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How My Dishes Have Changed Since Living in Pakistan

June 17, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 120

I have mostly lived in Europe, and this has certainly influenced the way I cook. Before I came to Pakistan, I always had a plentiful supply of herbs such as oregano (my favourite), bay leaves and so many others. My kitchen cupboards have also always contained spices and soy sauce, along with sesame oil and olive oil. It would be difficult for people who live permanently in the West to imagine the differences in culinary skills which are needed to make everyday dishes in Pakistan.

Although I was taught how to make some dishes from the Indian subcontinent many years ago by an Indian lady I knew, I had failed miserably then and still do now at making chapatti or roti as the unleavened flat bread is called here. My Pakistani husband can't produce a good one either, so we buy them from the street tandoor.

You can buy herbs from the hypermarkets which are dotted around the capital city of Islamabad, but we don't visit these very often, as I am too tired after work to think about going shopping; so that means cooking with the ingredients that are to hand in the local bazaar. As Pakistan is an Islamic country, there is no wine to be had so dishes which call for a good slug of red or white wine are out.

I have to say that my husband is a very good chef, but I like cooking and have had to adapt the European recipes I know to suit the available ingredients. It's no problem to knock up a ratatouille for example as there are lots of aubergines, courgettes and other fresh vegetables, but there are no Mediterranean herbs to go in it except for fresh coriander leaves, so I have used cumin seeds, coriander seeds and lots of fresh coriander leaves to flavour it with some chilli powder. Then one day I was cooking during a power cut (these are frequent everyday occurrences and a fact of life that I have still not learned to deal with). In the almost darkness of the kitchen cupboard, I picked up the jar of chilli powder, only to find when the lights came on that it was in fact a jar of turmeric. "Whoops!" I saved the day with a liberal dash of Tabasco sauce and all was well. In fact, the dish seemed to be much improved with the addition of the turmeric. Since then it has always been added along with the chilli powder.

My spaghetti Bolognaise is also very different to the Italian one as instead of the usual herbs, the only one I use is fresh coriander leaves and spices- a small piece of cinnamon stick, cumin seeds, ginger, toasted coriander seeds and a little chilli powder. It's a very good fusion dish I do serve it with pasta and not roti though.

If I go back to live in Europe I will miss the leafy greens here, the purslane, fenugreek and others which I don't know the names of. I'm not sure if I will miss karalla (bitter melon) or chong (Caralluma fimbriata), the bitter vegetables, but I will miss not being able to buy them in the open bazaars if I fancy them.

I have learned a lot about cooking here, and hope I can continue to cook in this simple way if I return to the West. If you like the idea of this type of fusion food, why not have a look at some of the recipes on this site? Just click on the link and find out what this site is all about.

Source: EzineArticles
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Chilli Powder


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Toasted Coriander Seeds

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