Italian born Amira’s story is of a meeting of two very different cultures and religions, and a family’s passion for acceptance.
Amira was born in the North Italian city of Milan. She converted to Islam in her teens and came to the UK for her gap year ten years ago. “I got a job in a café in London and that’s where I met my husband. We met through coffee! He’s from Algeria so I’ve learned some dishes from him and he loves Italian food. Actually he does most of the cooking at home – his family thinks it’s a bit strange!”
Mum of two Amira remembers her Childhood Christmas traditions, “our meal on Christmas Eve would be fish based – we’d start with pasta or soup, then the second course would be mussels or langoustine in a tomato sauce. On Christmas Day we’d eat pork leg and lentils.
But nowadays when we visit my family and Christmas time and they celebrate it, we have duck because my family respect my husband’s beliefs and mine”.
Amira’s diet hasn’t changed too much since she converted to Islam: “my family now buy halal meat whenever we come and visit them in Italy. The main differences are not cooking with wine or pork and buying halal meat, but that’s easy to find.”
Amira is passionate about Tiramisu! “My Tiramisu is so good, I’m not sure I can tell you my secret recipe! I make it when people come over or for a special treat for my husband – he loves it….he can eat a whole 6 people portion! It’s the only thing I can cook better than him, I think!”
Here is Amira’s recipe for alcohol-free Tiramisu. She’s so passionate about it she knew it off by heart – even the quantities!
150g caster sugar
500g mascarpone cheese
1 cup of warm coffee
300g sponge finger biscuits
2 tsp. cocoa powder
Split the eggs and beat the yolks with the sugar until light and fluffy
Add the mascarpone – stir with a spoon to soften it, then beat into the egg mixture
In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff and fold in to the rest of the mixture
Dip each sponge finger biscuit into the coffee and layer them onto the bottom of the pan. Cover with the mixture. Add another layer of biscuits, and keep layering like lasagne until you reach the top of the bowl.
Finish with a dusting of cocoa powder and place in the fridge for 3 hours