You may have wondered where my entries have been, and whether I have “given up” on the blogging all together. Let me assure you that I have never been more inspired, but that this inspiration needed to come from a trip to two countries, who are not conventionally known as culinary giants, namely England and Germany. Let me also assure you that this is hardly the case. Great food can be found anywhere, as long as we keep our standards in check and not settle for food as a mere act of picking up something that we consider edible and putting it in our mouths. Rather, let us take some time to browse and consider our options with a critical yet open-minded perspective, before we reach a point where we let our ravenous hunger conquer our sense of reason!
On that note, I begin my culinary journey with British fast food. You might be thinking of something classic like fish and chips or bangers and mash, but I am talking about Pakistani kabab! Although Middle-Eastern culture tends to consider kabab as its national cuisine, each country also exhibits definitive renditions of the delicacy, adding their own flavors, seasonings, and side dishes for variety. The term “kabab” simply means “grilled” and that is exactly what is done: either beef, chicken or lamb are first marinated in exotic seasonings, as well as yogurt, lemon or another acid to help tenderize by breaking down the protein bonds, then grilled to perfection, often on a charcoal grill. The product is absolutely delicious, but not complete without the naan (or bread). Again, bread is as varied as the quality and type of grain that is used, the altitude at which it is baked, the leavening agent used to pump it up, or the pH of the water that is incorporated. The bread that accompanied my chicken kabab on this fateful day in May, on the dinner table of my Nottingham family, was similar to a pancake, but salty in taste, and gummier in texture. It held the kabab and accompanying sweet onion relish in it perfectly, without becoming crumbly or soggy. Apparently, fights have been known to break out at the little counter where these kababs are sold, where men yell at each other in urdu over who the rightful owner of the last batch of bread would be that day. If that is not passion, I don’t know what is! Stay tuned for more culinary surprises!