By Yasmin Darsot Cassim
This article was first published in 2012, when IRTIQA launched its first edition (printed). We acknowledge that since then some of the facts may have changed. Nevertheless, in the spirit of the upcoming Irtiqa Charity Cook Off, we have decided to republish this well-received interview and delicious steak recipe given to us by Mariam herself!
Tell us a bit more about yourself and your childhood
My father, the well-known Molvi Ismail Saloojee who was a freedom fighter and the President of the Transvaal Indian Congress, was a great cook. I inherited my passion and talent for food from him. I was politically active from the age of 10. It was at this age that I was introduced to cooking, we were always having cake sales to raise funds and by the time I was 17, I was already an expert at cooking biryani for 150 people at a time. As the years went by I enjoyed the art of cooking more and enjoyed creating my own recipes.
Which famous people have you had the pleasure of cooking for?
Having a great political background I had the honour of cooking for many of Nelson Mandela’s functions and just to mention a few more: Mark Gevisser the author of Biography of Thabo Mbeki as well as Heidi Holland, the author of Dinner with Mugabe. I have also had the honour of cooking for Walter Sisulu.
Are you involved in cooking for the community and charity events?
I believe greatly in giving back to the community. I adopted a Cancer ward in Baragwanath Hospital where my family and I hand out food hampers and spend time with the patients. My daughters have a rare disease known as Charcot Marie Tooth. It is a neurological disorder and both my daughters were treated at Baragwanath Hospital with great care. I have also participated in various breast cancer functions.
What was your previous career choice?
I was a teacher for many years and when I retired, I pursued my passion for cooking.
Do you have any cooking tips for our learners and in particular, young brides?
Cooking is art. Each individual has their own style of cooking, but I do believe that if you have the passion and the dedication, anyone can cook a great meal.
Do you get “lost in your cooking”?
Absolutely, I have always been one to experiment with new ideas and inventions and I will not quit until it is 100 percent.
What inspires your cooking?
Definitely, my family…
How many books have you launched?
Two books, one of which was republished by demand (“The pride of Indian cooking”) The book has all the traditional Indian-based recipes with easy-to-follow steps and rest assured, all the recipes are tried and tested.
Tell us about your new book and what can we expect from it?
The new book is really different. I’ve catered for the career-orientated woman and student. The book simplifies Indian cooking and I’ve modified a few recipes making it easy to make a great meal. I have also started with a pasta recipe book. I am trying to incorporate Indian spices in some recipes to make it unique.
Has your passion for food passed on to the next generation?
Yes, definitely. My daughters love cooking.
Does your cooking change with time?
Yes my cooking has changed over the years to embrace the new cooking trends. My food is also varied.
What kind of meals do you enjoy cooking the most?
I must admit that I like my Indian cooking, Biryani being my favourite meal to cook.
What are your favourite ingredients and why?
I love fresh garlic, pure red chillies and ginger. I firmly believe that the fresher the ingredients, the better the taste and aroma of the meal.
What is your winning recipe?
Well there is a new steak recipe that has taken off with my clients. It is not in any of my books so you’re in luck!
Mariam’s winning steak recipe
½ kilo steak tenderised, cut into medium- sized pieces.
1 large onion, sliced
1 dessert spoon garlic
1 dessert spoon mayonnaise
1 dessert spoon of fine green chillies (as required)
Juice of half a lemon
1 level teaspoon white, home- ground pepper
2 dessertspoons butter
Salt as required
Liquidise the above ingredients and marinate steak for a few hours or overnight
1) In a pot add either olive oil or ghee
2) Add a few curry leaves, elatchi, taj, and peppercorns and let it sizzle until tender.
3) Add the steak and cook on medium heat until water burns out, stir continuously until done.
Serve with pasta, English veggies or baby potatoes rolled in sour cream.