Last night Fasih asked me in the dream: Aaj kya pakaya hai?
I told him: Nargisi Koftas.
Fasih: Astaghfirullah. Koftey se tou mujhey koft hoti hai.
This is a real conversation that we must have had at least half a dozen times in our 30 years of married life. Yesterday was merely a replay of an old memory in sleep.
Fasih was a fussy foodie. He loved most delicacies but detested some others a big deal. Koftas, which happen to be my favourite, Fasih thoroughly detested them. He did not like qeemas either.
He detested chicken too. Found it flavorless. That was our common dislike.
Fish and seafood were his favourites. Easy availability of lobsters in Costco, his request on his quarterly visits to Canada would be everything sea food, including Shrimp biryani, lemon fish, lobster baked, crab meat salad.
In Pakistan, he would go to Jamshoro just to eat Palla(a Sindhi fish cooked at the banks of river Indus).
We had an inside joke at home. With both boys being meat eaters, whenever I made veges and dal, or rajma or paneer, all favourites of us girls, Fatima and me, Ismail.would ask Fasih, “Why did you have to marry an Indian?”
And Fasih would get all patriotic as if meat eating is synonymous with being a Pakistani. 😀 He would reply, “Ismail lets go get food from xyz. Today imagine your ammi is Afghani/Turkish/Iranian. Let them eat paneer or rajma. And we won’t share any with them.”
Lines were clearly drawn. Though Fatima also at times crossed over to join the boys.
It was never easy to feed veges to Fasih, because he always had the option to ‘order’ out without much noise.
The last 11 weeks were rather different, for some weird reason. He ate all the veges I made and even enjoyed them. Some FB friends may remember I had posted, “Boys are enjoying veges in lockdown.”
Not only did he enjoy but even told his cousin, “Ilmana is feasting us with some good vegetarian dishes in lockdown.”
I was so glad, finally I have ringed my man into enjoying vegetables. ❤
There are some dishes I think I made only because Fasih loved them, and I may never bother to make them again, as I dont believe in putting too much labor into cooking for myself. And kids particularly don’t fancy them, for example Paaye.
Cooking is fun, only if its done for loved ones. Not for oneself. I can happily fill myself with dahi and toast.
Another interesting thing about Fasih being food fussy in early days was his idea of a dinner. Pizza or Pasta were not dinner. And since I had learned very typical Italian way of making Pizza dough or pasta sauces including Pesto from scratch from my Italian cousins, I put in a lot of labor in making either of them, accompanying them most of the time with soups and salads.
In early days in Makkah, a full pizza or pasta dinner, that all of us including kids enjoyed and filled themselves to the brim in the evening.
A couple of hours later he would ask, “Aj khane mein kya hai?”
I would be scandallized, “Babloo, didn’t we just have the dinner at 8?”
He would softly and innocently ask, “So that pizza was dinner?”
I would loudly reply, “Yes. But are you hungry? There is still lots left in the fridge.”
Fasih: “No, I am not hungry. But just asked what was for dinner.”
However, 30 years is a long long time. Over a few years, he got used to what was “our kind of dinner” in Fasih family.
Fasih was a mango lover. I know most people love mangoes, but i have yet to see anyone so fanatic about mangoes. Pakistani Anwer Rataul and Indian Alfonso(available in Makkah) were his favourites but living in Makkah, he enjoyed mangoes 12 months a year imported from all over the world. In winter we got mangoes from South Africa and South America. These mangoes had no flavor or aroma. But Fasih would still binge on them and even relish them like a religious duty. He would search for mangoes from different countries.
“Begum aaj Peru ka aam laya huun.”
“Yeh Ghana ke mango hai.”
I would joke, “if someone wrapped an eggplant with mango skin you will still enjoy it.” And he wouldn’t merrily disagree.
“Yes mango mango hota hai. Saari duniya ke mangoes taste kerne haiN mujhe.”
However he was equally picky about aromas and flavors of Indian Pakistani mangoes 🥭🥭🥭🥭. He detested canned kesar mango pulp, “It tastes preservative.”
Those who’ve visited dinners hosted by us know a Mango Rose dessert, a secret mango mousse recipe that is a favourite in Fasih household. Fasih wouldn’t let me make it with canned mango pulp and insisted to use fresh flavors.
Below is the picture of a mango-rose, a dessert, that was developed in Fasih household as a symbol of Fasih family’s love for mangos and high standards of presentation of food.
In Karachi he enjoyed sweet and sour Sindhri mango cubes with rabri. There couldnt be a more royal treat.
His next favourite fruit was pineapple. Not the canned ones, but the fresh whole pineapples- he would bring a whole pineapple from COSTCO, leave it few days to ripen and then meticulously peel and slice it himself. It followed a tyical dialogue, which he repeated a gazillion times, perhaps after every chore, ” Yeh tou ho gaya. Begum, ab aur koi khidmat?” 😀 He wanted to travel to Malaysia again as that is where he found the sweetest pineapples. In our last visit to Key West, did he also find delicious Cuban pineapples. 🍍
Fasih’s love for fruits merits a separate blog.
And ofcourse good steeped tea and strong coffee were our common addictions. Having the last cup of chai before sleep was a religious ritual. When we did nothing, we drank tea or coffee together as a passtime. 😍 I haven’t had the last cup of tea ever since Fasih left. 😦