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Haiya Afroze

Meet The Foodie Behind Pass Me The Dim Sum

Haiya Afroze talks all things Ramadan.

If your mindless scrolls on Instagram are accented with enticing flatlays of culinary delicacies, you have one woman to thank: Haiya Afroze. Not only is she the founder of Haiyatea, a tea room and artisanal tea shop, but she’s also the creator of our favourite foodie account, Pass Me The Dim Sum. Haiya’s feed is focused on wholesome, educational recipes as well as offering a glimpse into her always eventful daily life. As a proud and practising Muslim, she talks to us about what Ramadan means to her and how tea fits into the holy month.

Q

Why do Muslims break their fast with dates, and what’s
their importance during Ramadan? 

A

Dates are easily digested, making them a quick source of energy and nutrients. Eating dates after a long day of fasting can help the body’s blood glucose levels quickly return to normal. Our Prophet (PBUH) used to break his fast with dates, so it’s a tradition followed by all Muslims. Modern science also proves how beneficial they are on an empty stomach. 

Food Blogger Dubai

Q

In what ways can non-Muslims help observe Ramadan
with their Muslim friends?

A

To be quite honest, Muslims try to retract from worldly activities and do more self-reflection and worship than usual in the month of Ramadan. My personal struggle with my non-Muslim friends is the peer pressure to hang out, go out, socialise – and that’s just not something I enjoy as much in Ramadan. These are golden days, and any worship done is rewarded many folds, so that’s how I want to spend most of my time in Ramadan. I would love if my friends understood that.

Q

What is your go-to dish to cook during Ramadan, and why? 

A

My husband and I aren’t very traditional and, because we live alone and have no relatives here, we tend to keep our iftars (the meal at dusk to break the fast) quite light and simple. They often just comprise of the regular meals we would’ve had anyway. The one thing that’s different is that we’ll always have dates and Arabic coffee – flavours and scents I now associate with Ramadan – on our table. We’ll also have a fruit salad as it’s perfect after a long day of fasting. We avoid sugary drinks and opt for water, and sometimes we’ll have dahi phulikiyaan, a dish comprising of crispy rehydrated gram flour swirls submerged in whipped yoghurt. So refreshing!

Q

How will you incorporate your love for tea into Ramadan this year?

A

My love for tea doesn’t stop during Ramadan! What’s amazing to me is that on a normal day, skipping my morning matcha will give me a migraine, but God just makes it easy during a fast. After we have iftar, I’ll fire up the humidifier with a refreshing scent of choice and spend the evenings reading Quran and refilling my pot of tea several times. 

Q

Do you always go traditional for Ramadan or shake it up with other cuisines?

A

Ramadan really is about revisiting and embracing traditional foods, but as I am not a very traditional person and don’t always relate to the culture I’ve inherited, I always merge traditional with untraditional. For example, I was once commissioned to create an Arab-inspired dish using oats. Saudi oat soup is the most traditional dish that comes to mind when I think of oats, but I couldn’t do that – that’s too easy. So, I made a savoury granola using za’atar, cumin, and pomegranate molasses, serving it alongside Turkish tomato sauce, grilled eggplant, and whipped garlic yoghurt. 

Q

What dessert do you always cook during Ramadan, and why? 

A

I love basbousah! It’s a semolina cake of sorts, which is drenched in sugar syrup. I bake it with orange juice for some zestiness, and line the pan with tahini for more decadence! 

Q

Can you share your favourite Ramadan recipe with us?

A

I wanted to incorporate my treasure chest of oats into recipes that are popular this time of year, regardless of whether or not those recipes traditionally call for oats. I grew up in Saudi Arabia, where pull-apart cheesy bread is a common and standard teatime accompaniment all year round, but an especially popular item on the iftar table. Each little pillow of dough is stuffed with a cube of firm white cheese (mozzarella, halloumi, or Kiri) because there is no such thing as ‘too much cheese’ or ‘too many olives’ in the Middle Eastern vocabulary.

Q

What is your most cherished Ramadan memory, and why? 

A

My most cherished memory, without a doubt, are the iftars I had alone with my late grandmother at her place. She was the ‘hostess with the mostess’ and always expressed her love through food, but during the many Ramadans I spent with her when there were no guests? Those are my favourite memories. She would make two perfectly portioned bowls of fruit salad and a few pakoras for us both – pakoras are gram flour fritters and they’re my ultimate Ramadan weakness, but I avoid making them as they’re deep-fried and I could eat a plateful. We’d then go straight to dinner. Those iftars encompassed the true essence of Ramadan for me: modesty, simplicity, family, love. And no gluttony! 

Q

What’s a dish that you never thought you would try, but love?

A

Fermented green tea leaf salad. It’s a Burmese snack that’s sweet, savoury, spicy, and oh-so-moreish. 

Q

What tips can you share to help others through the Ramadan season?

A

When you’re fasting, you want to eat a horse. Don’t do it. Don’t go overboard with iftar preparations – make just as much food as you would for a regular dinner because chances are you’ll want to eat even less than you usually do. When you make too much food, though, you tend to overeat just so you don’t have to deal with leftovers. And obviously, drink lots of water between dusk and dawn. During suhoor (the morning meal before the sun rises), avoid spicy or greasy foods that will make you thirsty and try to have some yoghurt. I always find that yoghurt makes me feel less thirsty throughout the day. 

Q

Are there any other changes that you make in your life during Ramadan?

A

It’s not advised to change our religious inclinations during Ramadan and return to a lifestyle that is un-Islamic. However, we do try to better ourselves in whatever personal capacity we can and see ourselves lacking in, but with the intention of maintaining those ways – not just for a month.  As Muslims, we are encouraged to give charity throughout the year. In fact, one of the fundamental pillars of Islam dictates that we must donate 2.5% of the savings we have had for over a year to the less fortunate in order to keep income disparity at bay. However, charity peaks during Ramadan because we believe that all good deeds are rewarded many folds during this blessed month. The spirit of generosity during Ramadan is truly palpable in the air.

For more recipes or just plain FOMO as Haiya dines across Dubai, follow her here.

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You, But Better: The Gaggler Agenda for February

Mark your calendars.

February 1: Celebrate Literature

The first six days of February are all about celebrating storytelling as the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature returns its 15th edition, this year taking place at InterContinental Dubai Festival City and Mohammed Bin Rashid Library. On the roster? Comedian David Walliams, best-selling author Cecelia Ahern, Succession star Brian Cox, Indian politician Shashi Tharoor, and plenty more.

Learn more here.

February 3: Break Bread

Taste of Dubai is an institution in its own right, returning to Dubai Media City Amphitheatre from 3 to 5 February. The three-day event is popular for its bite-sized portions of beloved dishes from some of the city’s best restaurants, but there’s plenty more to look forward to. We’re talking live music, appearances by celebrity chefs such as John Torode and Daniel Boulud, interactive masterclasses, and lots more.

Learn more here.

February 5: Think Green

Art and nature collide at the Embroidered Botanicals workshop at Jameel Arts Centre. Designed for all ages, this family-friendly event led by Dr Hellen Dayton will introduce participants to the historic healing and hidden properties of botanicals found around Dubai. Participants will then learn to draw the designs of these flowers, transferring them into embroidered textiles that can be used for the likes of napkins, pillows or throws.

Learn more here.

February 12: Test Your Limits

If one of your New Year’s resolutions was to pound the pavement more often in 2023, the Dubai Marathon – the country’s oldest long-distance running event – should be your starting point. You can opt for the ‘10km Road Race’ if you’re in shape, or the ‘4km Fun Run’ if you’re looking to start slow. Feeling ambitious? Sign up for all 42.195km of the marathon itself.

Learn more here.

February 14: Feel the Love

The definitive address for all things wheel throwing, The Mud House Studio is inviting participants to discover the intuitive nature of pottery at a special edition just for Valentine’s Day. Entitled Candlelit Wheel Throwing, the (you guessed it) candlelit session will be rooted in perception through touch, resulting in an exploration of how clay responds to this sense – and a meditative way to celebrate the annual day of romance.

Learn more here.

February 19: Steam and Manifest

Sometimes dismissed as a hippy-dippy trend, womb steaming is actually an ancient remedy that has been used by women to support deep wellness with the help of herbal steam. Enter: the New Moon Womb Steaming Feminine Activation session led by Renata Nacimento at SEVA. The upcoming New Moon in Pisces is the perfect time to set intentions and tap into the mystical powers of the womb.

Learn more here.

February 22: Have a Laugh

If a family-friendly activity is long overdue, Shrek The Musical at Dubai Opera belongs on your calendar. Based on the Oscar-winning DreamWorks film, this larger-than-life production takes audiences into lovable ogre Shrek’s journey from living contentedly alone in a swamp to rescuing the feisty Princess Fiona, who is trapped in a castle surrounded by lava.

Learn more here.

February 25: Journey to Lebanon

Expand your culinary horizons at the A Story of Meat, Spices & Grapes supperclub hosted by Bassel Wehbe via the BreakBread platform. Promising the best of Lebanese-Armenian fusion cuisine, this intimate dining experience will take attendees on a journey that pairs meat and spices with culinary backstories aplenty.

Learn more here.

February 26: See the Light

Helping celebrate the fifth anniversary of multidisciplinary space Concrete in Alserkal Avenue is Rana Begum, whose work distils spatial and visual experience into ordered form. In what will be the visual artist’s largest solo exhibition in the region, her works will explore the interaction of light, colour, and form in dialogue with Concrete.

Learn more here.

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Dress Up Your Meals With These Healthy Salad Dressings

Simple recipes to customise and make meals more exciting.

Making your own salad dressing at home is so much better than getting store-bought — think fresh ingredients and none of the artificial flavouring, added sugar, or low-quality ingredients. It could even save you money in the long run if it’s something you use a lot. Plus, using fresh ingredients is another way to get creative with eating mindfully and exploring your relationship with food.

Making key ingredients like salad dressing at home is a small but powerful way to take complete control of what goes in your food, as well as what doesn’t. These simple salad dressing recipes are a great way to balance meals and make them more exciting. Every salad dressing recipe shared here — a basic vinaigrette, tahini sauce, and a riff on the traditional green chutney — starts with a few basic building blocks: a base, an acid, and something that adds a rich, creamy consistency. These recipes are fully customisable and function as a base for you to add your favourite ingredients to and experiment with flavour profiles.

You can also add herbs to season your dressing; dry or fresh, they’ll add further depth to the dressing and your meal by extension. Just remember to let the dressing rest for at least 30 minutes to allow fresh herbs to infuse with the mixture.

Salad dressing can keep for up to a week if stored properly in the fridge: fully covered and in an airtight glass container. It’s perfectly normal for oil-based dressings to harden or congeal in the fridge, but don’t worry — let it come to room temperature on the counter before serving.

Coriander and Yoghurt Dressing

Serving Size:
1-2 cups
Time:
5 minutes
Difficulty:
Very easy

Ingredients

  • ½ cup plain full-fat yoghurt
  • 1 ½ – 2 cups coriander leaves, tightly packed
  • ¼ cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Pinch of cumin (powdered or seeds, roasted)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup water
  • Optional: green chillies or roasted peppers to taste

Directions

  1. In a blender or food processor, add the water first, then lemon juice, yoghurt, salt, cumin, garlic, and coriander leaves and blend on high until everything is well-blended, about 2-3 minutes.
  2. Check for consistency; if the dressing is too thick, add more water one tablespoon at a time. If it’s too thick, add more yoghurt and adjust for flavour.

Simple Tahini Sauce

Serving Size:
1 cup
Time:
5 minutes
Difficulty:
Very easy

Ingredients

  • ½ cup tahini
  • 4 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Salt, to taste
  • Ice cubes
  • Optional: a dash of extra virgin olive oil, sesame oil, honey, or maple syrup

Directions

  1. In a blender or food processor, add the water, lemon juice, tahini, garlic, and salt. Blend for 30 seconds and add a few ice cubes, then blend until smooth.
  2. Check the dressing’s consistency and taste. If it’s too thick, add water 1 tablespoon at a time; if too bitter or sharp, add either olive or sesame oil to balance the flavour.

Simple Vinaigrette

Serving Size:
1-2 cups
Time:
8 minutes
Difficulty:
Very easy

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons mustard
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Optional: a dash of orange juice, or a sprig of rosemary to infuse

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk well. Alternatively, add all ingredients to a jar with a lid, close the lid firmly in place, and shake well for 30 seconds.
  2. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.
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Emirates Airline Festival of Literature returns in 2023 with old friends and homegrown talent

For the first time ever, this year’s festival will feature sessions in multiple regional languages.

Ebtisam Al-Beiti, a Dubai-based former nursery teacher, wrote her first book during lockdown in an outpour of creative energy. Published in 2021, Can I Go Out Now? debuted at the literature festival that year, and the first edition of the book was also part of the Ministry of Education’s Reading For Pleasure project.

This year, she’s back with another book for toddlers just learning to read: Citrus the Smoothie Sloth. Already in its second edition, it’s about a cheeky little sloth that likes to make smoothies from rainforest fruit. 

Over the last 15 years, the literature festival has been a firm fixture on Dubai’s social calendar and has matured into a developed platform for young and upcoming authors with its goal of creating a sustainable literary ecosystem for the UAE and the region.

“I think the festival is an amazing platform for upcoming authors, especially for [visitors and attendees] to see local talent as well,” Al-Beiti told Gaggler. “They get to experience meeting the authors, talking to the authors, specifically for my age group — which is much younger children aged four to six — it’s during these early years that it’s important for kids to interact with authors and to really encourage them to start reading and to develop a reading culture.”

Friendships Old and New

The theme for this year’s literature festival is “Old Friends,” a fitting commemoration of the festival’s 15th anniversary. “It’s a very special year for us,” shared Tamreez Inam, assistant festival director and head of programming. “So when we were thinking of the theme, we thought of ‘Old Friends’ as a way to honour the authors who have been to the festival before, many of whom are returning for the 15th anniversary. But of course, we have new authors and new friends as well.”

‘Old Friends’ is also a reference to a quote by Al Mutanabbi, Inam explained, where he said a book is an old friend — the only friend you’ll ever need. “So we’re playing on that as well for the theme.”

In a first for the festival, this edition will break new ground in a bid to expand its reach by holding sessions in regional languages apart from Arabic and English. “For the first time, we’re going to have sessions in Malayalam, Filipino, Italian, Urdu, and Hindi. We really want the festival to be a celebration of all the communities that live here in the UAE,” said Inam. “It’s going to be our largest festival ever.”

What to Expect 

The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature will be returning for its 15 anniversary from February 1-6, 2023, bringing together more than 250 writers and thinkers from over 50 countries in nearly 300 sessions spread out over six days. 

The festival kicks off with Desert Stanzas, a signature event and integral part of the festival consisting of a night of poetry and performances under the stars in the desert. “Then we just have a whole six days of all kinds of conversations: fiction, non-fiction, lots of children’s events, and something for everyone,” said Inam, who revealed she’s most looking forward to the special commemorations in honour of the 100th anniversary of the publication of The Prophet by acclaimed Lebanese author Kahlil Gibran, as well as his 140th birth anniversary.

As for Al-Beiti, she’s looking forward to attending all of the sessions for children. “I attended David Walliams’ [session] last year and I absolutely loved it; I think I laughed more than the children! So I will definitely be attending David Walliams’ again this year.”

As for UAE-based authors on her watchlist? “We’ve got Kathy Urban, who I’m very, very excited for, and of course the legendary Julia Johnson as well. Also looking forward to Beverly Jatwani.”

“I’m so excited that as much as we have international authors, we get to attend the local authors as well.”

The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature will hold author talks, workshops, special events and more at the Intercontinental in Festival City and the Mohammed Bin Rashid Library from February 1-6, 2023. Buy tickets here.

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3 Breakfast Smoothies to Start Your Day Right

Breakfast in 60 seconds or less.

Looking for a healthy breakfast fix that won’t take more than a minute? Look no further than the smoothie, which can be served as a breakfast, afternoon snack, or as an alternative drink alongside your lunch.

While the key to a great smoothie is fresh ingredients, they’re a great way to reduce food waste, an easy way to transition away from added refined sugar, and increase your intake of fresh fruits and veggies. Make sure to add on some granola, seeds, or nuts for extra protein, especially at breakfast, to avoid a sharp glucose spike in the morning.

Yoghurt and Berry Smoothie

Ingredients

  • 1 cup blueberries
  • ½ cup raspberries
  • ½ cup Greek yoghurt
  • ½ cup almond milk (or water)
  • Almonds or walnuts
  • Granola or muesli
  • Ice (optional)

Directions

  1. Blend the milk or water, Greek yoghurt, berries, and ice until fine and thick.
  2. Pour and serve, and add nuts, granola, or muesli on top.

Mango and Peach Cooler

Ingredients

  • 1½ cup mango
  • ½ cup Greek yoghurt (substitute with 1 cup of water for a dairy-free version)
  • 1 cup peach
  • 1 small sprig of fresh basil
  • Ice

Directions

  1. Peel, seed, and chop mango and peaches.
  2. Blend everything together, aiming for a rich, creamy texture.

Banana Blueberry Smoothie

Ingredients

  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Ice

Directions

  1. Peel and chop bananas.
  2. Add the almond milk, bananas, blueberries, vanilla extract, and ice to a blender. Blend until smooth
  3. Serve immediately.
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Doing Dry January? You Can Still Go Out in Dubai

You’re not missing anything.

January is well and truly here and brings with it a fresh sense of renewal and resolutions for the New Year to come. Whether it’s committing to a skincare routine or detoxing after the intense festive season with a plant-based diet, the start of the year is all about stepping back and dialling things down. Moderation. Abstention. Veganuary. Dry January.

Dry January started out in 2013 as a campaign in the UK in which participants volunteer to give up alcohol for the entire month of January. The campaign’s goal is to raise awareness about alcohol-related health issues, but it also serves to highlight unhealthy drinking culture and the widespread dependence on alcohol to socialise and entertain. Finding alcohol-free alternatives and non-alcoholic options on menus is far from a novelty now, especially when they’re this good and not just canned sodas or pumped full of sugar and food colouring. Read on to find some of the best places to go in Dubai if you’re not touching the bottle but still want to catch those after-work drinks with friends or a nice dinner with a special someone.

Amazónico

Step into a tropical paradise at Amazónico with a menu centred around seasonal and superfood ingredients, as well as a selection of non-alcoholic cocktails served in fantastic custom sculpted glasses. From the appetisers down to the mains, sides, and desserts, each course offers options that are perfect if you want to go out without the breaking your detox and dry January resolutions. Choose the Peacock Spritz, made with non-alcoholic Belli-No, maracuya, lemon, and tonic, or the best-selling Jaguarete with a carefully concocted mixture of papaya, tangerine, and salted cashew, finished with Perrier and Bôtan’s signature ‘No ABV’ spirit.

Amazónico, Gate Village 11, DIFC, Dubai, 04 571 3999 @amazonicodubai

KATA

This contemporary Japanese restaurant with iconic views of the Dubai Fountain at Dubai Mall’s Waterfront Promenade offers a year-round menu of delicious mocktails that complement its world-class food and has a wide range of alcohol-free beverages. Drinks include fruit-based takes on classic drinks, like the Redroni, which features red grape, botanical infusion, and forest fruits, as well as Ryui’s Kiss, which consists of infused juniper berry, hibiscus, and dragon fruit. The huge outdoor terrace dining area seals the deal.

KATA Dubai, The Dubai Mall, Downtown Dubai, 04 273 3800, @kata.ae

NoLo

As Dubai’s first dry bar, NoLo serves thoughtfully crafted non-alcoholic drinks and mocktails that feel just like the real thing. Open until 1am. With a food menu that features light bar snacks, the casual atmosphere is perfect for catching up with friends after work.

NoLo, Dusit Thani Dubai, 04 317 4515, @nolodubai

Lobby Lounge

As an alternative to boozy brunches, enjoy a calm, luxuriant afternoon tea any day of the week at the iconic Ritz-Carlton Dubai with an extensive tea menu featuring 10 different types of teas, as well as an assortment of finger and open-faced sandwiches, scones, pastries, and sweet treats.

Lobby Lounge, The Ritz-Carlton Dubai, DIFC, Dubai, 04 399 4000, ritzcarlton.com

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It’s Time to Leave Your Food Sins Behind

Starting with this detox shot.

After a long season of indulging in rich food, festive drinks, and way too many desserts, it’s time to treat your body to a refreshing juice. Go for an apple, cinnamon, and ginger shot to detox – apples are in season this time of year, and so good for you. The cinnamon and raw ginger in this recipe are anti-inflammatory and help boost immunity to fight those nasty winter colds, while the fibre from the apple is good for your gut and skin, as well as full of antioxidants.

Optionally, you can add a dash of turmeric, too – powdered or raw – for that brilliant yellow colour as well as its functional benefits. You can strain the juice after blending, but you’ll be missing out on all the good stuff that’s in the fibre. The same goes for peeling the apple before blending it for juice.

Apple Cinnamon Ginger Detox Shot

Serving Size:
1 cup
Time:
5 minutes
Difficulty:
Easy

Ingredients

  • 1 large apple
  • 1/2-inch knob of ginger, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnnamon powder
  • 1 cup (or 200ml) water
  • Pinch of turmeric (optional)

Directions

  1. Wash, core, and cut the apple. Peel, if you prefer.
  2. Add the chopped apple, ginger, water, cinnamon powder, and turmeric powder into a blender.
  3. Blend on high speed for a minute, or until completely blended. If the juice is too thick, add a tablespoon of water at a time.
  4. Pour into a glass and sprinkle with more cinnamon or turmeric according to taste.
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Journal books with color pencil

You, But Better: The Gaggler Agenda for January

Mark your calendars.

January 4: Usher in 2023

According to Mayan belief, working with cacao – a.k.a. food of the gods – allows one to cultivate awareness on an emotional and spiritual level, guiding you in the direction that you need to take. And that’s where the New Year Full Moon workshop at Illuminations comes in. Accenting a cacao ceremony with sound healing in time for the first full moon of 2023, the session will help enhance one’s well-being and communication with divinity.

Learn more here.

January 8: Reap the Rewards

According to the Chinese zodiac, 2023 will be the Year of the Rabbit, one in which past sacrifices will be rewarded generously. Celebrate your upcoming stroke of good luck at Dubai Opera, where traditional elements, national characteristics, and regional culture will be highlighted at the Chinese New Year gala.

Learn more here.

January 14: Follow the Light

Candlelight Concerts bring the magic of unique, one-of-a-kind concerts played by flickering candlelight to locations worldwide – which now includes Dubai. The upcoming 65-minute performance will pay tribute to the work of Italian pianist and composer Ludovico Einaudi at L’Alliance Française.

Learn more here.

January 21: Tap Your Toes

Theatre of Digital Art is an immersive art space that continues to diversify, hosting everything from perfume-making workshops to breathwork meditation sessions. We’re marking our calendars for What A Wonderful Jazz, an evening of  jazz starring Sher Oston and his orchestra of 22 world-class musicians who take jazz, opera and pop classics to the next level.

Learn more here.

January 22: Embrace Imperfections

Take a cue from the Japanese and give a new lease of life to something broken during the guided Kintsugi fusion workshop taking place at the upcoming UnleashYou Retreat. Combining creative arts with a coaching approach, this half-day event is designed to refresh from within and inspire creativity.

Learn more here.

January 26: Chant Along

Did you know 2023 opens the Emerald Gate and the year of 7? According to the experts at SEVA, it’s a powerful time to sit in our power and embody this mighty energy. Enter: the Chanting to Be in Our Power session. Led by Eda Gungor, it invites participants to chant along with the Ajai Alai mantra in order to activate higher chakras, bring us out of depression and anger, and dissolve the challenges in front of us.

Learn more here.

January 27: Crash the Party

Expand your culinary horizons at the Taste of Owambe supperclub hosted by Man like Mus. Inspired by Nigerian “Owambe” parties, this intimate dining experience introduces attendees to classic festive dishes (think: jollof rice with lamb chops, peppered beef and grilled plantain, and more) and illustrates why the food is the best part of every Owambe party.

Learn more here.

January 29: Join the Journey

Today’s your last chance to intensify the score at Sky Castle, which responds to crowd flow and fluctuations. Located in d3, this interactive installation features a cluster of inflatable arches that span in a colourful symphony across public space. The movement of visitors powers and progresses the soundscape, stimulating colour changes to evoke the joy that sunshine brings after every storm.

Learn more here.

January 30: Seek Support

With life abroad bringing with it plenty of hard truths, the new Expats in the UAE Support Group hosted by The LightHouse Arabia is a great tool to help anyone who is new to the UAE. Hosted on a monthly basis, these sessions will offer a safe and supportive space to discuss the joys, the challenges, and everything in between that can arise when living as an expatriate.

Learn more here.

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Welcome to the Best of Gaggler, 2022 Edition

Settle in for some quality reading time.

2022 is drawing to a close and, with it, ends another year of Gaggler sharing the expertise of astrologers, avid travellers, life coaches, health experts, wellness gurus, and more with women in the UAE – and beyond. Today, we’re looking back and taking stock of the past 12 months by rounding up some of our most memorable features when it comes to empowering women.

Laid out in chronological order, these articles represent the best of our magazine as a female-focused platform. As for the Gaggler woman? She is resilient and resourceful, empathetic yet deeply aware that you need to put on your own oxygen mask before attempting to help those around you. There are also a handful of special mentions, starting with a peek into our founder’s bag, which contains six must-haves from the online store we launched earlier this month. We also revisit two topics that warrant more attention in the year ahead: money management and sleep hygiene. Read on.

Keeping the Kids Motivated While Homeschooling

A kid studying on tablet

No parent will ever say that home schooling during the pandemic was anything other than incredibly tough. Technical challenges aside, ensuring children stay on-track with their studies and adding ‘teacher’ into the mix of roles didn’t make the lives of parents any easier. To help them navigate the return of remote learning earlier this year, we shared five key pointers on how to maintain a healthy home-schooling schedule.

Read the article here.

What an Accidental Dating Guru Wants Women to Know

Jon birger dating guru smiling

An award-winning business journalist, Jon Birger admitted to venturing into the self-help genre with a “snooty attitude” when he wrote his 2015 book Date-onomics, which analysed modern-day dating by crunching numbers. Having returned to the genre with his 2021 release Make Your Move, the author became more comfortable with advising single women worldwide, encouraging them to question the clichés that come with romance. To mark Valentine’s Day, we shared 10 takeaways from our conversation with this accidental dating guru.

Read the article here.

Let’s Delve into the Inner Workings of Board Membership

Career Out Of Board Membership

The basic structure of a board of directors varies depending on the needs of the organisation and any specialties within a specific industry, such as its regulatory environment. You can have boards as large as 30 members (non-profit boards) or as small as nine members (typical for a Russell 3000 company). We delved into the nuts and bolts of what you need to know about being on a board of directors and how to create one of your own.

Read the article here.

This Isn’t Your Typical Island Getaway

Beach chairs with umbrella

Not everyone is keen on the idea of long-haul travel. That’s understandable. And that’s where our travel guide to Bahrain came in – the only archipelago in the region, it’s only a mere 70-minute flight away. Between its UNESCO World Heritage Sites, trendy eateries, old-school souks, cultural institutions, and endless island-hopping opportunities, it’s also seriously underrated – especially if a quick getaway is all you can manage.

Read the article here.

A Men’s Coach on Encouraging Your Man to Open Up

tips for a men to open up

Men can seem like a bit of an enigma at times, appearing stoic, emotionless, carefree, and even indifferent. The keyword here is ‘appearing’. The truth is that they feel more than you think. Yes, a man wants to unburden his troubles, but the conditions need to be psychologically safe. Most men fear that their truth will hurt the person they want to be honest with, so they decide to say nothing. Enter: relationship coach Adil Hussain, who shared advice on how you can be the safe space for the man in your life.

Read the article here.

Why Women with Money Can Create a Better World

Financial Advice for Women

Much of the research around how and why women feel the way they do about money management isn’t surprising. According to statistics, 81% of women said they’ve personally been a victim of negative stereotypes – including about their investing abilities. In this article, we revealed what you can do to overcome fear or unconscious bias and feel more financially confident.

Read the article here.

Here’s How to Create an Inviting Living Room

living room with a wallpaper of leaves.

When you think of your lounge, do you think of a space to unwind and relax in, a meeting place where you can entertain friends and family, or a vibrant area where your children can play? Lounge rooms have many different functions, depending on the occupant’s needs, but they have one function in common – they should act as an inviting space where people want to spend their time. Our resident expert on all things interiors shared her tips on making your lounge reflect your needs.

Read the article here.

The 101 on Cohabiting in the UAE

A man and woman painting a wall

The UAE government recently announced amendments to a number of major personal and family laws, changing life for both current residents and those considering a move to our shores. Still confused about what exactly is and isn’t legal when it comes to cohabitation – arguably the most significant in these law changes – and the potential outcome for couples who have a child out of wedlock? You’ll find our conversation with a family law specialist illuminating.

Read the article here.

Making Amends: The Journey to Healing

Have you ever been anxious about a quarrel with a friend, sibling, or spouse? We’ve all been there. Guilt is a given, but your fury may overtake you and cause you to say things you don’t consciously mean. While you can’t take back what you’ve said after you’ve said it, you can tap into the insights of a mental health coach on how to fix things.

Read the article here.

Welcome to Sober October

Non alcoholic drinks Recipes

Non-alcoholic concoctions have soared in popularity across the globe in recent years, but arguably, they’re most favoured in the Middle East owing to cultural and religious factors. In honour of Sober October, we made a pitstop at Dubai’s first dry bar, NoLo, in search of easy recipes for you. The venue is anchored in creative zero-proof cocktails served in a dimly lit setting accented by lounge music and city views.

Read the article here.

Why Self-Care Is Crucial for Working Women

Self-Care for Women

The term ‘caregiver’ comes with an entourage of emotions and labels. The focus is always only on the person being taken care of, with associated emotions ranging from guilt to selflessness. By association, the word ‘care’ has come to take on the meaning of only being directed towards others – more so when you’re a woman, the ultimate caregiver. Here, we reminded our readers that caregiving begins with taking care of yourself, so you can recharge your batteries and share your best with others.

Read the article here.

6 Tips to Make Moving Day Less Stressful

writing a to-do list

Living in the UAE usually means one thing for all of us: we need to move home at least twice while living here. And while moving homes is considered as one of the most stressful events in one’s life, there are steps you can take to make the process smoother. It all depends on how well you organise your house move before, during, and after the move itself. Here, we shared six expert tips to get you started. 

Read the article here.

Special Mentions

Monica Malhotra: What’s in My Bag

Always trying to do more and constantly on the go – in today’s world, being a working woman is no simple task. One woman who fits this description is Monica Malhotra, the CEO of Gaggler. We had a chance to peek into her handbag, discovering her everyday essentials and discussing the importance of self-care in the life of a female entrepreneur.

Read the article here.

Stressed About Money? Consider This

Calculator coins money book with pen

Have you ever felt lost, overwhelmed, or inadequate when it comes to money and wealth? Have you ever felt others were born with a financial playbook that you never got? People often feel shame, anxiety, and feelings of inadequacy because they can’t budget, have debt, or don’t know how to make an investment – but no one was born knowing how to earn and best utilise money. And that’s where the advice of a finance coach comes in.

Read the article here.

Over 40? It’s Time to Revisit Sleep Management

Sleep Management Tips for Over 40s

Sleeping peacefully or counting sheep? Any age can experience sleepless nights and insomnia, and often, this can be traced back to external life stressors like work, personal issues, or illness. Unfortunately, around the age of 40, we have another equation to factor in: menopause. To that end, we tapped a menopause wellness specialist on how to get better shut-eye in your 40s.

Read the article here.

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Our Favourite Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe, Revealed

Goodie bags, dessert trays, sugar cravings – check.

Christmas is only two sleeps away, so now’s the time to give our chocolate chip cookie recipe a try. Not only is this homemade dessert easy and fuss-free, but it’s also ideal if you’re looking to fill up those goodie bags, cookie jars, or dessert trays. You can also scoop (or roll into balls by hand) and freeze the cookie dough, making this a great make-ahead recipe, so you always have fresh cookies on hand.

Be sure to chill the dough for at least three hours before baking, or even overnight. If the dough is too soft, the butter will be too runny, meaning the cookies won’t hold their shape and the dough will spread too thin. Plus, letting the dough chill and rest makes for richer, toffee-like flavour thanks to the brown sugar.

Let your cookies have some space on the baking sheet – it’s exciting to turn out a big batch at a time, but place your dough evenly spaced apart. These chocolate chip cookies will stay soft and chewy for days if kept in an airtight container, and you can always use the cookie dough as a base for other toppings, like coarse salt, white chocolate, or nuts. If they do dry out or get overbaked – it happens to the best of us – place a slice of bread in the container with the cookies to soften them up again.

three plates of chocolate chip cookies flatlay mahnoor bari
Photo: Courtesy of Mahnoor Bari

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Serving Size:
24-36 cookies
Time:
35 minutes
Difficulty:
Very Easy

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 150g butter
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 200g chocolate chips

Directions

1. Soften the butter in a microwave until just partially melted, and allow it to melt slowly as it comes back to room temperature once out of the oven. In a large mixing bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together both sugars and melted butter until creamy and no lumps remain.

2. Add the beaten egg and vanilla essence and whisk again on high speed, then add the baking powder and all-purpose flour. Fold gently to combine instead of beating or whisking. Gently mix in the chocolate chips and press the dough together. It should be neither too runny nor too dry.

3. Cover and chill the dough for three hours in the freezer, or in the fridge overnight.

4. Preheat the oven to 180°C for 10 minutes. Scoop the dough (or roll into balls, if you don’t have a cookie scoop) onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 10-12 minutes, or just until the edges are set and beginning to brown. If baking the frozen dough, bake for an extra three to five minutes.

5. Remove from the oven and allow the cookies to finish baking on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack.

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Festive Treats

These Festive Treats Are Healthier Than You Think

Zero guilt, plenty of taste.

The festive season is officially here, and it is just so tempting to overindulge during this time of year – but you don’t have to. These recipes will help you jumpstart that New Year’s resolution a little earlier this year without feeling like you’re missing out on all the good stuff. Want more healthy holiday treats? Check out this recipe for Pumpkin Spiced Baked Oats.

Chocolate-Orange Protein Balls

I am a big fan of homemade energy balls. Not only are they delicious, but they’re also packed full of nutrient-rich ingredients such as oats, dates, and cacao to help boost our energy levels and support good health in general. In this recipe, each ball is filled with protein, heart-healthy fats, complex carbohydrates, fibre, plus a whole host of minerals and antioxidants. Post-holidays, you can enjoy this snack as a quick pick-me-up in the afternoon or alongside your morning tea/coffee to get you going with your day! These chocolate-orange protein balls can be made in larger batches and placed in the freezer so you always have them on standby.

Serving Size:
8 balls
Time:
15 mins
Difficulty:
Easy

Ingredients

  • 1.5 scoops chocolate-orange protein powder
  • 50g oats
  • 2.5 tbsp coconut oil
  • 50g dates
  • 2 tbsp cacao powder
  • pinch of salt
  • water, as needed
  • desiccated coconut for garnish (optional)

Directions

  1. Combine and blend all the ingredients together in a blender.
  2. Blend until everything is crumbly and broken down so it’s easy to form into balls.
  3. Add splashes of water to the blended mixture as needed to allow ingredients to combine with each other.
  4. Scoop a tablespoon of the mixture. Roll into a ball and place in a serving dish that can go into the fridge.
  5. Place the chocolate-orange balls in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Snickers Date Bites

These chocolate-covered peanut butter stuffed dates taste just like Snickers but are so much better for you as they’re naturally sweetened – perfect if the stress of this season prompts you to reach for those candy bars. Besides, once you have a chocolate-covered date, you will not want them any other way! And with only five ingredients, it’s so easy to make. These treats aren’t limited to the holiday season – if you love having something sweet in the middle of the day or after dinner, make a larger batch, store them in the freezer, and enjoy whenever the craving strikes.

Serving Size:
Varies
Time:
15 mins
Difficulty:
Easy

Ingredients

  • dates
  • peanut butter
  • peanuts
  • dark chocolate
  • Himalayan salt

Directions

  1. Cut open date and remove the seed.
  2. Spoon in some peanut butter.
  3. Add about two whole peanuts into the peanut butter center of each date.
  4. Melt the dark chocolate and drizzle (lavishly) on top.
  5. Sprinkle a little Himalayan salt on top of each date.
  6. Place dates in the freezer until set (about 15 minutes).
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