Welcome to my Q&A page. Here you will find answers to questions I am often asked by all you lovely readers.
If you have more questions, you can send me a message here – I would love to hear from you.
I am new here, which posts should I read to familiarise myself with your site and who you are?
I live in Toronto and moved here from Rome, Italy.
This post tells you a little about my past year.
This magazine feature tells you a little about me and how the Spice Spoon evolved over the years.
This post is very dear to me for many reasons.
Toronto is my new home, but I reminisce a lot. This post is representative of that.
I love making these sweet treats in the Fall, to enjoy during tea time.
You can also read about my favourite things in this or this interview.
Have a look at my Portfolio or Press and Praise page for more tidbits about me.
You could also go to my new Home page and take a tour from there.
What is your ethnicity? Are you Pakistani, Afghan or Persian?
I am Pakistani, with Afghan and Persian roots. My father’s family hails from the Durrani Dynasty of Afghanistan. After the decline of their rule, they moved to Lahore, in present-day Pakistan. My father’s family consider themselves Pakistani, with strong Afghan roots. They all speak Dari and carry on many Afghan traditions. If you are ever invited to an Eid feast at my father’s family home, you will taste beautiful cross-influences in the Pakistani and Afghan dishes prepared that day. My father’s mother, whom I affectionately refer to as Mader in my writings, had Persian roots. You can read more about her here. My mother is a pure bred Pakistani.
Where exactly did you grow up? Where and what did you study?
I was born in Lahore, Pakistan. I am what people call a “World Bank” baby. I was two years old when we moved to Washington, DC. After that, because of my father’s job, we weaved in and out of Washington, DC, living in Lagos, Nigeria; Nairobi, Kenya; and Dhaka, Bangladesh. I attended an elite liberal arts college in Massachusetts, United States, called Mount Holyoke for my undergraduate degree in economics and international relations, and later, for my post-graduate studies, I read economics at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom. A job at the International Monetary Fund (no, “Daddy” didn’t get me in, in fact, he didn’t even know I had applied for a job there!) kept me in Washington, DC for a few years and then I went onwards, to Rome, Italy, to start my dream job at the United Nations. After living in Rome for several years, I met my husband at my best friend’s wedding in Pakistan and we decided to make Toronto our new home, where we currently reside with our little boy.
I am confused. You left Pakistan when you were two, so how do you have such strong links to your heritage?
I moved back to Pakistan when I was 13 years old and lived there for three years. My parents were expatriates, which is a bit different than when you migrate to another country. My father was a civil servant in Pakistan and took an extended leave of absence to work for the World Bank. So for him and my mother, Pakistan was always home and we were brought up as such. We went to Lahore every year (from Nairobi, we went several times a year) and were not even allowed to speak English at home; we always spoke Urdu. Toronto is my new home – and I also feel at home in Rome and Washington, DC. That’s what happens when you live all over the place.
You had mentioned somewhere that you have a day job, too. What do you do for a living?
I am a Senior Policy Advisor to the provincial government in Canada – a day job I enjoy very much.
Who is Tiny Spoon / Turkish Delight?
‘Tiny Spoon’ is our little boy, Evren. His name is Turkish, so I also refer to him as my ‘Turkish Delight’ over on Instagram. He likes ginger chicken, spaghetti with olive oil, cherry tomatoes and parmigiano-reggiano, his mamma’s peach compote and strawberries with maple syrup.
How do you juggle all these jobs – with the provincial government, Spice Spoon and being a mother?
I don’t sleep much. I don’t get to practice yoga as much as I used to. I also don’t get to socialise much, either. My husband and I help each other a lot. But truth be told, my husband has a very demanding job and works long hours, so after work, I rely on the help of an amazing lady. You can read more about this in my interview with Asia Society.
How much did you financially invest in your website and short film?
Each project is unique, so it would be unfair for me to disclose the details of my financial agreement with my web designer or film producer. If you would like to contact them for your project, head on over to my Acknowledgements page.
What is your connection to Rome?
Rome is one of the two places I have lived the longest in (Washington, DC being the other place). Rome is in my soul. It is where I started a new life for myself, got my dream job at the United Nations, made lifelong friends, fell in love with all that the city had to offer and learnt to live alone – but more on that another time.
How would you describe your cookery style?
You can watch my short film to know more about my cookery philosophy. But in terms of my cookery style – I like to make dishes which everyone can share. At a typical dinner at my home, I prepare four to five dishes which everyone enjoys family style. That way, each guest can choose something that they like. For a recent dinner, I made feta crostini with saffron honey, aromatic rice, spiced lentils, garlic prawns and a cardamom almond cake with raspberry coulis.
Why are most of your recipes in metric units? Can you post the recipe in cups (US measurements), too?
I like the level of accuracy which comes with using the metric system in cookery. It would be added work for me if I posted the recipe in US measurements, too. Sorry about that.
You spoke at TEDx in Waterloo in March 2013. When can we see your talk?
There were some challenges with regards to getting the videos; we have been told they will be released sometime before the end of this year. I am so sorry about that. In the meanwhile, you can see my TEDx profile here.
Do you accept guest posts on your blog?
Because my blog is my food memoir, I only invite guest posts from other writers whom I know personally and share my vision about food, (which includes a love for salted caramel ice cream.)
Do you teach classes or workshops?
I have in the past and will be posting more information in the News & Events section of my website, soon. Stay tuned.
We haven’t met in person, but I emailed you regarding a coffee date and you made excuses. Why?
I really enjoy interacting with all of you – over email, the blog, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest – the works. But because I work full time for the provincial government, have a wee child and many a day am working on Spice Spoon projects at 5am, I find it hard to get away for a cup of coffee. I promise, I am not making excuses, I wish I had more hours in the day. When I do have some time to myself, I call my mother, father, sisters and best friends. Hand on my heart, that is true.
What is that red lipstick you wear in your Instagram photos?
Make Up For Ever Rouge Artist Intense #45
More questions? You can send me a message on my Contact page here – it would be lovely to hear from you.