The master and student sat in meditation beneath an aged oak tree hidden miles deep within an open field of waving grass. The young student marveled at the great length of sky, seeing it for the first time from edge to further edge, and turned to his teacher.
“We are so far from home. It took weeks to come here, and will take days just to reach the nearest village…”
“Is that a question?” the master calmly spoke, as if remarking about the number of leaves on the closest branch.
“…I was only wondering, sir, do you not miss home? The comforts of your own bed, your family, looking forward to a warm meal? I’m afraid to admit I long for it so much.” The student nearly dropped his eyes at this last, and the master took notice. He sighed.
“Continue your meditations, so you may learn to let go of what was and what could be.” The student nodded in compliance and shifted his back against the tree, the tiniest of grimaces not escaping the master, who lay a hand on the wrinkled bark. “Does this ancient skin repulse you? Don’t be fooled to look only for comforts in the obvious. Consider how the shade protects you from the sun. Consider how the branches nest homes for the birds, and nurture our fires in the night. Focus on the comforts of what is now, and you will learn that home is as migrant as ourselves.” He let his words sink into the accepting pools gazing his way. “Now build a fire, as the sun has begun to set.”
The student did as he was told, pondering over his master’s words, not noticing the small parcel the elder had begun to warm in the flames. He broke from his reverie only when the waft of warm olive bread tickled his nose, much like it did at home the mornings his mother would bake. The master handed him a slice and said with a smile, “There is no harm in carrying home with you sometimes as well. Or recreating it when needed.”
I endeavored to cook Loki (zucchini) a few days ago because it is one of my ultimate favorite dishes that my mom makes. As I haven’t seen the family since October I haven’t had the luxury of tasting her delicious food, which truly is a travesty. There are few things more defining about home than food, and sometimes we must try to recreate when that’s our only option. I’ll be visiting them next week—totally awesome!—but even with the countdown rushing by, I wanted a taste of home.
Or well, I tried at any rate. It turned out pretty good to be honest, but I know it doesn’t compare to the mama’s dish. They never do, do they? But the husband devoured it, which made me happy, especially when he informed me afterwards that he doesn’t like zucchini usually. Wow! Extra points to me for achieving brilliance!
Loki: Pakistani Zucchini
- 2 green zucchinis, peeled and sliced round
- ½ onion, chopped
- 3 roma tomatoes, boiled and peeled (more on this later), and diced
- ¾ tsp salt
- Less than a dash of turmeric
- Red cayenne pepper (your preference how much)
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- ¼ tsp fresh crushed/grated ginger
- Cumin powder
- 1 green chili, seeded and sliced
Quite simple really. In a deep frying pan or pot, drizzle in oil until thoroughly coated the bottom (I use extra light olive oil for frying/cooking, but you can use canola/vegetable oil etc too). On medium heat, sauté the onions until they get on soft, translucent, and melty, adding in the garlic to let them melt together. Add the salt, red pepper, and turmeric, and mix it all. At this point toss in the zucchini and fry it, until they all start to change color. Be careful not to burn anything, reduce the heat as needed. Once all the veggies have taken on a slightly clear tinge, add Cumin powder to taste (I like a lot hehe), and the tomatoes.
**The reason I boiled and peeled them is because the skin takes FOREVER to break down, so peeling it makes it so much easier, and boiling makes it easy to peel. Just don’t cook them though, only heat them up enough to see the skin start to lift slightly.**
Mash the tomatoes up, let everything sizzle, and then add the ginger and green chilies and enough water to just barely cover all the zucchini. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer until the zucchini is a beautiful yellow color, and melts in your mouth. You’ll also notice the oil separate from water at the top, this is a good sign too.
Be careful with salt btw. I’ve decided I will only add a bit in the beginning, and wait until the end because sometimes I overdo it. This time I added too much salt for my liking. But not enough to ruin it. Two thumbs up for Alya!