Sunday, 30 April 2017

Mountain Berries & Desert Spice

I absolutely loved Sumayya Usmani’s first book – Summers Under The Tamarind Tree with its introduction to Pakistani food and culture brought to life by stunning imagery, anecdotes, memories and family stories. 

Sumayya has continued her culinary journey capturing a wider geographical base but niching it to all things sweet and dessert led with her new book published by Frances Lincoln:  Mountain Berries & Desert Spice – Sweet Inspiration from the Hunza Valley to the Arabian Sea.

The book is split into chapters denoting region and/or celebration type.  Woven in are descriptions of Pakistani food whose origins stem from a cultural melting pot influenced by migration, the multi-national borders it shares and the remnants from nomadic tradesfolk of the Silk Road route.  As such, Pakistan yields a sweeping cornucopia of ingredients ranging from the traits of sweetness of goods from the north to the spicy tones of the south, all of which are reflected in some shape or form within the book.

The introduction to each chapter captures one’s imagination with beautiful flowing storytelling and photographs that illustrate landscapes and markets which subsequently bring to life the recipes that follow on.

Sweets/desserts in Pakistani culture play a paramount role forming the basis of gift-giving, wedding feasting and general socialising.  These eventualities feature in the book with suggestions for each ranging from informal caramels and ‘fruit leathers’ to more intricate desserts that use deluxe, exotic ingredients, although some of the items listed will need to be sourced from specialist shops or suppliers to gain an authentic taste. 

Spiced & Floral Truffles
Image:  Joanna Yee:  Courtesy of Frances Lincoln
With so many Asian restaurants now providing culinary spicy twists on traditional English Afternoon Tea, the ideas within Mountain Berries & Desert Spice will give scope and ideas to replicate a Pakistani afternoon tea in the realms of your own kitchen.  

Again, Sumayya’s passion for cooking coupled with her desire to keep her heritage alive is so strongly evident throughout and her ability to creatively showcase the diversity of sweet/dessert types, makes Mountain Berries & Desert Spice an absolute pleasure to read.


Food Roots Interview with Sumayya Usmani

Disclosure:    This post has been written following a complementary copy of Mountain Berries & Desert Spice.  This review was conducted honestly without bias and I was not required to produce a positive review.  For further details of my PR policy, please see the Press, PR & Food Writing page of this website.  


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