Noreen (Nora) Salimi, a hairstylist, lives in Westbury with her two daughters.
Who inspired your love of cooking?
Growing up in Pakistan, we were seven siblings in my household, and my mom always cooked. She makes everything from scratch and goes to the nearby farmers market every day to buy fresh vegetables. I remember going with her and she’d break a stem of broccoli rabe. If it made a crunchy noise, she said, it was fresh. I always observed how she cooked. She explained about cumin seed, cinnamon, garlic and how to chop onion in different ways to get different tastes.
How does cooking figure in your life?
I find that cooking relieves my stress. When I’m stressed I find something to cook that’s a little difficult and time-consuming like fried lentils mixed with meat or freshly made bread.
What do your children think of your cooking?
They love it. My son, who is 27, was having his American friends over and asked me how to make something delicious with chicken and spices. I guided him step by step on FaceTime and we made chicken karahi [a Pakistani chicken-tomato dish].
Do you have any cooking tips?
Don’t ever be afraid to cook anything or that it’ll taste bad. Try it two or three times and watch closely and compare. Fresh is always best because sometimes if you use canned like tomato purée or cubes and garlic from the jar, the taste is different.
What’s the difference between chicken pilau and biryani?
With chicken pilau, you make the broth separately and then mix the rice with the broth. With a biryani, you boil the rice in plain water.