Sumayya Usmani in the Guardian and at Asia House
13 May 2016


So, there are few things that remind of home – or summer holidays with the grandparents – more than talk of desi khana. Enter the growing genre of South Asian food writing and blogging, the loveliest of which evokes childhood memories of the kitchens of our mothers and grandmothers, the sights, smells and sounds of a Lahori or Delhi neighbourhood or market, and even the political histories of particular communities and countries. All setting the scene for authentic recipes for everyday, feast and even street food – kheer, aloo ke parathe and channe ki daal the way you remember them.

So what a treat to see food writer and cookery teacher Sumayya Usmani’s recent four-part series in the Guardian on Pakistani food – which is relatively less understood here than Indian food. As resident writer for the newspaper’s February COOK issues, Sumayya remembers her childhood in Karachi, holidays in northern Pakistan, Eid and wedding celebrations, and concludes with a tribute to Scotland, her current home. She writes of learning her andaza skills – what she calls “the art of sensory cooking and estimation” – from watching her mother cook in the galley of the cargo ship on which they lived during her early childhood. There’s a recipe for the little-known Hunzakut burutz berikutz (fresh cottage cheese in chapatis) which reminded me of a much-treasured holiday in the beautiful Hunza valley many years ago. There are reminiscences of the scent of motia, the smell of wedding deygs, the taste of late-night taftaans and jalebis. And more recipes – for a festive nihari-type slow-cooked lamb curry, Scottish parathas, and nani-style firni, and carrot pickle, which might be as good as my nani’s lasura pickle – but I doubt it :). It’s a lovely, so lovely read.

The articles are available here:

Cook residency: My nani’s firni and a sea bass masala recipes

Sumayya Usmani’s lamb shank kunna gosht is the recipe for a mighty feast

Recipes for spiced chicken and chapatis from northern Pakistan

Two worlds collide: Pakistan meets Scotland on a plate

Sumayya will also be launching her new book ‘Summers Under the Tamarind Tree: Recipes and memories from Pakistan’ at the Asia House Literature Festival in May. Details of the event are below, and the book is available here, but do try to support your local bookshop and ask them to order it if they don’t have it immediately available.


When: 13 May 2016, 12.30pm

Where: Asia House, 63 New Cavendish Street, London W1G 7LP

Tickets: £8 (£5 concessions)

Website: Asia House


Posted by SK on 18 March 2016

Photo from the Guardian

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