As I am attempting to return back to the blogsphere, I had a look down the ‘Drafts’ section of my blogger dashboard and was rather pleased to find a number of recipes and posts that were semi-ready to be published. One recipe that caught my eye was this one – sweet and colourful Mutanjan rice.
I immediately thought this rainbow hued dessert would be perfect some day as a treat and why on Earth haven’t I made this in so long?
I read my write-up for it and suddenly I remembered why. It made my heart wilt a bit.
Many of you who follow me on Instagram (@fatima.cooks) may know my father-in-law whom I was very close to passed away in the tragic PK661 Chitral to Islamabad plane crash which was also carrying the Pakistani media and religious icon Junaid Jamshed. It’s a very difficult thing to talk about – as I have linked to the Wikipedia page which details the crash I can’t bear the read the details and think this happened to such a close and loved family member of mine. It is incredibly traumatic to lose a loved one in such a horrific manner.
In the Winter of 2016, me and my little family were on holiday to Pakistan. I had just had my first child a mere 6 weeks ago and we had made a sudden and impulsive decision to take a long holiday to my husbands home-town of Faisalabad. Towards the end of our holiday, my father-in-law had to make a work-related trip for which he went away for 13 days. He was a civil engineer and he took his work admirably seriously. We all were up on his case for days before he went asking him not go – we were on holiday, we wanted to spend all the time we had left with him, we didn’t want to have him missing for all these days and the reasons went on. Alas, work is work – and he went.
I’ll come back, he said, and then we will spend plenty of time together.
The day he was due to return, we had planned that I would cook Mutanjan for him. My mother-in-law and sisters-in-law were going to make keema shimla mirch (minced chicken and peppers) and maash ki daal (split urid lentils), and I was in-charge of the meetha. He had a huge sweet-tooth and loved warm desserts so this seemed befitting for the occassion – an explosion of happy, joyful colours in a fancy looking, loaded sweet dish. Garnished with mithai and nuts, how could anyone not love Mutanjan?
I had prepared all the ingredients, had all the food colours to hand and I was actually feeling incredibly nervous about cooking this for everyone – you know, cooking for your susraal (in-laws) and all.
We got the news that afternoon.
I never got round to making my Mutanjan.
Why am I telling you all such a story? It certainly isn’t to put you off making this lovely dessert, nor is it to evoke feelings of sadness if you do go ahead and make this recipe.
I’m telling you this story to highlight just how special and meaningful cooking can be. We have memories, beautiful, beautiful yaadein attached to so many things including food – cooking certain things summon up those feelings once more, like a well loved ghost from the past. Though I haven’t ever made Mutanjan since, the very sight of it conjours up vivid memories of my father-in-law.
Those who have left us may not live amongst us anymore physically, but they live on in our hearts and in our memories. In wonderful photos, in heartfelt messages and letters they may have written and of course in what they left behind them.
May my father-in-law and all those who passed tragically on the ill-fated PK661 flight rest in peace. Ameen
Enjoy, with love x