“The essence of my life is based on making people happy and I do this through food. Nothing makes me happier than to see a family walking out with smiles and laughter after enjoying their meal that I prepared,” says Nazira Moosa, a chef.
Lately, she represented her hometown, Durban in South Africa, in a wine pairing book by a French sommelier called Passion for Pairing.
She appeared among many Michelin star chefs.
“This book won the best award in the world and this is a real feather in my cap and my career in food,” she says.
She chatted with Jacquiline Nakandi, about how a couple can pull off an Indian themed menu on their wedding.
Qn. These days, people are generally more exposed and have acquired adventurous palates. In your opinion, what would you advise a Ugandan couple that wants an Indian menu for their wedding?
My advice would be to keep the menu simple and perhaps make it more interesting with a fusion menu. Many Indian dishes can be prepared with more flair like cassava, different types of biryani.
Qn. What tricky food would you advise them to keep away from, and why?
Please, please stay away from heavy curries with chapatis… This just does not fit into the essence of wedding food.
For example, I suggested biryani … Now this is known as a meal fit for kings and queens and has great historical content in its preparation.
Qn. Can you totally pull off an Indian menu in Uganda? Are the spices easily available in Uganda?
For sure, every spice you can think of is available in Kampala, even the green vegetables.
Qn. What similarities, if any, does Ugandan food share with an Indian menu?
I think the first thing in common is the variety of dishes as in the number of dishes served at a wedding.
It can never be a few. Historically, Indian food has had its impact or I would rather say has fused with Ugandan food. Examples are the chapatti and the cassava.
Qn. Have you catered at weddings in Uganda?
Yes, many a time at some of the most beautiful weddings. I once did a wedding for 1000 people before Covid-19.
Qn. What challenges have you faced in the catering business, in Uganda and South Africa or elsewhere?
Catering is not easy. Ensuring that there is adequate cuisine for all the guests takes careful planning. In my case, I would rather have extra food than be short on food.
Sometimes the challenge is in keeping the food warm, but we try hard to keep the chafing dishes and our gas cookers alight.
Sometimes the programme for the wedding is delayed, so we have to be prepared for all eventualities.
Qn. What tips would you share with couples that are planning a menu for their wedding?
Talk to me, I have some wisdom, but keep it simple and elegant. However, this is easier said than done, as our elders prefer local food so a little bit of this and a little bit of that and try and keep everyone happy.
Qn. Catering at weddings is a little complex because you do not know the profile of the guests. How do you navigate through that to make sure the food is good and the guests won’t have allergic reactions?
This is a tough one; you’re usually guided by the family of the couple or the organizing committee so that we cater a different kind of foods for those with allergies and serve them separately.
Qn. What is your favourite meal to make?
A really good layered Biryani that is not spicy with lentils or my other favourite is roasting an entire lamb.
Qn. Are you a fresh ingredients chef or dry ingredients?
Fresh all the way.
Qn. What do you love most about the kitchen?
My kitchen is my piece of heaven and cooking is my kind of happiness.
Qn. What don’t you like about the kitchen?
As long as it’s a well-planned kitchen in terms of the layout, I’m very happy.
Qn. What is your favourite kitchen tool that you can’t do without?
My little kitchen knife is a pairing knife. I am not much for fancy machines; I cook the old fashioned way.
Qn. How did you develop a passion for cooking?
My late mother-in-law. I used to stand next to her with a pen and paper and write down every recipe, then try it on my own and I just got to enjoy my time in the kitchen.
I am writing a cookbook, which should be published in the next few months.
Qn. How much do you charge for catering at a wedding?
This all depends on the menu. What I do is ask the couple what their budget is and I work out a menu that fits the budget.
Qn. And anything else you would like to add…
I cook with love and passion and I present the food the same.
If you have any questions or need any help please contact me privately on my Facebook page.