I still vividly remember my childhood days, every time my Grandfather came across to Karachi he would bring us roasted “Teetar” (the Grey Partridge or the Grey Francolin) and “Bater” (quail); both birds were delicacies and often raised or hunted with great passion. Roasted to perfection in some of the best spices and herbs, I can still taste them today in my memory. He would bring us the Honey, with the pieces of the honey comb inside the bottle, from the orange orchards. The honey tasted and smelled of oranges, I don’t think I have tasted honey that good ever again. My Grandmother would make us Halwa from sprouted and roasted wheat (which by the way takes hours of cooking); “tikras” a fried sweet dough pastry flavoured with cardamom, fennel and cumin; and my favourite the “achar” mango pickles (in a big ceramic jar, don’t see those any more).
Though by today’s standards the distance doesn’t seem much as within hours we transit the world zooming in and out of airports. At that time the journey even by the plane took most of a day. There was no airport in the small town that they lived in (there still isn’t one) the nearest airport was in the city of Lahore which was good 6 hours’ drive as the roads were bad (this is if they didn’t get stuck in a traffic jam). Flights were often late. The other option was by train which took over 24 hours. They made this journey with so much love and enthusiasm that I still feel it in me today.
Between my grandparents they made 2-4 trips in the year to be with us. We looked forward to the trips needless to say.
My childhood is full of memories of food, everything in my life was about food. I don’t ever remember having bad or even average food. On both my paternal and maternal side I was blessed with amazingly good cooks in form of grandmothers, in my aunts and in my cousins. Not only did they cook exceptionally well they cooked with so much love that the food tasted heavenly. They didn’t wait for us to come over to share food with them they would send us food at every opportunity that they got with relative and friends that came to Karachi.
My parents kept this tradition of sharing home cooked food alive. Every trip that my Mother or siblings have made to Singapore they have brought us home cooked food, especially the roasted Mutton, Biryani, Shami Kababs and the Carrot Halwa.
With my Husband going back home I wanted to relive my childhood memories by sharing food with my family. Well no I didn’t make “Teetar” and “Batar”; though I wonder if I would find them in Mustafa (a super wonder Indian store in Singapore which some how stocks everything under the sun and no exaggeration in this though the assortment is placed with no specific order and one could easily spend the whole day looking for items on the grocery list).
For three days I was in the kitchen, baking bread, cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting, chocolate filled cinnamon rolls, chocolate chip cookies (the recipe for which I’m still working on hoping this one would be perfect), banana bread, sticky toffee date pudding and the French Macarons. The macarons gave me the toughest time. These delicate biscuits are the finickiest to make. Requiring complete focus and patience I did manage to make them. Though nothing even close to the ones in a bakery in terms of presentation, they were decent in taste I have to admit.
The house smelled delicious just like a bakery. The kids were upset as they weren’t allowed to touch any of the goodies. I promised to make them more this week. They didn’t look happy at all. The irresistible aroma of freshly baked goodies and then not being allowed to eat them must have been a challenge for them. They were happy to know that daddy was taking all this food for their cousins.
Food is love in my universe and food shared with family and friends is what makes my world so special.