Zahra Abdalla, half Iranian and half Sudanese, is a food blogger, recipe creator and strong supporter of food sustainability.
Born in London, Zahra now lives in Dubai, where she began her cooking blog CookingwithZahra: a portal collecting delicious recipes and videos offering her interpretation of Middle Eastern cooking with a modern twist.
We went to find out more about Zahra and her world of ingredients, spices and flavours, tiptoeing into her temple of creativity: her kitchen.
Zahra has decorated this important place with SapienStone surfaces, chosen for their aesthetic and technical properties, in elegant, timeless White Calacatta.
We interviewed Zahra to find out what she thinks of SapienStone and how she likes her new porcelain countertop.
Talk to us about yourself and what you like best.
I consider myself a modern-day Bedouin. I’m half Iranian and half Sudanese, and I was born in London, England, but I lived in cities all over the world, in Khartoum, Riyadh, Vancouver and London, before moving to Dubai in 2004.
I began my culinary adventures as a food blogger. Over the years I have presented my cooking programmes on MBC3 and mydubaimycity.com, and I hosted the fourth season of Maggi Diaries on MBC1. My work on Maggi Diaries gave me the opportunity to travel to Egypt, India, Spain, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia and to meet some incredible, inspiring, marvellous and revolutionary women who have addressed important social issues such as food waste, hunger, the environment, and female consciousness and emancipation.
I am a firm believer in the importance of sustainability and the need to pay attention to how we get, prepare and eat our food.
What is your principal source of inspiration for your recipes and content?
Working in my home studio, I’m constantly busy developing, creating and sharing traditional and modern interpretations of Middle Eastern recipes. I draw my inspiration from my childhood, from the flavours of the region and from my travels.
What does the kitchen mean to you, as a place and as an experience?
Food is my art, my therapy and a way to bring forgotten memories back to life or create new ones. The kitchen is the heart of the home, where we as a family connect and share food, ideas and reflections.
What do you like best about SapienStone work surfaces? And what comes to mind when you think of Italian design?
When I was designing my kitchen, it was important for me to create a space that would be practical but would allow me to express my creativity. I wanted it to be sunny, bright and cosy. My kitchen was designed by Snaidero, a company that recommends SapienStone countertops because of their refined design and practicality. The kitchen is one of the most important spaces in the home, and I wanted everything in it to be robust. I love the fact that the design of the countertop adds value and elegance to my kitchen. And I love the fact that guests feel welcome in my kitchen.
Which of the five senses is your favourite? Which of the five senses is most stimulated in the kitchen?
Personally, I really rely on my sense of smell: it’s one of the most important senses, maybe more important than taste. Before tasting, we smell food, and we have extraordinary emotional ties with certain smells. The smell of a certain food has the power to take us back to a trip, a special time or place, a special memory.
What are the sensations you feel near your SapienStone countertop?
I love the sensation of creativity I feel in the kitchen. I chose a Calacatta design, with its beautiful flowing patterns adding dynamism to the countertop. It is highly versatile and does not impose a specific style; it’s like a white canvas that works perfectly with traditional, modern, natural or bolder cuisine, and with any kind of furnishings.
If you had to describe SapienStone countertops in a single word, what would it be?
Beautiful! The perfect combination of elegance and beauty.
Photographer: Natelee Cocks