We were thrilled to welcome our first guest to the Petits Chefs kitchen lab this week. Shayma Saadat, who I met at an adult Afghan dumpling workshop a few years ago, is an internationally published food writer, food photographer and stylist, cook, cookery teacher, public speaker and storyteller. On her blog, Spice Spoon, Shayma shares family recipes from the countries of her heritage – Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran. Born in Lahore, Pakistan, Shayma is a Pakistani-Afghan with Persian lineage who grew up all over the world. She came to Toronto via Rome and she now lives here with her husband and son. Shayma believes that “in cookery, there should be no borders”. Her mission is to demystify the Silk Route cuisine and inspire people to make the food she grew up eating. Shayma worked with a different group of boys three years ago when she taught them to make Afghan dumplings and the session was a huge hit. When we planned this week’s session, I wasn’t sure about the new lab facilities so I didn’t want to plan anything too complicated and when Shayma suggested the Saffron Potato Fritters in the Persian Manner.
I know that the boys like to fry things (!) and this recipe sounded like a wonderful way to introduce the boys to new-to-them ingredients in a fairly simple recipe that would involve some key skills (peeling, chopping, measuring and being patient!).
We used potatoes from the school garden!
Shayma showed the boys how to work with saffron strands – with a tiny mortar and pestle:
Once the potatoes were cooled and mashed, we added them to the egg mixture and got frying… I know the boys were a little concerned that these didn’t “look” like pancakes at first…
Meanwhile, some of the boys chopped some mint, dill and cilantro to add to some thick Greek yoghurt for an accompanying dip.
Many of the boys only wanted pancakes or a “tiny” bit of the yoghurt. To be honest, I’m totally ok with that. Cooking club is not about making them eat the food necessarily, though I do like it when they love the food. It’s about exposing them to food in a way that will make them more likely to eat it. This particular session was so rich as Shayma talked to them about a part of the world and ingredients that are so foreign to most of them but now they know how to work with saffron and turmeric which is pretty awesome when you are 12!
Shayma, thank you so much for sharing your culture and food with the boys, they loved working with you and I know those pancakes mostly didn’t even make it out of the school intact 😉 (always a great sign!).