Food Bloggers We Love – Recipe 52
Join Mariam H. Sodawater as she talks about how she tests recipes and her quick guide for planning birthday parties easily!
- Tell us a bit about yourself, what do you do?
I’m the founder and manager of Recipe 52. I’m mother of two naughty boys. My family and I love dining out, travelling, exploring and camping.
My journey in the kitchen started when I was 12. Most of my friends learned how to cook after getting married. So what was I doing in the kitchen when I was supposed to play badminton and other sports with cousins? Then I realized, it was because of my grandmother, my first mentor who was a great cook.
She wanted to pass on her cooking skills while she was still alive. And I was a bit naïve but defiant and accompanied her to the kitchen, sometimes excited and sometimes half-heartedly.
After her death, when I was only 14 years old, my journey continued, observing and learning from my mother. My mother was working full-time. We had hired a cook. But they also Mom had to go work and after school, I had to cook the half-cooked food. Yeah…I was the only daughter.
I’m blessed with the best cooks around me. Be it my mother or dadi or mother-in-law and sister-in-law.
- How did you get into food blogging?
I didn’t know a thing about blogging when I started. Writing was a compulsion for me, I always had a diary. Once, I shared my writings with my husband, he told me you need to start a blog. Although, I loved my paper and pen but then I got used to typing blog post. That’s how I came into blogging about social issues. After some time, I started teaching and lost interest in blogging.
For food blogging, a very old friend encouraged me. I was a bit skeptical about food blogging because it was so common but then I realised, I should not belittle something I do with so much passion. What kept me going were a few close friends who kept trying every single recipe of mine and kept asking for more.
- What is the first thing you remember making?
I remember making tea, half fry eggs, rice, khichri and roti. All these were before I was 12 years old. When I was 14, I vividly remember making Pakora, Bhunna Qeema, Chicken Nihari, Guwar sabzi, cakes, gulab jamun and Aloo ki roti. Like I said, my grandmother taught me cooking, she didn’t have a daughter and so she loved me, trained me like her own daughter. That was too early but maybe she knew she would die before I’ll reach maturity. I lost my best companion and mentor.
- How do you plan your recipes?
For a traditional recipe like a Bohra recipe, I question seniors in family and community about how they cook it and try to find history and tradition behind it. Then, I check the internet to see if there is a regional variation. I note down the steps and the ingredients.
Testing: Finally, when I test it, I still want to satisfy myself as it has to have perfect and authentic flavours. I’ll also ask some seniors to taste and confirm. If it still needs to be perfected, I’ll make variations and re-test it until it is worth posting on my blog.
But, when I’m creating something on the fly, I go by taste buds and I try to figure which spices, herbs or vegetables would blend well.
I follow a golden rule taught to me by my Dadi which is that good food is ‘Sastu Saro ne Selo’ (frugal, healthy and easy to make). So I always consider four things, budget, the health aspect of a recipe, easy availability of the ingredients and the easiest method to prepare it.
- If you were to design an ultimate kids’ birthday party menu, how would you go about it?
I’ve planned many birthday parties on short notice and was always really surprised. I thought kids loved pizza and burgers or nuggets. Once, I threw a birthday party of 15 five to seven year olds. Three of them clearly didn’t like pizza and when mockingly I asked them to have khichri, they wanted it and I served them some leftover khichri. So here is my guide to planning birthday parties:
Kids aged 5+ years love one bite food.
Chocolate cupcakes, potato cheese balls, chicken nuggets , Alfredo pasta, chips, cookies and orange juice.
Teenagers love fast food, so Chocolate Fudge Cake, Chicken Burgers, Fries, Chocolate chip cookies and soda floats.
- Cookbooks or Googling a recipe? Why?
Cookbooks! They save lots of time spent on searching. A good cookbook from a local writer can be a great resource because similar and easy to find ingredients could make your life easy. You can trust it.
- What is your favorite achievement to date?
With an early marriage and kids, I managed to do my masters in English Literature. Rather, focusing on studies and career, I choose to focus on family and studies. And now, I can focus on my career and interests. My career and kids are growing together and both have crossed those initial and demanding stages.
- Ammi ke haath ka kya pasand hai?
Sub kuch! Literally, she cooks with so much love, especially when I visit her. If I must choose then staying true to my Karachi roots I pick – Kachay Gosht ki Biryani.
- What is your least favorite thing to make?
Cooking is my hobby and less of a chore, I wish to try my hands on everything and make it interesting. But if it is something like chicken stew, so mundane, then I don’t enjoy making it.
- What is your fast food guilty pleasure?
I love healthy food with lots of fresh veggies and nuts. The only fast food I carve is Subway sandwiches or something similar with no guilt. My guilty pleasure is sweets and mithai. I am so addicted to sweets it is bordering on obsession.