Tell us a little about yourself and your daily routine.
I start my day very early 7am- 9 am is my time in my lab (my kitchen) where I work on developing chocolates, new recipes and perfecting old ones. At the office I work on ensuring quality. I believe in continuous training to make sure everyone in the bakery is doing the best they can. A daily task for me is looking at the way the gelato chocolate and bakery staff is doing.
How did you set about learning the craft of chocolate making?
My earliest memory was baking at the age of 10 or 12. The first thing I ever baked was brownies. I think that’s what people learn to make first as its quite easy. A passion to one day build my own house of chocolate was the foundation for the creation of Lals in 2006 and some ten years later we continue to pioneer a confectionery renaissance. I still take extensive courses globally as part of being a chef is to also constantly remain a student. Recently, I attended the prestigious Valhrona in New York for a course on Chocolate and Petit sweets. Lately, I also completed a course at the French Culinary Centre in New York on Bread and at the ICE (International Culinary Centre) on cupcakes.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a chocolatier?
My dream began as a child. My favourite storybook was Hansel and Gretel and the best for me in it was the house made of chocolate. I grew up day dreaming about owning my very own house of chocolate one day.
When did you become a chocolatier?
My childhood dream became a reality, when I started my own luxury chocolate company Lals in 2006.
How does the mother-daughter dynamic work?
I manage the creative/culinary side and my daughter Madiha, handles the corporate/business and sales side so it’s a well-balanced sweet deal.
What has been the biggest challenge in becoming a chocolatier?
Chocolate is very much technical. It’s not very easy to master the techniques- there is a LOT of learning involved and there are a lot of details. Also, it’s hard to find all the ingredients here. Storage, temperature control and maintaining the shelf life of the product are some key challenges that we face. Training people requires a lot of time and work partly because there is no other place they can acquire these skills from. It is a very sensitive product. It can spoil easily. Learning all of it was not so hard. But perfecting it and training people was a huge challenge.
What made you gravitate towards chocolate as opposed to other specialization?
I have simply always loved chocolate.
“I get inspiration from flowers and nature in general, when creating a recipe”.
How do you come up with flavor combinations for your sweets? Where does your inspiration come from?
I always use spices and we have very good spices. I like to use the Eastern spices to get the delightful South Asian taste. I get inspiration from flowers and nature in general, when creating a recipe. I like my recipes and products to be beautiful like the nature I see around me.
How did gelato and savoury food fit into your chocolate-making equation?
You see, gelato and chocolate make a very good composition. People who like one tend to like the other.
Tell us a little about your high quality packaging options for your confectionary as these are very distinctly Lals.
We have a team of in-house designers, who work to make our packaging unique. The packaging extends to clients and companies, who need packaging catered to them specifically. We are careful to ensure that everything that comes out of Lals is of the best and highest quality.
What distinguishes your patisserie from others?
At Lals quality is of utmost importance! We use fresh and authentic premium ingredients for all our products. We pride ourselves for excellence in taste and presentation and pay attention to every little detail to make sure the final product we deliver is nothing less than perfect. It is our mantra at Lals to always innovate and come up with new and improved products and develop new categories to constantly create new experiences for our customers.
What are your favourite things to bake?
Describe the most rewarding experiences of your career thus far.
Creating my own recipe book Deliciously Yours and receiving a global Gourmand Award for it- indeed considered to be the Oscars of the culinary world!
If you could go anywhere for culinary travel, where would you go?
How do you see the confectionery market in Pakistan developing?
Following a philosophy of celebrating life and its beauty, at Lals, we are determined to lead a confectionery renaissance and I hope that my pursuit of sweet perfection will be an inspiration to both chocolate artisans and pastry aficionados.