This is an absolutely beautiful book, it brings to life a whole range of dishes that i simply never been exposed to. I attended a cookery course run by Sumayya in Oxford and so I already had attempted a couple of the recipes here, however the vast majority were entirely new to me.
The recipes are clearly written and the beautiful pictures are a real inspiration.
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!
A vibrant and joyous read filled with gorgeous recipes - I want to make every dish in the book, as well as visit Pakistan. Have already made the beef kebabs with tamarind sauce, which were excellent. A masterclass in spicing. Anyone with an interest food and beautiful writing will love this book.
I bought this book on the strength of it being featured in a best of 2016 list by a major UK newspaper. I have cooked several of the curries featured in the book with favourites being: chicken makhani; lamb with fennel and coriander; and, white chicken korma. It's very difficult if not impossible to make curries like those from British curry houses, but these are without doubt the next best thing. There are plenty of side dishes features as well as roasts - I tried the kashmiri leg of lamb recently and loved it. My only criticisms of the book are as follows: a) there are many typos; b) I disagree with some of the cooking techniques, for example it's actually rather difficult to brown a whole chicken or leg of lamb!; and, c) I've found a couple of recipes where the instructions are a bit vague or the quantity of an ingredient to be used is missing. Apart from that a fabulous book and highly recommended.
I would like to thank Sumayya for writing this book. My mother passed away, and with her passing I lost my encyclopedia of recipes. I have tried a few recipes in this book and so far all have tasted authentic, delicious and each dish is a triumph of flavour, spice and heat. My cooking was becoming a little too similar, but these recipes have cured that.
This is a beutiful authentic book, that offers traditional cuisine that is doable even for me. Not a bog standard curry recipe in sight, but each dish seems full of history and offer tastes that I have never experienced before. The writing tells of a journey though Sumayya life and is complemented beutifully by stories of Pakistan, i have learned a lot by reading it. I want to try them all. Fantastic book.
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!
I am amazed I got this book a day before it's actual release and I've had a good read through and as a British Pakistani, I'm so happy to finally see Pakistani cuisine! Because our food has distinctive dynamics, Pakistani and Indian cuisine are similar but they are different in the way we cook dishes. Sumayya has made such a beautiful book, what I love about it is the attention to detail, for example I love how she gives us an insight on the memories behind some of the most well known dishes. The photography is superb, I love the childhood pictures she's used, it gives me memories of when I went to Pakistan. And as, Meera Sodha said it is personal and beautiful. I cannot wait to try out some of her recipes! I am so glad Pakistani cuisine has finally come out and written into a book, there are so many recipes in Pakistan that I have discovered myself and I cannot wait to try Sumayya's recipes.
I've cooked loads of dishes from this book already, including sweet potato flatbreads, chickpea curry, spicy potatoes, a couple of the spice mixes ... all of them have been delicious. The book is easy to follow, and full of extremely interesting and tempting recipes. If you are lucky enough to have a store nearby that specialises in South Asian ingredients, you will find it easy to get everything required, but if not, there may be one or two things that are still more difficult to obtain unless you plan ahead and order online. The thing that I feel adds something extra to this book, however, is the personal element - the author includes stories and memories from her childhood, and some photographs too. We are invited to share in these memories through recreating the food that evokes them. It is a sweetly moving experience.