The Same Curry Twice: Shadab Zeest Hashmi interviews Abbas Raza

I was interviewed about my cookbook by Shadab Zeest Hashmi for Modern Salt, a new British food magazine:

Shadab: Your book was written with homesick students in mind; you have to have been one yourself as a young Pakistani student in the US. What was the first thing your learnt to cook as a student?

Papaya-seeds-for-liver-health-999x576-e1457331694775Abbas: I can’t remember. What I do remember is that my roommate in college could cook and I could not, so he made me this offer that I foolishly accepted: “I will cook for both of us if you wash all the dishes and pots afterwards and clean up.” So, for some time, he got to do the fun part while I was stuck with the thankless, joyless, and universally loathed job of dishwashing. Such are the traumas that have shaped my worldview! But I caught on to the grave injustice of our arrangement eventually, and I probably learned to cook qeema (spicy ground beef) before anything else.

Shadab: What’s the childhood food that still haunts you? Have you replicated it successfully?

Abbas: The childhood food the memory of which haunts me to this day (and not in a good way) is papaya, which is unanimously considered to be the most vile fruit in the world by experts (such as myself!). For some reason my mother thought it would be great for my health if I were to consume a plateful of it after lunch one time. I tried and retched my way through a few bites but then refused to eat more. She decided in that moment that she had had enough of my finicky eating and told me that I was not allowed to get up from the dining table until I finished that plate of putrid pulp. An hour later, I was still sitting alone at the dining table with the papaya untouched when she came in and told me, “Get out,” and probably ate the papaya herself. I did not stick around to see.

More here. And one can buy the book here.