The menu for the wedding feast and a few of Sherbanoo's favorite recipes.
see below and right side bar
Indian Wedding Feast
(rice with chicken and spices)
(ground meat balls)
Yogurt and Onion Salad
(yogurt and cucumber)
(ground meat, spices and onions)
(a dessert of milk and flour balls floating
in sugar syrup)
(like a potato chip)
(cucumber with yogurt)
1 cucumber peeled and minced (cut into tiny pieces with seeds removed)
1 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon lemon/lime juice
Mix the ingredients. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add a dash of garlic
salt. Chill. Serve with pulav. Serves 10
1/2 cup rice boiled over medium beat in 3 cups of water
1/2 cup sugar
1 pint milk or half and half
6 oz. evaporated milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
Dash of nutmeg powder
1/4 cup slivered almonds sud raisins
1 teaspoon khas khas (poppy seeds)
3 strands of saffron soaked in one tablespoon of water Boil rice over
medium heat for 45 minutes until water is almost gone, mix with beater,
scraping out the rice stuck at the bottom of saucepan. Add milk and sugar
and cook over medium heat for 1/2 hour, stirring all the time to prevent
rice from sticking to the pan.
Add half the almonds, raisins, nutmeg and all the salt. Cook for a minute.
Pour into. serving bowl and let sit for 5 minutes. Garnish with slivered
almonds, raisins, nutmeg, khu khas and sprinkle with a mixture of the
saffron strands and water. Decorate with silver sheet (an edible silver
decoration of the consistency of tissue paper) if available. Chill. Serves
1/2 cup grated unsweetened coconut soaked in 1/2 cup water for 1/2 hour
or 1/4 cup frozen coconut
5 fresh green chillies (hot)
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground garlic
1/2 teaspoon tamarind paste
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup fresh green coriander leaves
2 teaspoons salt
Grind up ingredients in blender. Add water if needed. Serve with Bhajias
By Marjorie Messiter - The Bank's World/ March 1985
Photo by Giuseppe Franchini
Her tortoiseshell glasses slip off the
bridge of her nose to a precarious perch. Sherbanoo Aziz ignores the inconvenience,
peering over the rims as she watches two students ladeling a pot of kheer
(rice pudding). Over at a kitchen table strewn with wax paper, bread boards,
rolling pins and mixing bowls, others are intent on rolling out perfectly
shaped puries (an Indian bread deep-fried in fat).
For several years now,
Sherbanoo, a Personnel Assistant in PMD for Eastern and Southern Africa
Region, has been introducing the fiery delights of North and South Indian
cuisine to her students at the Gunston Recreation Center in Arlington,
The series has, however,
become a casualty of its own popularity. Students would invariably ask
for additional sessions which couldn't be arranged within the Center's
fixed schedule. So this year Sherbanoo is going out on her own. She has
bookings for demonstrations at Kitchen Bazaar stores in the area to commemorate
the India Festival Year and will be teaching groups in private homes.
To reflect Indian hospitality, Sherbanoo's course features a different
menu each week over a six-week period. The finale is an Indian wedding
An Indian wedding is a grand affair. To finance a proper celebration,
poor families and those with modest incomes will incur a debt to an employer
or wealthy neighbor who they can never repay. "Fifty guests is nothing,"
she says. "Two hundred is more usual.
"Our culture is very food oriented," she explains. "In Western countries
you can often just offer your guest something to drink, but in India,
it's rude to send someone who comes to your home away without food, and
normally it is a whole meal."
To get everyone into the spirit of the feast, Sherbanoo invites those
who are interested to come in traditional dress which she provides-saris
for women, and kurtas (dress shirts) for men. If the group requests it,
she also brings along Indian music to add to the ambience.
Two of the most popular dishes in her repertoire are puries and samosas
(an hors d'oeuvre made of ground meat, spices and onions). "I drive the
class to make puries perfectly round. We have a lot of fun shaping and
rolling the dough, but it is difficult because we don't use cookie cutters,"
she says. Many of her students are already excellent cooks who want to
learn about Indian food. Class sizes vary from five to 14, with men usually
making up about half of the class. "For some men, like the young Australian
from the Bank who didn't like to cook for himself, it was the only home
cooked meal he had during the week," she says.
"Men are shy at first,"
she continues, "especially those who have not cooked before, but by the
end of the series they nearly always ask for extra sessions."
Although today she will tell you she loves to cook, her early excursions
into the kitchen were motivated by sheer necessity as she coped with the
problems faced by most single working mothers without household help.
Arriving in the United
States from India in 1973 with three young sons to support, she first
found a job at the Bank as a secretary. For a while, finances were so
tight that when one son lost his overcoat at school, the family had to
rotate coats for a couple of weeks until she could scratch together the
money to replace it. Time was no more plentiful.
"I used to get up at
4 a.m. to start cooking for the day. I was slow because I was so inexperienced,"
Sherbanoo says. Besides, she had a two-hour commute to work. The meal
she prepared in the morning was, however, gone before dinner. "My sons
were not used to eating American sandwiches. They would fill up on sweets
at school and then eat what I had prepared for dinner when they got home.
Eventually, I caught on and began cooking double quantities."
It was a vastly different
life from what she had known growing up in Bombay and later as a wife
and mother in Madras. "In India I had help in the kitchen. They cut and
cleaned the meat and vegetables-we purchased everything fresh. They prepared
the chapati dough (an Indian bread cooked on a hot griddle), and ground
the spices between stones. Then I would put it all together.
"I learned from helping
my mother as a little girl and later from my exmother-in-law. So, I had
some idea of what to do."
Creativity from Necessity
Somewhere along the way necessity turned into creativity, and when her
sons were grown and out on their own, she was at loose ends. "I had got
used to having no time to myself; and, since I'm by nature an active person,
I started looking around for something to do after work."
One day, as she was
browsing through a copy of a magazine containing articles about people
who started businesses using the skills they had, the idea of teaching
jelled. "People take courses to learn just about anything," she reasoned,
"even how to use a food processor or microwave oven when they can get
that information by reading the instructions with the equipment."
Her instinct proved
correct, and now, even though she doesn't have children to feed, she has
her classes to plan and cook for.
Her philosophy is to take life in hand and get on with it. "One of the
things I want to do with my classes," she says, "is to show women that
they can accomplish anything they set their minds to."
Chicken Akni Pulav
1 whole chicken approximately 2 lbs.
1 lb. thinly sliced onions
1 l/2 lb. potatoes, peeled and cut into four
1 cup plain yogurt
3 cups long grain rice
1/2 cup lemon or lime juice
2-1/2 cups water
1 cup shortening or ghee (purified butter)
1 cup milk
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon whole black pepper
1 2"cinnamon stick broken
1 teaspoon whole cumin
4 pods cardamon slit
10 fresh green hot peppers slit
1 teaspoon freshly ground garlic
I teaspoon freshly ground ginger
3 teaspoons salt
4 to 6 stems green coriander leaves, cut and washed
3 to 4 strands of saffron
Cut chicken into approximately 12 pieces.
In a large saucepan, heat the shortening on the high setting. Add potatoes
and fry for 5 minutes and remove.
Reduce heat to medium and add in the green peppers, cloves, cumincardamon,
and bay leaves. As these sputter, throw in the onions, ginger and garlic.
Fry for 5 minutes. Add the chicken and salt. Mix well, Cook for 5 minutes.
Add yogurt, lime juice and water. Raise heat to high and bring to a boil.
Add rice and make sure it continues to boil. Reduce heat to low, cover
and cook for 20 minutes.
Soak saffron in the cup of milk. Preheat oves so 450 degrees. Add potatoes
to the pulav and mix gently so that the rice, chicken and potatoes are
thoroughly mixed. Pour the saffron milk slowly around the mixture. Spread
coriander leaves on rice. Cover. Place in oven and bake for 20 minutes.
Serve piping hot with raita. Serves 10.
(ground meat with peas)
1 lb. ground meat
1 medium.sized onion, finely sliced
6 oz. tomato paste
5 oz. frozen or fresh peas
1/2 cup cooking oil
1/2 teaspoon each ground garlic, ground ginger, red chilli powder, cumin
powder, garam masala (a mixture of five spices)
Heat oil in a saucepan. Add onions. Fry over medium heat until light
brown (about 3 or 4 minutes), Add spices. Cook for a minute. Add ground
meat. Cook for 3 minutes. Add pessand mix. Add tomato paste. Add 6 oz.
water to the tomato paste and mix. Stir in green coriander leaves if available.
Lower heat and cover. Cook for 20 minutes. Serve with naan (pita bread).