Fabulous Feasts, Fables and Family: A Culinary Memoir  by Tabinda Jalil-Burney


A progressive yet very traditional middle class Muslim family, steeped in social customs that bring joy, acts of piety, academic influences, and Urdu poetry

Celebrating the unsung women, the wives, mothers, sisters, khalas

Fabulous Feasts, Fables and FamilyDeeply personal and intimate, Fabulous Feasts, Fables and Family, an absolutely magical culinary memoir by Tabinda Jalil-Burney combines recipes and memories from the idyllic summers of her childhood which she spent with her grandparents in Aligarh. There, presided over by Amma—her formidable grandmother—the extended clan gathered and as the women concocted delicious dishes, they exchanged family stories and lore, embroidered, knitted and crocheted, while the children played games free of distractions.

Tabinda Jalil-Burney

Family entertainment included bait bazi, involving people reciting couplets in a chain. Some family dishes were prepared by talented home cooks and some by the women from extended family. Over the years, recipes began to be associated with a particular aunt or grand aunt. No one used a recipe book or measured quantities when cooking. They cooked with the seasonal produce available at home and measurements were by andaaza. Everyone would eat sitting cross-legged by a courtyard with tamarind and guava trees and the large thorny bushes of the sour kakronda berries.

In here are family secrets for the best shami kebabs, qormas, chuquandar gosht and desserts. This richly textured, densely peopled memoir conjures the vanished world of an Aligarh family in the sixties and seventies through food and cooking, and of India long gone.

About the Author

Tabinda Jalil-Burney is a writer, translator and doctor, working in the National Health Service in the UK. She is the author of a cookbook called How to Feed your Child (and Enjoy it!) and the winner of Gourmand award for best writing for childcare, also published in Hindi. She has also translated numerous Urdu short stories into English as part of various published anthologies. Her keen interest in Urdu poetry, her nostalgia for her family’s food and culture and a desire to delve into the family’s history have inspired her to write this book.

Tabinda Jalil-Burney

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