Breakfast in a Pakistani Home
“Halwa puri, anyone?,” Baba and Kaka (father’s elder brother in Dari) would holler from the bottom of the stairwell in our family home in Lahore. The two brothers had made it a weekend ritual to go together to Ghalib Market to bring their six daughters halwa puri for breakfast after their morning run in Race Course Park.
A year and a half apart in age, here they are, sweet and as thick as thieves and honey.
(Mader really hoped for a girl before my father was born- perhaps the reason why my poor father had to suffer wearing a girl’s “bouffant” of sorts, till he was old enough to say “no more!”).
Groggy and still in our beds, the words ‘halwa puri‘ would lead us down the long vertical staircase. Into the breakfast room we would go in our pjs with plush shawls wrapped around us on that cold Lahore morning. We would excitedly unwrap the newspaper encasing the puris and place one on each plate.
Tearing off a piece of the puffed up golden bread with our fingers, we would scoop up the sweet halwa. Made with semolina, the halwa was all soft and buttery with white flecks of almond, dotted with black cardamom seeds.
The adults would drink a strong milky tea with it and we’d settle for glasses of lukewarm milk, you know, the kind all kids hate.
The conversation would fluctuate between Punjabi, English and Dari and us kids would walk out of the breakfast room with greasy fingers towards the washroom.
Then back to our beds.
Here in Toronto, I wake up some mornings thinking of Baba and Kaka and the little things they did for the six of us. The halwa puri runs, the midnight drives to Barqat, the paan wallah in Main Market for a Pineapple Crush pop on the side; the family walks from our home in Gulberg to Mini Market to buy 20 sweeties for 5 rupees. Mitchell’s raspberry bon bons were my favourite.
To this day I love it when Barqat sees me in Main Market and says, “Where are Sarosh Bibi and Owaise Sahab, why haven’t they come for a paan?”
So very far from home, here is what we have in our home on Saturday mornings:
Chunks of tomato spiced with turmeric, a bit of chili, paprika and some fragrant caramelised onions…
Topped with fresh, cracked eggs…
Baked till soft, with yolks as pudgy as a baby’s belly…
A scattering of fresh coriander leaves, a verdant flavour which always reminds me of Pakistan…
Eaten with roghani naan…
Photos of halwa puri: from Kar_jony, Karachi Metblogs.
Photos of Race Course Park: from www.Pashtohomes.com.
Pre-heat your oven to 350F / 180C
*2 tbsp corn (or other neutral) oil
*4 medium-sized tomatoes (approximately 600g / 1lb), blanched, skins peeled, and diced
*1/4 of a small onion, finely chopped
*1/4 tsp salt
*1/8 tsp (pinch) turmeric; haldi powder
*1/4 tsp red chili pepper
*1/4 tsp hot paprika
*Fresh coriander leaves chopped, for garnish
*Salted butter for smearing on baking dish. I use an 11 1/2 inch quiche dish.
*Place 8-inch frying pan on medium heat.
*Add 2 tbsp oil and chopped onions, saute till translucent and slightly golden.
*Add chopped tomatoes.
*Add salt, haldi, red chili pepper and paprika.
*Stir for 7-10 minutes over a medium-high heat. The tomatoes should keep their shape somewhat.
*Smear butter all over the bottom and sides of the quiche dish.
*Transfer the chopped tomato sauce to the dish.
*Gently crack open the eggs one by one on to the tomato base.
*Place in oven for 15-20 minutes for a soft yolk and 20-25 for a more cooked yolk.
*Sprinkle with chopped coriander leaves.