July 30, 2020

Hi! I’m glad you’re here. I’m Sana and this is my passion project. A place where I can think out loud about how to make a rustic, beautiful, apple and pear crumble (with the perfect fruit to crumble ratio), while also raising kids and keeping my sanity. It’s an old school blog at a time when reels and tik tok videos are the medium du jour, but that doesn’t bother me. I just want to write, mother, and make soup.

A little bit about me. I’m what you call a third culture kid. While both my parents were born in Karachi, Pakistan, I was born in Abu Dhabi and spent the majority of my life in Kuwait as a Pakistani foreign expat. I now live in Toronto, though the circumstances that brought me here (the Iraqi invasion, fleeing, immigration, multiple moves) are complicated – a story for another day.

I’m also a Mama to three kids, Aiza, Faezan, and baby Mikhail, who are the source of non-stop antics and laughter in our home. It was when I was pregnant with my first that I realized I didn’t really know how to cook. Teriyaki stir-fry sauce (something I’d discovered in university) was my best friend and I had one recipe from Joy of Cooking that I made for special occasions – chicken in a mushroom cream sauce…ta da! It must have been the hormones because I started getting intense cravings for my Mom’s aloo cholay, the softest chickpeas and potatoes in a heady gravy; or hakka style noodles, fried fast with thinly sliced carrots, scallions, and peppers, all slicked with fiery chilli oil; or a chicken shawarma, topped with garlic sauce, hot pink pickled turnips, fries (yes fries!), and parsley, wrapped in a too-hot-to-handle pita. I had no clue how to make any of it. Thirty years old and I couldn’t create a single dish that marked my childhood.

I would watch Shirin Anwer, the masterful Pakistani chef, deftly prepare mouth-watering dishes while taking live calls from her audience, then phone my mom and try to decipher directions like, “Mmm, a finger’s worth of haldi,” in the midst of attempting dhal. I would marvel at Giada De Laurentiis grate a tower of parmesan onto perfectly al dente pasta while distractedly working on my MA thesis. With a chai in hand, I’d read my favourite Pakistani food blog at the time, Spice Spoon, and get that tug in my heart. It was an amorphous nostalgia for a place and time, a feeling I found hard to pin. I wanted to recreate some semblance of home and rootedness as I entered a new chapter of my life. Food and the memories wrapped up with it felt central to it all.

It’s been eight years since and that’s where this blog picks up. I’m *still* learning to cook. With finishing up grad school, complicated pregnancies, three babies, and on and off work as a teacher, there’s always been something. Now I text my Italian friends asking how to make bright green rapini, pour over Samin Nosrat’s magnum opus to understand how to properly salt everything, and fumble my way through gluten-free baking. I’m thankful my mother is around to teach me how to make dense, sunshine yellow ghee and explain the proper technique for layering a biryani. There are also the realities of feeding children who love to eat but still manage to fuss about an errant tomato skin in their pasta sauce, a coriander leaf that’s too big, and my son’s classic complaint, “It’s too spicy!” We’re working on it.

This blog will be a journal of sorts. The stories and recipes will often be anchored in family meals. Why? Because regardless of how exhausting parenting can be, sitting down in the evening with my husband and kids is the best part of my day – even if the baby spills his bowl of rice, even if the older two get in a fight, even if I had a crappy school pick up, even if it’s been raining for two days. Dinner is my safe place, a daily anchor when I slide into my side of the bench. It’s a space that reminds me of what I’m doing here, who my people are, and gives me the chance to feed the ones I love. I hope to share a little slice of that with you.

P.S. That photo is of my now nine year old on her first birthday. It’s one of my all time favourite pictures.

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