Love this book, the recipes are a good mix of the traditional and contemporary. It's really great to see a cookbook that reflects Pakistani cuisine and culture in such a beautiful way, the personal pics, anecdotes and food pics are lovely. I'm not sure the chef/author has really got her dues, I'd like to see her enjoy more publicity as in my opinion she's captured the nuances and flavour's of a cuisine that needs more recognition.
I instantly grabbed this book when I spotted it on the shelf. Indian food is king here in the UK, but Pakistani food seemed non-existent -- until now. A must-have for me! A brief flip-through confirmed it to be sufficiently different from the mass of Indian cookbooks out there.
Sufficiently different, because:
...some of the recipes are akin to the food across the borders the country shares with the Indian states of Rajasthan and Gujarat. Others were imported from India by Muslims who left for Pakistan after 1947 and slightly adapted over time. This is the food of Summaya's home region of Sindh, which includes dishes such as Sindhi kari, aloo bharta, lasan ki chatni, gulab jamun, dahi bara, stuffed bitter gourd, to name a few.
...Punjab is shared between India and Pakistan, and so is the food. Punjabi food is most popular in Indian restaurants in the West: aloo gosht, namkeen gosht, fish and chicken tikka, butter chicken, kunna gosht, chicken korma.
Others are more typical for Pakistan. The country sits at the culinary crossroads of Central and West Asia and the Indian subcontinent and so gets culinary influences from all of them. Sajji, kat-a-kat, Hunter Beef, smoking and fermenting foods, the use of black cumin (bunium bulbocastanum, NOT the nigella, that spice is more widespread in use!), ghee and melted mutton fat, yogurt drinks and the famous naan give away Central Asian (Turkic) influence. Kashmiri food is Himalayan.
The most prevalent and varied culinary influence, however, is still that of the Persian conquerors. Having been under Persian rule several times since before the Middle Ages and most recently in the 1700s, Persian culinary roots are prominently displayed: biryani, pulao (polo), most Punjabi and Mughlai meat dishes (including those I mentioned above), sherbet, falooda, boranis, kababs, milky beverages, roses and other flowery additions...
More than a little Arabic influence also still holds up which originates in the spice trade and can be seen in dishes such as beef khichra (haleem), shami kabab ("shami" meaning Syrian), ladoo, and the use of poppy seeds and tamarind. More recently Afghan immigrants made some of their dishes popular: qabeli pulao and chapli kabab.
All this together makes for a unique culinary fusion of Western, Central, and Southern Asian styles and additions. Summaya clearly labeled her own versions of dishes (e.g. apple pakoras) and tried to "westernize" as little as possible: Kat-a-kat for example is a dish which very few people in the UK could or would have cooked in its original form mainly due to lack of availability of ingredients. I would still have liked to see the recipe for the Pakistani version, so for me that's a little minus. But wherever possible and that's most of the times, you get them as traditional as they come: slowly melt mutton fat in pan... (namkeen gosht)
The main reason I give this book only 4 stars is that some of the measurements in a (admittedly small) number of recipes are just unrealistic: Crispy bhindi serves 6 and uses 9 ounces besan for 50 grams of okra; the fish kofta kari divides 150 grams of fish among 6, that's 25 grams of fish per person so not enough to really flavor, let alone feed, this many people (!) to name two. The editor should have noticed that and no it's not the typesetting because the ounces match the grams. Beginners cooking these for the first time could trip up here...
But for me at least, the book is still a treasure, as Madhur Jaffrey is quoted on the cover!
This is a beautiful, original cookbook. The recipes are easy to follow and although the author uses a lot of spices they are easy to find in South Asian shops or online (amazon has all of them). The section on drinks is excellent and original, I'm sure you can impress your friends with some of her drinks. The meat and vegetable section is also really good, some vegetarian main dishes are included, soups, dahls and curries. I really recommend this book, especially if you are looking for something new for your repertoire and new flavors. The book also includes the memories of the author of her country of origin, so it makes the book not only a good recipe book but an excellent before bed reading!
More style over substance. A small handful of decent recipes (2-3) but if you truly know the cuisine of Pakistan, you'll know that this bookreally doesn't take into consideration the real flavours of the rest of the country (heavilly 'Sindhi' taste orientated) so not a true reflection of the nations culinary styles. My copy, sadly went back!
Sumayya was born and raised in Karachi and her love for Pakistani food shines through this book. I really like the introductory chapters, giving away the family spice blends as well as painting a picture of her childhood, and learning to cook with her mother and grandmother. It’s not a cuisine with which I’m intimately familiar, but I’m inspired to learn more, starting with some of these recipes. I really like the look of red onion, mint and green chilli Hyderabadi-style samosas, Mummy’s dahi baras (soft lentil dumplings), sweet potato and squash parathas, Dadi’s puris, Afghani lamb pulao, Rose garam masala mutton chops, Hunter beef, Lahori fish, Crispy bhindi, Nani’s salted lemon preserve, Pomegranate and raspberry chutney, hibiscus and Himalayan pink salt, and Mango and chilli papper. It’s really noticeable how much more frequently meat turns up in these recipes than in Indian cook books; it seems as though Pakistan is much more carnivorous than India (with, obviously, unlike in India the Hindu prohibition on beef not applying.)
There are over 100 recipes with many, but not all, illustrated by full page photos. They are clearly explained, with preparation and cooking times given as well as the number of people served. Ingredients are in a side-bar, using a small font that might challenge the eyesight. Recipes are divided between 11 chapters, with a further six chapters giving Sumayya’s background and some details of Pakistani cooking techniques and use of spices. Recipe chapters are: Awakening the senses (breakfast), Tantalising the taste buds (street food and snacks), breaking bread and sharing rice, meaty markets and weekdays bazaars, birds from the Empress (the Empress market in Karachi), sailing the seas (seafood), my grandmother’s garden (vegetables, fruit and salad), home-grown guavas (chutneys and pickles), under motia-filled sky (celebration feasts), the sweet taste of mango heaven (desserts), and chai-pani (hot and cold drinks).
We received a review copy of this book from the publisher.
I know Pakistani home cooking well, being married to a Pakistani, who loves to cook. This book reflects the cooking style of many Pakistanis at home. I can see the author has a lot more to give, highlighting more distinct and regional flavours in some recipes - I am certain this author will share more soon! I can not wait! I love this book, and the recipes really work!
I'm afraid I have to join the tiny minority who found this disappointing. For me it's not about any lack of authenticity (I'm not really in a position to make a judgement on that) but, more worryingly to me, an evident lack of cooking knowledge.
Anyone who tries some of these recipes and expects that their mutton, cooked on top of the stove, will be tender after 45 minutes or that onions will turn golden after 5 minutes of frying, or that cubed chicken will only be half-cooked after 15 minutes simmering in a broth or that a 200g chicken fillet will feed 4, is in for a frustrating and disappointing experience.
I've kept picking it up, this lovely looking book, desperate to love it and to find it inspiring but have then encountered countless examples of dubious advice as per the examples given and have promptly put it back on the shelf without trying anything.
I think it's a great shame when inexperienced amateur cooks are put off cooking by lazy, inaccurate recipes and methods, probably believing that they themselves are to blame for the fact that the dish didn't work and reinforcing the idea that they aren't very good cooks.
Don't authors bother to test their recipes any more before publishing? I don't think I'd trust this author to boil me an egg.