A little something about me- includes one of my homemade curries
Updated: Apr 2
It’s bizarre to me that talking about stuff in my head usually and the things I like doing has become my career, which is great.
I grew up with a very food orientated family in the Punjab, Pakistan. I lived in a town called Jhelum till the age of 18. It’s an agricultural area, with the foothills of the Himalayas in the background. We grew up cooking from scratch and we were encouraged to try everything. We made daily trips to the fruit and vegetable market - it’s trendy now but that’s just the way of life there.
Food was a massive part of my upbringing. We had 32 cousins and often we’d all do great, big picnics with so much yummy food. When I became a mum of four children, I wanted to transfer that magic to our children. Living in a different country and culture, I wanted to keep hold of all those precious moments and share them with my children. Now, I see a natural love of food flourishing in each of them. The most important thing for me is that my children learn to be curious about food, and the things that come with it- such as the social aspect and talking. Our children (not so little anymore) seem to have grasped the notion of being creative with ingredients. We cook a lot together in our home in England. I definitely believe that if you involve children in the cooking process, it translates into an interest in eating the end result. Family mealtimes have always been very important. We don’t manage it every day but sitting around the table is not just about the food, it’s about talking and communicating and developing a healthy relationship with what you eat, and with each other.
The obsession of creating new dishes and following my ancestor’s recipes encouraged me to run a family-based catering business from our home. I also started cookery school to share my passion. I simply love it! Opening your house to strangers at first felt like an intimidating idea but its been a hit and I haven’t looked back. I would like to share my recipes through my blog with you so please let me know if you try it; your thoughts and feedback would be amazing.
I do see my job as a privilege for many reasons and there is a huge amount of job satisfaction when people say oh, this is so good! I’ve tried to make my recipes as accessible and clear and I want them to work for you. Once you understand the process and connect with it, you will enjoy it.
In this challenging time of pandemic, we all want to stay strong and healthy. This particular recipe brings comfort and pleasure to my family. Starting a blog is pretty daunting but no better time than this when so many of us are stuck indoors and looking for creative ideas. Food brings people together, create this together and see if you like it.
Bhindi aur ghost (Okra and Lamb Curry)
I would say okra is bit like marmite you either love it or hate it! I love it!! I would be quite comfortable to say: it’s my signature dish. Okra commonly known as lady fingers is widely available in all Asian supermarkets in UK all year round as well as in Tesco, Asda and online. Preparation for this dish is a social affair, I remember when my mum would sit down on this little floor stool to top and tail all the vegetables whilst my aunt would prepare onions, garlic and ginger. They would natter over this task and make it look like you’re missing on something if you’re not a part of it. If you like okra and lamb, you will love this dish. It’s not a complicated meal to prepare at all. For the first time you might think it has too many steps but they’re super easy to follow:
1kg of Lean Lamb
2 or 3 Green chillies
4 Cloves of Garlic
6 fresh or 400g tinned tomato
1 tsp Salt to taste
1 tsp Chilli powder (hot or medium)
1tsp cumin seeds
1tsp coriander seeds
Turmeric powder (unless you have fresh, which is always better)
Put the lamb, one finely chopped onion, grated ginger, turmeric and pressed garlic into a heavy based pan with two table spoons of oil. Gently fry till all the meat is sealed and caramelised. Pour 450 ml of water and let it cook over slow to medium heat for 30 minutes with a heavy lid on.
While your meat is cooking, wash okra thoroughly and let it dry in colander. Shake well to get rid of the excess water, now dry one by one okra with kitchen paper before top and tail and cut into 2 cm. Use wok or frying pan to cook okra with 1 tbsp vegetable oil, one chopped onion, 1/2 tsp salt and ½ tsp chilli powder on low heat. This will take about 20 min to cook. In this method your okra will get beautifully dry without any slimy seeds that a lot of people don’t like. Cook your okra gently as it can disintegrate while cooking. Tossing your wok or pan is better rather then using heavy spoon to stir.
Once your lamb is cooked, add tomatoes and let it cook on high heat to create masala for about five minutes. Dry roast your cumin and coriander seeds on low heat till they have light gold colour. Grind them and add to your lamb. Now you combine the cooked caramelised okra with lamb masala.
You can serve this with light chopped tomato, mint and cucumber salad and naan bread.