Thursday, 21 May 2015

aloo bukharay ki chutney

aloo bukharay ki chutney
there is a colony of jars in my kitchen. they come in assorted sizes with gingham patterned screw tops, clip tops and embossed glass surfaces. they are home to all manner of pickles and preserves, both sweet and savoury. i have been preserving in earnest since that first jar of diana henry’s fig and pomegranate molasses jam. there has been marmalade in tones of amber and caramel, strawberry jam with the fragrance of rose petals and maroon tomato jam to be had with cheese and eggs. to these i added the more familiar condiments of my childhood like achaar.

Friday, 20 February 2015

bergamot marmalade

bergamot marmalade
marmalade is the beloved preserve of my favourite childhood storybook character. i am of course talking about paddington bear. it is also my father’s favourite. as a child i preferred sweet jam. the pale emerald mitchell’s rose’s lime marmalade was marginally bitter. i loved its citrus fragrance but did not care for it on toast. two years ago mama sent me a jar of her kinnow marmalade. kinnow is an easy peel citrus cultivated in the sub-continent’s punjab. i loved eating dollops of it with strained yoghurt and a scatter of flaked toasted almonds. it was what piqued my interest in marmalade making. since then, i have made the classic seville orange marmalade as well as experimenting with different citrus with herb and tea infusions. this year’s flavours include seville bay leaf, screwdriver marmalade (blood orange and vodka) and treacle marmalade. i loved making all of them but the real treat was a pale amber bergamot marmalade. 

Thursday, 27 November 2014

spiced pumpkin pecan butter

spiced pumpkin pecan butter
i recently became part of the editorial team of foodand_; an on-line food journal that provides a community for talented individuals, creatives and cooks to collaborate and share their skills and stories with a wider audience. with thanksgiving round the corner, it seemed appropriate for the editorial team to work together on a series of recipes and features. we agreed that what we wanted was for to take traditional ingredients like pumpkin, cranberries and sweet potatoes and transform them into not-so-traditional recipes. this spiced pumpkin pecan butter was created in that spirit. 

i am unfamiliar with the tradition of thanksgiving, as i have not celebrated it. however, its theme of giving thanks for the blessings of the harvest is one that resonates across cultures. in pakistan (which is where i grew up), the festival of basant shares roots with thanksgiving, as it too celebrates seasons and their bounty. basant marks the beginning of spring. in the flatlands of the agricultural punjab, the horizon is marked with fields of mustard flowers. friends and family come together to fly kites in the narrow streets of the old walled city in lahore. there is music, merriment and of course food. the traditional menu celebrates the crop of the season. sarsoon ka saag is a vegetarian dish made with mustard and spinach leaves cooked in a delicately spiced clarified butter and thickened with wholemeal flour. it is eaten with makai ki roti; a thick unleavened flat-bread of crumbly constitution made of maize flour and brushed with plenty of ghee.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

naan khatai, pakistani biscuits with a melting texture

naan khatai
i always remember our house being well stocked with biscuits. there were the regular and perfectly shaped ones from cardboard boxes that included peek freans peanut pik with slightly soft peanuts; cumin laced click and the plain jane marie. lu brand biscuits were crisper and more interesting – the scalloped shape of prince chocolate sandwiches was a kin to laser cut paper doilies. a snack pack of these often graced my school lunchbox. candi, a brown sugar biscuit had little bits of caramelised sugar. gala usually made an appearance when we had guests as they had a dainty design and a richer brioche like flavour. salt flecked tuc was the lone savoury classic. sometimes, there would be a blue tin of royal dansk’s danish butter cookies with an aroma of freshly baked pound cake.

Friday, 3 October 2014

pakistani spiced apple chutney + o's boarding school tales

m's pakistani spiced apple chutney
before i met o, much of what i knew about boarding school was from books that i inherited from mama’s childhood collection. there was roald dahl’s ‘boy’ with its rambunctious descriptions of boarding school. it spoke of a world inhabited by strict headmasters, stern matrons and care packages from home brimming with nostalgia and longing. enid blyton’s ‘malory towers’ was a detailed sketch of a british all girl’s boarding school and was much more gleeful than coolidge’s american ‘what katy did next’. as much as i loved the books, they did not inspire a love for boarding school. i could not conceive of being away from home in an environment of abysmal school dinners and strict teachers. it is perhaps the reason why i never understood o’s love for his boarding school days until i met andrew maclehose, his headmaster.