First of all, we can’t believe we had the opportunity to meet and interview one of our local food blogging heroes Nadiya Ali Manik.
She probably needs no introduction, but for anyone who does, she’s the author of the popular food blog Nadiya’s Tastes of Maldives. It’s one of the first few food blogs that sprung from the Maldives and at this point we must mention that while Nadiya no longer updates her blog, she currently runs her very own and also very popular website Nadiya’s Kitchen.
We contacted Nadiya to see whether she’d be okay with us interviewing her, and very lucky for us, she invited us over for tea.
Lonumedhu: Let’s begin the interview by talking a little bit about Nadiya’s Tastes of Maldives. What made you start blogging?
Nadiya: I do a lot of cooking at home, and I was receiving a lot of positive comments about my cooking; people seemed to really like what I make. Then it occurred to me that if I shared those recipes that I liked to make for my family and myself, there’s a possibility that others might find them useful.
Lonumedhu: And when was it that you started your blog?
Nadiya: I can’t recall the year, but I think it must have been around seven years ago.
Lonumedhu: I see. There’s so much stuff on there. How many do you think?
Nadiya: I have no idea. But here’s the thing, a couple of years ago I began to receive a lot of complaints about people not being able to view my blog. It was still visible to me, but apparently a lot of people had trouble accessing it. So I launched my website Nadiya’s Kitchen and that’s from where you can find my newer recipes. I actually haven’t operated my previous blog for something like three years now.
Lonumedhu: Oh, I didn’t know that. I viewed your blog just this morning and it was working okay on my end. Anyway, tell me a little bit more about how you come up with your recipes?
Nadiya: My mum cooks a lot. Like, if it’s a rainy day she’ll make ‘bondibai’ or ‘kandhi’ and ‘hanaakurimas’. So I think I learned a lot from her. Usually, if I don’t know how to make something, I’ll simply ask her to make it for me. I do ask her to measure the ingredients as well, but she finds it very difficult as she’s used to just adding a dash of this and that (laughs).
Lonumedhu: (laughs) I know what you are talking about. I think all mums cook like that! At least mine does.
Nadiya: I also look up recipes online and try out the ones that interest me too.
Lonumedhu: So how many times do you try out a new recipe before you put that up?
Nadiya: That actually depends on the recipe. There are some I had to try even three to four times.
Lonumedhu: You sometimes make cooking videos too, right?
Nadiya: Yes I do, and I do it on my own; every aspect of making the video I do it on my own.
Lonumedhu: That’s very impressive. How about finding ingredients in Male’, do you face any difficulties? That’s something that we end up talking about in all our interviews.
Nadiya: Actually that rarely happens to me. I usually manage to find all the ingredients I want. For example, recently I put up a recipe for baklava, and to make that I needed to find filo pastry. I couldn’t find it at first, but then I went to judge a teacher’s day cooking event and saw them using it and they told me it was available from Fantasy, and I was able to find it there. So I would say the ingredients are all there, you just have to dig a little.
Lonumedhu: I don’t think we’ve yet talked about how you actually got into cooking. Tell us a little bit about that.
Nadiya: I began to cook when I started a family and moved out from my previous home. And that meant my mum was no longer going to be there to prepare the meals, so I had to learn to make them on my own. But with that being said, I’ve always had an interest for cooking, baking and cake decorating. Back when I was little, I loved watching my mum and grandma when they cooked. I’ll often find myself just staring, and it was later on that I realised I was staring because I was interested in it.
Lonumedhu: You make so many different types of things that I have to ask whether you ever did any form of training?
Nadiya: About four years ago I had the opportunity of going to India for training. It was organised by the trade ministry and SAARC Sabah Maldives. I was selected as one of the participants that were to take part from the Maldives. It took place at Ahmed Abad, Mysore and many other places and the training included food packing, preserving, operating machinery, techniques, and hygiene.
Lonumedhu: We’ve heard about the cooking classes that you run as well. Can we talk about that?
Nadiya: Yes, the cooking classes I run, that’s actually what I do for a living. I used to work at the Customs; I actually worked there for 10 years before I left. As for the classes they include courses in pastry, baking, and there’s a class for Maldivian dishes too. There’s not so much of cake decorating in the classes though.
Lonumedhu: I see. But you do decorated cakes for order right?
Nadiya: Yes, that I do, and I actually enjoy that very much too.
Lonumedhu: Last question and this is something we ask from everyone we interview. If you were cooking just for yourself, what would you make?
Nadiya: ‘Garudhiya’ and ‘baiy’ and ‘thelli mas’. And the rice has to be the ‘haru handoo’ kind (laughs).
Lonumedhu: Ah, the good old Garudhiya. Thanks so much Nadiya for having us over, and also for the tea. We wish you all the best on your future food-ventures.