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Cook, Eat, Love.

Around a year ago, Narise Nabil Kamber, founder and director of a popular bakery and traditional cafes in Bahrain, came up with a novel idea of sharing her culinary knowledge in book form to put the fun back into cooking as well as raise funds for charity, writes Mai Al Khatib-Camille.

The mother of Mahmood, 20, a New York University student, Nabil, 18, a high school senior studying in Valley Forge Military Academy in Philadelphia, and British School of Bahrain students Jena, 15, and Rakan, 11, created From my Kitchen to inspire and motivate families into putting down their phones and putting on an apron.

The colourful cookbook concept came about whilst she was sipping tea in her Saffron by Jena Bakery alongside representatives from the Royal Charity Organisation (RCO).

Narise, who lives in Hamala, said: "They wanted to do something for the children they support and I was immediately on board as I have a very soft spot for any child in need or deprived of a parent."

The RCO sponsors widows and orphans, in addition to caring for the elderly and those with special needs. The organisation also provides social, health and educational care, on top of helping re-duce the cost of living for needy families.

"Since my high school days, I volunteered at Batelco Orphan House and continued briefly after I had my first child. I also bake all the birthday cakes for the lovely children of the Batelco Orphan House from my Jena Bakery. So naturally I welcomed the idea of the book. I was offered to get sponsors but I declined since I wanted to do it all by myself."

Narise's mum, Dalal Alsheroogi, is a well-known cookbook author and personality in the kingdom as well, which is why she believes her journey into the culinary world of cooking and writing was inevitable.

Her food fervour started after she graduated with a Bachelor's degree in international relations from the UK and worked briefly there as well in the Arab British Chamber of Commerce. She got married to Moanes Almardi, the editor in chief of an Arabic newspaper, as soon as she completed her degree.

"You could say I became obsessed with the culinary world," Narise said. "I loved collecting recipes, reading the latest cookbooks and magazines, attending every culinary course on the island, participating in cooking competitions and making cakes for charity bazaars.

"I started to become known for my food beyond the circle of family and friends and that is when I felt confident to establish my first business.

"To me, cooking is the most calming activity there is. To be able to transform 'raw' material into a pot of comfort or a small work of art is amazing. Cooking is the ability to converse with others silently, to transfer your emotions to the receiver through your food.

"In From my Kitchen, I wanted to share the recipes that I cook for my family; to share the love, the nourishment and useful information. Sharing knowledge is one of the main values I live by."

Whilst working on the book, she began to give up on her passion project. However, her determination to put smiles on the faces of the children at RCO wouldn't let her quit.

She said: "I was going to give up on the whole project due to my endless work woes. However, a nagging sound in my head kept repeating that this was not about me and that it was about the kids I was supposed to help. I knew I had to finish what I started. So for the last year, I dedicated the weekends to work on the book. Every weekend, without fail, I would put a timer on and work for two hour blocks then take a 15-minute break and so on.

"I have the utmost respect for all writers of all genres and I always had the dream of seeing my name on a book."

The main message she would like readers to get from her book is to "grab that apron and start cooking instead of ordering from a food app".

She added: "The key word is 'mise-en-place', which literally means put in place in French. If all your dishes and ingredients were prepped ahead of time then cooking will be a breeze. I believe in life we should have a 'mise-en-place' attitude. Cooking is one of the most rewarding activities especially when you remove a part of what you have cooked and send it to a neighbour or give it to a worker that you see on the street. Cook and share."

Narise hopes this book will motivate others to incorporate cooking into their fun-family activities as well as she and her husband do.

"I love cooking at home especially with the children or when my older boys are back from the US," she explained. "But I don't get to do it as often as I would like because of work demands. My children tease me for it sometimes on how I feed everyone and not them.

"We do have a family activity that has been a tradition for years which is the Almardi Chopped Competition, with cooking stations set up, secret ingredient baskets and strict judging criteria conducted by my husband and me. We do this around twice-a-year and it's something we all look forward to."

The book, photographed by Ali Al Jazeeri and designed by Hana Maki is priced at BD7 and can be purchased from Neo Books & Coffee.

[c] Copyright 2011 www.tradearabia.com

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Publication:Gulf Weekly
Date:Feb 4, 2020
Words:937
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