- Basma Al-Masharqa, a Palestinian resident of Islamabad, turned her passion for cooking into a business by launching a Middle Eastern catering service.
- Her husband’s invitations to Pakistanis to taste her Arab delicacies gained her popularity and frequent catering requests.
- Al-Masharqa’s business has experienced overwhelming success, with daily orders surpassing expectations, and she hopes to promote a love for Arabic food and raise awareness about Palestine.
Basma Al-Masharqa, a Palestinian resident of Islamabad for the past 30 years, had always been passionate about cooking.
However, the idea of starting a Middle Eastern food business arose from a common challenge faced by many Arabs in Pakistan: the spiciness of local cuisine.
For years, Al-Masharqa’s husband had been inviting Pakistanis to their home to taste the Arab delicacies prepared by his wife. News quickly spread about her culinary skills, and she began receiving frequent requests for catering and food delivery.
In January of this year, Al-Masharqa decided to transform her passion into a business and launched a catering service that offers Middle Eastern breakfast, lunch, and dinner spreads.
“My husband used to invite Pakistanis regularly because they enjoyed Arabic food, and eventually, many people suggested that I start selling the food since I spent a lot of time in the kitchen,” Al-Masharqa shared in an interview with Arab News this week.
Since starting her business a few months ago, Al-Masharqa has experienced an overwhelmingly positive response. In fact, the demand has exceeded her expectations, with daily orders ranging from six to seven, often causing her to decline requests due to being overbooked.
“I feel joy knowing that people appreciate my cooking because I love to cook and enjoy experimenting with different dishes every day,” expressed Al-Masharqa.
The menu includes popular dishes such as foul, hummus, falafel, labna, warak enab, and maqluba. Al-Masharqa regularly consults with a nutritionist, and all her dishes are prepared using olive and coconut oil. She also prepares salt-free cheese suitable for individuals with high blood pressure and other health conditions.
While her loyal customers primarily consist of Arabs living in Islamabad, there is an increasing interest from Pakistanis as well.
“Pakistani people have a genuine appreciation for Arab food, especially those who have visited Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries,” she noted. “They are familiar with our dishes and frequently place orders for these items.”
Considering Pakistan her second home, Al-Masharqa hopes that her food will help further connect Pakistanis with Arab culture and cuisine.
“I aspire to cultivate a greater fondness for Arabic food and promote awareness about my country, especially Palestine,” she added.
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