Home is where the heart is, though a clichéd comment, but have we ever stopped to contemplate the depth of its meaning. I didn’t, until I found a place where I felt at home. One day, it hit me, at the most unexpected of times. There I was updating my Twitter profile, and without hesitation I wrote “Pakistani heart, Scottish soul” . This encompasses my feeling about belonging, as I will always be Pakistani, but it is Scotland where my soul rests.

A week across the Atlantic, to London and back, has made me contemplate where home really lies, the effect of a lot of travel makes you long for home. And though for me, each time I go home to Pakistan, I feel calm knowing that is where my family is. But it is when I return home to Scotland, I miss the flavours of Pakistan, but strangely feel comfort of home replicating them here in Scotland, more than I do when I am cooking in Pakistan. I think to me home is defined by where I can connect memory to flavour, irrespective of location, if I can ‘taste’ home, I am home, in the surroundings that are most familiar to me. All these thoughts registered with me this week when I was on stage at the British Library with the veteran food writer Claudia Roden and the charming Tim Hayward, to kick start the Library’s month long Food Season (which was an incredible honour). We talked about how food writing has developed over the decades, and one unifying emotion we shared was that home, food, family and a sense of belonging is when we can connect those memories that take us to a place of comfort. It should be an effortless memory, one that holds an umbilical pull to belonging – this can be anywhere a happy memory is relived.

So when we spoke about the food that our mothers and grandmothers cooked, without recipes, with love of feeding the family, I thought about the one dish that takes me home, one both my mother would cook or we would eat on the streets of Karachi. Simplicity of good ingredients, we agreed at the talk, were the cornerstone of comfort home-cooking – and this one is about simple fresh produce, layers of basic flavour, cooked with patience. So as my train pulls into Glasgow, though I am back home, yet I miss my homeland, but I know the minute I cook this recipe, I will taste the flavour of belonging.

Karhai ginger chicken

On the days I was greeted with the hot citrus tang of fresh ginger from my grandmother’s garden as it was sliced artfully into julienne pieces, I knew I was getting Pakistani-style ginger chicken for supper. This is a dish that is found in every restaurant and home in Pakistan and is simple and

quick to make, with bursts of raw ginger added at the end for a fresh finish. Serve with a daal and rice – and you can substitute chicken with boneless duck or turkey.

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp each of garlic purée and

grated ginger

200g/7oz chicken breast cut into

5cm/2-inch chunks

2 large tomatoes, finely chopped

1 tbsp tomato purée

2 tbsp plain yogurt

½ tsp red chilli powder

½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

¼ tsp ground turmeric

salt, to taste

1 tbsp unsalted butter

To garnish

5cm/2-inch piece ginger, peeled

and cut into julienne

handful of coriander (cilantro)

leaves, chopped

2 green chillies, finely chopped

10 mint leaves, chopped

Preparation 10 minutes | Cooking 25–30 minutes | Serves 4

Heat the oil in wok-style pan over a medium heat. When hot, add the cumin and allow to

splutter for 30 seconds. Add the garlic purée and grated ginger and fry for a further 30 seconds, or until the raw smell of garlic disappears.

Add the chicken to the pan and fry until it is sealed all over. Add the tomatoes and cook for 5–7 minutes until softened, then add the tomato purée and the yogurt and cook for 8–10 minutes, or until the oil starts to separate. Add the red chilli powder, black pepper, turmeric and salt and cook for a further 5–7 minutes until the chicken is done. Add the butter before turning off the heat and letting the butter melt.

Before serving, add the julienned ginger, coriander, green chillies and mint, and stir through.