Saima Khan – The Celebrity Chef Creating Connections Through Food
We chit chat with chef Saima Khan of The Hampstead Kitchen, who’s cooked for some the most successful people in the world (including Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, and the Obamas!). She talks about her favourite meal (so simple!), her tips for the perfect Valentine’s Day meal, and why she believes food and charity are a match made in heaven!
If you’ve tasted Saima Khan’s creations, then you’re in good company. She’s catered for some of the most popular, important and influential people in the world do. Saima Khan of Hampstead Kitchen is a chef who does private catering or what can be more aptly described as “create an experience”. She creates this unique experience based on who she is serving; what stays the same is the basic philosophy of togetherness and the simplicity of good food that makes it so amazing.
“Saima’s cooked for Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, and the Obamas (who even have a dip named after them)”
Saima’s cooked for Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, and the Obamas (who even have a dip named after them). She looks at who she’s serving, what the occasion is and that’s where the magic begins. The concept is socialising over food. The themes are rustic, it’s self-serve and has an overall vibe of connectivity. Even though every aspect is well thought out, it stays simple and relaxing, from the color schemes, aroma, and music. A private catering by the Hampstead Kitchen is a feast for all your senses.
Saima doesn’t believe in forced experiences, all these techniques are there to make her guests genuinely connect with the environment and most importantly, each other. She always makes it a point to personally talk to them. Connectivity through food is what everything is about. In the end, people always remember the meal and the good time that they had. Saima not only creates great food, she creates a story for you to be a part of.
“Connectivity through food is what everything is about”
While talking to Saima the words that came up often were togetherness, hospitality, connection, sharing and olive branch. This translates into the overall event. Saima has done an extensive amount of research into the food that she cooks. What she finds is that the origins of food are very muddy and you would be surprised at how common food is throughout the world. It’s not something that divides us, it’s what brings us together. For example, the local salad Kachumar (Pakistani salad) is very similar to the Iranian salad.
“Saima has done an extensive amount of research into the food that she cooks. What she finds is that food is not something that divides us, it’s what brings us together”
Research is not just important for recipes, it’s important for our history and identity. Having been born and raised in the United Kingdom has not affected her love for and affiliation with Pakistan. Her family comes back every two years to their village. They believe in giving back to their soil. Sticking to her roots is what has made reaching the sky possible. The sharing, self-serve concept of the Hampstead Kitchen is a very common feature in this part of the world.
Speaking of Pakistan, Saima was recently invited by Care Foundation for a charity fundraiser. The event took place at FRED the Kitchen, a food lab, the first of its kind in Lahore. Saima prepared an exclusive meal for all those in attendance. This event is only an example of her philanthropic endeavors. Hampstead Kitchen believes in not wasting even a morsel of food. According to her, food and charity are a match made in heaven.
“Saima was recently invited by Care Foundation for a charity fundraiser, which was held at FRED the Kitchen. According to her, food and charity are a match made in heaven”
Moving on to food I asked her to tell me more about the ingredients that she uses. All ingredients are organic, free-range and personally sourced by her. Her spices have been collected from all over the world and no matter where the event is, travel with her.
We talked about the approaching Valentine’s Day and Saima laughed. She said that Hampstead Kitchen doesn’t do private catering for Valentine’s Day, but they do offer delivery. Food is like a romantic love letter, and it is most romantic and genuine when it comes from you. She suggests that the best meal to have on Valentine’s is the one you cook yourself. But she did mention food that is considered romantic such as pomegranates and rose petals. So, if you’re interested to cook a meal for your loved one this 14th February keep these in mind and check out the recipes available on the Hampstead Kitchen website.
“Food is like a romantic love letter, and it is most romantic and genuine when it comes from you. Saima suggests that the best meal to have on Valentine’s is the one you cook yourself”
Here are some of her best-sellers and crowd-pleasers (including the easiest and most difficult to make): chicken biryani and lamb chops in general; Obama dip, which is an easy to make yogurt-based dip; slow-cooked lamb and Iranian rice, which are difficult to source and obviously take time to cook.
For someone who has such a diverse menu and who caters to people around the globe, her own favourite food to come home to is the simple daal chawal (lentils and rice) with kachumar salad and mirchoon ka keema (minced meat with spices).
“For someone who has such a diverse menu and who caters to people around the globe, her own favourite food to come home to is the simple daal chawal”
Saima has magic hands when it comes to food, but they’re accompanied by a big generous heart that is the cherry on the pie of Hampstead Kitchen.