Curry… cooked in a hurry

Posted on July 10, 2008
Filed Under >Owais Mughal, Food, Humor, Society
Total Views: 27536


Owais Mughal

If you think I am going to tell you a curry recipe’ then you are mistaken. Eventhough there is gallons of curry involved in this write-up but wait till I get to it. Let me build up the background first. Our home in Karachi has a cricket ground located next to it. Being a ‘puraana chaawal’ (seasoned rice) of the area, I became manager of this ground in early 90s. My duties included assigning the cricket ground to different local teams as well as arranging a match or two on special occasions.

Once I arranged a match for a neighborhood team but the local players didn’t show up on time. After doing a typical eleventh hour calling and rounding-up of players, I was able to field a ‘pakaR dhakaR XI’ (rounded-up XI). It was a very colorful team in a sense that eleven players spoke at least five different languages and yet understood each other very well. In my view, that is what makes Karachi a true cosmopolitan city.

Lets get back to curry business now. The match started smoothly, but wrinkles started to appear soon. At lunch break all the players gathered around me and demanded lunch. Some claimed that I owe them a lunch because they have done me a favor by coming to play to Federal-B-Area from far flung areas of the city such as North Nazimabad. Those familiar with Karachi geography may know that North Nazimabad is located right next to Federal-B-Area. Only a 30-feet wide drainage stream called ‘Gujjar Nala’ separates the two localities. Look at the image below. I’ve marked the location of the cricket ground and the ‘Gujjar Nala’ dividing Federal-B-Area with North Nazimabad.

Being outnumbered 1 to 13, I gave in to their demands. I was still a student so did not have money to buy 13 people any kind of lunch. Not even the cheap ‘bun-kababs’. So I walked inside home to see what was ready for my personal lunch. Nobody was home and my mother had cooked ‘aaloo-shorba’ (Potatoes with curry). It was of course not enough for 14 people. Since necessity is the mother of invention therefore I took a huge bowl out of closet and poured some curry in it. A quantity, that was just enough for probably 4 people.

Then I filled up a jug with water and mixed it in the curry. Curry’s volume now increased by a gallon and its density decreased to a ‘gaseous’ state of matter.

I then sent our 12th man to the nearby ‘Gharib-Nawaz tandoor’ (Poor people’s clay Oven) to get a few naan (flat round bread). 12th man was an aspiring young cricketer and in an aspiration to debut from our team, he happily went to get the ‘naan’. Our team management used 12th man not only for on-ground services but off-ground services too. Long story short; when bread came; 14 people ate my specially prepared ‘pani-shorba’ (water-curry) without any complaint. I do however remember some of the remarks made at the occasion. They were a pure delight to hear such as this famous one coming right out of Urdu literature:

‘kiya piddee aur kiya piddee ka shorba’
(What little bird and its little curry)

Then there was a remark given in a complete state of denial and astonishment:

‘ye kis cheez ki yakhni hai bhai?
(What is this soup made of?)

Note: In an ideal world of culinary delights, a curry is supposed to be thicker than a soup.


ye tou shorbay kay shorbay kaa shorbaa hai
This is an extract of an extract of an extract of a curry)

And yet another was when somebody called this curry in Punjabi as lamma shora (tall curry).

The voices of dissent soon died down as getting free food was an incentive enough to shut up and eat whatever was available. To this day, whenever I remember this indigenous recipe’ of mine, it makes me smile. Conclusion is that curry is such a form of food which can be diluted as needed and can be fed to a varied number of people ranging anywhere from 1 person to many (or any).

In the beginning of this article I had mentioned that it is not going to be a curry recipe’ write-up; but for the welfare of general public; may be I should key it down:

Recipe’ of Curry in a Hurry

1. Volume of already cooked curry (any kind): 100 ml or as much as one can afford.
2. Count the people available: x (say)
3. Glass of water: One. It doesn’t matter if it is half empty or half full. We’ll fill it up to the brink in a bit.
4. Curry bowl: One and empty
5. Pour 100 ml curry in the empty curry bowl and pour a glass full of water into curry ‘x’ times.
6. ‘ae-lo mazaydaar shorba tayyar hai’ (lo-behold. tasty curry in a hurry; is ready)

The End

28 Comments on “Curry… cooked in a hurry”

  1. Asma says:
    August 28th, 2006 5:05 am

    Lolz … very interesting post :)

  2. jugnoo says:
    August 28th, 2006 5:54 am

    lol. I am impressed the way you managed a “tall curry lunch” for your team mates. it is a nice recipe indeed but for me its useless because i am not living in Pakistan but outside. But still it brings smile to me. You should have written it almost 3 years back. hahahahahaa. very interesting post really

  3. ayesha says:
    August 28th, 2006 8:21 am

    A very good post indeed! :D

  4. August 28th, 2006 10:27 am

    Since we are talking about the ‘dilution effects’, I remember how I often had to dilute coke 1 liter bottle to a 2-liter serving during cricket matches.

    Speaking of which: nothing better than playing cricket with the hard ball with only one pad and 2 gloves on because our team could only afford a single pair. And ofcourse when one person would get out, everybody would wait until the batsmen exchanged pads…If you have never seen a 4ft 6″ guy running in pads that are made for a 6ft guy, you should try. You will be amazed at hwo the pad hangs on like a diaper on a little kid :).

    Owais: you invoked some great memories of our cricket ground, which also served as the Eid prayer ground, the Qurbani ground, and the Shaadi ground. We tried to extract the maximum benefit out of a small park that had little greenery to speak of, no seats, no slides, and a plant ‘nursery’ on one end manned by a guy who hated the hard ball because it cracked his pots…

  5. August 28th, 2006 1:57 pm

    The ground mentioned in this article is alsomulti-purpose. It is used for Eid prayers as well as weddings too. Also you can play other games like hockey, soccer on the same ground where Live cricket is getting played. Everyone shares without much complains. Sometimes more than 1 cricket matches are played side by side in the same ground with their boundaries overlapping eachother, therefore a batsman never knows if a fielder is fielding for you or against you.

    Once I was fielding in such a ground (APWA College Ground) where multiple cricket matches were being played. I was fielding on the boundary line which overlapped with the ‘covers’ position of another match getting played in the same ground. The other match was more interested than our match therefore my attention got diverted to the other match. In the meantime a batsman in our match hit a ball towards me but I was not paying attention. The hit was not a powerful one so the ball got stopped by itself near me. I was still oblivious to what was going on. My team mates started shouting ‘ ball pheNko’. The batsmen saw my inattentiveness and were kind of hesitant whether to run an extra run or not. i finally realized what was going on, got my attention back, looked around for the ball, found it and threw it to the keeper. The batsmen in the meantime had run for an extra run but apparently they decided too late as my throw reached the keeper and a batsman got runout. This was the most hilarious runout I’ve ever done in my life :)

  6. Eidee Man says:
    August 28th, 2006 3:20 pm

    Hey Owais, great-looking food…but you need to go easy on the ghee man! ;)

  7. Roshan Malik says:
    August 28th, 2006 5:03 pm

    This post reminds me our milkmen (gawalas) who generously mix water in milk !!!!

  8. August 28th, 2006 5:21 pm

    There was a milkman in our area who was accused (not proven) of diluting milk with water. I guess there is no worse an accusation to a milkman than this as it can destroy his business. Anyways whenever this milkman went on his rounds on his bicycle selling milk, street children used to raise slogans, ‘pani walay.. O pani walay’ and he obviously got pretty mad at that. Just a thought from yesteryears that came to my mind after reading your comment :)

  9. ShahidnUSA says:
    July 10th, 2008 11:22 pm

    Oh man! that curry looks so good, specially the “gost” meat and the “Alloo” Pottato. You have no idea I had to eat that every single day as my siblings only liked one or the other.

    And sometimes it tasted little different. Now I know why :-)

  10. July 11th, 2008 4:56 am

    I remember my childhood time when different teams play on different turf (prepared by a Jharoo session :)) with difference of few feet. Even, most junior person was responsible to take care of our turf during Namaz break… great memories :)

  11. Shazia R. Hussain says:
    July 11th, 2008 6:32 am

    Adding water to curry is common when uninvited relatives come over for lunch. Don’t mind when they complain, “Ay kee khoo noo tarka laya see”.

  12. Shazia R. Hussain says:
    July 11th, 2008 6:44 am

    Thank God, you wrote chaawal with double a in “purana chaawal”. With a single “a”, it could mean something that you absolutely are not.(depends on your knowledge of the punjabi language, though)

  13. Rafay Kashmiri says:
    July 11th, 2008 8:14 am

    @Shazia R Hussain

    Chaawal ya, Chaul or Chawal/jooth, baher-haal,
    Karachiites pronounce it as ” Chanwal ” !
    wesay arz jhay

    Yeh Inkisaari hay Apki, ya kushada kasar-e-nafsi ,
    Salan mein, Purana Chanwal hi bhala laglta hay
    Rafay Kashmiri

    @Owais Mughal,

    two photos of salan plates with fresh dhania is not
    less than “flagrant provocation”, yum yum yum.
    can you imagine tandoori roti with it.!!!!!

  14. Ahsan says:
    July 11th, 2008 8:57 am

    Great post! There is so much bitterness and negativity around us that we need more of such innocent humor. Thanks for good , pure, and unadulterated laugh Owais Bhai!

  15. Hina says:
    July 11th, 2008 9:27 am

    Shazia, I am a respectally married mother of two ,or at leats I think I am, and my mother still calls me ‘Chawal’ with a single ‘a’ ( Mom is from Punjab)

    You know what, I’ve been my calling my 5 year old “Pughli” when she acts sassy maybe I should replace it with “chawal” I have to confess though I don’t know the literal maening of Chawal. I am assuming it means Shararti,sharp, someone having a too good of an opion of herself.

    A short comment about the Tandoori Roti as pictured in the article. As Lahori folks have a devine belief that “If you have not seen Lahore, you have not been born”We Peshawaris belief that if you haven’t eaten Peshawari Tandoori Roti you don’t know what the lufz Roti means.

  16. Sanjay says:
    July 11th, 2008 9:47 am

    Gr8 post mate, I am originally from Mumbai and your description of organizing the Cricket Match and the food demanded by the players brought back some gr8 memories of tennis ball cricket tournaments back home….cheers

  17. Rafay Kashmiri says:
    July 11th, 2008 11:08 am

    Owais Mughal
    nehlay pay dehla,

    @ yeh to mausum hai, manchalon ka,
    kareylon ka, aur aamon ka,
    Qeemah-Bharey, dhaaga liptey,
    Karhaei say, mehaktey garm nikley
    Zalim nay jab rakh diay samnay,
    Ik Kuza gudaz namki lassi ka
    Qatl-o-gharat-gari, sitam zarifi hay
    yeh dopehar, beghair a’amon kay nehien hay
    Husn-o-Ishq ki is baazi mein aiy Rafay,
    Jitaay-ga wohi, udharey ga jo bakhiay

    Rafay Kashmiri

  18. Shazia R. Hussain says:
    July 11th, 2008 11:42 am

    Hina, I believe that most words in punjabi language just cannot be translated. The translation does not contain the same essence that the original word conveys. Anyway, the word means “cheap, greedy”. “Ghatia” would be the meaning in urdu.
    @ Rafay Kashmiri, Janab aap ka sher meray ooper say guzar gia hai. Ba-her-haal, aap nay itni effort kee iss liay “wah wah, wah wah ! “

  19. Sidra says:
    July 11th, 2008 12:29 pm

    utterly amusing , Thank Heavens Sir ,atleast you had curry to serve that day

  20. Rafay Kashmiri says:
    July 11th, 2008 1:00 pm

    @Shazia R Hussain,

    you have correctly ascertained the relativity of punjabi
    vocabs , but perhaps not the translation, as I mentionned
    “chawal ” means one who insists hanging on some idea or
    person, the last degree could be “jooth” but that is very rude,
    and goes alongwith, in broad sense, (am not a punjabi linguist), in Urdu, we can say “chipakkna ” so ‘ insistant’ qualitatively speaking, certainly not cheap, greedy or ghatia !!

    My shair was only to appriciate and uphold
    your humbleness and sincereity, next time I ‘ll use some
    special spray on my shairs,
    thanks for appriciation.
    Rafay Kashmiri

  21. ASIF says:
    July 11th, 2008 1:47 pm

    Very funny story. I can identify with it in many ways. Those bonds of street cricket are still the best ones.

  22. Tahira Khalid Hussain says:
    July 11th, 2008 8:50 pm

    I like the way you tell about your past practicals

  23. July 12th, 2008 3:38 am

    Kiya yar yaad diladiya.Burns Road ki galiyo may ,polo ground aur dusre aas paas ke grounds may kailne may kiya maza aata thaa.fruit aur dusri items ke khali dabbe ki wicket banate thaiy.Polo ground may anginat teamay khailty thi bohat dar lagta tha baaz martaba sar may lag bhi jata tha aur tanke bhi ate thai.magar itwar ko zaroor khailtey thai .now those are only dreams.

  24. Shazia R. Hussain says:
    July 12th, 2008 4:59 am

    @Rafay Kashmiri
    Okay, I checked with a punjabi linguist (who happens to be my dad. No, he doesn’t have any qualification in punjabi but knows more than any lingusit could ever hope to learn) and he confirmed that it means what I explained. I also found a website called where there’s a punjabi to English dictionary that explains the meaning of “chawal” to be “meanness” .

    “Chipakna” would come in the sense of being”leechar”. Well, “chawal” or “leechar”: The President of Pakistan is an embodiment of both.
    Regarding your poem about aam, lassi and keema bharay karelay: again, wah wah, wah wah. But please, don’t go on…

  25. ahsan says:
    July 19th, 2008 5:21 pm

    And then there was always one “railoo katta” in the team. And the word became synonym to anyone who changes side /loyalty, especially to the batting side.

  26. December 16th, 2009 11:07 am

    Jeetay Raho Dost Kia Zabardast Likhtay Hoo … Wah Maza Aagaya … [Bravo U r Too Good ... I also spend my Whole Childhood in Federal B Area -- Block 12 in Famous Miandad Street (Former Cricketer & Now Director _ _ _ in PCB) ..]

    …….Aur Kia Likhoon Bas Yahee k

    Teray Koochay Koochay main Basa hai Ishq Mera …(HAHAHA)

  27. Owais Mughal says:
    December 16th, 2009 12:27 pm

    Momin saheb. shukria.

  28. Sohail Hashim says:
    July 10th, 2010 4:30 am

    Excellent. I kept on enjoying every single sentence. I have lived both in North Nazimabad and FB Area. It refreshed old memories. Really ur writing skill is excellent.

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