Sunday, February 16, 2014

Kakorri - a Pukhtun Gift from Parents to Daughters (and on how evil paternal grandparents and aunts can be)

In the Pukhtun society, at least in parts of Pakistan like Swat and Pekhawar, when a married girl/woman visits her parents for an extended time--say, more than 10 days--her parents' side makes her lots and lots of kakorri (singular: kakorray) as her going-away gift. They look like what you see below (some of the pics aren't good and don't reflect the deliciousness of the kakorri, but you get the idea! They're round, fried, dark red or close to brown, and absolutely delicious. Made of well-kneaded dough, they're best with tea!) So the pics:

A pic I've taken of the last set of kakorri my mom made me

A Swati friend of mine took this pic from her kakorri

Some of my set of kakorri

 Found this on Facebook by googling "kakorri Swat"! :D From a FB group called "SwatZama Janan"

The Basics about Kakorri

Pics shown, lemme tell you a little bit about my childhood desire for kakorri. But before that, lemme point out that these are actually supposed to be for married daughters, but being qrratugai, I like every tradition and every rule broken: I don't care who it's for; I love them, and my mom knows how to make them, so whenever I visit home, she makes them for me :) May God reward her infinitely for this love. I would be grateful if my readers offered some prayers for the good health and happiness of my mother as well. Thank you!

Like I said, this is one of the gifts that women/girls take home for themselves and their in-laws from their mother's home. It doesn't happen for each visit, though; I mean, I imagine it's expensive and all and it takes a lot of time as well. But usually, it's only when the daughter has spent a significant amount of time at her parents' house that she takes these when returning to husband's/in-laws' place. Women don't regularly visit their parents' house if they live with their in-laws (in-laws being controlling and stuff), but they visit frequently and for extended periods of time whenever their husbands are out of the country or town. My aunts whose husbands were always out of country (employment reasons) would visit my grandparents' as often as they could. Especially after having had a fight with the stinking in-laws.

Other Gifts from Parents' Side to In-laws

Besides kakorri, though, women can also take amrasai. Sorry, can't find pics of those. Googling "amrasai" gives me results of some lame toys. Amrasai are also made of dough (I think?), fried, and stuff, but I'm no fan. There's also something else ... I don't remember what they're called, but they're about the length of a finger, flat, and crunchy. Amrasai and these crunchy things are usually made in bakery shops, not at home. Kakorri are made at home. Then there's another thing called kajuri. They're also made at home like kakorri but a different style and method, like by making fist from the piece of dough. Also baked. I'm no fan of amrasai, kakorri, or kajuri. I tell you, nothing beats kakorri :)

Who Makes Them, Where, When 

When women make these, they do so in groups. Several adult female members of a house will gather during evening time in the kitchen and make the kakoorri while chatting, gossiping, laughing. So since it's cooking and domestic, it's something that men don't do. (I mean, God forbid men do anything in the house, right? They're too good for that, they tell us.)

Paternal Grandparents/Aunts Can be Vicious and Stingy.

So when I was a kid, like around 5-10 ages, and my aunts would gather to make these things for an aunt who was returning home the next day, I would gaze at these kakorri with cousins and other kids from the neighborhood and long--OH HOW I WOULD LONG--to be offered one. My grandparents (paternal) were very stingy people. They still are. I hate saying this, but it's the truth, and most other people I know from Pakistan / Pashtun areas will tell you the same thing about their paternal grandparents - they were/are stingy. But they're stingy and cruel only to us their sons' children, not to their daughters' children. This is something I'll talk about in another blog. We know in-laws are hated commonly around the world by many people, especially wives, and paternal grandparents hating and being mean to their sons' children is a common thing in Pakistan (prolly the rest of South Asia as well), and since it's that common a thing, I'm sure there's some explanation for it. But let's not let the qrratu get carried away in talking about this. The point is, my paternal grandparents, with whom my family shared a house in Swat, was very mean to us and to my paternal cousins.

I would stand there with my dad's brothers' kids and sisters' kids, and you know what, good folks? My dad's SISTERS' kids would get these kakorri, and so much other love from my dad's sisters and parents, but my dad's BROTHERS' kids and us? NONE! We got NOTHING! Zero! Nada! They were stingy like this with other things, too, like all the fruits that our fruit-bearing trees would produce (bananas, apples, plums, apricots). We'd get sooo little, and my dad's sisters' kids would get sooo much.

If you ask me, I think it's mostly because my paternal grandparents knew that their daughters (some of them, anyway) were being treated miserably by their in-laws so my grandparents wanted to give them the love that the in-laws wouldn't/couldn't give the. Sad thing is, though ... that love was never available to us. I don't know what makes mothers-in-law and other in-laws so bitter and mean and cruel. The cycle of hatred continues on forever and ever with each other mother-in-law of each generation. It sucks. It stinks.

So when me and the other kids would be deprived of these kakoorri as they were made for my aunts and their kids in front of our eyes, I would run upstairs to my family's quarter of the house, cry to my mom, and tell her what was happening downstairs and that they wouldn't give us any kakorri. My mom, may God bless her infinitely with all kinds of blessings, love, peace, safety, good health--would make some of me and my siblings immediately, like right away, that night! And we'd take some to the other kids who weren't offered any by my mean grandmother and mean aunts who were making them while we watched lustfully and secretly begged to eat some.

I should remember to blog more about my childhood and the meanness from the above people and other relatives. My maternal side, though ... omg, the best people ever! My mother's maternal aunts had gardens of fruit-bearing trees and they'd give us plenty whenever we'd visit. (Her paternal aunts were also actually very good to her and her siblings. Well, there's an exception, I suppose. But I swear the norm, from all the Swati people I know, is that the paternal side is very cruel. If that's not your experience, consider yourself lucky!)

Now you know why mothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, and other in-laws have a bad reputation in our society. Good in-laws are rare. I heard the same thing from my host mother in Morocco. She hated, absolutely her in-laws. They were vicious to her and her kids, even though her husband was the only son the mother-in-law had. Her stories would make me cry for her.

khokay, good folks. More another time.

One day, inshaAllah, I'll hire someone to make A LOT of kakorri and will spread them around for all the kids who have never tasted them or were deprived of tasting them because their paternal grandparents and paternal aunts were too mean to give them any.


  1. The same tradition follow here in the Pashtoon areas of Baluchistan, but over here the it's called 'Raghwani'.

    1. Thanks for letting me know about that, Aimal Khana! A lot of my non-Swati friends don't know about kakorri and don't seem to have anything like it, so I've wondered if it might juts be a Swati thing. But then, I've a Pekhawrai friend who's a neighbor of mine here who knows kakorri and loves them, so.

      Raghwani. Nice word! :)

    2. I am not exaggerating but my mom's Raghwani are the best. She even cook for our relatives and neighbors on demand when ever they are going on social visits.

    3. Disappointed! I thought you are gonna write a recipe of kakori. I just had some while visiting Pakistan. Too good but was shy to ask how did they make it.

    4. LOL!!! I'll ask my mom for the recipe next time. Sorry!

    5. We have it too (D.I.Khan), and we name it the same, that is " Kakoṛī (plural)". But its not exlusive to married daughters visiting their families.

      Actually a "Kakoṛay" has a long shell life, its a good survival food for travel. My mom used to prepare Kakoṛī for me when I would leave for my engineering hostels.

    6. That explains everything! THAT's why it's specific to traveling, then!

      Thanks for pointing that out, Empror! :)

  2. We call them Ranzokhay in kurram,, absolutely love them.. Agree with the long shelf life bit,, my aunt would always send them from there for us,, my paternal aunt,, lucky us,, :-)

    1. Great to hear you guys have them in Kurram, too, Anonymous! :) I'm crazy about them, too!


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