Interview: Saba Wahid
"I just get so excited when it comes to cooking and feeding people,” Saba Wahid says enthusiastically. She is, in this case, referring to a recent dinner party that saw her prepare seven different dishes for her guests. “I cooked for about three or four days straight, I just kept wanting to do more and more, my legs were aching afterwards! But it was well worth it.” As a chef she is, naturally, passionate about cooking but says that inviting people over and sharing her creations with friends is an important part of the pleasure. “Entertaining, that’s where the fun is because then you see the fruits of your labour, the result of all the hard work you’ve put in. And seeing everyone enjoying themselves is a great feeling, it always puts a smile on my face.”
Saba explains that she likes “to cook all different types of food. I describe my style of cooking as eclectic global cuisine.” Ongoing work on a cookbook of Pakistani recipes has nevertheless seen the chef, who is herself of Pakistani origin, focus more on this particular cuisine. Describing it as “very bold and flavoursome, with a lot of chilli and a level of spice and intensity,” she adds that “there is a lot of meat in Pakistani cuisine, we are complete carnivores!” Asked what she loves most about cooking, the answer comes quickly and without hesitation: “It’s a very therapeutic process. I’m a very creative individual and I can really explore my creative side in the kitchen. It’s a great outlet for me, it works wonders.”
Saba’s top tips
1. The key when entertaining at home is to be organised, to plan ahead and pay attention to details. If you do, things will run smoothly and on time.
2. It’s also important to delegate when you have guests. Obviously you want to be as involved with the food as possible but an important part of hosting is also being present to entertain. An extra pair of hands to help out can really take a weight off your shoulders.
3. If you’re not a fantastic cook but want to improve, start small. Focus on certain ingredients and types of cuisine and experiment with different recipes and dishes. The hardest part of cooking is understanding the balance of flavours. Once you know how to use different ingredients to enhance or change a dish, that’s the beauty, the essence of cooking.
INFO: Visit Ahlan! Live Recipes to try some of Saba’s favourite dishes.