If you thought only curries constituted Pakistani cuisine, think again.
With a veritable cornucopia of fruits, vegetables, nuts, rice and spices available from the fertile plains of the Punjab to the foothills of the Hindu Kush to the densely populated Karachi, recipes have developed over generations for Ã¢â‚¬Å“muh meetha karnaÃ¢â‚¬Â Ã¢â‚¬â€œ sweetening one’s mouth.
Pakistani cookery writer Sumayya Usmani has taken the sweetest inspiration from these recipes and added a modern twist in her latest book Mountain Berries & Desert Spice (Frances Lincoln, 6th April). From breakfast to tea to a wedding feast, no occasion escapes these mouth-watering delights. What’s more, all the ingredients are readily available in the UK.
In fact, not only the ingredients, but also the recipes will strike a chord with variations of bread or rice puddings, pastries, pancakes, porridge, toffees, biscuits and even doughnuts (Gulgulay). The simple, yet stunning photography of mini slabs of saffron and honey caramels clinching pistachios and almonds, frozen kulfi sticks flavoured with cardamom, bay and honey, lychee and sago pudding perfumed with rose water, spiced apples stuffed into samosas, peanut brittle and sesame taffy are enough to make your mouth water.
The recipes are sweetened with jaggery. That may sound like teeth-clenching sticky toffee but it’s actually an umbrella word Ã¢â‚¬â€œ and a lovely one at that Ã¢â‚¬â€œ for sweeteners such as natural unrefined sugar cane, dates, coconut sap or palm molasses. Even paneer (cheese) is given the sweet treatment, tossed with fried nuts, fruit and spiced sugar syrup.
All-in-all, a delightfully eye-opening book that will have you reaching for the jaggery in no time.