Living abroad? These desi food recipes will make you feel right at home

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Make yourself delicious mutton korma to some home feels

An immigrant dreams to go back home, to the far country, where the parents are alive and well, the childhood family home is bustling with activity and the aroma of freshly-cooked food emanates from the lively kitchen. However, many from amongst us go back to a home where the parents are no more and the family kitchen is no more a hustle bustle of activity, the way we left it many years ago.

Yes, it wasn’t frozen in time, but as I learnt on my two recent trips to Pakistan, if we are lucky and blessed enough to have a loving extended family in Pakistan, willing to shower us with tender loving care (i.e. home-made food), we feel fulfilled and loved, and leave Pakistan with the warmth that comes with visiting ‘home’.

I am most happy to say that my sweet aunt cooked the most delicious food for me. Upon landing in Karachi, my siblings and I, with our respective spouses, were invited for a lavish meal of biryani, shami kebab and mutton qorma, accompanied by many other side dishes. And the conversation around the table was as lively as it could have been. We chatted up a storm, feeling at home, because of the warmth of our wonderful hosts and the home-made feast they laid out for us.

The biryani at the table was of a unique kind. It was as elegant as pulao, and as delicious as the best biryani you’ve ever had. I will be sharing that recipe with you soon, as soon as I acquire it. Leaving the home of our hosts, and on returning to my family home, I felt fulfilled, appreciating the bonds that food enables to flourish.

The next few days that I was in Karachi, my dearest aunt sent me home-made food every day. The menu was impeccable, the cooking mother-perfect and the feeling indescribable — from tehrri to chicken curry, karrhi to qeema karalay, parathay to kebab. Degchis (pots) of hot food found its way to our house and, in the process, left me with the sweetest feeling of belonging.

We belong to our parents, country, siblings, family and friends because we break bread together. We feast together, and the mothers who cook for us (may they be ours or someone else’s) leave us feeling nourished. They remind us that food creates the sweetest bonds, and that childhood kitchen smells are still waiting for all immigrants. Thank you mothers and motherland, for always embracing us.

MUTTON QORMA

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Ingredients (serves 6 to 8)

6 to 8 oz oil

3 lbs mutton or chicken

1 tsp heaped finely chopped fresh ginger

1 tsp heaped finely chopped fresh garlic

3 medium sized onions (finely sliced)

2 or 3 cinnamon sticks

½ tsp cloves

½ tsp black peppercorns

2 or 3 black cardamoms

14 to 16 green cardamoms, split

4 bay leaves

2 tbs kewra water (pandanus water)

2 to 3 tbs almonds (optional)

Salt to taste

2 tsp red chilli powder

1 ½ tsp coriander powder

½ tsp garam masala powder

1 ½ tsp cumin powder

12 oz yoghurt

56 to 64 oz water if cooking mutton; 40 to 48 oz water if cooking chicken

Method

Heat oil, fry onions until golden brown, drain onions and set aside. In the same oil fry whole garam masalas and green cardamom for a couple of minutes, and then add meat.

Maintaining high heat, fry the meat, and add ginger garlic, yoghurt, powdered masalas, salt and fried onions.

Braise meat for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring constantly.

Bring water to boil and add to meat, letting the korma boil for a few minutes and lowering the heat to medium.

Let cook, adding bay leaves and kewra water. Once the curry thickens, and the meat becomes tender and oil separates your qorma is ready to be served.

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