Visits to my Nani Mummy’s house (grandmother) meant late nights and sweet treats. Walking in a warm afternoon, I was always greeted with the aromas of saffron and nuts wafting from her small functional kitchen; there she would be, true to form in her perfectly tied sari and immaculate hair, her hugs always smelling floral, her soft smile would be enough to light up my day. She would be there either cooking me dessert for dinner or making me her legendary cardamom chai.
When I reminisce about my childhood food memories growing up in Pakistan, I remember best her Zarda, which was my favourite – a sweet saffron scented rice adorned with nuts, coconut and candied peel and papaya. A Pakistani dessert usually eaten at the beginning of some meals, I was Western in my habits of eating it last…I now make my own version using her authentic recipe, with an addition of rainbow hue instead of just yellow – bringing the sunshine rays and eternal blossoms of my Nani’s garden to life.
The scent of sweet rice and ghee with cardamom and saffron still brings warmth into my house, as it did in hers – always finding my home in Karachi where ever I might me and transporting me to my fondest memory of safe, happy and nurturing times.