Tuesday, 27 September 2016

a manifesto for preserving + a recipe for raspberry chambord jam

raspberry and bayleaf 
it is not enough for jam to just be sweet. a good jam is one where the fruit tastes more of itself, making it a true expression of the word preserve for jam is really the essence of a season in a jar. this is true even in this time of plenty when one can get strawberries in winter and oranges in summer. there is nothing quite like the taste of strawberries in high summer, when their plump little bodies and scarlet flesh is sweet with sunshine. or bright skinned oranges on a damp winter day that gently perfume the air around the fruit bowl. fruit outside its season is a fraction of its flavour, much like a watered down memory, scant on detail.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

on white + a recipe for pasta with labne, spinach and almonds

conchiglie with labne, spinach and almonds 
white is known for the absence of hues that are visible to the naked eye. this explains why some argue that it is not a colour at all. a (my sister-in-law) disagrees. she is an artist. she says that white is like light. it contains the full spectrum of colours that are sometimes visible, like when a rainbow appears in the sky.

Monday, 7 March 2016

gaajar halva; a cardamom laced carrot pudding

gaajar halva with a squiggle of milk pak cream
winter is the season of indulgence. it calls for the richness of butter and cream; of dark meats and root vegetables.

in england, my adopted home, winter is the time to eat roast meats with potatoes to sponge the juices. soft cheeses high on fat are eaten with sharp chutneys made from apples, quince and beetroots. desserts feature steamed puddings, deep dark ones heavy with vine fruits or soft sweet ones with delicate constitutions. both love a little cream or custard to mellow the heat and sweet. in pakistan, my erstwhile home, december is wedding season, so alongside the kormas, paalak and fragrant pilaus are trays of my favourite dessert. gaajar halva (carrot halva) is made from laal gaajar (literally red carrots). these are particular to the sub-continent. they are distinct from the orange ones that i use in england. they are crisp and sweet and an almost transparent red in hue.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

the original plum torte and more

marion burros' original plum torte
autumn has begun to show face. she is plums the colour of dark bruises and apples like rosy cheeks. she has come to replace peaches with sun gold flesh, nectarines, glossy strawberries and blackberries. there was so much sweetness and warmth in the soft fruits this year, nurtured by a strong summer sun and plenty of heat. i have polished punnets of raspberries and strawberries with little embellishment. the peaches were at their best eaten leaning over the sink. their sticky juices running down my arms and chin. the kentish cherries this year were as if they had been candied, such was the texture of their flesh.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

choti eid + a recipe for channa chaat (chickpea chaat)

ilona's channa chaat
ramazan (the month of fasting) concludes this weekend. around the world, muslims will celebrate the festival of eid. in pakistan, the country of my birth and early adulthood, a committee of old men with compromised eyesight will be tasked with sighting the crescent moon that heralds the celebration. the politics of the sighting of the moon are such that celebrations will vary, with some parts of the country celebrating a few days later. 

choti eid always makes me miss my family palpably. i find that its festive nature and tradition of giving is much like christmas in the christian calendar. in pakistan, the nation stirs into jubilation after of a month of austerity and fasting. celebrations begin on chaand raat (literally moon night). even the buildings wear garlands of lights. families rush to the bazaars which remain open late into the night. there are bangles to be bought and clothes to be collected from the tailor along with the last minute rush to stock up on ingredients such as milk, bread, cream and yoghurt since most of the shops will be shut over the holiday.