Auckland writer and cook Ashia Ismail-Singer is putting an eastern twist on Kiwi favourites such as roast lamb and pavlova.
And her recipes have caught the eye of a book publisher: My Indian Kitchen is the result.
Ashia shares recipes for Puri (which she says are great to make with kids), Roast lamb with a chilli rub, Chilli-basted roast chicken and Pavlova with rose cream, cardamom & salted caramel shards.
Ashia's unique background includes time spent in India, Pakistan, Africa, the UK and finally New Zealand.
Her parents moved from Gujarat in India to the African republic of Malawi when India and Pakistan separated in 1947.
They were Memon people – Muslims of Persian origin who settled in Gujarat in the 8th century and brought with them their culinary culture – and ingredients like rosewater, saffron, cardamom and pomegranates.
“I’m married to a Kiwi so what I’ve done with my cooking is there’s an eastern influence to some of the western dishes."
This flair for fusion is something Ashia inherited from her mother, she says, who, when lacking many basic ingredients in Malawi, made pedestrian English food come to spicy life.
“She mixed eastern and western things together. We’d come home from school and have spicy shepherd’s pie. If we were having a roast dinner it would be a chilli-basted chicken.
“Those influences stayed with me and it’s been lovely sharing those in the book.”
Among those Malawi-inspired favourites are masala baked beans.
“We put spices in there and caramelised onions, and oh my god, it takes baked beans to a different level.”