A collaboration between young people in Manchester and Karachi
An international exchange project exploring South Asian food culture and heritage led by a collaborative team of young people from Manchester and Karachi with partners Karachi University, State Bank Museum of Pakistan and Manchester Museum.

Food features undoubtedly very highly in South Asian culture and is a theme that runs through many of the OSCH projects. Not only does food have the power to bring people to gather, for the MANACHI project it’s a lens through which to explore heritage and other interconnected topics such as culture, identity, gender, migration and so much more.

The project started with a research and planning visit from Manchester Museum staff, including young project leaders Hawwa and Maya, to Karachi. There they connected with their partners at Karachi University (including young project leaders Zainab and Yaruk) and the State Bank Museum of Pakistan. The team researched how staple ingredients are used in everyday cooking, how they have evolved and passed down through generations, both in Pakistan and with the South Asian diaspora in the UK. They visited markets, food streets and kitchens; investigating different cooking styles and techniques. Hawwa and Maya’s experiences were documented for this project. You can read Hawwa’s photo essay and Maya’s reflections from their exchange visits.

An open call was made to young people in Karachi and Manchester to contribute to the anthology with over 80 responses received. The final selection is a creative blend of photography, illustration, digital art, poetry and prose, which crosses geographical boundaries and coasts and records the similarities and diversities of South Asian cooking methods and traditions.

This resulting book, which was launched in Manchester at the Whitworth Art Gallery, takes you on a journey, exploring the world of narrated histories, hidden recipes, maps, music, and much more. Dig into South Asian food culture, from local streets and markets to the comfort of home-cooked meals. A visual treat exploring the odd and the ordinary, the forbidden and the told, the calm and the comical portrait of a multicultural and ethnically diverse society.

Through this creative collaboration, MANACHI offers a sweet, sour, and savoury flavour of South Asian food culture and heritage, artistically marked, mapped, and made by young people.

MANACHI offered paid youth-led opportunities, which allowed the young people an opportunity to develop relationships, build networks and hone their time management, curatorial, editorial and design skills. This collaborative project has provided real work experience for individual's portfolios to help them secure future work.

"This is what this anthology is about. It explores and is inspired by local grocery lists, traditional recipes, festivals, art, photography and poetry and more, and stems from an international collaboration between young people in Karachi and Manchester. (OSCH project team)

Juliet Dean, British Council

"Such projects (…) further strengthen the bond between Pakistan and the UK while providing paid opportunities to young students and interns."


"As a mentor for the project I have witnessed a tiny spark of an idea materialize into a wonderful archive of culinary traditions from South Asia. This book is a fresh and unique compilation and a testament to what empowering young people can accomplish. Woven together over the simple notion of sharing a meal, it is in fact a complex and beautiful reflection of not only our shared histories but of the many possibilities of a shared future."

Mahreen Zuberi, Karachi University