jilebi chronicles


Gooey or crispy, that’s the debate – or so I learnt from reading Kamila Shamsie’s Broken Verses. Either way, I was very surprised to find them here in Pakistan: jilebis! A deep fried sugar concoction that melts in your mouth, and on your fingers, which I believed to be South Indian. Turns out to rather be South Asian.

Tonight’s jilebis were the conclusion of an unexpected night out – I went over to Faheem’s house, a fantastic singer I knew from when he worked on a show that old friends of mine were involved in too. Just wanted to say hello, see if here’d be a chance of doing something music-related while I’m here.
After meeting his lovely family, we left the house and soon I found myself sitting around a table in a dark park (no electricity) with Faheem and five of his friends. All of their lives have taken them to very different places (also geographically, one of them has lived in Toronto for 35 years) but still those who are around get together in the park every night, to walk, drink tea, catch up. Faheem met them when they came to a concert of his and started talking to him afterwards.
We finished our tea and went for dinner at a grill restaurant. Where they managed to order salad and two different kinds of dal that had really almost no very recognisable chicken in it. A relief for my vegetarian sensibilities.
Dinner turned out to be only the second item on tonight’s programme; afterwards, we needed a decent dessert. Jilebis. And not just any jilebis, but the best in town, so we made our way over there.

They were delicious. And, this being Pakistan which means hospitality doesn’t stop, we concluded this very pleasant evening with green tea at the house of one of the friends. Well after midnight, and after various slightly concerned text messages from hotel boss Sajjad (the type he starts sending every night around 11, if I’m not home yet), we said our warm goodbyes and I rode home with a big happy smile on my face.

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