This interview was originally published in SHE, The SuperWomen Issue, July 2010.
Zubeida Tariq is a personality respected by many and looked up to by masses as a domestic queen. Dressed meticulously in crisp cotton saris with signature bangles and coiffed hair she has set a path for many, who are now following in her shoes. With live cooking shows on air, many cookery books to her credit and insurmountable knowledge of common household tips, she is definitely a woman achiever and a trailblazer.
Almost two decades ago, when there was no concept of cooking shows on local channels, Zubeida Tariq came across as the face of Dalda with her show Dalda Ka Dasterkhwan. Recalling those days she says, “it all started unintentionally… After my marriage I developed an interest in cooking and learnt it on my own, I was always appreciated when my husband’s friends came over for a meal. No matter the number of guests. I did it all on my own without raising an eyebrow. My recipes were then compiled in a book by Unilever called Dalda Ka Dastarkhwan, which became an instant hit. Soon after, I was doing a cooking show by the same name and there was no looking back. ”
Zubeida Tariq hails from an outstanding family of artists, poets, and writers. Brother Anwar Maqsood is a name no one is unfamiliar with and sisters Fatima Surraiya Bajiya and Zehra Nigah have a great standing in the realm of literature. There is all this and much more to this family of achievers in their own right. While her advent into the media industry had nothing to do with the sibling’s influence, “I have always tried to maintain the integrity of our family’s name,” she reasons.
Her cooking shows are religiously followed by her admirers. Her recipes are simple, cost effective and easy to cook. Keeping alive the eastern tradition of cooking, her show Handi on air these days presents recipes which can be utilized by all and take the minimum of time.
What still makes her different from the plethora of chefs on various channels is her unsurpassed knowledge of household tips and ideas. These are extremely simple, and very popular with the viewers. When a live caller inquires about a herbal cure for a common ailments or a weight problem, she has an instant answer. More so, if the caller has a query regarding cleaning the silver, a stubborn stain or even an oxidized metal, she wastes no time in providing the solution. Wondering where she learnt all these from, I ask her. “I believe practical knowledge is far better than having normal degrees. My mother and grandmother shared their treasures of knowledge with us as kids and as I grew up they remained with me. My interest in them has kept them alive and my experience has taught me a lot in life too”, she responds.
She firmly believes in maintaining a code of conduct and following certain etiquettes while working in the kitchen or presenting live or recorded shows on television. “Maintaining hygiene and wearing my hair tied up is what I like to follow when cooking. We should not stray away from our tradition and culture. This is what I have learnt from my elders and I like to educate those who are unaware”, she points out.
Emphasizing the role of women both indoors and outdoors she says, “With changing times it has become important for women to go out and work, but they should give top priority to their homes and family.”
Being true to herself, to her profession and to the people who follow her, Zubeida Tariq never makes false claims about herself or her knowledge and this has been her greatest strength and the secret of her success. “My forte is eastern dishes and a few continental varieties. I do not boast that I can bake nor do I try to make a weird recipe to impress the viewers. I have not much formal education and I am open about it.”
The most interesting thing about her career is that she started off when many decide to take a back seat and relax. “It was after my husband’s retirement form Unilever that I joined them. I have since then been working. I have done several shows for various channels and never halted work for personal reasons. Even the day of my son’s mehndi function, I was out recording three shows back to back, whilst I knew after returning home I will have to take care of the preparations which included cooking for the guests”, she reminisces.
Zubeida Tariq is simple and unpretentious and likes to remember the fact that it is “Allah who has given me respect, honour and fame. I would like to remain humble and submissive and also advise others to do the same.”