Nov 28, 2011

The Taste Of Home

By Zoha Jabbar


During the Partition of the Subcontinent, my mother's parents migrated from Jetpur and Dhoraji, while my father's parents emigrated from Bantva and Kutiyana. Upon first hearing this, I asked my grandfather what I was, and where my roots lay. He thought for a long time, trying to simplify Pakistan's ethnic history for an eight year old. Finally, he led me to the kitchen and handed me a plate of steaming Nihari. "This," he said, "this is what you are!" He looked proud of himself as I eyed him skeptically.

Since then, I have associated Nihari with the taste of Pakistan. A rich stew, with smooth curry and shanks of beef. This one dish is a delicious blend of all the spices which smell of home. A single bite of naan-bread soaked in Nihari can transport one to the royal kitchens of the Nawab of Lucknow.

The zesty stew sings of monsoon skies and mango trees as it boasts an impressive mix of piquant garlic, fiery chillies and prickly cloves. It speaks of Winter dawns, with the feel of chapped lips and warm socks, on a rooftop with plates of Nihari served in metal trays of boiling water to keep it warm. The hot fragrance of cinnamon and ginger enveloped us as it hovered in the dense Winter fog.

It reminds me of my grandmother's kitchen, redolent with the refreshing aromas of cumin and aniseed. She would smile at me from behind the stove, covered in flour.

It is the hands of generations of subcontinental women as they sprinkled coriander leaves. It is the dupattas they used to wipe flour off their arms.It is the ardent prayers said over a spread dastarkhwan. It is the kites flown by boys in Basant. It is the brightness of glass bangles on Eid. It is the henna that meant the boys had to feed the girls on the night of the moon-sighting.

It is home.

9 comments:

Sania Bilwani said...

Brilliant! This makes me like Nihari even more. :)

Sana Noor said...

Wow!

Fatema Shabbir said...

I love it :)

Farwa Haider said...

Exotic! I love it.

Zoha Jabbar said...

Thank you! :D

Blue Wit said...

I've just had dinner and I still wanted to eat Nihari after reading this.

Noor-us-Sabah Adamjee said...

yummm

Maha asif said...

This is WOW!!.. loved it.. :)

Zoha Jabbar said...

Thanks :)

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