Simerg’s series entitled “Books by Ismaili Authors” continues with Rozina Ramji’s “Cooking with Mom.” We follow the same Q/A format as our earlier presentations of books written by Shamim Murji (Brampton), Mahmoud Hirji (Toronto), Zul Premji (Calgary), Azim Jiwani (Vancouver), Naznin Rahemtulla Hébert (Montreal), Shairoz Lakhani (London, UK), Shelina Shariff Zia (New York), Ali Lakhani (Vancouver), Nizar Sultan (Toronto), Nargis Fazal (Vancouver), Nazlin Rahemtulla (Vancouver), Azmina Suleman (Calgary), Alnasir Rajan (Mississauga), Shafeen Ali (USA), Mansoor Ladha (Calgary), Zeni Shariff (Toronto) and Shamas Nanji (Edmonton). We encourage Ismaili authors from around the world to participate in this series, regardless of when their books were published. See details of the series HERE and submit your responses accordingly to Simerg’s editor, Malik, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Simerg’s Interview with Rozina Ramji
“Be it briyani, masala fish, kuku paka (from main dishes), dal, moong curry, sonia (from basic recipes), or dhokra, fried masala cassava, chicken samosas (from snacks), you will now be able to make these from the step-by-step method given. Mom’s Caramel Pudding is delicious and worth attempting” — Excerpt from back cover, “Cooking with Mom”, by Rozina Ramji
Simerg: What is behind the naming of the title of the book?
Rozina Ramji: To leave a legacy of my Mom’s cooking which the family has enjoyed for decades. Cooking has been a big part of our family culture and I have memories of the ladies (Grandmas, Aunts, and Mom) all cooking together, sharing techniques and conversing with each other. The cookbook was to cook with Mom and sharing time with her. I didn’t want to lose Mom’s recipes. The book is a great way to thank Mom and honour her and, thus, the title “Cooking with Mom.”
Simerg: Why would you want me or my family members to read the book, and what will we all learn from it?
Rozina: You’ll learn about the key recipes from African/Indian blend as well as common foods that are usually served in most homes that come from East Africa. With the step-by-step method to the recipe and the photos, anyone wishing to cook will easily create it.
[The editor recommends that readers read Rozina Ramji’s beautiful and inspiring introduction to “Cooking with Mom” – see image, below, and click on it for enlargement]
Simerg: What inspired you to write Cooking with Mom?
Rozina: I remember my son and daughter asking me to make chicken samosas and shrimp curry that my Mom makes. I realized that it didn’t turn out like Mom’s. It’s at that point I decided I wanted to cook with Mom and learn about the ingredients, the steps to each recipe and any tips and tricks she could share.
In this way and with the backing of my children and other younger members of my family, I decided to write Cooking with Mom. It is fully illustrated, and I think even novices and those who find cooking somewhat daunting will be inspired to start cooking with the recipes I have provided in the book. I also invite expert cooks who specialize in other forms of cooking — Canadian, North American as well as ethnic — to explore and to try some of recipes that I have provided.
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Praise for Cooking with Mom
“The Cooking with Mom cookbook is one of the most interesting in my home library! The recipes are easy to understand, and the pictures are very helpful; they depict not only the finished dishes but also key steps in the preparation process. Packed with 41 recipes, the book is divided into 7 categories covering the gamut of Indian cuisine: main dishes, curries, rice dishes, east Indian bread, snacks, sweet things and drinks. I love the chicken biryani and my husband is wild about this particular recipe. My husband is not the most proficient person in the kitchen, but he did a credible job with the kheer (rice pudding.) We both enjoy Indian food and can’t wait to try out more of the recipes. Whether you’re an accomplished meal maker or a just a novice starting out in Indian cuisine, you won’t go wrong with this book!” — Joan Sinclair
Simerg: How can I purchase the book and what are its available formats?
Rozina: First of all, Cooking with Mom can be ordered directly from the publisher Litfire. You can also acquire it from major on-line stores such as Amazon, Indigo and Barnes and Nobles, among many other booksellers. The book is available both in paperback and hardcover.
Simerg: How did you find a publisher for the book?
Rozina: I was making inquiries about publishing and happened to talk to someone from LitFire publishing. They were very encouraging and told me about the support they provide. I felt comfortable.
Simerg: Did you hire an editor, an illustrator or did you do all the work by yourself?
Rozina: While I was cooking with my Mom, I took photos of everything and wrote down every recipe. Then the family tried to create food while following the recipe and asked questions. In this way, I tried my best to perfect the steps. My sister Bilkis along with my husband Alnasir helped with the book’s editing.
Simerg: Which was your first book and how many have you written?
Rozina: Cooking with Mom is my first book. I would love to write a sequel with other delicious recipes not included in the first.
Simerg: How long did it take you to write Cooking with Mom from start to finish and to begin marketing it?
Rozina: It took a year. I had been wanting to write a cookbook with Mom for several years but this dream only materialized in 2018.
Simerg: Tell us something more about your book.
Rozina: The cookbook has mouthwatering recipes that are not difficult to make like biryani, masala fish, dal, vegetable curries and then snacks like chicken samosas, dhokras, kebabs, sweet thaplas etc. Some drinks that are popular like kadho, lassi, sherbets and masala chai are also included. This is a book everyone will be able to follow, and those who do not cook will say that they now love to cook.
Date posted: November 11, 2022.
Get your own copy of Rozina Ramji’s Cooking with Mom. Order it from the publisher Litfire or other major on-line stores such as Amazon, Indigo and Barnes and Nobles. We welcome feedback from our readers. Please click LEAVE A COMMENT. Your letter may be edited for length and brevity and is subject to moderation.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Born and raised in Uganda, Rozina Ramji was pursuing her higher secondary education in the UK, when her parents, Pyarali and Gulshan Jiwa, were forced to flee Uganda following Idi Amin’s 1972 decree expelling South Asians from the country. Rozina’s parents settled in Edmonton and went on to open grocery stores that, among other items, sold ethnic groceries from around the world. Rozina joined her parents in Edmonton in 1973 and pursued a degree majoring in Education at the University of Alberta. She then commenced a long career in teaching with the Edmonton Public School Board, where she taught general subjects as well as math/science to students from SK to Grade 12. At the same time, she became engaged within her Ismaili Muslim community by volunteering in Ismaili institutions in numerous capacities, including giving Baitul Ilm (BUI) classes to Ismaili children and youth. Also, Rozina and her husband Alnasir were appointed to officiate as Kamadiani and Kamadia of the Edmonton Ismaili Headquarters Jamatkhana. She has two children; her son is a doctor while her daughter has completed her master’s program in Dispute Resolution. Indeed, it was at her children’s insistence that Rozina decided to write “Cooking with Mom” and she remains grateful to them for their inspiration.
Calling all Ismaili Authors
We encourage Ismaili writers to introduce their books in a similar format as has been done in the post above. Please also see the series launch article and submit your responses to Malik at email@example.com. All submissions will be acknowledged. If a writer has published multiple books, each book will be highlighted in a separate article, and not combined with other books into one post. All writers should include a brief profile with a portrait photo.
Links to the Ismaili Authors’ Series (in chronological sequence, oldest article first):
- “Justice Bertha Wilson Pushes the Boundaries of Humanity” by Shamas Nanji (series start, February 10, 2021)
- “Little One, You Are The Universe” by Zeni Shariff (February 25, 2021)
- “Memoirs of a Muhindi” by Mansoor Ladha (March 6, 2021, and see also 15, below, by the same author)
- “To Be One With God: Seven Journeys to the Meaning of Life” by Shafeen Ali (March 25, 2021)
- “Invisible Birthmarks” by Alnasir Rajan (April 13, 2021)
- “IN THE NAME OF JUSTICE – Portrait of a ‘Cowboy’ Judge” by Azmina Suleman (April 28, 2021)
- “RSVP Rice and Stew Very Plenty” by Nazlin Rahemtulla (May 28, 2021)
- “Coughdrops” by Nargis Fazal (June 12, 2021)
- “The Roots and the Trees” by Nizar Sultan (June 25, 2021)
- “Faith and Ethics: The Vision of the Ismaili Imamat” by M. Ali Lakhani (July 4, 2021)
- “Nairobi Days by Shelina_Shariff Zia (July 21, 2021)
- “Shine Brighter” by Shairoz Lakhani (December 8, 2021)
- “This is My Life” by Naznin Rahemtulla Hébert (February 26, 2022)
- “Humanizing Medicine – Making Health Tangible” by Dr. Azim Jiwani (March 9, 2022)
- “A Portrait in Pluralism: Aga Khan’s Shia Ismaili Muslims” by Mansoor Ladha (June 8, 2022, and see also 3, above, by the same author)
- “Malaria Memoirs: My Life Journey as a Public Health Doctor in Tanzania” by Dr Zul Premji (June 30, 2022)
- “Monkey Tales and Other Short Stories” by Mahmoud Hirji (September 10, 2022)
- “Bloom! A Story of Diversity and Understanding” by Shamim Murji (October 27, 2022)
- “Cooking with Mom” by Rozina Ramji (November 11, 2022)
Before departing this website please take a moment to review Simerg’s Table of Contents for links to hundreds of thought provoking pieces on a vast array of subjects including faith and culture, history and philosophy, and arts and letters to name a few. Also visit Simerg’s sister websites Barakah, dedicated to His Highness the Aga Khan, and Simergphotos.
The editor may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.