We are really excited to announce our next Supper Club for Spring 2019, an Egyptian evening with our newest community cook, Norah El Gohary.
Norah will be introducing us to some of her favourite Egyptian foods and we can’t wait! The Egyptian Supper Club will take place at a new venue in Bristol, the Cook Pad head office, on Thursday 28th February 2019 at 7pm.
Ahead of the evening, we talked to Norah about her favourite family recipes and what influenced her menu choices.
How long have you been living in Bristol?
I was born in Bristol; my father came here to study medicine and worked here for a few years after he graduated. He then got offered a job in Abu Dhabi within the first year of my birth so our family moved there. I ended up living most of my life in Abu Dhabi and then chose to go to Egypt for my undergraduate studies. For my postgraduate studies I came back to my birth place, Bristol.
What do you love about living in Bristol?
Bristol is a happy city! Everyone is always smiling and saying hello. No one cares how I look or what I wear. There is a level of respect and acceptance I haven’t experienced anywhere else. Almost everyone I meet is kind and friendly. I love this city!
What are your earliest childhood memories of food? Who were you cooking with and what type of food was it?
Food is a major part of any Arab family! Your day is planned around food. When people get together, there has to be food involved – it cannot be just drinks! Arabs LOVE bringing people together through food! I was never allowed in the kitchen as a child, because my mum always told me this dish is too difficult or I wouldn’t be able to help out. To be honest I wasn’t that interested in the kitchen back then.
I only started to actually want to be in the kitchen and cook/bake when I moved to Egypt and was staying at student housing run by nuns. The food was okay, but their pudding wasn’t! So that’s when I started experimenting with different cakes and bakes, in the tiny kitchen we had on our floor.
I used to try a new recipe every week and take it to the university basketball court to share with my friends between games (I was a member of the university basketball team – not a very good one).
When I moved to Bristol for my postgraduate studies and was staying at the university dormitory, we had a much larger sharing kitchen. There wasn’t any food provided to us like the dorms I was at in Egypt so I was forced to make my own! I would email my mum back in Abu Dhabi and ask her for recipes and then try them out.
I practiced A LOT because I wanted to get better and give my friends a taste of our home cooking. I hosted an Egyptian all-day breakfast at our kitchen one day and invited everyone I knew and asked them to pop in whenever it suited them. Everyone was blown away and I was super happy with all the amazing feedback!
Since that day, I regularly make a “feast” and invite my friends over. I started off with my Egyptian home recipes and then branched out into other cuisines.
Bristol has such a mix of people from all over the world. I had a taste of all different kinds of food and fell in love with lots of dishes. I decided to make them myself and so far, I’ve had a taste of Cypriot, Pakistani, Indian, Bangladesh, South African, Japanese, Chinese, Palestinian, Lebanese, Omani, and many more!
What’s your favourite family dish and why?
Koshari! I guarantee if you ask any Egyptian what is the most Egyptian dish, they will no doubt say Koshari.
It’s the Egyptian comfort food. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like koshari (and that includes non-Egyptians too). It’s the simplest dish (and bizarre combo of rice and pasta) but it just works! It hits the right spot and takes me back to Egypt.
Why is sharing your food at the 91 Ways Supper Club important to you?
When I first heard about 91 Ways, I thought it was an amazing idea, bringing people together through food, which is a concept I grew up with and believe in so much! I see the joy and happiness you get from getting people together, who don’t usually have a chance to do so, and serving them up a delicious feast so they can eat away while they socialise and catch up. I regularly do so at my small flat and I would always say I wish I had a bigger home to host more people! So, this opportunity with 91 Ways is the answer to my dreams 🙂
What are the dishes you’ve chosen for the Supper Club and why have you you chosen them?
The dishes I chose are one of my personal favourites which I’ve found to be a hit with my friends here. I am starting off with 2 different kind of pastries, one with minced meat and the other with cheese. The typical Egyptian one would be with meat though. Whenever I visit my Aunt back in Egypt, she would make this pastry specifically for me because she knew how much I loved it!
There has to be salad because with any Arab cuisine, the meal is not complete without a bowl of salad. A lot of people refer to the salad as the “dessert” they have at the end of their meal! The main meal will of course be koshari, served with grilled kofta fingers. I chose kofta fingers because it is another of my childhood favourites; it’s also very Egyptian and might possibly be as common as koshari in an Egyptian household.
For pudding I am making a cake-like dessert called basboosa. This dessert is found all over the Middle East, but each country has their own take on it. It is basically a mix of semolina flour with yogurt and coconut, soaked in honey syrup. It is really popular and loved by everyone! The second pudding is something called mehallabeyya, which is creamy pudding infused with arabic gum, mistika, and sprinkled with pistachios. It has the same comfort feeling you get when you eat rice pudding; these dishes are truly Egyptian and super yummy, I am sure they will not disappoint!
Tell me about your food business?
I started Nouna’s Kitchen in September 2018 after lots of encouragement from my friends! Granola is my favourite thing in the world! I’m obsessed! I tried all the different brands out there in the market, but none of them really satisfied what I was after. I was also shocked at the amount of sugar most of these granola brands had in them so I decided to make my own granola that was healthy and had no added sugar. It took months of trials and I finally got the perfect recipe for the perfect granola which is baked in coconut oil, has added flax seed, no added sugar, and is sweetened with Canadian maple syrup.
I started gifting my granola to friends for different occasions and again the feedback was incredible! When I started Nouna’s Kitchen it was going to be just Nouna’s Granola because I wanted to share my amazing discovery with everyone! But then a lot of people asked if I could make them cakes/cupcakes so I decided to expand into Nouna’s Kitchen and cater to everyone’s needs. I’m focusing on bakes and cake initially, but I am hoping to expand into catering eventually!