Amazing Food Bloggers: Chef Hami Sharafi, Persian Food Ambassador
We are very excited this week to introduce Hami Sharafi – chef, food blogger, and Persian food ambassador.
Hami runs a blog under the name I got it from my maman, where he shares some incredibly enticing Iranian recipes. Make sure to check it out and give a few of his recipes a try.
You can also follow Hami on Instagram and be inspired by his colorful dishes and great food photography.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself and your passion for food.
My name is Hami and I’m an Iranian Londoner who loves cooking, eating, and sharing my passion for good food with like-minded people. With my mum being an incredible cook, I grew up with top-notch traditional Persian food.
Also my family used to have a restaurant, which my sister and I helped with. Besides helping with the cooking, my favourite part used to be talking to the customers about food and understanding what good food meant to them.
I completed several cooking classes in Iran and when I moved to the UK 10 years ago, I continued my education in cooking, catering and hospitality in college. I learned valuable things during this time, such as being organised in the kitchen, having great timing, knife skills, and so on. This helped me a lot later on when I started developing recipes for my blog.
My passion for Persian food grew to another level when I moved in with my German wife. I wanted to show her all our delicious dishes and, to be honest, at this point I started missing them, so one by one I got all my favorite recipes from my mum.
Then 2 years ago my wife encouraged me to share these recipes with others to show more people what Persian cuisine has to offer and my blog “I got it from my Maman” was born.Chef Hami Sharafi
2. Tell us a bit about Persian food. What makes it special and what Persian foods do we need to try out?
Persian food is full of flavor, without being spicy.
It takes patience to prepare, but not much effort. It can be light and refreshing, as well as rich and comforting.
If you visit a Persian restaurant for the first time, I’d recommend you don’t order kabab. Persian kabab is very tasty and you should absolutely try it at some point, but all Middle Eastern countries have amazing kabab. Try one of our unique stews, any that evokes your curiosity. This is how you experience true Persian flavor.
3. Iran is a huge country. Are there any notable differences between Iranian regional cuisines?
There are huge differences between Iranian regional cuisines.
Just to give a few examples, in the north, people love sour dishes. They use sour pomegranate molasses and bitter orange juice to achieve the sour flavors. Also herbs are used a lot in the north, even more than in the rest of the country.
Southern dishes on the other hand can be quite spicy. The south is the only area in Iran where spicy dishes come from. I believe they’re still nothing compared to the spiciness of some Indian dishes though. As Iranians, they still like a bit of sourness but they use tamarind to create these flavors.
Compared to the north and south the food in Tehran is as mild as the dialect. Dishes that are served very sour in the north tend to be balanced with sweetness there, so sweet and sour is a flavor combination that can often be found.
4. What is your source of inspiration?
My mum and the dishes she cooked for me in my childhood were my initial inspiration, that inspired me to start my journey as a recipe blogger.
Now another source of inspiration are my blog readers, who request the dishes they enjoyed in their childhood and want to recreate. When I receive messages saying that my recipe brought back a happy childhood memory or that it helped someone prepare their favorite dish for a non-Iranian spouse or friend and they loved it, it lights me up.
Feedback like this is what inspires me to keep going and spread the word about traditional Persian food.
5. What are your top 2-3 recipes?
In no particular order my top 3 recipes are:
1. Ghormeh Sabzi
This lamb and herb stew is a favorite of most Iranians. The heavy use of herbs is just so typically Persian and if you asked me to summarize Persian flavor in one single dish, this would be it. It isn’t the most appealing to the eye, but once you try it, you’ll be back for more.
2. Khroresh-e Fesenjoon
This pomegranate walnut stew is very popular among non-Iranians. I often get messages saying they had a delicious Persian dish at a friend’s house years back and they’d love to recreate it but don’t remember the name. Once I ask a few questions, 99% of the time it turns out they had Fesenjoon and still remember the taste after 20 years.
I love that you can prepare it with chicken, duck or lamb. Even without any meat it’s still full of flavor and absolutely worth giving a try.
3. Loobia Polo
This rice dish with lamb and green beans is my personal favourite. In contrast to the other two dishes, the rice and stew are steamed together, resulting in a flavorful rice dish, that you won’t get enough of.
6. What’s your favorite ingredient that you like to cook with?
If I had to narrow it down to one, I’d say saffron is my favourite ingredient to cook with. I use a lot of it and put it in absolutely everything. My mum disapproves of this decadent habit, but I just love the bright yellow colour it gives and so it plays a big role in styling my food.
7. There are many Iranian restaurants in London, but which do you consider to be the best?
Since I love home cooking, I don’t visit many restaurants to be honest. I love it when Iranian restaurants and restaurants in general don’t just pay attention to the quality of their dishes but also to the presentation and the atmosphere of the place. It has to feel welcome and it has to be a special experience for all senses, including the eyes. One Persian restaurant that achieves this in my opinion is R&H in Richmond.
8. Outside Persian food, what is your favorite cuisine?
My other two favorite cuisines are Mexican and Indian. I love spicy food and since most Persian dishes aren’t really spicy at all, I balance my love for chili with eating enchiladas, burritos, and curries when I’m not eating Persian.
9. Is your blog a hobby or a business?
I believe in describing things the way you want them to be and so I look at my blog as a business. At the moment it is a part time business, but I have many plans for it, such as my own cook book, cooking classes, and more. I have confidence in making it my full-time business in the near future.
10. You have a big Instagram fan base with a high engagement rate. What’s your secret?
When it comes to Instagram, it’s important to offer your followers value. Good photography is essential on Instagram, but I’m trying to provide my followers with more than just pictures of beautifully arranged food.
I try to give them a reason to stop at my post, read it and engage with it.
I look at each and every one of my followers as someone I want to build a relationship with. I want to exchange cooking tips with them, support them on their Persian food journey and offer them my recipes.
11. Food blogging is a very competitive space. What are your tips for new bloggers just starting out?
The best advice I can give is just start! I believe perfectionism can be the killer of dreams. Often people compare the beginning of their journey to someone else’s middle and think they’re not good enough. The thing is, you learn along the way and if you don’t start, you’ll never get to where you want to be.
It’s important to have a niche and create recipes with this group of people in mind. But what your particular niche is may become clear after you start. Begin with where you feel led to and take it from there.
Feel free to scroll through my oldest Instagram posts. If I hadn’t taken some horrible pictures, burnt some potato tadig and made some errors in my recipes, I would never have learned what I know now. And there still is so much more to learn and improve on. You never cease to learn and improve, so you might as well start now.