Posted on 16. Sep, 2014 by in Uncategorized



The origins of the hookah come from the north western provinces of India along the border of Pakistan in Rajasthan and Gujarat nearly a millennium back. These hookahs were simple, primitive, and rugged in design, usually made from a coconut shell base and tube with a head attached. They were designed to smoke opium and hashish. The hookah made its way through the Persian Kingdom which also included Pakistan, Afghanistan, much of Middle Asia and Arab parts of Northern Africa. The hookah acquired tombeik on its way through Persia. Tombeik is a dark tobacco grown in modern day Iran. Tombeik is rinsed and packed in the large older style heads where hot coal is applied directly to the wet tombeik, which gives it a strong flavor. These heads and style of hookah, referred to as “ghelune” in Persian. The hookahs designed in the Persian Empire are still hand crafted with each one being cut from a piece of wood. In the 19th century, cigarettes were made easily available and mostly women smoked the ghelune because they were not on the go. Women used the ghelune in the home for entertaining and as a past time.

When the hookah made its way into Turkey about 500 years ago, it endured a surge of popularity among the upper class and intellectuals and thus changing in design. The hookah grew in size and complexity and became similar to designs that we are more familiar with today. Brass and glass were added to the design and less wood was used. Intricate paintings and mosaics were added for beauty and elegance. The popularity grew into hookah coffee shops in Turk society two to three centuries ago. A hookah bar waiter was treated similar to a chef because of the preparation for hookah smoking. The packing and moisture was a skill, and it was considered rude to touch the coals. Hookah smoking migrated south into the Arab world from Turkey to Lebanon and Syria where it got the name argile. It then spread into Egypt and Morocco where it is known as shisha. It is also known as the hubble bubble in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Today, hookah bars are social places where many people get together to discuss politics and local events. In Kuwait and Saudi Arabia the hookah bars are for men only.

Most hookah smoking countries serve Naklia shisha. Naklia shisha is a combination of foreign tobaccos, honey molasses and dried fruit. The smoke is filtered through ice cold water to make the smoke cool and soothing. Older generations smoked hashish and opium, which has created a negative stigma for the hookah that is smoked today. Slowly society is accepting the hookah as more of a pipe for tobacco instead of illegal drugs. The hookah has been growing in popularity in the United States and Europe since the experimentation of the 60’s. Smoking hookah can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers. The cooled and sweetened flavor of hookah tobacco makes it more enticing to kids and they falsely believe it’s less harmful. Ongoing use can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning or other diseases, including but not limited to tuberculosis, respiratory illnesses and long-term use can lead to heart disease and many cancers. Though the water-pipe device with its series of tubes and mouthpieces looks nothing like a cigarette, it is almost always used to smoke tobacco, and as such carries many of the dangers inherent in cigarette smoking. According to the World Health Organization, one hookah session typically lasts 20 to 80 minutes and a hookah user may inhale as much smoke during one session as a cigarette smoker would from smoking 100 or more cigarettes.


Use of Naswar in Pakistan

Posted on 15. Sep, 2014 by in Uncategorized

Packets of Naswar (Pic from pashtuncultureandhistory.blogspot.com)

Packets of Naswar (Pic from pashtuncultureandhistory.blogspot.com)

Naswar is a moist powdered tobacco snuff consumed mostly in Afghanistan and Pakistan but it’s use has spread to other countries and continents as well.  Naswar is kept under the floor of the mouth, under the lower lip, or inside the cheek for extended periods of time (15-30 minutes). There are two forms of naswar; powder, and a paste cake style mixed with lime. A very pungent and powerful smell, yet a subtle flavor as it mixes with the saliva. The nicotine effect can occur within 5 minutes after intake producing a slight burn to the inner lip and tongue. Naswar has a very distinct smell resembling that of a fresh bale of coastal hay.

The funny thing is that most people who use it think that Naswar is a safe drug. They are perhaps not aware that the WHO found this smokeless form of tobacco has a minimum of 28 cancer-causing agents. They include compounds such as arsenic and nickel, plus radio-elements such as polonium, uranium, beryllium.

Naswar is a mixture of sun-dried, sometimes only partially cured, powdered local tobacco, ash, oil, flavoring agents (cardamom, menthol), coloring agents (indigo or yellow) and lime or calcium carbonate, water and guar gum. Ammonium chloride is added as a preservative and to give it bite. It is usually sold in round or square plastic packets held with a rubber band to keep it from exposure to the air.

It is a common misperception that only the Pathan are addicted to naswar. It has not spared any ethno-linguistic group, from the Sindhi- to the Hindko-speaking populations. Naswar, much like smoking, has a disastrous first encounter. Almost everyone vomits with the first intake and swears that they will never touch it again. These days in the KPK province of Pakistan it is considered being hospitable to offer Naswar to a guest and the best quality is often times kept for special occasions and gatherings.




Posted on 12. Sep, 2014 by in Uncategorized

Pic of Samosa by penguincakes on Flickr.com

Pic of Samosas by penguincakes on Flickr.com

A samosa (Urdu: سموسہ‎) is a fried or baked pastry with savory fillings, such as spiced potatoes, onions, peas, lentils and sometimes ground lamb, ground beef or ground chicken. The samosa originated in the Middle East (where it is known as sambosa) prior to the 10th century. They were introduced to South Asia (Pakistan) during the Muslim Delhi Sultanate when cooks from Middle East and Central Asia migrated to work in the kitchens of the Sultan and the nobility. Its size and consistency may vary, but typically it is distinctly triangular or tetrahedral in shape. Pakistani samosas are often accompanied by a mint sauce or chutney.

Samosas are a very popular Pakistani snack and can probably be found anywhere in the world these days! They’re a lovely snack for a cold day when you’re just a little more than nibbly and a little less than hungry. The recipe below should make between 15-18 samosas.


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsps ghee (clarified butter)
  • Salt to taste
  • 5 large potatoes, boiled, peeled and mashed roughly
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp raw mango powder (aamchoor)
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • Salt to taste
  • Vegetable/ canola/sunflower cooking oil for deep frying


  • Mix the flour with theghee (oil) and salt to taste. Add a little water at a time to it, to make a firm, smooth dough. Keep aside.
  • In a pan, heat 2 tbsps of oil and add the cumin seeds to it. When they stop spluttering, add the coriander, tumeric, red chilli, raw mango andgaram masala  Fry for just a few seconds.
  • Add the potato to this spice mixture and mix well. Season with salt.
  • Simmer and cook for 7-10 minutes. Keep aside.
  • Divide the dough you made earlier in to golf ball-sized portions. On a lightly floured surface, roll each ball out into a circle roughly 7-8″ in diameter (and approximately 1/6″ thick).
  • Cut each circle into 2 with a sharp knife.
  • Take one semi-circle and lightly wet its straight edge with water. Fold it into a cone, joining this wet edge and pressing gently to seal well.
  • Fill this cone 3/4 full with the potato filling made earlier.You can put any semi-dry filling you desire into Samosas – minced meat, spinach, etc.
  • Lightly wet the open edges of the cone and press together to seal well. Use all the dough up in a similiar manner.
  • Deep fry the Samosas till golden. Drain on paper towels.
  • Serve hot withTamarind Chutney and Mint-Coriander Chutney.