‘Encyclopedia’ on Pakistani cuisine launched

Our Correspondent
Saturday, Aug 05, 2023

karachi: It’s rare for a comprehensive book on the culinary arts to be launched, but Shanaz Ramzi has tried to fill this gap and succeeded by compiling ‘Companion to Pakistani Cuisine’, which was described as an encyclopedia on Pakistani foods by renowned experts and food scientists at a ceremony held at the Alliance Francaise Karachi on Friday.

The book published by the Oxford University Press features in-depth articles about various aspects of food culture in Pakistan that was compiled over a long period of 11 years.

It not only discusses unique dishes and cooking styles of the country but also contains articles on some novel themes such as zero-carbon stoves that have been designed by legendary architect Yasmin Lari.

Former federal minister and author Javed Jabbar was full of praise of the “very extraordinary book”. “It easily qualifies to be called an encyclopedia despite being a slim book comprising around 200 pages because it is so full of information on each aspect of food and the taste that it imparts.”

He said that most cookbooks feature colourful illustrations, and many of them are called coffee table books.

However, he added, the remarkable thing about this book is that it does not have a single picture, yet when you read the book you realise that you do not need colourful illustrations because words evoke colours, aroma, flavours and tastes.

Jabbar said Pakistani cuisine had come together as a synthesis due to the post-1947 migration, inter-provincial migration and rural-to-urban migration as well as cross-culture and inter-ethnic marriages. “Pakistani cuisine is an expression of Pakistaniat.”

Speaking during the session, Shanaz Ramzi said it was her second book on food that took 11 years to complete.

Explaining the reasons for delay, she said contributors often failed to meet the deadline. “Covid-19 came to my rescue, as by that time I had got so frustrated,” she said, adding that she used the pandemic years doing extensive research.

Yasmeen Lari, Arshad Saeed Hussain, managing director of the Oxford University Press, and others also spoke on the occasion and praised the compiler for her painstaking work.