A warm and generous cook who loves having a full house teaches us how to bake a special bread with roots in her beloved homeland.
This tea, usually– because Afghanistan is a mixture of different cultures and different ethnic groups of people. Usually, indigenous people of Afghanistan, they are Pashtuns. And lots of other ethnic groups like Tajiks, Hazaras, Uzbeks and Baloch, they all come from different, different countries. Because Afghanistan is in the heart of Asia, and standing by different countries with the different cultures usually cross the border. The people living with the same culture, same language.
So after World War II, my grand, grand parents flew from Uzbekistan to Afghanistan. My father was two years old when they come to Afghanistan. So they grow up with community, small community of Uzbeks. They cross the Amu river and come to Afghanistan. He grew up there. He start his study, but it was in the high school over there in that time. He moved to Kabul and grew up there, studied and make a family. That’s why I was born in Kabul, capital city. So this tea comes from Uzbekistan, usually they making with the goat milk, and they have lots of goat over there. Goat milk. When they finish the tea, in small nice touch-up, they putting very fresh cream or maybe cheese from the goat. Very small touch on the top. Most people have, mostly everyone have in their house, they have in the backyard a small outdoor kitchen, and they have a clay tandoor. So they using wood fire and making different kind of bread, and most important meal for the Afghani people is bread and rice. So every time they have any meal, they have bread served as well. So they have many kinds of breads. They have Uzbek breads, they have Haza breads, they have Parakhi breads, and we make samosas, we make Fatir breads. A lot of different kind of breads in the tandoor. And this one’s gosh nan, usually it’s very popular back home.
I grew up with the different kind of cooking at home in the tandoor, my mum usually bake bread. I always ask them, “Can I have some little bit dough?” and I always mix these things and make a fresh gosh bread. I always try to make different things. From childhood, I had very good passion to making breads and cooking. So I grew up with the food. We had a big garden with vegetables and fruits, and animals at home in the backyard. So yeah, that’s why I love food and cooking.
When I first, when I arrived to Australia, it was a big challenge for me to accept all different cultures, and different people with a different religion, they all was kind of challenging for me. When I tried to mix up with the people, I never thought it will be very interesting for me to meet new people with new culture and new foods. It was kind of very good, but when I invite some people at the beginning to my house, or when I’m a guest at somebody’s house, they’re asking me, “Do you want tea, coffee, or, water or something?” and I say, “Why are you asking me?” Because, back home, we never ask guests, when they are coming to house, we never ask them “What do you want?”
So first we bringing, if it’s summer, we first bring juice or water, cold drink. And, after these finished we will bring tea with food, with bread or some dried fruit. And, after that we definitely bringing food, plate of food. We never leave the guests without eating in our house. But it is kind of culture not because of the, forcing people to eat, it’s just kind of culture. We grew up with this culture. When I arrived to Australia, it was a little strange for me, why they asking me “Do you want coffee or juice or tea?” When somebody come to my house, my husband forced me to ask them “Do you want coffee, juice?” and I said, “No! How can I ask them? I want to bring it on the table straight.” He said, “No”, he is not taking straight away to the guest. You have to ask them. And for the first month or so it was little bit kind of difficult and strange to ask people “What do you want?” And slowly, slowly I learned. Sometime when I went to parties it’s share a plate. And I said, “Why they wanna ask me to share a plate?” and then later, I find out everybody goes to the party, they wanna share a plate, they just bringing some food. But usually up north, people in Afghanistan, north people they’re very famous with their hospitality, and usually when they’re going somebody’s house, they’re not going empty-handed. They always taking something to eat with them to share.
Back home we usually have a culture, when we cook something, we definitely share our three neighbours, opposite neighbour, right side and left side, always we share a plate, each other, always, all the time. But when I come here to Australia and just wanted to share the food, why they’re people not sharing food here? And I ask for my kids to go and send some plate of food for my neighbours, my kids like, “No mum, we don’t do this here!” and I said, “No, I can’t, when I cook, smell goes to neighbours house. I want to share.” The first two, three times, I take a plate for the neighbours. Now my neighbours they know when I cook, said “Oh what did you cook yesterday? You didn’t share a plate.” “Oh sorry, I forgot!” I feel embarrassed when I’m not sharing food. Usually I’m sharing. In the last five years I live in a court, we have seven families in the court. So we usually sharing food each other. They also, my opposite neighbour have lovely garden, she usually share vegetables with me, and I always share food when I cook with them. It’s very good, very interesting, and they find out it’s a lovely culture, sharing each other food and friendship. This makes your friendship strong.
And I usually thought about, back home about friends, relative back home, and we finally made on 2014 to go back, with my husband and my daughter, because my mother-in-law was very sick and she wants to see my daughter because Yalda, my daughter, born here. So we decided to go maybe for a month. When I been there back home it was completely different for me, and I wasn’t feeling comfortable. When I go out, I used to go for first two, three days with only just a scarf, go out. And then I come back home crying because the people not accepting you like this. So the situation is horrible, not good, especially for the women, and then I have to borrow my sister’s hijab and put full hijab, and cover my face. And, I said for my husband, “It’s not country I grow up. I don’t wanna stay anymore, I just wanna go back, go back home, it’s not my home now!” I feel very, very sad. Especially for the women and children. Not good Medicare, health, opportunities not good, for the kids’ education is not good. So, I thought no, one person can’t change a country. So it’s better to go back. Yeah when I come back here, I feel Perth is my home. I’m trying to raise my children the way they have to be a good person and good for the country and help people.
As you know, when you move in a new country, it’s a little bit difficult to get used to people, with the culture, the way you dress up, the way they walk and talk, the way they eat. It’s a little bit difficult to get used to people. For me was, at the beginning when I come here, I had not enough English as well. It was a little bit difficult for me. So I find the food the only ways to connect with the people and meet people, try to talk with them, try to share the food and have a chat. This way, I find more friend and I learn more English, and I usually ask people when I talk, in the street and the shopping centres and bus stops, everywhere, when I talk to them, ask them, “Can you fix my English, please?” Usually I ask people. Now as well, anytime I talk to the people, I ask them if I have any mistake during conversation, please stop, stop me and fix my English. This way I learn more. More than school, I learn more talking with the people, conversation, and this way, the food was only way connect with people, talk with them, have a conversation, share the foods. And I learn more about the other different cultures, different foods from different countries. And I try to learn their culture and food as well.