Numra Siddiqui reflects on how food connects cultures, interview

If These Meals Could Talk" Starring Chef Numra Siddiqui, photo provided. Tastemade
If These Meals Could Talk" Starring Chef Numra Siddiqui, photo provided. Tastemade /

When viewers turn into Tastemade’s If These Meals Could Talk starring Numra Siddiqui, the food is only part of the appeal. The candid and profound conversations around the table are just as powerful as the bold flavors on the plate. In a way, each episode reconfirms that food is a story that is always evolving.

For those unfamiliar with Numra Siddiqui, she has brought Pakistan food and culture outside of the traditional home and into the mainstream. While many people turn to her Empress Market as a way to explore flavors that might not have been part of their culinary upbringing, the food is just a taste of what Siddiqui offers. When she pulls out a chair to her table, it is more than just an invitation to a delicious meal.

During a recent conversation with FoodSided, Siddiqui spoke candidly about her connection to food and why she believes that it is a way to connect people from all different backgrounds and cultures. By finding more similarities than differences, the reality is that the table holds a bounty and more people need to enjoy the feast that it offers.

Siddiqui believes that “Cooking is a very tactile and creative way to connect with different cultures.” For her it seems to hold a well of knowledge. She commented, “Even if the food isn’t from your respective heritage, when you understand ingredients and techniques of a certain cuisine, you can learn so many things from that part of the world.”

Blending the familiar and the new adds a new layer to the experience. Siddiqui believes, “there is a story in every bite of food.”

She shared these poignant memories. “My mum’s aloo paratthas capture the warmth of home on a rainy monsoon day. Roast chicken reminds me of standing in line for school dinners. Even now, I’m trying to describe moments in my life through words when I’d be better able to do it through my cooking. That’s the power of food.”

While professional chefs might have a big stage for their stories, the conversation isn’t limited to one venue. The reality is that the connection that food offers is the tie that binds. From the person who is just learning to master the cooking techniques to the celebrated chef wanting to push boundaries, it is a blending of backgrounds and experiences that makes each story a page turner.

As Siddiqui continued explain her belief that food tells a story, she appreciates that there is a reason why people go back to a particular dish or food to make and enjoy over and over again. Whether cooked for oneself or made to share with others, there is an element brings people back time and again.

Siddiqui said, “I think that moment in our childhood when we first appreciate flavor, the time we realize food is more than just sustenance but can be a way of life, and the turning point where we find our voice through cooking – these are all landmarks in our professional culinary journeys.”

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Continue the journey with Numra Siddiqui and her guests on Tastemade. New episodes air on Wednesdays at 7 p.m. ET on Tastemade’s streaming network.

What story does your food tell? Is your plate an open book?