The Pakistani Palate is a cook book that came out a little too late. It’s the kind of cookbook that I wish were available in the market when I was living on my own in Dubai back in 2000s. There were moments when I wish I could have home-made Pakistani food, but had to resort to eating out at the famed Ravi restaurant to satisfy my cravings.
I was the kind of person who didn’t know the local Pakistani spices (and still today I don’t!), and how to make sauces and dips and local Pakistani delicacies like Pakora (fritters) or Dhai Phulki (fritters in creamy yogurt dressing). I would go online and search for recipes and would always end up buying those ready made jars with chicken in prepared sauces (cheat method!).
In comes Mehreen Sheikh, who I am so super proud of for achieving her dreams, with her passion for cooking– with her experience of cooking in Middle East, North America and the United Kingdom, that come to fruition with the release of her first cookbook. Browsing through the book, it becomes evident that Mehreen is very serious and passionate about sharing her love for Pakistani food with the rest of the world.
The Pakistani Palate is that perfect book for the Pakistani diaspora and the non-Pakistanis who love Pakistani foods, who desire to create the perfect Pakistani dishes but don’t know how to. Whether they are students who moved away from home, or a newly-wed bride who’s never been to a kitchen, or a foreigner who perhaps would like to recreate a dish they may have had at a Pakistani eatery, this cook book can easily become the perfect kitchen companion.
The Pakistani Palate will be a collection of three distinct cookbooks, which are:
Volume 1: Salads, Starters, Snacks and Sides
Volume 2: Main Courses
Volume 3: Desserts
Mehreen was extremely gracious to gift me a copy of her first book, and I immediately fell in love with it. It’s the kind of book that I knew would help me out, even today.
The book is split into three major sections: Salads, Starters and Snacks and, Sides.
Each section is colour-coded for easy reference, within each section, the recipes are mentioned on the left side, with a picture on the right page of what the finished food should look like. With some of the recipes, Mehreen has mentioned a little ‘Tip” down below, which would immensely help the first time cook or a seasoned cook to enhance the food item. At the top of each recipe, there is also a mention of the quantity that will be made.
All the pictures are of actual food that Mehreen has created and have been professionally photographed.
The recipes themselves are very clear, precise and easy to follow. It can make a novice feel like a professional chef by the end of the creation of the salad, starters or snacks.
Interspersed throughout the book are some rather wonderful and inspirational quotes that clearly reflect Mehreen’s passion for cooking. My favourite one has to be by Thomas Keller who said “a recipe has no soul. You, as the cook must bring soul to the recipe.”
In addition to this, the brilliant thing that Mehreen has done is include a series of Menu Suggestions, so whether it’s a brunch menu or a children’s parties menu, you will have no problem in coming up with the right kind of menu.
Spread out between the pages are also some interesting tips and techniques, such as ‘filling turnovers in puff pastry’ and ‘filling and wrapping spring rolls,’ with a step by step pictorial guide, which in my opinion becomes a very apt thing for people who are cooking for the first time.
Along with this, and my favourite part of the cook book, is the Glossary of Spices, accompanied with pictures of what the spices look like! Sheer brilliance! In all honesty, I still wouldn’t know the difference between ‘mehti dana’ (fenugreek seeds) and ‘anar dana’ (pomegranate seeds) let alone know what colour, size and texture they are supposed to be like.
I know I have personally got extra copies to send them to friends abroad in the UK, US and Canada who would love to receive this kind of cookbook which is clearly missing from the market.
As I said earlier, I wish this book were available a lot earlier in my life, but I am still so glad that a book like has come out in the market. Having said that, I am still so grateful to have received this book to wake up the inner Pakistani chef inside of me.
There is a website Deliciously Desi where you can buy the cook book as well as follow the blog for new ideas. It is also available from Amazon. You can also check out the Facebook Page at The Pakistani Palate.