PAKISTAN is famous internationally for its cuisine. The versatility and richness in their culinary style and contents make Pakistani restaurants popular eating spots abroad for those in search of exciting and unusual flavours to tickle their taste buds. Shamsi Qurashi, the editor of Heirloom Recipes from Pakistan, says she wanted to produce “something beautiful about Pakistan and its ancient cultural heritage” that would be a pleasant change from the doom and gloom we are surrounded with.

Seen against this backdrop, Heirloom Recipes from Pakistan is a book that should be welcomed as a “labour of love,” which will do more for the country’s image than any high-level diplomacy by suave ambassadors.

A project of the Pakistan Women’s Association of the Philippines, the book was the association’s response to the constant demand by local friends for recipes of our various dishes they found so appetising. Qurashi was the president of the association in 2006 and volunteered to direct the project that has borne fruit after four years in the form of this beautiful publication that will be cherished by all connoisseurs of food — be they of any nationality. It also has a philanthropic dimension as all the proceeds will go to charity.

Qurashi observes that Philippine cuisine is different from ours — being influenced strongly by Spanish, Chinese and American culinary tastes. Hence people there find Pakistani food unusual.

Once the decision was made to bring out a book of recipes, word went round among the Pakistani community to send in their favourite family recipes. Since the Qurashis have lived in the Philippines for 30 years the response was good. The production involved a lot of editorial work as our cooking is mostly done by approximation. The recipes were tested and the editor had to sit with the Filipino publisher to get the names of ingredients and cooking techniques correct. The images of cultural and ethnic items used to illustrate the pages have made it an attractive book to look through.

Twenty-seven women contributed 134 recipes ranging from vegetables, lentils and meat to halwas and chutneys. The book has been well received in the Philippines and Qurashi has been requested by organisations for programmes on Pakistani cuisine.

Heirloom Recipes from Pakistan (COOKBOOK) Edited by Shamsi Qurashi Pakistan Women’s Association of the Philippines, Inc, Manila 144pp. Price not listed

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