The Culinary Explorer

You spent your early life in the Middle East and are currently based in Toronto.
How have these experiences influenced your approach to food? 

Having lived in various places, including the Middle East, I’ve been fortunate to immerse myself in a multitude of food cultures. This exposure has greatly influenced my culinary approach, and on Chocolates & Chai, I share recipes from around the world, including popular authentic dishes like Egyptian Koshari, a carbohydrate-rich recipe featuring layers of rice, chickpeas, pasta, vermicelli, and fried onions, adorned with a spiced tomato sauce and daqqa, a garlic and cumin-based sauce. Toronto’s vibrant food scene has also played a significant role in broadening my horizons, offering me the chance to taste cuisines like Ojibwe, which I had never tried before. It has inspired fresh ideas for my cooking. 

What do you think makes your blog Chocolates & Chai stand out from others in the food blogging space?

Dedicated to comfort food, dessert, and brunch recipes, Chocolates & Chai has an expansive approach to culinary exploration. Unlike blogs focusing solely on specific cuisines, it offers authentic recipes from around the world, along with simplified versions of classic dishes and creative fusion recipes. A notable example is the Gulab Jamun French Toast, which unites the beloved Indian dessert with a brioche French toast base, accompanied by cardamom-scented Chantilly cream, chopped pistachios, and a drizzle of gulab jamun syrup. 

Dedicated to comfort food, dessert, and brunch recipes, Chocolates & Chai has an expansive approach to culinary exploration.

What inspired you to get into cooking? 

My journey into cooking was born out of necessity. When I began studying away from home, I quickly realised that I needed to become more acquainted with the kitchen. This realisation sparked a passion for culinary exploration, which has since blossomed into the diverse collection of recipes I share on Chocolates & Chai. Three popular recipes on my blog that showcase this variety are the Fluffy Pancakes, the Butter Chicken Pasta, and the Speculoos Tiramisu. The Fluffy Pancakes, one of my all-time favourite Sunday morning breakfast treats, is made without any buttermilk. The Butter Chicken Pasta combines the rich flavours of Indian butter chicken with Italian pasta, offering a unique fusion of cultures. The Speculoos Tiramisu presents a creative twist on the classic Italian dessert, incorporating Belgian speculoos cookies to create a creamy, no-bake treat.

Tell us about the experience of Chocolates & Chai being nominated for the Saveur Blog Awards.

The nomination of Chocolates & Chai for the Saveur Blog Awards was a truly wonderful experience. The event, hosted by Saveur, a renowned food and travel magazine, celebrates exceptional food content from around the world and across the web, recognising outstanding food blogs in various categories. Being a Readers’ Choice finalist in the Best Baking & Sweets Blog category was a remarkable honour, as it meant that the readers connected to and enjoyed my recipes and writing. This acknowledgment validated my efforts and also motivated me to continue creating content that both inspires and delights my audience.

How do you see Chocolates & Chai and your food blogging journey evolving in the coming years? 

I have plenty of interesting recipes lined up for Chocolates & Chai. I am excited to share them, along with quick, easy-to-follow videos that will complement the written recipes on the blog. Additionally, I have recently launched Travel & Chai, a travel blog designed to simplify travel for everyone. As I already travel and conduct food and cultural research for my food blog, it only seemed fitting to have a travel blog where I can share valuable information that I learn along the way. 

Photographs: Courtesy of Rizwan Asad