FOOD is one’s greatest connection to home, but when in a new country, I always try to adapt the produce I use and combine it with flavours I grew up with. Since moving to Glasgow, I have found culinary parallels between Pakistan and Scotland; they share a common theme of soul-satisfying comfort food.

Both Pakistan and Scotland have an outstanding array of seasonal produce but here in the UK, the availability of year-round produce has made us unappreciative of the benefits of our ancestors' eating habits. Growing up in Pakistan, we took seasonal produce for granted, and this is still the way we cook back home. Although the recipes are always laced with spice, everyday food is not complicated. I would wake up on a Sunday morning to be greeted by smoky fresh parathas made using up any leftover potato bhujia (stir-fried potato) mixed with flour. My mother made thick flatbreads with copious amounts of fresh coriander, green chilli, cumin and ghee.

Much like Scotland's tattie scones, potato-filled parathas are a comforting breakfast food that keep you going until a late lunch. In Scotland, I have made these using Orkney beremeal flour. Made from an ancient form of barley, which I find exquisitely nutty and rich in texture, it's traditionally used to make bannocks, but works beautifully to create thick parathas. Squeezing a fresh juniper berry into the leftover potato spiced mash, adds a little Scottish flavour to a very Pakistani staple. Cooking these on my old tawa (flat chapati pan), I am amazed at how similar this utensil is to Scotland's cast iron “girdle”.

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Meat, whether it is goat, mutton of beef, is definitely on the menu with Pakistanis and Scotland has some of the best quality meat and game. Combining these with spices works well and the sense of slow cooking is deep in the cooking ethos of both countries.

Simple fatty meat cooked with juniper, bay or peppercorn and herbs such as thyme creates a comforting Scottish stew. Pakistani stews and curries are richly spiced and layered with flavours of onions, garlic, and intense spices such as star anise and cardamom, but the concept is the same – adding meat with flavouring, letting it meld together and create a comforting dish that can feed a large family.

I have grown to adore Scottish venison. During a visit to Stirling Castle’s kitchens I discovered how in the past, the lack of salt meant that food was seasoned using other ingredients, such as lemon peel.

This weekend's recipe combines venison stew meat with classic Pakistani spices such as star anise, cinnamon and turmeric along with zesty lemon, which infuses its flavour deep into the rich dark meat.

It makes for a wonderful end-of-summer family meal. When I cooked it on a recent Highland holiday with friends and many kids, it was demolished by them all. The heat is subtle, and it's reminiscent of slow-cooked Pakistani curries as well as Scottish comfort stews.

One Scottish summer fruit has intoxicated my tastebuds. The violet-scented Scottish raspberries that are just about at the end of their season now, are incomparable to any I have ever tasted. Perfect for making cranachan of course, I find that making a large sharing pot of classic Pakistani dessert firni (chilled ground rice pudding), reminds me a my childhood with my Nani (maternal grandmother). I combine fresh overripe raspberries while cooking the ground rice with milk, cardamom and heather honey. This recipe marries distinct Scottish flavour to a very Pakistani dessert, and creates a sense of home away from home for me.

However, I can’t write about combining the two countries' cuisines without mentioning the ubiquitous pakora. As the first sight of clouds came over an eternal sunny sky in Karachi, I remember the anticipation and craving for pakoras and chai: a quintessential combination in the monsoon season. Perhaps there is something about grey skies and pakoras, that make these so popular in Scotland.

My favourite pakoras are made with spinach, so combining omnipresent Scottish kale works beautifully with Scottish peasemeal flour batter, instead of chickpea flour. Peasemeal is made by roasting field peas, and was traditionally used by Scots to make brose and bannocks. It makes a crunchy, fresh-tasting batter using ajwain seeds, red chilli and turmeric to spice.

Sumayya’s Scottish-inspired venison, lemon and star anise curry

(Serve 6-7)

Being able to source some of the best venison at my doorstep, I have found many ways to use it since moving to Scotland. This recipe as one that reminds me of my childhood. On our family's travels across the world, my mother, always adapted recipes according to local produce. This is exactly what the recipe means to me. Star anise is a typical spice used in our curries and the method of making this dish is very traditionally Pakistani.

4 tbsp sunflower/ light olive / corn oil

2 star anise

1inch piece cinnamon

1 bay leaf

2 large red onions, finely sliced

1 tbsp grated ginger

3 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped finely

600 grams full fat Greek yoghurt

Handful coriander leaves, chopped finely

1 small green chilli, chopped

10 mint leaves, chopped finely

Salt to taste

½ tsp turmeric

Juice of a lemon, half the rind retained

700 grams venison stew meat, cut into chunks

Handful chopped coriander, to garnish


Heat a saucepan with oil. When hot, add the whole spices. When the spices begin to fragrance the oil (about 15-20 seconds), add the red onions and cook until light brown.

In a bowl, combine the yoghurt, with chopped herbs and chilli, salt and turmeric. Add the venison and mix. Once onions are light brown, add the meat and yoghurt, and stir. Turn heat to medium low, and cook until all the moisture from the yoghurt and meat dries to leave a thick, glossy curry sauce. Turn heat to low, add half the leftover lemon rind, cover and cook until the curry sauce is thick and oil rises slightly to the top. You may need to add a few splashes of water, if the curry dries while cooking. The meat should be tender after about 40 minutes of cooking on low heat. Take out the lemon rind and spices if you wish before serving.

To serve, garnish with chopped coriander.