BY SUMAYYA JAMIL . LONDON . U.K. – SOUL IN PAKISTAN, ALWAYS
Life without spice would have no meaning for people of my country – We don’t just thrive on it, but our passion for it touches every facet of our lives – from the snacks we eat, the meals we consume, the food we prepare. Spice takes centre stage – there is never a wrong time for it. It graces every meal infused in many ways, by many techniques; in every one of our aromatic dishes; ranging from simplicity to complication – A common misconception is that spice means chilli heat – but this isn’t the case. To me spice means heat, life, the very scent of the earth, an all-encompassing balmy breeze that encapsulates life in warm temperate countries like Pakistan. Consuming spice in heat gives you the ability to come alive and face the day.
This might the reasoning behind the manifestation of a Pakistani breakfast. Waking up to hot and humid mornings, the feeling of needing a shower after just having one and the thought of facing a sultry afternoon in 40 degrees, might be a reason I crave spice every morning – even now that I live in cold, wet London. It’s built in my psyche. The perfect Pakistani breakfast is one alive with spice in all it’s glory.
My personal memories of waking up on Sundays and salivating at the thought of green chilli, tomatoes, coriander and cumin in my omelette, leftover spicy mince beef Keema; every morsel lapped up with Paratha flatbread, a Pakistani version of a croissant. Even our fruit salad is adorned with Chaat masala, a heady and piquant mix of cumin, black pepper, red chilli and Kala Namak (black salt).
Reminiscing now I see that waking up for me was never an issue, how could it be when every part of my day would be celebrated with the wonder of the world’s greatest treasure – for what conquerors have fought, trade has flourished and wars have been won. The everlasting mystery and romance of spice, is the epitome of our cuisine. I can think of no morning without it.