Two heads are better than one

So, I got the chance to chat with two wonderful friends behind Fauzia’s kitchen fun (FKF).

Fauzia M Afif (founder of FKF) & Fozia Najfi came together and totally transformed an endeavour that started off as a hobby, in to a Lucrative business.

Their aim is to develop and share simple yet delicious halal food recipes via their website and App (which is available on the App Store).

Fauzia is in charge of creating all the recipes that goes on the website. While Fozia (based in Phoenix, Arizona – USA) manages the digital aspects, marketing and all public relations.

So far they have been doing an excellent job at it. Thanks to their hard work, dedication and the power of social media, they have managed to build up a huge cosmopolitan fanbase.

These two woman are an excellent example of great partnership working at its best.

Fozia Najfi

Read on to find out more about them, a useful kitchen tip and a simple breakfast recipe…..

Follow their journey on right now on:

http://www.fauziaskitchenfun.com

http://instagram.com/fauziaskitchenfun

And don’t forget to download their app from the App Store. Trust me it’s a life saver in the kitchen………..

can you tell us about yourself and how fauzia’s kitchen fun came into being?

Fauzia: My best friend (who was newly wed at the time and living in a new country alone with her husband, and with not much practice when it came to cooking) needed quick tips on how to cook simple meals for the two of them. I would send her pics of various dishes that I was making and explain to her how to replicate them. Pretty soon I had quite a collection of recipes and photos, and my husband thought it a good idea to open a facebook page for me in order to have all of these recipes in one place so as to hopefully benefit other beginners at cooking. That is how FKF was conceived.

About a year or so later, I partnered up with Fozia Najfi and she helped me take our page and business to new heights, alhamdulillah.

Answer Fozia: I currently reside in Phoenix, Arizona – USA. I am blessed to be married and have two beautiful daughters (Naseera, 8 and Malaika 6). Fauzia has been a very near and dear friend of mine for over 12 years now. My love for cooking is endless. I felt FKF had an incredible potential and am honored to have been able to take it to multiple levels with Fauzia globally.

What inspired you to start cooking?

Fauzia: I only began cooking seriously after settling down with my husband, prior to that cooking was not something I thought I would ever want to do. As I gradually developed a little bit of confidence in the kitchen, I realised that I was no longer simply cooking out of necessity but rather I was beginning to genuinely enjoy what I was doing. That inspired me to develop my interest even more by venturing out of my comfort field and trying out new dishes. What KEEPS me inspired is the knowledge that just about anyone CAN cook and enjoy it if they choose to try. Hey, if I could do it, so can anyone else. 🙂

Fozia: I learned how to cook at a very young age. I remember sitting in my grandmothers 5×5 kitchen in Pakistan and watching her in awwww of the delicious meals she would put together. Growing up with a family of three brothers, I always helped in the kitchen with my mother as she prepped meals for us. It was always very basic Pakistani cuisine. I remember my mom making spaghetti for us. We were so excited! It was spaghetti noodles with Keema (beef mince). We would mix the two together and drizzle ketchup on top. Voila! Italian cuisine in our Pakistani home. As I got in my teens I taught myself to play around with flavors and create different infusions that will make ones palette very happy.

And where do you get inspirations for your delicious recipes?

Fauzia: I watch a lot of cooking shows and read a lot of recipe books. Learning about different cuisines from what I grew up eating always inspires me to try out new things and come up with my versions of various recipes.

Fozia: I love experimenting with different spices. If I try a meal at a restaurant, I will always try to duplicate it with a twist of my own. So much fun!

Is your recipe done right the first time or do you find that trail and error works better before sharing your recipes?

Fauzia: Not always. Whilst many recipes do turn out great the first time around, there are several that I have had to work on many times to get them to where I want them. And even the recipes I am happy with it, I sometimes tweak them a little bit here and there, and discover they can still be improved on. Cooking is more art than science, so I do believe there is always the potential for a better version and therefore I am always experimenting with my new and old recipes.

Fozia: I agree with Fauzia, cooking is an art. It always heightens my creativity.

What are your future goals? Do you have a plan for opening a restaurant?

Fauzia: At the moment we do not have plans for opening a restaurant. However, we do hope to expand our brand and we shall be sharing our new ventures with all our fans when the time is right inshaAllah.

Fozia: We continue to grow and love that it never stops. And as Fauzia said, we have some new ventures we are working on and are elated to share it with our FKF family.

If you were to open a new restaurant, what style of food would you serve?

Fauzia: If I were to hypothetically open a restaurant, it would most likey be homey desi comfort foods as those are what I mostly gravitate towards, even though I am actually Arab and only started having asian/desi foods after marriage. Pilaus, biryanis, curries and BBQ tandoori chicken/meats would be ideal.

Fozia: If I were to open a restaurant, I would lean more towards Indo Asian. Dishes that are bursting with flavor. Something you can not make at home and will leave you coming back for more.

What do you think is pivotal in running a restaurant?

Fauzia: Consistency is key. Having the food turn out exactly the same and maintaining the highest standards in terms of flavour and presentation is what will keep people coming back for more.

Fozia: Great service, consistency with dishes and their flavors! People will always share their experience at a restaurant based on service and food. It’s crucial to have both to help the growth of the restaurant. Word of mouth is ALWAYS the best source of advertising.

What is your favourite food to cook for your family at home?

Fauzia: I love cooking Pilau and it is my easiest thing to make, but the thing eaten most often at home is BBQ boneless chicken tikka cubes. I always have plenty of it cooked in advance and frozen, that way I can utilise it in many different ways through the week. Shredded and mixed in salad, it can be turned into a sandwich or wrap filler, which is usually our lunch or dinner 4 or 5 times a week. The same can work in fried rice or as a pizza topping, etc.

Fozia: My husband is more the meat and potatoes kind of guy where my girls and I are foodies to the max. I can’t really say there is a favorite but we love any sort of rice dish and one our favorite things to do as a family is grill burgers.

I have to ask, are you a messy or a clean cook?

Fauzia: I have a very small kitchen and so being messy isn’t an option as my space is quite limited. However I absolutely cannot stand a messy kitchen anyway, so I often tend to clear up as I cook rather than wash up once am completely done.

Fozia: The rule in my kitchen is “clean as you cook”. I find it stressful to be in the middle of any messy/disorganized environment.

What was the worst meal that you’ve had? And where?

Fauzia: It was Haleem, plus that was the first time I had ever had it! So the experience was awful and I genuinely thought it was one of the worst meals possible. The consistency was gloopy and runny, it was a pale yellow-brown colour and tasted pretty awful. It was served at a function that I had attended in Zanzibar, Tanzania. Thankfully my husband convinced me to give it another go from a different location at a different time, and I have absolutely loved it ever since.

Fozia: The worst meal I had was labelled as Indian Rice Biryani in Mykonos Greece. Being in Greece for 5 days I was so excited to have something flavorful other than fish! So when I ordered it, it was really yellow rice, infused to the max in curry powder. The vegetables were the kind you get frozen. Such a dis appointment. When I expressed my opinion on the meal, the head chef was called out and I shared with him how a traditional Biryani is made. Wonder if it helped?

Is there any particular utensil you can’t do with out in the kitchen?

Fauzia: Probably my knife. I have had and been using the same knife in my kitchen for over 15 years, and even though I do have newer ones in different sizes, the one that I started off with is the one I always prefer to do all my chopping with. It is pretty much falling apart at the handle and a small bit broke off from the tip many years ago, but I still use it everyday.

Fozia: It has to also be my knife. I five of the exact same ones and it’s slightly bigger than a pearing knife. I have used these for over 20 years and refuse to use anything else. Although I do have a set sitting multiple sized knives on my counter, this one is always my go to knife. I don’t use a cutting board and cut the traditional ways our grandmothers did, so it’s a perfect size.

What difficulty have you encountered so far and what have you learnt from it?

Fauzia: I don’t think there is any one person who can genuinely say they have never been through some form of difficulty or other in their life. Sometimes it can be as small as forgetting to turn off the stove and thereby burning my dinner, or as great as losing a parent when you are no more than a child. I have learnt that at the time, the difficulty seems insurmountable, no matter what it actually is. The best way forward is to accept that it is Allah (SWT)’s will and to have the strength to keep going.

Fozia: We all encounter difficulties throughout our lives. This life is meant to be filled with tests. Just knowing in the back of my head that this book of life was written by the greatest of authors brings me peace. I know everything happens for a reason and is always for the best. At that time we may know what or why, later down the road we can look back and “ahhh … that’s why”.

What advice do you have for any one looking to get in to the food industry?

Fauzia: Be sure that you genuinely LOVE what you do. That way it will always remain relevant to you and you will always want to keep on with it long term. That commitment is key with any field in life, and it will reflect in your work every single day.Fozia: Keep achieving your goals and never stop. Perfect your vision to the max and be proud. Always remember people will talk about two things: The food and the service.

can you give us one important kitchen tip and trick?

Fauzia: Oh goodness, I have so many. I guess the one I share the most on my recipes is when cooking meat/chicken, always make sure it starts off at room temperature. So if it was refrigerated beforehand, be sure to have it out on the counter at least half an hour before cooking. Whilst cold, the muscle fibres are usually tight, so cooking it that way will result in the meat turning out tough.

Fozia: One tip I would have is to keep things organized and cleaned. If you really think about it, there are more items in our kitchens than in our bedrooms or even in our sitting rooms.

What is the most important meal of the day, in your opinion? And why?

Fauzia: I know technically breakfast should be the most important meal, however in my home it usually is dinner. I am not much of a breakfast person, and lunches are usually simple sandwiches or wraps or rolls. But dinner is when we can sit and talk about our day and have a nice cosy homemade meal together.

Fozia: The most important meal in our home is dinner. That’s where we as a small family of four sit together, share a meal and catch up and talk. My girls always help with setting the table and cleaning up. My husband and I have a no cell phone rule when eating. It’s very important to me to make sure our daughters and us as parents connect with them without distractions. It really is our daily ‘family time’.

And last but not the least, can you give us your favourite and easiest breakfast recipe?

Fauzia: Like I mentioned before, breakfast isn’t a very big thing in our home. But on the off chance that I do feel like having a proper breakfast, my favourite is fluffy pancakes topped with honey and either bananas or strawberries. My husband prefers 2 over-easy eggs with a few slices of whole wheat bread and a cup of chai.

Fozia: It’s my desi eggs. 2 eggs mixed with some salt, pepper, red chilli powder, chopped cilantro and fresh green chillies. I saute some onions and then add my egg mixture. It’s my weekend comfort breakfast with either paratha or toast and a side of mango achar.

How do you unwind after a hectic day?

Fauzia: I love to read and have numerous books on my phone so that I can wind up with a nice book after a long day. And I do love watching sitcoms and cooking shows.

Fozia: Being a wife to a husband that travels and mom of two young ones doesn’t really allow for much free time. I also run another business where I sell Pakistani Kids Clothes. When my day is done …. I do look forward to my nightly cup of herbal tea and sit by the fire in my backyard alone. That makes me happy and allows me to recap on my day, I can hear myself think and thank Allah SWT for his blessings.

Thanks a lot ladies for taking the time to do this.

You see, something that started off as a necessity, turned into a hubby that turned in to a business with endless potentials. This goes to show the power of social media and the internet as a whole.

Find what you love doing and explore your options.

Xox

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