WHEN I think of the flavours that shaped my memories, I think of early December mornings in Karachi. The crisp, dry winter’s air was filled with coal smoke from the village behind my grandmother’s house – a faint curry aroma of fresh fenugreek would mingle with the butterscotch essence of freshly made ghee – Methi parathas would be frying on flat cast iron tawa pans and a blend of herbed freshness and buttery richness would entice.

I would wake up early, head into the village behind the house, and buy some from the local vendor, or better yet pick fresh fenugreek from my grandmother’s garden, and make them with her in her kitchen. Such are my simple recollections of certain flavours linked with memories that I always find comforting.

We all grow up with different flavours, and sometimes our continued fondness for a particular food is more about the associated memory that fuels it. For some, the mere taste of hot toast and melted butter or mashed potatoes can instantly conjure up a sense of comfort.

So as the year begins, I have decided that I will find ways to replace my childhood memories of simple flavours with ones that are defined by my new home. When I think of Scotland, I think of rich game meats, earthy turnips, potatoes and wonderful seafood. Each recipe of Scotland is about the natural larder rather than the method of cooking.

The food memories that

derive from my childhood are

laced with deep, slow cooking

with layers of spice infusing

richly into dishes – so I always identify simplicity of cooking, steeped with spices.

Here in Scotland, I now find myself reaching out for dishes such as mashed tatties with heaps of butter and milk, or neeps cooked with nothing but a bit of salt.

Such uncomplicated ingredients sing without much fuss.

This has been a learning process for me – to resist the temptation to add spice. I find now that my palate has changed, I taste the main ingredient more, have learnt to appreciate the earthiness in root vegetables, the gaminess in certain meat. In fact I find it easier to distinguish flavours, than when tasting foods created using the intensity of spice that characterises my own cooking style.

When it comes to coping with setbacks and challenges, I find that food – however it is cooked

and whatever the ingredients – helps me cope with setbacks

and challenges more than

anything else in life.

Which is why, at the beginning of a new year, I am reminded most that the flavours of simplicity are what I need to resonate in my

life. Honesty in both flavour

and heart always paves the

positive path.

Here is to a new year, with new beginnings. Why not begin by learning to share simplicity of flavour with the people we love.

Methi parathas – fresh fenugreek flatbreads with ghee.

Here is recipe that speaks of the simple flavours of my childhood.

2 cups wholewheat flour

1 cup chopped fenugreek leaves, frozen or fresh

1 green chillies, finely chopped

1 tsp crushed garlic

2 tbsp oil

½ cup water for kneading

Salt to taste

2-3 tbsp ghee

Rinse the fenugreek leaves, and drain, Chop them finely and set aside. If using frozen leaves, defrost and squeeze out all moisture.

In a bowl, mix the whole wheat flour and salt, add the chopped fenugreek leaves, green chilli, garlic, oil and pour some water and knead to a smooth dough. Set aside.

To make the parathas, make tennis ball-sized balls and dust them with flour. Start to roll out the parathas into 1mm thick round flatbreads.

To cook, heat a flat griddle pan or tawa and place a little ghee in the middle. Cook each side, pressing down the paratha with a spatula, to ensure even cooking and then flip over once you start to see golden brown spots on one side.

Add a little more ghee when frying the other side.