“I would only make people food that I can eat,” Hanan Hamza tells. This well-established woman has worked long years in marketing until deciding that quitting and following her passion for cooking seemed like the only sane decision that she could make and that is when ‘Hawadet ElAkl’ (Food stories) came to life. “I’ve always loved cooking. I’d stay with mom in the kitchen for long hours learning, but I always felt like she was old school and that I wanted to try new things and innovate new recipes”, she adds.
“There is no particular age at which being happy should no longer be a priority”
“I named my project Hawadet ElAkl because every single dish has a story behind it, and I don’t want people to just eat food I want them to enjoy it!” she says. This fit mother of four doesn’t just cook the usual food but rather healthy versions of Egyptian treats. “I never use ghee or canned food with preservatives and frying is a taboo in my house. Everything I do either goes in the oven or the air fryer after I coat it with olive oil and sometimes drops of sunflower oil,” she says. “People don’t know how to eat. When I walk around in the supermarket and observe what people have in their food carts I feel like I want to scream out and tell them that they are ruining their lives”, she adds.
“If you visit any doctor you’ll find that most medical issues that people suffer are rooted in their food routines”, says Hanan who uses fresh and organic ingredients for cooking. “When a customer contacts me to make an order and asks for food with ghee and the usual recipe, I convince her to try out my own version of this food”, she says. “One customer even told me that whenever she eats my food she doesn’t feel heavy or tired afterwards”, she adds.
“Egyptian women cook because they have to not because they want to”
This woman’s project is a revolution on Egyptian’s eating culture and bad habits. “I don’t know how to be commercial and I wouldn’t want to know. When a customer calls me and orders lots of food, I try to advise her on what to order. I try to suggest what would go well with what, what would be light and tasty at the same time!” she explains.
“People assume that maintaining a healthy eating pattern is always expensive when in fact it isn’t. Instead of buying bread that is made with antioxidants that are extremely dangerous, I bake my own bread at home. Instead of buying juice boxes I make my own fresh juice. It is cheaper and healthier to make everything from scratch but you have to do it with purpose and free will”, she tells.
“One customer even told me that whenever she eats my food she doesn’t feel heavy or tired afterwards”
And while she bares all this knowledge today, Hanan wasn’t born with it all. “When I was pregnant, like every other Egyptian woman, I gained so much weight. I remember it being a very dark place in my life. I was nearly 93 kilos which urged me to research and learn more about healthy food. Today I weigh 63 kilos and when I look back at this sad pregnant lady I can hardly recognize her”, she tells. “Egyptian women cook because they have to not because they want to and when they reach a point in their lives where they aren’t satisfied when they look in the mirror, depression possesses them and they gradually start passing it on to all family members”, she adds.
Yes, there is healthy Mahshy, spaghetti, kobeba and all you can ever wish for! “You shouldn’t deprive yourself of anything, you should just pick how to cook your food and when to eat it. For instance, spaghetti shouldn’t be left in boiling water for more than 4 minutes because when you boil it, it loses its starch but when you leave it for a long period of time it reabsorbs it!” she justifies.
Looking through this chief’s menu, you’ll find white sauce with skimmed milk, Fettah with garlic and vinegar, cake with olive oil and honey and so much more. Made with love in her small well-equipped kitchen, this woman redefines Egyptian pleasures while she masters meeting our starving bellies half way!
But of course, any startup business has its own ups and downs, “Projects need time and lots of funding in order to grow which was my ultimate challenge after quitting a stable job and giving up a fixed salary. But I do believe that there is no particular age at which being happy should no longer be a priority. A career shift can happen anytime and at any point if it is what you really want”, she concludes.
Check out Hawadet ElAkl’s official page here and if you ever want to order we recommend Mahshy Mahshy Mahshy!