Spice girl of the west
“There was a lot of experimentation, something she probably wouldn’t have done had she been in Pakistan. My earliest memories are of my mother cooking on the ships, because there wasn’t a lot to do, she used to spend her time cooking.”
Jamil is keen to differentiate between Pakistani and Indian cuisine. “I never realised what a passion I had for Pakistani cuisine until I left, about seven years ago. I did always cook it but I didn’t realise I was so obsessed with the differences of our cuisine and it really hit me when I moved to the UK because I realised how boxed-in south Asian food was in terms of the generic term ‘Indian food’.
“When I said Pakistani food, people said ‘It’s all the same’, but there’s a distinct flavour and aroma and the methods of cooking are slightly different. And one of the differences between the Indian and the Pakistani is that we eat lots of meat, tons of meat, so that comes out in our cuisine.”
Jamil travels home to Pakistan regularly, and is currently researching a cookery book. “There is a real celebration of food in our country. There’s not a lot to do there except to eat – eating is our biggest pastime, so the restaurants boom in Pakistan. Every year I go home I find 15, 20 new restaurants opening up. The Pakistani’s greatest pleasure is eating.”
Girls’ Night at Kinara Kitchen, Friday, February 1st, tel: 01-4060066. See pukkapaki.com
ROSE WATER KULFI WITH PEAR, CINNAMON AND STAR ANISE
Recipe by Sumayya Jamil. Serves 10-12
60-70g chopped peeled pears, stewed until soft with 1 tbsp sugar, one whole star anise and half a cinnamon stick
1 litre whole milk
1 can sweet condensed milk
50g whole milk powder
300g ricotta cheese
2 tsp cornflour, made into thin paste with a little water
half tsp ground star anise
half tsp ground cinnamon
1 pinch saffron
2 tsp rose water
50g chopped blanched almonds, toasted slightly
In a saucepan, on medium heat, boil the whole milk until it reduces a little (15-20 minutes). Add the condensed milk and stir until dissolved. Now add the ricotta, powdered milk, spices and almonds. Add the cornflour mixture to thicken. Add the stewed pears (without the whole spices)and rose water. Take the mixture off the heat and allow it to cool before pouring into kulfi moulds, or a loaf tin, and freeze for seven to eight hours or overnight.
When ready to serve, allow the kulfi to defrost for a few minutes, which will make it easier to slide out of the mould to serve or to slice.