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When Irfan's Ammi Bowled Sachin Over With Biryani

May 05, 2022 12:54 IST

<p">On the occasion of Mother's Day, let's talk about cricketer Irfan Pathan's memories of his mother Shamim Banu's cooking.

IMAGE: Irfan Pathan with his mother Shamim Banu.

The happiest food-related memory from Irfan Pathan's childhood is that of breakfast and his memories of the super food his Ammi cooked.

The cricketer's mornings would begin with his Ammi's hot rotis, smeared with oil, which would be dipped into cups of steaming hot chai and relished by Irfan and his brother Yusuf before heading off to school.

The family was experiencing financial difficulties during those years and their father worked 12-14 hours a day to get a salary of ₹3,500. Having three meals a day was a big deal for them back then, and so the humble breakfast of hot rotis drizzled with oil was much anticipated.

The family's difficult times have been left far behind, but till date his Ammi's rotis continue to be Irfan's favourite.

The oil has been replaced with ghee, 'but the memories of the family -- my brother, sister, parents and I -- sitting together and enjoying our nashta, in our simple home, still brings happiness to my heart,' he says.

In Sudha Menon's book Recipes For Life, the talented swing and seam bowler from Vadodara gives his fans a glimpse of the meals he ate during his growing up years.

An excerpt from the book along with the recipe of Irfan's mother's Lamb Biryani.

Do check the note below for vegetarian pairings with the biryani.

IMAGE: Irfan and Yusuf Pathan with their father Mehboob Khan.
All photographs: Kind courtesy Irfan Pathan/Instagram

On some days, Ammi would make a green dhaniya (coriander) and chilli chutney, and we would have it for the next couple of days with our rotis and for dinner, with khichdi.

Carrying lunch to school was a luxury for us. We settled for one nashta (snack) daily.

If we were lucky, we got pocket money of 50 paise, with which we would buy a samosa or masala aloo from a vendor outside the school.

If not, the main meal was dinner, and it would mostly be a vegetable salan and bhindi or tinde ki subzi.

Aloo was a regular in our household because it was cheap and also filling, and our meals were often potato subzi with rice and dhaniya chutney.

Ammi was a brilliant cook and used whatever she had in the kitchen to make tasty meals for us. She made this delicious subzi, with potatoes, eggplant, methi leaves, fresh green tuvar (pigeon peas) and green chillies, that I can have every single day even today.

Ammi's biryani was amazing and a rare treat -- a luxury for us because we could not afford to buy meat and other ingredients for it. As kids, we would wait for Eid so that we could enjoy her biryani and sheer khurma.

Eid was a busy, happy day at home because our relatives would come over to greet us; everybody would eat together and go to the mela to have fun.

Ammi would prepare for her feast days in advance, and we kids would help her get the ingredients for the biryani together.

During the 2007 India-Australia series, we were playing a match in Baroda, and Ammi prepared her signature biryani for the team.

Twenty-five members of the team relished her biryani that day. To my great surprise, and to Ammi's great delight, Sachin (Tendulkar) expressed his desire to eat the same biryani the next day too.

He said that biryani always tastes better the day after it is made. Unfortunately, there was no biryani left from the previous day, but Ammi was more than happy to prepare it for Sachin all over again.

Shamim Banu Pathan's Lamb Biryani

Serves: 4-5



Preparing the rice for the biryani 

Note: Need to cook something vegetarian alongside the Lamb Biryani? Try Manasi Sadarangani's Vegetable Pot Biryani.

If on a diabetic or low carb diet, opt to have the lamb curry of the biryani layered with red rice, millets or quinoa.

Excerpted from Recipes For Life by Sudha Menon with kind permission from the publishers Penguin Random House India.