Sumayya Usmani


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Murdoch Books
13 April 2023
ISBN: 9781922616197
312 pages

From the publisher

'[Sumayya Usmani is] the go-to expert in Pakistani cuisine' - BBC Good Food Magazine

'Sumayya Usmani is a brilliant storyteller. She transports us with her delicious descriptions of the smells and flavours of the kitchen.'
- Jay Rayner, award-winning writer and food critic

Award-winning food writer Sumayya Usmani's stunning memoir conjures a story of what it was like growing up in Pakistan and how the women in her life inspired her to trust her instincts in the kitchen.

From a young age, food was Sumayya's portal to nurturing, love and self-expression. She spent the first eight years of her life at sea, with a father who captained merchant ships and a mother who preferred to cook for the family herself on a tiny electric stove in their cabin rather than eat in the officer's mess.

When the family moved to Karachi, Sumayya grew up torn between the social expectations of life as a young girl in Pakistan, and the inspiration she felt in the kitchen, watching her mother, and her Nani Mummy (maternal grandmother) and Dadi's (paternal grandmother) confidence, intuition and effortless ability to build complex, layered flavours in their cooking.

This evocative and moving food memoir - which includes the most meaningful recipes of Sumayya's childhood - tells the story of how Sumayya's self-belief grew throughout her young life, allowing her to trust her instincts and find her own path between the expectations of following in her father's footsteps as a lawyer and the pressures of a Pakistani woman's presumed place in the household. Gradually, through the warmth of her family life, the meaning of 'andaza' comes to her: that the flavour and meaning of a recipe is not a list of measured ingredients, but a feeling in your hands, as you let the elements of a meal come together through instinct and experience.

Recipes include:
Nani Mummy's prawn karahi
Potatoes with curry leaves and turmeric
Chicken boti tikka, Bundoo Khan style
Mummy's wedding-style chicken korma
Bitter lemon, mustard seed and garlic pullao
Dadi's banana and fennel seed gulgulay doughnut

'I can't decide whether I want to devour Sumayya's story or her recipes first, but this has left me hungry to travel, to explore... and, of course, to eat.'
Felicity Cloake, Guardian food columnist and author of Perfect, The A-Z of Eating and One More Croissant for the Road