we were served crispy, golden Jumbo Prawns which were amazingly delicious (for a prawns lover it were perfect!)
There were a lot of dishes to choose from for the main course, from specially designed Chef’s recommended menu, I had already had prawns so ordered a fish dish Fried Fish in Sweet and Sour Sauce, it was a lightly battered fish deep fried and tossed in sweet and sour sauce served with rice. It was one of the best Chinese dishes I’ve ever had!

 So if you’re looking for a place to host a family dinner or a reunion lunch or simply want to treat yourself, a seafood feast awaits you with succulent seafood dishes by Chef Erbin Yang.

The Chinese New Year Seafood Bonanza is available at Dynasty, Avari Lahore from 25th to 29th January. Reserve your tables today to enjoy this lip-smacking seafood feast – because you just can’t miss it!

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Beach resort Hotel Review Hua Hin Thailand Travel Vacations 2016

[Bangkok 2016] A Weekend in Hua Hin – Dusit Thani & Lotus Villas review

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  • January 25, 2017
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Happy 2017 y’all! I can’t believe I’m posting after so long on the blog. The end of year 2016 and the beginning of 2017 has been quite eventful for me and that’s what kept me away from the blog. BUT, for me it turned out to be a fun-filled, adventurous, vacationing year. A very sudden and unplanned trip to Bangkok & Hua Hin yet the most amazing experience exploring the big city and the luxurious beach resort.

I was traveling with my sister who had been to Thailand before and had a fair idea of the place already. As it was my first visit there my level of excitement was a bit higher (just like a kid in the toy store) Also for me the biggest attraction was to visit the luxurious beaches, although it was not part of the initial plan to visit any of the beaches, we somehow managed to add it in the plan – all thanks to my amazing brother-in-law (he’s the best!)
Bangkok-2016-TTTBAfter spending 2 days in Bangkok and a fabulous stay at the Rembrandt Towers, exploring the city malls, street markets and Thai food we went for a seaside retreat on the weekend to Hua HinRembrandt-Towers-Bangkok-TTTB

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Our Room at Rembrandt Towers

                                     

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This amazing view from our room

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Breakfast – Exploring the Malls – Street Food

Hua Hin is one of the best known resorts closest to Bangkok, also known as Thailand’s Royal beach resort, it is quite a popular place among its people and tourists.

We booked a cab from Bangkok to Hua Hin since the distance was only about 2-2.5 hours and we were traveling at night so we thought a personal cab would be the best choice. After a tiring day of walking in the malls and on the streets of Bangkok we had no energy to change transports so we decided on the cab, it was pricey but worth it. One cab from one destination to the other (no hassle at all).
After traveling for almost 2.5 hours we arrived at Lotus Villas & Resorts – a true resort concept. Far from all the hustle and bustle, up in the mountains,surrounded by tropical gardens and a 40m Olympic size swimming pool, it exudes luxury.

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The moment we checked-in I fell in love with the place. Although it was night time still the place looked so serene and beautiful with warm lights under the palm trees, the calmness in the air, it felt so relaxing.  
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Our room was a Deluxe Suite with a private garden and direct access to outdoor pool (OMG!!)

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Room-Kitchen-Lotus-Villas-TTTB

With it’s thoughtful and modern design details and subtle colors – the place was giving true resort feels. The suite had a bedroom, a living area with full sofa bed, dining area and a fully equipped kitchen along with all other standard amenities.

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It was a very relaxing place indeed and an ideal one for honeymooners or couples and even for those tourists who just want to relax and unwind or are looking to have some “me-time” away from the city. The next morning we explored the resort a bit, made tea in our little kitchen, took pictures (loads of them), enjoyed tea in our private garden and were then ready to check-out. The staff at the resort arranged for our car that took us to our next destination.
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The weather was great, from what I had heard before the weather of Thailand is usually very hot and humid but in December it was not humid at all and in fact was very nice and pleasant specially in the evening. The cab dropped us at Dusit Thani Hotel in Hua Hin, where we were to meet my brother-in-law after 2 days of being in Thailand and this was the place where the couple (my sister and brother-in-law) finally reunited.
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When our car was approaching the hotel front I was in awe, the place had such a grand entrance that even from the outside it felt so luxurious. I was so excited to see how it was from the inside and the moment we entered the hotel reception – I was in hotel heaven.
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Dusit Thani Hua Hin is a fabulously located property with lush greenery around, overlooking the Gulf of Thailand, a private beach, two magnificent swimming pools, lily pond and tropical gardens. This hotel is swoon-level chic.

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 Image from here

The hotel lobby speaks of the classic and traditional Thai designs combined with modern and contemporary aesthetics giving it a majestic grandeur. In the center of the lobby dangles a beautiful cascading, bejeweled chandelier.

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Our room was on the ground floor, it was the Lanai Room that had an extended private terrace area and a direct access to the pool, beach and the gardens. (I couldn’t take pictures of the room while it was all-set, so here is the picture from Dusit Thani website)

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The room was very classically decorated resembling a Mediterranean villa retreat, with unique and subtle touches of Thai craftsmanship.

After exploring all the nooks and corners of our room we went out straight to the pool and the beach and My-Oh-My what a beautiful sight it was. Clear pools surrounded with pink bougainvillea, palm trees in the center and comfortable pool chairs – a perfect setting for a swim or a relaxing afternoon.

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From the pool we went to the beach Finally! Finally! I got to visit the beach which was the highlight of my trip and my biggest attraction. The beach is quite a private affair at the hotel, giving it’s guests the best beach experience as the guests staying at the hotel have access to it and is very well maintained by the staff. Unlike other sultry and tropical beaches of Thailand with turquoise waters and white sand , the beach in Hua Hin is brown yet quaint, has an endless shoreline and those wild waves – I was swooning. 

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It was late in the afternoon and we were really hungry by now, so we went to one of the restaurant at the hotel named “The Restaurant” – it’s an all day dining restaurant that serves traditional Thai favorites and International cuisine. The biggest attraction at the restaurant is the golden dome ceiling and it’s 1920’s-style crystal chandelier.

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Instead of sitting inside at the restaurant we decided to sit outside so that we can enjoy our food with the beautiful view of hotel’s ornamental pond.

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 I ordered Pad Thai for myself and my sister ordered Margaretta Pizza, both dishes were so damn delicious! Pad-Thai-Pizza-TTTB
We also ordered tea after our meal because without Chai life is so incomplete. 
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We spent the entire afternoon at the beach until the sunset. The salty air, high tides, beach waves all were glorious. I also collected some sea shells from the shore as a memory of having visited this glorious place.

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 SunSet-Dusit-Thani-Beach-TTTB
We rested for a bit and later in the evening went out to explore the market area of Hua Hin. We were not really up for shopping because we had a better experience in Bangkok so it was more of strolling the streets. Here we got to know about an Indian Restaurant Mehfil that served really good food so we went on to try it out.
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At the restaurant the first question we asked was if they served Karak Chai (Strong Tea) here and guess what they said YES! our faces lit up with delight and before ordering food we ordered tea!  Karak-Chai-TTTB
(Tip: If you’re traveling to Thailand and have special place for Chai in your life, carry teabags with you. Because you won’t find that taste in Chai there and one shouldn’t expect it either).
So we ordered their Tikka Masala and Chicken Seekh Kebabs with Roti. For starters they served us papadum (papad) with Indian condiments – pickled onion, green chutney, pickle and tamarind chutney. After that Chai, this place had my heart and the food was so so good.
Indian-Food-Mehfil-Hua-Hin-TTTB
After having the delicious food we walked around on the streets, the market was almost closing down and it was then it struck us to have foot massage – we badly needed it! Only one massage parlor was open at that time and they happily accommodated us. The foot massage was SOooo relaxing we felt so refreshed. We also had a great time conversing with the staff, sharing stories it felt like a massage party. We then took a tuk-tuk back to the hotel. 
Dusit Thani at nigh time is a vision. The fountains at the hotel’s gate and the lighting along the driveway illuminating the hotels architecture was breathtaking. The ornamental pond was lit up too and it looked even more amazingly gorgeous. I just wished I could stay there the entire night – it was that beautiful!

Ornamental-Pond-Dusit-Thani-Hua-Hin
It had been a tiring day, the moment we reached our room we just went to bed – we were that tired. We missed the morning breakfast the next day but luckily the hotel had all day breakfast room service so we just ordered in.

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Before check-out we once again went to the beach and this time not for the view but for water sports. The hotel had a water-sport center that facilitated with all the activities. While we took selfies at the beach my brother-in-law enjoyed jet skiing. We then checked-out and took a shared van back to Bangkok.

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 I really savored this luxurious beach getaway on the weekend and had not imagined it would turn out to be so amazing but it did! I have no regrets of not visiting the popular beaches of Thailand as for me the experience in Hua Hin was just great. And I really can’t imagine a more perfect place for a beach getaway than Dusit Thani Hotel and Lotus Villas & Resorts, both uniquely different but giving the best of both experience and comfort.

Pool-side-view-Dusit-Thani-Hua-Hin
I’ve decided, whenever I feel I’ve reached the age of retirement in life (which I don’t think I will )I’ll come and stay at this particular hotel – Dusit Thani, Hua Hin and spend my time at it’s beach and pools and dine at it’s exceptional restaurants (it’s all in my head already!).
Hua Hin has left an impression on me. If I ever visit Thailand again I’m definitely coming back to this beautiful accommodation to relax and unwind. 
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