Zina Murtaza started cooking relatively late in her life. Growing up in Malmö, her mother laid the foundation for what would become Zina’s specialty: delicious and simple “home cooking” from the Middle East.
– When I got my family and wanted to cook my childhood dishes, I discovered how hard it was to find good recipes. Everything was in Arabic which I can’t read, she said.
Mother’s Recipe Collection
Mom’s phone rang. How do you make good lamb broth? Round bread, Arabic bread, Alkmaj bread? Yogurt balls, what’s in them?
– I wrote on old receipts, loose notes, and on the margins of newspapers.
When she one day posted a picture of her yogurt balls in a food group on Facebook, comments swarmed.
– There were more who needed good recipes in Swedish. I ended up creating my own food blog “Zina’s Kitchen” to answer all the questions and collect all the recipes in one place.
It was the start of a successful career as a food writer, television chef, and cookbook author. Food should be fun is the philosophy.
Zeina Mortada was born in Sierra Leone, where her parents fled the Lebanese civil war in the 1970s. But when unrest rocked the West African country, the family fled to Sweden.
Zina grew up in Malmö
– I was four years old when we came here. I have a strong memory of my brother running straight into the snow in our summer clothes. Mom is mad at us!
The family ended up in Malmö, where Zina grew up.
That it would work with food wasn’t something I had ever planned for.
I worked as a salesperson on the field and enjoyed it very much. But then came a handsome man who needed a pair of swimming trunks.
Unfortunately, they were out of his size, so Zina called another store to put together a pair for the glamorous client.
And by virtue of his accent, he did not come from the city. When he went to the other store, I panicked – what if I can’t see him again?
Marrying a swimsuit man
She threw herself on the phone to ask her colleagues to give the man’s swimsuit number.
– Now we have been married for 18 years and have three children together, says Zina, who later moved with her husband to Solentuna outside Stockholm.
It was cooking while on maternity leave. She discovered how fun it was and dedicated herself to everything from baking to slow cooking.
– But this would lead to running their own companies, publishing books and cooking on TV, which I could not even dream of.
All food repairs are done at home in your own kitchen. You cook all the dishes multiple times to get the perfect recipe.
I have ruined the kitchen with all the cooking
The kitchen was brand new when we moved in, but now three years later, she’s wearing it. I am drawing a new one. The most important thing is functionality – what it looks like may come second.
At the top of my wish list is a dishwasher, a typical commercial kitchen, which is once washed. There will be a lot of dishes.
– Then come the workspaces. I need a lot of space. All materials must withstand heavy wear. I still prefer working from home. It suits me more.
Zina Mortada has already gotten a lot of attention after her first TV appearance.
– I was on TV4’s “Nyhetsmorgon” 2017. I was probably the first chef to wear the shawl, because it provoked reactions.
There was a lot of hate and anger, but also a lot of love and appreciation for seeing someone who “looks like me and my friends” on TV.
Likes to wear a shawl
She herself wore her shawl into adulthood but no one in her family covered her hair.
After a difficult period in my life when I grieved for my brother who committed suicide, I found comfort in prayer and my faith grew.
The shawl has become a part of her and she enjoys wearing it.
Now Zina is happy with life in general.
However, she believes that the balance between work and leisure should be better. Finding time to recover.
Reaching the age of 40 does not seem to be a big problem for Zina, were it not for the press organizing a party.
Everyone says I should celebrate, but I don’t know. Maybe – as long as you don’t have to cook!
Age: He is 40 years old on April 4th.
Do: Chef and food writer. She runs the food blog “Zeinas Kitchen” and has given
From several cookbooks.
Family: A husband and three children: Batoul, 16, Hadi, 11, and Alia, 8.
On turning 40: “I don’t usually party much. As long as my husband and immediate family remember me, I’m happy.”
This is how she celebrates her birthday: “Everyone is asking for a party but I’m so nervous.”
Fun activities at home: “I like to lie on the sofa for a whole day, eat instant noodles and watch bad TV series like ‘Love Is Blind.’ That’s how I recover.”