Chef Feature: Hungry Paprikas

Your Lebanon Chef Feature: Hungry Paprikas

We were introduced to Amina of Hungry Paprikas through the #AprilisforArabFood Campaign. We have since enjoyed her healthy and modern renditions of Middle Eastern cuisine and her unique takes on dishes from other types of cuisines! We love her vegan and beautiful baked goods features too.

 

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Q & A with Amina

Please tell us about yourself:

Hello! My name is Amina, and I’m the person behind @Hungrypaprikas. 

I am an engineer working full time by day, and a food blogger and food photographer by night! I have a 1.5 year old son who is the light of my life, and I currently live in London, UK. I am from Iraq, but I’ve lived in many different places throughout my life and experienced so many different cuisines which have shaped my take on food. My first and greatest love is of course middle eastern and especially Iraqi food; the food I grew up eating from my mother, who is the best cook! I’ve always loved food, and that love comes from my parents and the middle eastern culture – our lives revolve around food! I started experimenting with food when I got married, so I haven’t been cooking for too long, but I really love trying new things and experimenting with different flavours. 

Over the past few years, I also started to be a lot more health conscious, especially after having my son. I want to ensure that he is accustomed to real, healthy food. So my favourite way to cook is to incorporate the flavours I love but in a nutritious and healthy way. And to eat colourful veggies … lots and lots of veggies! I also always love a quick meal. Balancing a demanding full time job with a family and a baby (and also blogging) can be really stressful at times. It’s so important for me to provide quick, healthy and easy meals for the mamas out there that are all on the same boat!  

Where are you from:

I was born in Iraq in 1990, and moved around a lot in my childhood. My family settled in Canada when I was 9 years old and that’s where I spent most of my life. When I got married to my husband who lived in the UK, I moved to London and I’ve been here for the past 5 years. Fun fact about myself – I’ve lived in 4 different continents!

Where are you currently residing:

London, United Kingdom

What is your favorite Middle Eastern dish to make:

 My favourite dish is what we call in Iraq “Tapsi Betenjan” or Eggplant Mousakka.Coincidentally it is also my husband’s favourite (that’s how we knew we were meant to be! 😉 ). But I also have to give honourable mentions to: Dolma, Sheikh Mahshi, Biryani, and Maklouba. The list can keep going…

Do you prefer traditional Middle Eastern dishes or modern/fusion Middle Eastern dishes:

I LOVE both! I love eating traditional dishes from my mama’s hands – our flavours, ingredients and way of cooking is passed on through generations, and it’s perfect! However, I also think some of the dishes do require a lot of labour. So for a busy mom like myself and many others out there, sometimes it’s nice to simplify the dishes a bit, but keep the flavour profiles. That’s why I love experimenting with modern/fusion takes on the classics in my own kitchen.

Amina’s Shawarma Nachos

What do you love most about cooking Middle Eastern cuisine:

The flavours are bold and lively – you won’t ever be bored!

I also love the meticulousness with some of the dishes. There’s real passion and respect for the cuisine and the ingredients. Growing up, my mom used to always specify exactly how tiny we should cut things, or exactly what order things should be done. So it was serious business! Especially when it was for guests. That’s what I love most about our cuisine – the respect we show the food, and also the spirit of sharing with family and friends.

What is your favorite Middle Eastern restaurant:

I absolutely loved Samad Al Iraqi restaurant in Dubai during my last trip. I also love Arabica Bar & Kitchen here in London, and Masgouf restaurant also in London.

What is your favorite food blog:

I absolutely love seeing what artistic delights my friend Massiel @mzcuisine comes up with, what delicious sweets and scrumptious wraps Nadia from @Potsnbites creates, what beautiful dishes Amanda from @Amandasplate cooks up, and also what Nadia & Deanna from @sweetpillarfood share! There are so many others!

What is a must have tool in your kitchen for making Middle Eastern food:

Definitely a food processor is helpful (for that creamy hummus). And really sharp knives!

What advice do you have for someone just starting to find their way around the kitchen:

The food world is perfect for experimentation and creativity – cooking can be so easy and fun if you just use your senses, get creative, and taste as you go! You’ll come up with something great.

Amina’s Coconut Chia Pot

What nostalgic candy bar would you grab on walks to the local deken when you were a kid:

I left Iraq when I was 5! So sadly I don’t even remember a favourite candy bar from there. But I do remember these gumballs we used to have that had honey in the middle. And also mastak gum!

 

Amina’s Spinach Pie

Thank you for featuring me on your page! I can’t wait to explore the other features and also continue my cooking journey on Instagram, with all the lovely people I’ve met.     – Amina

 

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