I do not have a fancy story to go with this dish. We are simple Indian Pashtoons and for us this dish represents family dinners, consumed modestly, after a tiring day at work or school. It is a simple summer curry dish. It represents all our days of tireless striving to make a living only to return home to a loving family, our mother’s warm embrace and our father’s gentle guidance. It remind me of countless summer nights of my childhood, sitting on the bamboo mat on the floor, helping my mother lay the table, with rotis (flat Indian bread), salad, yogurt, chutney and bhindi gosht, usually also accompanied with some dry mixed vegetables tossed in oil and spices. It represents my family of six, ladling out the gosht curry in our enamel bowls, topping it with some fresh salad and feasting on it with our rotis.
This is the dish of my father and forefathers. This is the dish that is wholesome yet modest. It comes to us from several generations experimenting with regional cuisines and blending Pashtoon traditions from their roots in Afghanistan, with the rich treasure trove of spices and vegetables that India has to offer. This dish, thus blends the Pashtoon love for meat with the Indian summer tradition of consuming spicy vegetable curries with roti. I do not know any non-Pashtoon families in India who make this dish and it is thus very unique to my culture and people.
This dish also represents to me, my memories with my grandmother in my ancestral town of Rampur, a sleepy little hamlet in north India. It reminds me of summer vacations spent playing in the daalan or big open verandah, of sleeping in outside under the stars, with a huge mosquito net, little lessons in cooking I received from my aunts and the delicious food they made for me. The memories this dish evokes in me, are countless yet each one of them is precious to me. These are stories I wish to pass onto my children. I wish to keep the legacy alive. This is a dish which gives me hope that I will.