Five pages of ideas to make the most of your Sunday
Growing up, Sumayya Usmani was a meat-lover but she’s changed. Let her show you why...
There was a time when my mouth would water thinking of cured beef of any kind in a sandwich, but how things change. I like to think I have evolved due to ethical reasons, but I also think it has a lot to do with changing tastebuds and flavour appreciation. My journey to eating more veggies is definitely surprising me more than I thought. The fact that I crave vegetables now makes me think that anyone can change the way they eat. Once you expose your consciousness to new experiences, it’s funny how your mind opens up.
Recently, on a cinema trip, as I picked a veggie option sandwich, I was thrown by how much I savoured every bite, I realised that non-meat sandwiches are much more satisfying. Texture, layers of varied flavour and an ability to retain moisture makes most vegetarian sandwiches a much better experience that a dried-out meat slice surrounded with wilted lettuce. When I think back to sandwiches growing up, in a meat-eating culture, my favourite was the street food burger sandwich, bun kebab. Found on the heaving roadsides of Karachi, cooked
amidst car fumes and belligerent traffic, you’d spot a massive cast iron griddle over an old cooking oil can firepit, a lone man surrounded by burger buns and patties, who would religiously start cooking up this Karachi favourite from 9am every day. Potato and lentil patty, lashings of piquant tamarind and fresh coriander chutneys, salad, all in the middle of a brioche bun – this really was the dream sandwich to me.
When I think of dishes that I craved growing up, it is funny that they were always the ones where a vegetable was the star of the dish, bhagar-e-baingan (aubergine and peanut curry), tamatar ka cutt (tomato and curry leaf warm chutney), aalo ki bhujia (spicy potato fry) and palak paneer (cheese and spinach stir fry).
Could it be possible that I loved vegetables more than I knew and that the meat eating was done by expectation? Maybe. But what I do know now is that though I do no like labelling myself, or restricting myself eating anything, I definitely define myself as a “default vegetarian”.