Food of a certain area or people is like a window to their culture. Taste buds are developed with the food cooked by mothers at home and people tend not to forsake the tastes they develop in their younger days. Home food can rightly be called an expression of a certain culture.
The book – Virsa (heritage) – is an anthology of cooking recipes that reflect the family food traditions of a Pakistani expatriate who launched her book recently in Qatar.
Food is undoubtedly an essential part of the culture in Pakistan. From Karachi to Khyber, the conversations change from Nihari to Chapli Kebabs, but they still revolve around food.
Virsa – a culinary journey from Agra to Karachi – has some delicious recipes and memories from a foodie family.
The author, Shehar Bano Rizvi, hails from Karachi, also called the city of lights. Her family is originally from Agra in India but her grandparents migrated to Karachi after the partition of the subcontinent. A certified project management professional and a software engineer by profession, Shehar Bano has been living in Qatar for over 16 years. Her maternal instincts took over her career aspirations leading her to give up her high-profile banking career to be a hands-on mother. She is a speaker, writer, blogger and professional photographer.
The author of Virsa claims that the family recipes have never failed her even though she had never been keen about cooking before she moved out of her parents’ home. Her journey which started with zero cooking experience to running a successful blog, with the recipe section being the most popular, owes much to these simple and meticulous recipes.
“This book also has guides including: English to Urdu ingredients guide, desi-cooking styles guide, homemade spice blends guide and even has a visual lentil guide for beginners who are stepping in the kitchen for the first time,” Shehar Bano said.
“The secret sauce for the successful launch in the world of cooking for a beginner like me was the recipe book I compiled, full of my mother’s ancestral family recipes. Sixteen years later, I still cannot cook without that book and would be completely lost without it."
Explaining the reasons behind compiling the recipe anthology, the author calls it a tribute to her parents. “Losing a parent is a life-changing event. It makes you ponder over every little detail and everything you could have and should have done to make them proud. I lost my father – Dr Hasan Rizvi – to lung cancer in September 2014. He was an ophthalmologist by profession and a philanthropist at heart. His passing left us all completely devastated. I always wished my father could see what his children have become, and what his children have done to carry on his legacy after his demise. However, I want my mother to be happy today and forever, so I wrote this book.”
Shehar Bano, who has already launched the book in Karachi successfully, said that she was launching the book in Qatar to introduce the recipes of a traditional Pakistani family to a multicultural society. “Initially though I simply wanted to have a beautiful family recipe book. However, I have so far received an amazing response from the across the world as the book is available in Pakistan, Qatar and US. For Qatar, I have already ordered for the second shipment of the book. The kindle version of the book is also available on Amazon.”
Speaking about the idea of having a printed book during the digital times, the author underlined the need and significance of a physical book. “I also had doubts about the book being popular during the times when everything is available online. However, I have received an overwhelming response so far. A book always has a different feel. There is a great demand for the physical book. There are many people who prefer a book in hand. I have received an amazing response. People tell me that they can gift the book to their friends as a window to Pakistani culinary culture. I am happy that the Pakistanis world over are taking the book as a pride. I have gone into reprint before its launch in Doha. People in other countries are also asking for a copy.”    
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