In the words of Durkhanai Ayubi, daughter of Zelmai and Farida Ayubi (pictured)
What do you think instigated your love of food?
Food has always been at the centre of our family and was a natural way for us to keep our culture and heritage alive. The ethos behind Afghan food is one of generosity and hospitality, and this has complimented our inclination to share our traditional recipes with the broader community. Food is what we live and breathe.
What did you grow up eating?
In Afghanistan, my parents grew up on food that was quite organic – rice from nearby fields, hand made pastries, breads from wood ovens, field-grown vegetables, and meats – all underpinned by a mix of Mediterranean and Asian flavours. In Australia, we grew up on the same dishes as my parents.
How would you describe your approach to cooking – is it quite individual or a family affair?
Cooking for us is definitely a family affair. As an example, when we make dumplings for special occasions, everyone helps to make the filling and to sit and fold the intricate little parcels! There are many dishes that are typically spread out on a table for a single Afghan meal, so there is always a need for lots of hands at work.
What does a typical family dinner look like at your place?
Usually organised chaos. Our immediate family easily fills a large room, so it’s always lively. We all pitch in to make the meal, usually with my mum or Sayed heading the stoves, and then sit to enjoy a big spread around the table.
What can people expect from Monday Night Dinners in Melbourne?
We hope to be able to share what we think is an important and beautiful part of our Afghan heritage and what has been an enduring part of our story as migrants to Australia – gathering around a table with friends and loved ones to share a meal that is generous, plentiful and which tells a story.
If you had to take a wild guess, what do you think we’ll be eating in 25 years?
Hopefully lots of eggplant (our favourite)! But maybe, bugs for protein and even 3D printed food?!
The Ayubi family will be cooking some treasured family recipes together at Monday Family Dinner.