The Student-Run News Site of Carnegie Vanguard High School

Upstream News

The Student-Run News Site of Carnegie Vanguard High School

Upstream News

The Student-Run News Site of Carnegie Vanguard High School

Upstream News

Personal Column: Spice infused memories

My+brother+and+I+with+my+great+grandmother.
Muhammad Walji
My brother and I with my great grandmother.

My summers were full of sewing machines, lost thimbles, and my great-grandmother, my Maa, attempting to teach me how to sew. My autumns were full of masala chai, mandazi, a sweet, fried dough, and stories from Maa as she watched her Indian dramas and taught me how to read Arabic. 

My Maa was a strong-witted woman, and in the spring, she would proudly wear her flower-embroidered headscarf and make my brother and I kheer puri. She would transition to a woolly pink sweater in the winter, always making sure there was a pot of hot chicken pilau on the stove. 

My earliest memories with Maa were praying with her, cooking with her, and listening to stories about my father in his childhood. My Maa moved around a lot: from her birth in East Africa to England where my father was born, and finally, to the United States. Growing up with Maa, I found her strength unwavering, and even as she got older and frailer, her strength persevered. 

My maa showed her personality through food. She cooked deliciously specialized, spiced, and pungent, dishes that made bold statements at family gatherings. I will admit, I was hesitant to try her food due to my childhood pickiness, but I soon learned that her food was a delicious blessing. 

Story continues below advertisement

It represented a fusion of cultures from her Gujarati Indian heritage to her birthplace in Moshi, Tanzania. With every bite, I could taste something different; something that would remain with me and serve as a reminder of the strength of spices and the cook herself. 

As summer turned into fall, Maa’s dishes would change yet still have a powerful and distinct taste. This transition between seasons resulted in different dishes, but each dish carried the same message: to continue being bold, strong, and true to yourself and embracing your identity. 

Although it is hard to pick one, my favorite dish of hers was probably her delicious fried vegetable samosas. They were flaky, buttery, and perfectly crispy. They were also fried, and my family is notorious for baking their samosas to make them “healthier.”

 My Maa passed away in April 2021. I haven’t had her authentic food for a few years, but my grandmother’s recreations were are as delicious. As a senior in high school, I have a bittersweet feeling about not only leaving for college but leaving my family’s cultural foods behind. 

As I begin the journey of leaving the comfort of home and the slightly distant aroma of Maa’s kitchen behind, I know I will carry more than just textbooks and clothes. Tucked away in the depths of my bags will be memories of my great grandma and the tasty foods that she cooked, as well as my own ambitions to recreate her comforting recipes. 

View Comments (2)
Donate to Upstream News
$150
$500
Contributed
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists of Carnegie Vanguard High School. Your contribution will allow us to cover our annual website hosting costs and fund field trips, competition fees, and equipment. We appreciate your support!

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Naadiya Walji, Staff Writer
Naadiya is a senior at CVHS. She is a quiet bookworm who’s favorite pastimes include reading, spending time with her cat, and drinking coffee. Interested in psychology, Naadiya looks for the deeper meaning behind everything she reads. Her favorite genre is fantasy and she cares deeply for minority representation in media. As an empath and future psychologist, Naadiya loves newspaper because it allows her to explore new topics and perspectives.  
Donate to Upstream News
$150
$500
Contributed
Our Goal

Comments (2)

All Upstream News Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • S

    Sasha CabralMar 4, 2024 at 2:22 pm

    Awesome story! I love the detail you included, made the story very engaging.

    Reply
  • N

    Nadia TalankerMar 4, 2024 at 1:30 pm

    beautiful story, great job naadiya

    Reply