Sunday, 31 March 2013

my dadi and her besan ka halva

besan ka halva
my dadi (paternal grandmother) is a formidable woman. as a child, her appetite for grisly stories intended to inculcate fearlessness in her grandchildren gave me nightmares. they were peppered with kidnappings and robberies by wadera’s and daku’s (vernacular for tribal chieftains and robbers). it did not help that my vivid imagination was easily supplemented by figures in dramas like kashkol and dasht. the latter was about the story of two lovers caught between personal enmities of warring tribes in balochistan. it was replete with burly men with butterfly moustaches bearing arms. the former was about a beggar cartel whose network was made up of kidnapped children. she was keen on us watching these with her. in addition she had grown up in an age when religion was synonymous with fearing god. and so i grew up hearing much about sinning, the afterlife and hell.

Friday, 29 March 2013

a thursday cake + a common cold

nigel slater's banana chocolate muscovado cake
it’s wednesday. winter is dragging its feet. i have just finished evening classes on refugee law. tomorrow i have plans for a grand breakfast with my cake making and food loving friend t. i am thinking bloody marys and a stack of scotch pancakes at hawksmoor guildhall. but the winter season has other plans for me. the cold and cough that i have been pre-empting since last year has decided to make an appearance. i wake in the middle of the night to a familiar soreness that marks the onset of a cold.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

a wednesday cake.

lemon buttermilk loaf cake
wednesday was in two minds, vacillating between bright sunshine and flurries of snow. from a window it looked like confetti. it reminded me of my aunt’s snow globe, a static scene of london encased in an arch of glass. shake the globe and it would snow. the little me thought snow was wondrous. even now snow retains some of that sense of wonder but only when i am warm and watching it through a window. o and i took the canonbury river walk one weekend when london was blanketed with white. on our way there we stopped in highbury fields and attempted to make a snowman. that was in january and now it is march. it should be spring.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

blood orange marmalade

blood orange marmalade
marmalade is a curiously british obsession. it is a preserve of much beauty with lengths of citrus peel suspended in amber tones of orange or jewel tones of green when using limes. at verde and co a line up of marmalade jars lit from behind summons a warm luminosity that is substantial enough to brighten a cold and dull winter day. at the close of the year the tidal wave of christmas and new year recipes are replaced by marmalade. they coincide with the appearance of blood and seville oranges at farmers markets and in shops. despite its inherent britishness marmalade draws its origins from the portuguese preserve ‘marmelada’ which was made with quince. the tradition goes back some two thousand years. it is to the scots that we owe marmalade as we know it now as they pioneered the switch from quince to seville oranges. by the nineteenth century british companies like robertson’s and frank cooper’s were producing marmalade commercially. frank cooper’s marmalade has a rather distinguished pedigree. it was favoured by sir edmund hilary who carried it when he scaled mount everest. the fictional james bond has it for breakfast with jersey butter.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

a recipe for artichoke hummus

artichoke hummus
hummus appeared in my family’s kitchen in the early 90’s. baba brought the taste back from his travels around the middle east. i should ask mama where she got the recipe, for this is before the time that the world wide web became part and parcel of our daily existence. in london baba would take us to beirut express. their hummus has an assertive tahini character and is finished with a pool of olive oil , chopped flat leaf parsley and some whole chickpeas. hummus has become ubiquitous. it has global allure and everyone seems to be eating it. the brit’s will even eat it in sandwiches or wraps for office lunches. it crops up with crudities at parties and cocktail receptions. the real problem though is that most of this hummus comes from little plastic tubs from supermarkets and tastes awful. my home-made version is rich in tahini and will find itself adorned with herbs and spices like cumin, sumac or zaatar.