Mountain Berries And desert Spice is Sumayya Usmani’s second book, following on from her hugely successful Summers Under The Tamarind Tree. This book is all about desserts, a modern take on the supersweet treats you occasionally find in a good restaurant but will always find in a Pakistani home, the more elaborate the greater the occasion.
Sumayya Usmani lives in Scotland but was brought up travelling with her mother and ship’s Captain father, watching her mother cook in a narrow galley space and experimenting with the spices they picked up on shore leave. Mountain Berries And Desert Spice takes the reader on a journey from the borders of China and India to the shores of the Arabian Sea. From Berries and fruits to rose water and orange blossom, cardamom and cinnamon to saffron and pistachios.
After an introduction and key ingredients the recipes are split by region under poetic, evocative chapter headings. Sour Morning Berries, where you’ll find Blackberry Doughnuts and Whipped Semolina Halva with pomegranate and raspberry – delightfully pink with shards of coconut and bright pomegranate seeds. Sugar Almonds And Buffalo Milk offers recipes for Badam Ki Jali- cardamom and rose water marzipan lace and luxurious Bejewelled Parsi Wedding Custard, rich and unctuous scattered with cashews, almonds, pistachios, and rose petals.
Kites, Kingdoms and Cardamom Samosas – flavours from Lahore and the Mughal Empire invites you to “feast like a king” with Dahi Ki Kheer baked saffron yogurt and brightly studded Sohan Saffron Honey Caramels with rose water, pistachio and almonds, a golden dollop of delicious caramel, perfect with a cup of coffee. Through Mulberry Valley – summer fruits in harsh winters offers Spiced Apple Samosas, the pastry nipped and fried and Mulberry And Blackberry Stew served with thick whipped cream and crushed walnuts – dark and delicious.
The final three chapters, A Saffron Blaze, Festive Spice And Roses and Chilli Mangoes And Ocean Breeze tempt you with Khanfaroush – saffron spiced crumpets, Peshwari Pistachio Ice Cream, Rose Lab-e-Shireen Pakistani trifle with lychee, mango, cardamom milk and vermicelli and my favourite, Shahi Tukra Brioche Bread Pudding with saffron, ricotta, cranberries and chopped nuts. A heady mix of condensed milk, saffron, cardamom and brioche topped with pistachios, pine nuts, almonds and cranberries. Try this – the recipe is below.
Whatever your cooking ability you can discover a wonderful dessert here, something different, both traditional and modern. Sumayya has adapted the recipes for a western sense of sweetness and created gems to enjoy whether you’re baking, making ice cream or just making a few tempting sweetmeats. As Felicity Cloake says, “Wonderfully evocative and ridiculously tempting.”
Mountain Berries & Desert Spice by Sumayya Usmani is published by Frances Lincoln, £20.00
Photography By Nassima Rothacker
THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED. THE LUCKY WINNER IS EM CLARK
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