Tag Archives: Pakistan

Holi: The Indian Festival of Color

Wouldn’t you love to celebrate the coming of spring with a wild and exuberant festival where you didn’t have to behave and got to throw colored powder and perfume on people? Sounds like fun!

That’s the festival of Holi, an Indian holiday that is believed to commemorate the faithfulness of a young man, Prahlada, who continued to worship the god, Vishnu, even after he was ordered to stop by his father. His father commanded him and his aunt, Holika, into a fire that burnt up the aunt but spared Prahlada. The name Holi comes from the unlucky aunt.

Followers of Hinduism offer prayers on Holi and light bonfires to commemorate the story of Prahlada, as well.

The festival can last for a few days and it is generally seen as a time where people do not have to adhere to the strict social code in India but can relax and celebrate.

Although celebrations may vary by region, Holi is an important holiday in India, Pakistan, Nepal, and Bangladesh.

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International Food for Your All-American Cookout

Pavlova

Pavlova photo courtesy of http://www.kiwibaking.com

American Independence Day – also known as the Fourth of July – is one of the biggest barbecue holidays of the year.

This year, you can freshen up your party menu by incorporating cuisines from around the world. Not only will it give your guests some new flavors to enjoy but it will also permit everyone to celebrate one of the greatest things about our country: that we welcome all people here from around the world.

1. German Potato Salad

More than 17% of Americans report themselves as having some German ancestry, which is the largest self-reported ancestral group. Odds are, if you’re hosting a barbecue for the 4th of July, at least some of your guests are German-Americans. Here’s a Food Network recipe for German Potato Salad to help you celebrate.

2. Tandoori Chicken

Try something new on the grill with this recipe for Tandoori Chicken. You can adjust the seasonings to make it more – or less – spicy without sacrificing the amazing flavor.

3. Korean Barbecue

There’s nothing like barbecued spare ribs on the 4th of July, so tuck your napkin into your collar and get ready to get messy with this Korean Barbecue recipe from Epicurious.com. As of the 2000 Census, there are more than one million Korean-Americans in the United States.

4. Mexican Salad with Avocado Dressing

Fresh and delicious, this salad would go beautifully with whatever else you’re serving at your celebration. It’s also a great way to honor Mexican-Americans, whose numbers have increased 58% between the 1990 and 2000 Census.

5. Austalia/New Zealand’s Pavlova

Not only is this a beautiful-looking dessert, it’s also light after a heavy meal of barbecued foods. It uses fresh strawberries, but if you want to re-create the American flag, go ahead and dot in some blueberries to give the dish our traditional red, white, and blue look.

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Peshawari Broth

Peshawar is a famous city in northwestern Pakistan which has been officially recognized as one of the oldest cities on earth.

This recipe, from At Home with Madhur Jaffrey, is based on a traditional broth soup that is served before the main meal in Peshawar.

One of the things I really like about this book is that it not only looks at Indian food but it also includes recipes from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka.

While you can buy a MILLION books on how to cook Italian or Chinese or Mexican food, how many books teach you recipes from Sri Lanka or Pakistan?

I love that Madhur Jaffrey is giving these countries – and their cultures, people, and cuisines – a chance to be better known.

Unfortunately, I could not find a photo for Jaffrey’s recipe so I used a photo of aab gosht, a Pakistani meat broth, upon which Jaffrey based her recipe.

Peshawari Broth with Mushrooms and Fish

5 ¼ c. beef broth/stock

½ tsp. whole cumin seeds

½ tsp. whole fennel seeds

1 tbsp. whole coriander seeds

6 cardamom pods

6 whole cloves

½ tsp. black peppercorns

Salt

1 tbsp. olive or canola oil

4 oz. fresh oyster mushrooms, broken apart into 1 ½ in pieces

1 fresh green bird’s eye chili or about 1/8 tsp of any fresh hot green chili, finely chopped

½ lb fillet of any white fish such as flounder, without skin, cut into 1 x 2 in pieces and sprinkled lightly with salt on both sides

4 tbsp. chopped cilantro

Put the broth, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, coriander seeds, cardamom, cloves, and peppercorns in a medium pan and bring to a boil. Cover, turn heat to low and simmer very gently for 20 minutes. Strain, then pour strained broth back into the same pan. Check the salt and make adjustments, if needed.

Pour the oil into a nonstick frying pan and set on medium high heat. When hot, put in the mushrooms and green chili. Stir and sauté for about 2 minutes or until the mushrooms have softened. Salt lightly and stir. Transfer the contents of the frying pan to the pan with the broth.

Just before eating bring the broth to a boil. Slip in the fish pieces, turning the heat to low. When the fish pieces turn opaque and the broth is simmering, the soup is ready. Sprinkle in the cilantro, stir once, and serve.

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Mom to Kid: Go Fly a Kite

I have always loved flying kites. Maybe it’s because I was born in the spring, typically the best kite-flying time of year, or maybe I’m just a little flighty (get it?), but over the years I have flown a lot of kites.

Thanks to some close but not too-close hurricanes in our area over the past couple of weeks, we’ve enjoyed some unusually windy days that have been perfect for kite flying. After a fun afternoon testing out my son’s new Star Wars kite, I got to wondering about how popular kites are in other parts of the world.

As always, I turned to the Internet, which offered some immediate answers.

There’s a wikispaces devoted to a student project on kites that incorporates children from China, the United States, Pakistan, India, Australia, South Korea, and Slovenia.

This site has so many pictures of kites – and kite fliers – from around the world that you’re sure to see something you’ve never seen before!

I even found out that the United States has an entire museum dedicated to kites in Washington state.

And finally, here’s how to make your own kite (if you don’t have a cool Star Wars one already).

But no matter how much research you do, nothing takes the place of actually flying one yourself, preferably with someone who actually knows how to make the kite airborne!

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Tandoori Chicken and the History of India and Pakistan

Although I love Indian food, I’ve never been daring enough to make it at home. But that all changed today.

Meet Tandoori Chicken, my spicy new best friend.

According to Wikipedia, this is one recipe that really tells the story of two nations that share many things, including animosity towards each other.

It was originally created by a restauranteur in Peshawar province, before the partition of British-controlled India.

Partition was an incredibly violent and dangerous time. Carving up the territory into rival nations, India and Pakistan, meant that many Hindus found themselves on the “wrong” side of a newly created border and the same thing happened to Muslims in India.

The restauranteur, Kundan Lal Gujral, was Hindu and he made the dangerous journey out of Peshawar to finally arrive in Delhi where he started a new restaurant but maintained his prized Tandoori Chicken recipe.

The dish soon became a favorite of India’s first Prime Minister Jawarhalal Nehru and he served it at state dinners honoring American presidents John Kennedy and Richard Nixon, as well as other world leaders.

Like many dishes, Tandoori Chicken can’t be said to belong to any one nation. Its name comes not from a region or a religion but from the tandoor – a small, bell-shaped clay oven.

However, I – a Catholic in New Jersey who has never visited South Asia – made a pretty good version of it on a grill in my backyard.

If you’re interested in learning more about partition – a really fascinating story – there are many books and articles you can read about Mohandas Gandhi and Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the men who led India and Pakistan, respectively, during this time.

I can recommend the film “Jinnah,” which was written by Dr. Akbar Ahmed, with whom I worked at American University.

Although I have always been interested in history and world cultures, Dr. Ahmed was the person who introduced me to this really incredible story.

Isn’t it amazing that food can be an avenue to explore all this?

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Three Cups of Tea

How long does it take you to trust someone?  Here in the United States, we’re constantly reminding our children to never speak to strangers.  We’re trying to protect them, but are we also unintentionally alienating them from other people?  How do our fears for their – and our – safety impact our ability to be hospitable to others?

These are not questions that concern the people of Korphe in a remote region of northern Pakistan.  In Korphe, the ethnic Balti villagers have a practice:

“In their culture, the first cup you are a stranger, and by the second tea gathering you become a friend, and with the third cup you become family, and they will protect you with their life and are ready to do business, but the process takes several years,” (Greg Mortenson, author, Three Cups of Tea).

Mortenson’s book, Three Cups of Tea, tells the story of how he was nursed back to health after arriving in the village of Korphe, Pakistan.  He had unsuccessfully attempted to climb K2 and the experience left him ill and weak.  The villagers nursed him back to health.  In gratitude, he promised to build them a school.  Since 1995, he has built 79 schools, including the Korphe school.  

KorpheSchool

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