Something about the turn of the weather in Scotland from winter to spring, makes me rather nostalgic about home. I love my life here, but sometimes I can’t help but think of the flavours and memories of home, that make me reminisce about my childhood – and those carefree days of life in Pakistan as a child.

Each thought always reminds me of food, whether it was picking vegetables in the garden, or going shopping with my mother, every process lead to making a meal together, which was always about more than just cooking. If I think back to the many tips and guidance my gran or mother gave me about cooking a recipe, I can’t remember them off hand – but every time I go to the kitchen to cook a recipe from memory, it is as if I can hear them, feel tem guiding me through the process, every word is narrated back to me in my head. This is the funny thing about learning to cook by osmosis, you never really ‘learn to cook’ to merely are guided by the memory of the experience of cooking with the ones you love and respect. For me this recipe always reminds me of the turn of the seasons – the freshness of sweet tomatoes, the crunch of the black chickpeas which is so different in texture from the regular ones, and the gritty heartiness of the white poppy seeds, which are worth finding from an Asian grocers – all these say warmer days, comfort and a wee bit of freshness.

Black Chickpeas with white poppy seeds and red onions

• 400 grams canned

black chickpeas

• 2 tbsp vegetable oil

• 1 tsp cumin seeds

• 2 tbsp white poppy


• 1/2 tsp kalonji (nigella


• 1 large red onion, cut

into fine rings

• 100ml tamarind


• salt to taste

To garnish:

• Coriander leaves

• Chopped green chillies

• 2 medium tomatoes,

de-seeded and chopped

into medium pieces


1. In a saucepan, heat the oil and the cumin, nigella

and poppy seeds for about 1 minute until they pop.

2. Now add the red onion and cook until slightly soft

but still a little crunchy, for about three minutes,

stirring constantly. Now add the canned black

chickpeas and stir through.

3. Turn off the heat and add the tamarind chutney.

Check the seasoning, add salt if needed, then

garnish. Serve warm or cold.