As you soak up Sumayya Usmani’s compelling tales of a Pakistani childhood spent “under the lofty, sheltering branches of my grandmother’s tamarind tree”, you in turn soak up the spirit, the passion, the attitude, and the authentic flavours of a much-overlooked country.
Formed some 70 years ago, Pakistan has actually been developing its culinary heritage over centuries. Home to many overlapping civilisations, more than 20 languages, a rich coastline, diverse climate and myriad layers of border cuisine, Pakistani food is both exotically ancient and enticingly modern.
Summers Under the Tamarind Tree: Recipes & Memories from Pakistan is an explosion of colour and flavour that will tantalise the tastebuds and awaken the senses; a beautifully written, contemporary cookbook structured around the traditions of Pakistan’s diverse culture, distinct aromas, mixed geography and its community of people.
Pakistan’s coastline ensures plenty of amazing fish dishes, while its borders with Iran, Afghanistan, India and China mean strong Arabic, Persian and varied Asian flavours. Summers Under The Tamarind Tree is truly Pakistan uncovered – its cooking techniques; its key spices (along with Sumayya’s family blends); its breakfasts and breads, pulses and rice; its street food and snacks; its mighty meats and meatless days (Tuesdays and Wednesdays); its sumptuous seafood; its chicken and other birds; its desserts and drinks; and the family, friendship and faith-fuelled feasts of this festival nation.
Tapping a burgeoning interest in the food of the sub-continent, Summers Under the Tamarind Tree reveals the varied and exciting cuisine of this stunning landscape. Sumayya evokes the richly spiced, aromatic pleasure of Pakistani food through more than 100 recipes, interweaving these with reflections on the heritage and traditions of her beloved home country and a joyous youth spent in the kitchen with her grandmother and mother.
Former lawyer-turned-food writer and cookery teacher Sumayya says: “When people think of Pakistan, they probably picture a simple land plagued by troubles. But having grown up in Karachi, to me Pakistan means a peaceful, happy childhood filled with exciting scents, sounds and most importantly, flavours. Food is the spirit of Pakistani people and it’s something that has been many thousands of years in the making.”
Sumayya Usmani was born and raised in Karachi, Pakistan and has lived in the UK for over 10 years, in London and Glasgow. With a rich food heritage she is passionate about Pakistani cuisine and has grown up loving and cooking the food she knows with the women in her family. Summers Under the Tamarind Tree is her first book.
Sumayya read her Masters in Law and practiced as a solicitor for 15 years, while writing recipes on her own website and regularly contributing to UK and international publications. In early 2012 Sumayya decided to pursue her food career full-time and is now a freelance food writer and teacher hosting modern and traditional Pakistani cookery classes and supper clubs at venues around the UK including London’s Divertimenti and Sophie Grigson cookery schools.
Sumayya will be at the Festival on Sunday 19 June at 3.30pm
Click here for Sumayya's website