ON the eve of the 70th anniversary of the partition of the Indian sub-continent, I think back to all I have heard from my grandparents about those final days before and after this division of India and Pakistan. My understanding is sketchy and based on history books, family recollections and stories told. I know that we were once one great nation, but as a first-generation Pakistani, my only home was Pakistan. Though the political effects are great, my quest to understand my heritage has only ever been through the development of flavour. Both countries share a culinary history steeped in legacies of emperors, warriors and conquests. Many ask me what is the main difference between our two cuisines, and I find it hard to describe it in just one sentence. For a sub-continent as big as ours, we have not just a vast number of varied people with different religions and traditions but also an extremely diverse way of cooking, eating and preparing food.

The flavours of India always strike me with wonder – the regional distinctions, the religious connotations of recipes, the different methods of cooking spices and ingredients. The cuisine of Pakistan, though fairly new, has been in the making for centuries – based on Mughlai cuisine, local regional cuisine dating back to the ancient Indus Valley civilisation, as well as border cuisine, Mongol and Central Asian flavours in the north, it developed into a unique one mostly after partition because of the influx of Muslim Indians to Pakistan, from many part of India.

The cuisines have mingled the create a unique flavour of Pakistan. Yet, the one part of the country that was divided, but has always had similar flavours, has been at the Punjabi border of India and Pakistan. The farming-based culinary culture of both parts of Punjab have always shared the ethos of cooking from the land. Recipes are seasonal, simple and filled with the flavour of comfort home cooking.

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My mother’s family migrated from Indian Punjab to Pakistan Punjab, and I remember the curries I ate growing up at the home of my Nani (maternal grandmother). They were always unlike the ones at my Dadi’s (paternal grandmother's).

Punjabi curries are light, not intensely heady or over-spiced and made using simple base ingredients. I have always seen this commonality in my Indian Punjab friend’s dishes too, so to me, this cuisine has developed very little since partition, and is one of those great ones where division has only created recipes marked by local availability and religious culinary differences, but shares a strong culinary tradition.

Finding good Punjabi food in Glasgow is not difficult, but Mother India is a restaurant with a cult following, and though I don’t often eat out at

South Asian restaurants, I was drawn to chat to Monir Mohammed, the owner and founder of this institution. I wanted to take him back to his childhood, and hear the stories of his family, partition and Punjabi heritage.

Monir’s grandparents immigrated here decades ago (only to move back later), but their home pre-partition was in the Pakistani side of Punjab. Monir relays the story of how his grandparents when to Mecca just before partition, leaving their Pakistani Punjab home only to return to India, where their 13 acres of farmland had been transferred to India. They may not have lost much in terms of their farm and access to making a living, but they lost their true home.

The fields of organic corn they grew, the familiar smell of the earth was now to be relived in a new place, and though it may have been the same province, there were differences that only they understood.

Monir told me how his father used to say that "ghar da danna" (the seed of home) is never the same – which took his dad back to Pakistan, many years after moving to Scotland. But today, Monir is the epitome of what is means to be a Scottish immigrant – he sees himself first as a Scot, then someone who has Indian heritage, Pakistani family history. To me Monir defines what it means to be from the Indian sub-continent – someone who lives his flavour through the cooking of his family, identifies as someone who belongs where he was brought up, but has a real sense of identity rooted in an ancient heritage but a strong sense of belonging here.

The restaurant’s name itself says so much: the "Mother" is India, of course, and it is the country he identifies as the root of the cuisine he cooks. I think that makes so much sense. But as a Pakistani, I personally, spend time rejoicing in the flavours I grew up with in Pakistan, understanding the history we share, and accepting the differences. Pakistani food is aromatic, rich, fragrant, bold, mostly slow-cooked. It differs from Indian food in some distinct ways, and while our two cuisines use similar ingredients, the interesting part is how differently these are used resulting in individual aromas and tastes.

In a world of much conflict, I truly believe that we should spend more time sharing, cooking and breaking bread together – no matter where we hail from. The only thing that matters is a mutual appreciation for food and a common history and heritage.

Monir Mohammed's mother’s hen curry

(Recipe in Monir's own words)

This is the hen curry my mother used to make in the 1970s. It was all about a delicious gravy served with chapati or plain basmati rice and salad. You can get fresh hens from most Asian butchers on Monday and Wednesday

Skinless hen, cut into 8 pieces

3tbs sunflower oil

2 small to medium onions

8 cloves garlic

Small knob ginger

3 fresh green chillies

¾ tin chopped tomato

¼ tbsp turmeric

Salt to taste

½ tbsp red chilli powder

1 tbsp tomato purée

Cinnamon stick

8 cloves

12 black peppercorns

1 tsp cumin

30g butter

Fresh coriander

In a good-sized pot, add the oil and once warm add the onion. Once slightly soft, add the garlic, ginger and fresh green chillies. Cook for about five minutes, then add the tinned tomato and cook for a further five minutes. Add add the salt, turmeric, red chilli powder and tomato purée then let everything simmer away for a few minutes. Add the hen, mix well. After five minutes, add the 1500ml of hot water. Bring to the boil and turn the heat down. Partly cover with a lid, and let it simmer for 35 minutes.

Dry-roast the cinnamon cloves, peppercorns and cumin until the cumin goes slightly darker, then pound in a mortar and pestle until it becomes a powder and add to the pot. After a further five minutes, add the butter. With the lid off, let if cook away for 15 minutes then add the fresh coriander and let it simmer away for a further 10 min or until the hen is fully cooked. Serve with chapati.