One fine day in December 2015, I returned home after lonely days in my boarding residence. How fortunate was I to arrive just in time to savour one of the most enchanting cakes of my life.
Not only was it my first ever walnut cake but I believe it to be handpicked by the Divine Writer of the Universe Himself. A motorcyclist was all set for her journey towards the Karakoram Highway, but fate intervened through means of a drastic earthquake on October 26th, 2015. To be on the safer side, a friend of hers suggested she stay in Abbottabad before continuing her journey. Having never before met Juvena Huang, it was quite interesting to finally interact with a lively and joyous person as herself. Though saying goodbye was very hard, she revived love and and rekindled joy in my family by a small but invaluable present: a walnut cake from Hunza for my brother’s birthday. It was one that travelled time.
It was a handcrafted delicious piece of wonder! Its filling was of honey and walnuts, with a thicker mellow cream. This meant very long lasting freshness in cold winters. I took the cake to a few good friends when I went back to school.
It was a disappointment to munch down the last bit; I did not know if I would ever be fortunate enough to savour a cake baked in Hunza, a valley I had never in my life ventured to. Little did I know what the next Eid-ul-Fitr would bring!
On the third day of the Muslim festival, my family alongside my aunts, uncles and cousins set out on a road trip spanning from Abbottabad till remote areas of Gilgit, Baltistan. I like to call it the land of naked mountains and embellished skies! For our first night we stayed at Gilgit, but the very next day we left for Hunza Valley: a serene valley surrounded by the snowcapped Rakaposhi mountain and the astonishingly vertical peaks of Lady Finger.What lies within- magnificent forts, gracious hosts and delectable food- truly won my heart. Top of the list was the enchanting Walnut Cake.
After a hike upto the legendary Fort Baltit in Karimabad (which I will talk about in another entry), my cousins and I were worked up and starving! Lucky for us, we found a little wooden cafe which stood three-stories tall. We were ushered to the second floor- where the kitchen and the actual cafe was. The rest of the floors were dining areas. There were shelves on the second floor stacked to the top with local handmade apricot jam and apricot oil. The dining itself was on local moorha( dwarf heighted stools made of wood and twine) as well as modern wooden chairs surrounding rouble tables.
Fascinated by the unique beauty of the cafe, I made my way to the cafe food shelf. I eyed all that the small kitchen had to offer. And there, resting in its great majesty sat a piece of wonder I never thought I’d see again: the enchanting walnut cake!
Here it was, sitting on the shelf, mighty and mystical as if having travelled from a cold winter to a blooming summer. After a short wait,I dived into my time-travelling cake and ate it away, bit by bit. My accomplice this time was the Hunza Tea: locally brewed herbal tea with a tinge of honey for sweetness.
(To those wondering, the wooden cafe was Cafe De Hunza at Karimabad. They offer both the walnut cake and Hunza tea.)