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Shayma  Yoghurt and Spinach Dip

There are lots of reasons we love to cook.

We love to feed people. We love to eat. We love the feeling of crusty bread under our knives, the sound of onions sautéing, the smell of a roast once it’s out of the oven.

But there’s more: we love to cook because we love to learn.

And there’s a FOOD52er that we’re always learning from: Shayma. A senior government policy advisor, she has introduced us to foods that our kitchens had never seen the likes of, converting us into lovers of Persian food, Pakistani food, Afghan food. Growing up in Africa, Asia, North America, and Europe – and moving from Rome to her current home in Canada – Shayma has had her fair share of culinary influences. But the food that she turns to – and that we now turn to – is the food she grew up with, the “Pakistani-Afghan-with-a-hint-of-Iranian” food that mirrors her diverse, culture-rich background.

We’ve learned that we can eat in the “Persian manner” in mere minutes; the Yoghurt & Spinach Dip, ‘Borani Esfanaaj,’ in the Persian Manner (pictured above) is what we snack on during football season. We’ve learned the intricate glories of aromatic rice: Aromatic Rice-Palau the Pakistani way, Vermicelli Rice – Ruz Ma Shayreeyeh, and Dill Rice the Afghani Way – Chelo Shibit. We’ve learned that scrambled eggs are even better with cumin, tomato, cilantro, and thai bird chiles – the Afghani/Pakistani way. And we’ve learned to open our kitchens to whole new cuisines, Shayma’s heartfelt recipes leading the way.  

Read our profile Q&A with Shayma below, and check out her beautiful blog here.

  • What's the strangest food you've ever eaten?
    Alligator, giraffe and impala meat at the Carnivore restaurant when we lived in Nairobi.

  • What do you cook when home alone?
    Masoor dahl (lentils) and Basmati or spaghetti con pomodorini pachino.

  • Your most treasured kitchen possession:
    A pressure cooker which I bought in Rome. Sadly it is now out of production.

  • The ideal number of guests for a dinner party is: