Curry Kabab & More by Dr. Talat Bukhari
By Arif Mansuri
‘Fresh food prepared daily’ – proclaimed a sign in a restaurant. To a customer’s utter surprise ‘elephant soup’ was among one of the dishes listed in the menu! When the owner of this little restaurant came by to take the order the customer asked, ‘Do you really serve elephant soup here?’ ‘Sure we do – it’s on the menu, isn’t it?’ replied the owner. The customer said, ‘OK, I would like to try it’. ‘How many soups do you want,’ the owner asked. ‘Just one,’ the customer replied. ‘Forget about it,’ cried the owner in disgust, ‘I will not kill an elephant for just one lousy soup’!
In all seriousness, it is almost necessary to prepare your own food if you really want freshly cooked food any more. I was therefore intrigued when I saw the coffee table book entitled “Curry Kabab & More” written by Dr. Talat Bukhari, on a friend’s desk whom I was visiting.
What attracted me to this book first was the cover. This hardbound book has a very attractive cover commensurate with the classical beauty of the traditional Pakistani cuisine. When I picked up the book and started thumbing through it (with my friend’s permission of course) I was impressed with the overall quality of graphics and printing. Soon I found myself getting hungrier by the minute looking at the many full-color pictures of mouth-watering dishes.
I asked my friend if I could borrow the book and he graciously allowed me to take it with me, upon my promise to return all the books I had borrowed from him before!
I read this book of favorite Pakistani recipes off and on for the next several days. This 225-page thick book has recipes for almost every Pakistani dish I can think of. From appetizers and snacks to raita, achar, chutney, vegetarian/non-vegetarian dishes and deserts – it has recipes for every thing. The book even includes recipes for drinks such as lassi, Kashmiri chai, mango shake and much more.
Recipes are listed in a very organized and easily understandable manner. Comprehensive ‘Table of Content’ in the beginning and a complete ‘Index’ at the back of the book make it possible to locate the information expeditiously.
The ingredients of the dishes are neatly listed in a column on the left hand side of the page and the cooking method for the dish is concisely described on the right hand side of the same page. One good thing about the book is that it is written in English, as opposed to some other cook books that are written in Urdu and then translated into English (if you don’t see a problem here then try translating ‘baghary baingan’ or ‘tadka daal’ from Urdu to English).
Author of this book, Dr. Talat Bukhari, is originally from Lahore and currently resides in Dallas, Texas. She is a physician, who received her education in Pakistan and the USA. She became interested in cooking after moving to the States with her husband in 1964, who had come to the USA for postgraduate medical education in surgery. Almost all the recipes included in this book are authentic Pakistani home-cooking recipes that are traditionally handed down from mother to daughter, perfected by the author.
Coming weekend a few friends were invited to our home for dinner. I told my wife that I was going to cook a dish or two from this recipe book that I had been reading. Being a very supportive wife, she told me that just to encourage me in pursuit of my passion, she would not mind if I took care of preparing all the food for this occasion from appetizers to deserts and drinks. After some hard bargaining we settled for me having to cook only two dishes!
I choose Beef Seekh Kabab and Channa Dal. I found the recipes easy to follow. For the first time ever my Seekh Kababs did not fall off the skewers into the grill and disappeared. To my surprise the dishes I cooked looked very much like the pictures in the book and tasted great too!
The book contains more than just recipes. It contains a wealth of information related to the culture, spices and cuisine of Pakistan. I think that any one interested in learning the art of cooking the delicious and fine Pakistani cuisine, from week-end warriors or occasional cooks like me to people that wish to adopt cooking as a profession, can learn something from this comprehensive cook book.
“Curry Kabab & More” written by Dr. Talat Bukhari is available from Amazon.com, where the hardcover book is listed at $64.50 per copy.