False ME243 Similar to Melissa, Isha is also half Pakistani and half Caucasian. However, unlike Melissa, Isha had a more traditional Pakistani upbringing. Her mother converted to Islam when her parents married, so religion was always important growing up. “ I went to Islamic school on Sundays in middle school and part of high school, and I had to follow all of the traditional religious rules— including dress,” she said. “ It was difficult when I saw what my American friends were doing or wearing and I never felt like I could really fit in.” Identifying herself as biracial or mixed, Isha stresses the importance of asserting both of her racial identities. “ I look more physically white, but I’ve always identified myself as mixed and tried to find ways to assert my cultural identity,” she said. “ That’s part of the reason why I wear this big gold nose ring.” Isha pierced her nose her freshman year of college, but switched to a larger stud as a way to showcase her Pakistani identity. She joined two cultural organizations on campus: Theta Nu Xi Multicultural Sorority, Inc. and the Caribbean Students Organization. “ It sounds weird that I was president of a Caribbean organization, but that’s where I found my place,” she said, sharing Melissa’s feelings about embracing diverse cultures. “ I’ve always been drawn to people who are open minded and more culturally aware and that’s definitely due to my personal experiences at home.” Constantly learning more about her own culture and others, Isha feels as though she thrives in a multicultural environment. That is part of the reason why she decided to move near Washington D. C. “ There are so many different types of people here and so many new things to do,” she said, “ Pakistani restaurants, hookah bars, Latin and African dance classes, Caribbean carnivals; I love to be a part of it all.” Places/ Things We Recommend: Sangam Restaurant, located in Arlington, Virginia ( http:// www. sangamrestaurant. com/) Sapna Magazine ( http:// www. sapnamagazine. com/) Apna Bazaar, located in Falls Church, Virginia, provides threading for $ 6 and carries a small selection of clothes and jewelry. Chandni Restaurant, located in Newark, California ( http:// www. chandnirestaurant. com/) Lebnan Zaman, a hookah bar located in Vienna, Virginia ( http:// lebnan- zaman. com/) Pakistani Independence Day Festivities in Brooklyn, N. Y. and Washington, DC Sonia’s Jewelry & Fabrics located in Herndon, Springfield and Arlington, Virginia ( http:// www. soniajewelry. com/) Babylon Hookah bar in Falls Church, Virginia ( http:// babylonfc. com/)
False ME244 Pakistani Cuisine Written and edited by: Genevieve Makris, Melissa Jan, Isha Mehmood, and Ali Sheikh Pakistan’s cuisine predates its political independence by hundreds of years and throughout time it’s taken on the culinary aspects of the many rulers that have passed over its soil. It is an eclectic blend of Turkish, Greek, Afghan and Indian flavors which culminates in a distinctive aroma personalizing basic, yet wholesome and earthy ingredients. The substantial base of many dishes is either rice, lentils or wheat; however they are heavily seasoned with an enticing blend of herbs and spices such as coriander, curry, cumin and powdered mustard. The mélange of flavors transforms the ingredients from their natural state into harmony on a plate. Muhammad Afzal carries on his culture at his two restaurants in Arlington; both named “ Ravi Kabob House.” The small carry- out shops are packed at lunch with diners taking in a quick kabob or Lassi. Mr. Afzal takes pride in using rare Indian and Pakistani Basmati rice to maintain authentic flavoring. Dishes are also served with Tandoori bread, or Naan as it also known, and his renowned chickpeas. What makes Pakistani food unique is not the ingredients, but rather how they are used. Here one finds jalapeños alongside garlic and cilantro roasted beef kabobs. A unique dish to Pakistan, Mr. Afzal explains how Karahi is named after the traditional clay bowl in which it is cooked and served. Olive oil, fresh ginger, cilantro and black pepper unite east and west in this age old dish. Mr. Afzal also notes that Lassi, a popular yogurt- like drink, is unique to Pakistan’s social classes. While the older generation orders a very salty flavor, the young generation enjoys sweet and mango flavors. Yogurt is not just for dessert; it is also mixed with hot spices like chili powder, such in Champ Tandoori lamb kabobs. As diverse as its landscape, there are many different methods for preparing dishes from the four provinces. The kabob, an international staple, takes on many flavors, but when chicken, lamb and beef are prepared in Gujranwala and Peshaweri styles they are distinctly Pakistani. While regional dishes vary, overall the cuisine demonstrates a healthy balance, including strong vegetables like potatoes, onions, bell peppers and okra to counter balance the heavy starches and seasoned meats. There is a great amount of pride and respect in food, as it tells the peoples’ history. As a Muslim state, Islam plays a major role in shaping cuisine; all meat is “ halal,” and neither pork nor alcohol is found on the menu. The lavishness of the Mogul Empire also extended into the culinary realm, evolving into fruit Sharbat and Lahori- style cooking. As in many cultures tea is an integral part of the meal and everyday life, representative of social bonding and status. For a relatively young country, the culinary traditions run deep and Pakistani cuisine today mirrors the country’s diverse and spicy history.