A culinary journey
AS I battle with the season’s lurgy, I hope that it doesn’t ruin an important week. Not only is it my birthday week, but it also includes a whirlwind weekend trip to appear at the Lahore Literary Festival in Pakistan.
The fact that I will get to see my parents for even two days has kept me taking every medicine known to man to make this illness disappear. I would do anything for a bowl of food made by my mother, but I have no time to pamper myself with any thoughts of feeling sorry for myself.
For some reason this winter seems to have dragged more that the other two I have spent in Scotland – whether it is because we have seen a lot more snow than usual, or the fact that heating a larger home seems to take longer than the smaller places I have lived in previously. Either way, I do see some hope as the snowdrops and daffodils peer over the grey brown beds and grass below.
To keep me going, I dream of next spring when my raised boxes will be awash with spring greens and I’ll be tending to them in the glorious Scottish spring sunshine. Gardening will be my go-to middleaged pastime.
As we hopefully draw closer to warmer weather, I am reminded of the excitement of cooking hearty, comforting meals at the start of winter, and how that thought balms us through most of the colder months. But come March, we are so ready to ditch the stews and slow-cooked dishes and crave some freshness on a plate.
Growing up I never valued the seasons in a part of Pakistan that merely knew two: summer and winter. I did, however, always value the seasonality of produce, but in a country where greens were available all year around because of the temperate climate, the real challenge was when I moved to the UK and spent months deprived of any sign of seasonal greens. Slowly, however, I learned how exciting it was to see the first shoots spring up, how hope of warmer days comes with the first sight of fresh lime green leaves on plants.
But as I turn to the kitchen, something about the warmth of steaming curry, blanketing me in comfort, reminds me I am not quite ready to let go of the reassuring cuddle winter forces you towards. So, in need of a quick fix, I search through my fridge and decide on a dish my mother used to make when I was sick. She always made it with ground almonds but, inspired by those snowdrops in the garden, I use ground pistachios instead.
The light green hue brings with it a hope of warmth and longer days ahead. It’s my last push through to cook something comforting, before more spring freshness hits my kitchen.