Maghreb Tastes: Khadijah Abdul-Nabi
For our next interview, please welcome Khadijah Abdul-Nabi! I (Munya) first met her back in 2004 when we were college freshmen in New York City. We found out we were both half Tunisians and the rest is history! Khadijah is a super talented artist (I remember her beautiful Tunisian door pieces), and she has taken a beautiful journey to get where she is today! Read on for more, and let us know in the comments if there’s anyone else you’d like to see featured here!
Name: Khadijah Abdul-Nabi
Hometown: The Bronx, New York
Current town: Erbil, Iraq
Profession: Graphic designer
Who is your favorite Tunisian cook and why? My grandmother is my favorite Tunisian cook. She would also have a yummy dish for an appropriate situation. Couscous for big family gatherings on Sunday, Ca3k for a special holiday, Yo-Yo sweets for treats. Aseeda for cozy winter mornings. Her dishes really add flavor to our time spent in Tunisia.
Favorite Tunisian dish to eat: Breeeeka during Ramadan. It just hits the spot.
What is your go-to Tunisian dish to cook and why: Couscous in Iraq. It’s something that’s so foreign here, so its my go to dish when I would like to introduce my Tunisian side to my Iraqi side.
Favorite Tunisian sweet/dessert: Yo-Yo! Caramelized cake-like donuts or Bambaloni mmm depending on the mood.
Favorite Tunisian drink: Mint green tea with pine seeds!
What one ingredient defines Tunisian food for you? MINT. I use it to remind me of Tunis. My aunts would always have fresh mint growing all over their gardens. During the summer the smell would permeate the air and wrap around us. I have a little mint garden of my own here in Iraq now.
If you live abroad, what do you miss most about Tunisia? I love the fresh crisp openness of the air, the smells, the history, the sea.
What do you miss least? Dishonest people. But those are everywhere, I guess. I feel as a non-native of Tunis, whenever I go back with my bright-eyed American self, I can get conned if I don’t have my family around me. That brings me the most anxiety.
What Tunisian food/dish do you miss most? Fricasee. Its only good when you have it in the old souk, fresh wrapped in newsprint paper, soaking in oil with a nice dollop of harissa.
Your favorite place in Tunisia and why: Anywhere near the sea. The sea is big enough to accept me for who I am, without any judgement. The sea understands. She is honest, clear and pure. The essence of Tunisia.
What is always in your pantry? Green tea!
What is your favorite food/type of food? Oh, this one is hard. I love merguez. I don’t have it outside of Tunisia, because it’s never made the same here. But I love eating it when I’m back in Tunisia.
Anything else to add/share? After Barnard (Majoring in Middle Eastern Studies and Anthropology), I worked in the NGO world but in 2016 I quit my job and went back to my art, trying to study graphic design on my own. In 2018, I graduated from Shillington College (London Campus) in Graphic Design. Finally doing what I love, I’m all about exploring hybrid identities through art and especially through graphic design. I hope to create images and narratives that add to the narratives out there about the Middle East and North Africa. My current mission: I run my own graphic design studio, based in Erbil. We create visual narratives for hybrid identities using design-led thinking.
YouTube Channel: Khadijah Designs
Thank you, Khadijah!