The Internet Times Supplement

Recipe for a Masala Mix

In Food & Drink, Home and Garden on May 2, 2010 at 11:26 am

 
While sorting out one of our kitchen shelves the other day I came across a recipe book that was first published in 1969 and the version I have was reprinted in 1976. Whoopee you might say. However, for me it took me back to when I first discovered the delights of making and eating curries when I went to university in the Midlands of the UK. I lived in a town called Walsall and the particular neighbourhood I lived in was Caldmore. This population of the area was predominantly Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi with a mix of Afro-Caribbean also. As a result, the local corner shops were a delight of strange ethnic foods that set me on a delightful culinary journey as I explored the ‘weird’ and ‘strange smelling’ mystery packets of herbs, spices, and foods that now form an integral part of my cooking and diet. Along the way I made many mistakes like anyone learning to cook and/or trying different recipes and methods of cooking.

 

The recipe book? “Indian Cookery” by E.P. Veerasawmy. There are used copies available on Amazon (com and co.uk – although some of the UK prices for this are ludicrous) and I noted that I bought mine new for 60p (A$ 1.90, NZ$ 1.95, and Canada $1.95). This book has been a source of many recipes and ideas for a long time (and it shows with its yellowed pages – mainly turmeric!!!).

 

The main reason I got ‘excited’ was that I found my long lost recipe for a Masala Mix that was prepared for me by the wife of the owner of a shop I used frequently. It was open all day, every day, until very late. It was the archetypal “Paki Corner Shop” as they were known. Now some people take exception to the term “Paki” as it is often used as an insult. However, the term “Afghani” is used liberally in mainstream media/culture without any offence being taken. Here I use it in a none offensive manner and with the intended understanding that the term “Paki” refers to Punjabi, Afghani, Kashmiri, and Indian Pak people.

 


Ch.Rehmat Ali was the first person who used the word “Pakistan” to refer to the Pak people. “Pakistan” is both a Persian and an Urdu word. It is composed of letters taken from the names of all the homelands – “Indian” and “Asian” of Punjab, Afghania (North West Frontier Province), Kashmir, Iran, Sindh (including Karachi and Kathiawar), Tukharistan, Afghanistan, and Baluchistan. It means the land of the Paks-the spiritually pure and clean. So, when I use it, I do so not to be racist or offensive but to refer to the group of people who form the Pak nation. Some people may disagree with this but understand that I have worked in Pakistan, love the country and its people, and have many Pakistani friends.

 

While looking for that definition I came across an article regarding the “Rat People” of Pakistan that was originally published in the UK Telegraph in 2006. This is caused by microcephaly and there is a (mildly disturbing for some) YouTube video here.

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