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)