Once, I remember coming back from school and my mum wasn’t home, she was gone. My siblings and I asked my dad where our mother was and he said she was at our Nanu’s house? My heart broke. My siblings were upset but they just got on with it, but not me, I cried. I cried like a baby, I cried so much my dad held me. He tried his best to cheer me up but I wasn’t calming. When he realised he couldn’t, he told me not to worry. He cuddled me more and stroked my hair, front to back. “Don’t cry. I’ll get your older brother to drop you when he comes home,” he said. And that was all it took for those tears to dry up. I love my mum but I wasn’t crying for my mum, I see her every day. I was crying because she went to my Nanu’s house without me. My Nanu’s house was the best! I had so much fun there, late nights, trips to the shops, snacks, ice-cream from the van. We used to sprint out as soon as we heard it’s melody ringing out in the distance and luckily for us, it used to stop right outside my Nanu’s doorstep. We were almost first in the queue every time!
My siblings and I had such a laugh with my uncles and especially my aunties who were similar ages to us. But most of all, it was all about the Ayfol-satni. You see, my Nanu had an apple tree in her garden, it grew the greenest and juiciest cooking apples. They were shiny and had the sharpest tang! Peeled, finely chopped and mixed up with other ingredients, it was mouth-wateringly delicious.“It’s all in the mixing,” my mum would say as she got her right hand stuck in, mixture oozing out between her fingers, hmmm. The scent of roasted garlic and chilli powder would fill the air. My mum loves tangy food and she makes remarkable satni’s. Born and bred in Bangladesh, recipes were something that was passed down to her and later, to me. Satni’s originate from the Indian subcontinent and varies country to country in texture, ingredients and spices. The word chutney is derived from the Hindi word ‘chatni’ which means to lick. In Bengali we pronounce it with an ‘S’, making it satni.
Every time I went around to my Nanu’s, she would ask if I wanted an apple from the tree. If I said yes, she’d ask one of my aunties to get me one. My auntie G was a brilliant climber, I would choose an apple and she’d go up in no time. If there was an apple she couldn’t reach, she’d somehow get it. She’d shake the branch or whack it down with something long. Sometimes, I’d watch my Nanu and my mum chatting away enjoying the juicy apples while conversing. They would slice the apples into chunks and demolish them dipping them into salt. I loved eating it with salt too, but I wasn’t allowed. “Salt is not good for you,” my mum would say.
My nanu would call me over with a blink, I knew what her eyes were saying. I’d run over, holding out my left palm and watch her sprinkle grains of salt into it. She knew I loved it just as much as she did. My mum wouldn’t say anything, she knew what Nanu says goes, after all, she was considered her elder. I love my satni’s and for that I’m forever grateful to my Bangladeshi side and my elders. Who have clung to their heritage and passed it down to me and others in my generation. I can only hope we do the same for the next lo lot. I have these wonderful memories of my Nanu and my mother together. Though my mother is still here today, we’re just cities apart. My Nanu isn’t, she passed away not so long ago. I can’t wait to be reunited with her in Jannah, InShaAllah. Who knows we might even have an apple tree, and as memories are something we take with us to the next life, then Ayfol-satni it is.
Wash and peel the apple. Cut out the core. Once done, finely chop the pieces into thin strips and put it all into a bowl. (You can also grate the pieces, if you prefer.)
Peel a few garlic cloves.
Poke them onto the end of a fork and roast them directly over the fire on your cooker, until coloured. (If you don’t have a gas cooker, you can skip this part.)
Use a garlic crusher to make the garlic into a paste. If you don’t have one, you can use the end of a rolling pin like I do! Add paste to the bowl.
Add a quarter of a teaspoon of chilli powder.
Add a quarter of a teaspoon of salt.
Wash and finely chop up a small handful of corriander.
Give it all a good mix.
Born and raised in London, writer and children’s author Khanom recently published four pictures books. Today a mother of six, Khanom lives a busy life, splitting her days between home educating her children and her motherly responsibilities. She shares her home in Bolton with her family, and anytime she has a moment to herself, she reads and writes.