About me

I was born in Pakistan and grew up mostly in London . I have worked all my life in finance, but have loved cooking since I was in my late teens. My food draws heavily on my Pakistani heritage , but attempts to lighten the dishes for the modern palate (and waistline!) without compromising on flavour.

I am inspired both by the array of bloggers on the internet , and by renowned chefs — and  I will certainly attribute those inspirations!  Yotam Ottolenghi , Sabrina Ghayour , Vivek Singh , Ramael Scully , Jose Pizzaro are some of those whose books I look at time and again, although I rarely resist the temptation to make the odd change or two along the way.

When I first started cooking — ( well actually before that — I used to hang out in  the kitchen  as a spectator long  before  ) one of my pet hates was when a favourite aunt would tell me “add salt to taste ” or “use your judgement” re the quantity of spicing in a particular dish. This is the concept of “andaaza” in sub-continental cooking—- cooking by (learned)  intuition rather than by rote recipe . And it’s why each dish takes on something of the personality of the chef — no two people make a basic daal the same way.

The Spice Cupboard at the end is what’s always in my kitchen — and should probably be in yours if you want to go off script — make my recipes “my” way once or twice (thrice if you must) but after that — adapt it so it’s now “your” version. Go easy on the salt , its easier to add than remove , and know the strength of your chilli powder! Apart from that, very few things are irreparable  however much you think you’ve messed it up.

I’m new to this website gig– tell me what I am doing wrong ( and right!)– and I would love to hear how anything you make from the site turns out!

You can reach me at sarwat@gourmetmasala.com