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A retired Bahraini mum has put her family’s favourite Khaleeji recipes in book form to bring households together over tasty treats, while also motivating the next generation to keep culinary traditions alive.
Layla Bushehri was encouraged by her children Ahmed, 40, Amin, 30, and Iman Ben Chaibah, 37, to share the dishes they love with others to enjoy and her daughter, who runs Sail Publishing in Dubai, helped release her English and Arabic cookbook, Mama Layla’s Recipes, last year.
“After retiring, I was looking for a way to invest my time and create something useful for others to benefit from,” said the 65-year-old, who studied journalism in Egypt and had an accounting career in the UAE. “That’s when the cookbook came about. I gathered a bunch of recipes that my children love, including appetizers, main dishes, sweets and hot beverages.
“The book features a mix of traditional and modern dishes.
“I also included dishes that are commonly loved in every household, with my own signature on them. I want to reach out to the new generation that thinks the kitchen is not inviting enough and present them with the right mix of dishes that can bring their families together.”
According to Layla, many of the dishes in the 110-page book were passed on to her by her mother, but she ended up modernising them and making them healthier by cutting out ghee and reducing oil and sugar. She also made sure to use ingredients that are easy to find in today’s markets.
Layla even added recipes for traditional tea and coffee pots.
“I find that many youngsters haven’t learned this basic skill of making tea and coffee that is required for any social gatherings in our region,” she added. “Nothing brings family and friends together better than social gatherings revolving around food!”
Tea (chai) and coffee (ghawa) are staples in Arab culture as it denotes hospitality and if rejected can be considered rude.
The book includes a mix of traditional Khaleeji dishes and modern treats such as machboos and pasta, rangeena, basboosa and, of course, samboosa, which are essential Ramadan dishes for any household.
“My favourite recipe is Khanfaroush, which is a traditional dessert that is in the book as well,” said Layla. “My mother used to make it and it will always reminds me of her.”
She explained that the book was produced and published in a standing calendar format to make it easier when cooking.
“People don’t have to worry about keeping the book open on the right page or how to make it stand so they can read it easily,” she said. “I would like to thank everyone who bought my book and supported me. I try to put new dishes on my Instagram to help more people enjoy cooking, they can also share them with their families so that our tradition stays alive.”
Layla is now considering another book for those who are already familiar with cooking and would like to learn more advanced traditional dishes.
For details, follow @laylabushehri on Instagram.