• From cooks sharing their meals with us from the comfort of their homes, to the best utensils to have in your drawers, this year we saw the rise of the home kitchen. A space where magic lies between madness and mayhem, we chatted to Fatima Ebrahim about her dumpling journey in the kitchen.

    Please tell us a little bit about you?

    I’m Fatima. I’m an English teacher who works in an international classroom. I love to travel and explore different cultures and cuisines. One of my favourite things is to remake foods I’ve seen in movies and series, and that’s what inspired me to make dumplings at first. I saw them in a movie and imagined how they’d taste and then went about creating it. Sharing food is definitely one of my love languages, and the very first time I made my dumplings they were a hit.


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    What inspired your brand?

    Honestly, lockdown did. Necessity truly is the mother of invention (giggles). Dumpling Girl started during the hard lockdown after I was laid off from work. I had been at home for about two months and was bored out of my mind (and also broke). I made dumplings for some friends one weekend and posted a pic to my Instagram (as one does) and so many of my followers responded with “make some for meeeee!”, so I posted a poll, asking if people would buy them if I decided to sell them. I got a really positive response and the next week I sold my first 30 packs. I was blown away by how much people loved and supported my product from the start (and I still am). I had to decide on a name when I registered my first account with a packaging supplier and I couldn’t come up with anything on the spot, so I said “just put it under that dumpling girl”. And now that’s me: Dumpling Girl.


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    How are your dishes best served?

    I sell my dumplings with my own homemade dipping sauce and fresh garnish because that’s how I want them to be enjoyed.  They’re definitely best served hot and crispy, and maybe with a side of noodles.

    We love a fun kitchen hack – what is yours?

    Next time you make toasted cheese, cut the top off a clove of garlic and rub it all over your toasted bread. It gives just the right aromatic, garlic ‘essence” to your sarmie without being too strong.

    What ingredient can you not live without and why?

    The greatest and most basic ingredient of all- salt. It really makes or breaks a dish. Knowing how much or how little to use is so vital in any kitchen. And then, just to keep it honest, I have a mini bottle of tabasco sauce in my room and also in my handbag- you never know when you might need to spice things up (always).


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    Which 5 people would you invite to a dinner party? And what would the theme be?

    Oh, I’d definitely do a Bring-a-Board night, with all my favourite fictional characters. I’m a nerd at heart and would love to share a meal with everyone who got me through school. We’ve got to have Harry Potter, of course. And Frodo and Sam (they count as one). Iron-man’s gotta be there, and also Mulan. Oh, and Florence Pugh (I know she’s not fictional but she’s so cool!). I’d love to see what they all bring (giggles).

    How many cooks are in your kitchen (how many cooks are behind the Dumpling Girl brand)?

    It started off with just me, doing it all (the recipe developing, ingredient sourcing, filling-making, dumpling folding and packaging- not to mention managing social media and weekly orders), and my sister and cousin would often help out. But I’ve been steadily employing my right-hand person, Patricia, for about a year and she’s responsible for most of the folding and packaging now. It’s made a huge difference. And whenever we do events, my family and friends all pitch in and I could never accomplish any of it without them. An honourable mention needs to be made of my grandmother, a samosa queen in her day,who preps all my ginger and garlic for every batch of dumplings and keeps a keen eye on quality control of the folding process.


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    What has been Dumping Girl’s greatest challenge and greatest achievement so far?

    My greatest challenge is knowing when to take risks in my business. I like to feel in control and that I can manage everything I’ve got going on. But risk taking is really important if you want to grow and expand, and I’m still learning how to do that.

    I think my greatest achievement so far has been my collaboration with The Wok Bar. They’re definitely one of my favourite restaurants in Cape Town, so their acknowledgement of my dumplings was such an honour! Being invited into their kitchen was a really fantastic experience.

    What food represents you and why?

    Probably pasta. A creamy, carby, garlicky mushroom pasta. It’s always good. And comforting and easy going. It’s reliable and fills you with warmth. Everybody loves it.I think (I hope) I am those things too.


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    Your Instagram bio reads, “Wholesome. Homemade. Halaal”. What is the best thing about your home kitchen? Any top kitchen tools you would recommend?

    The greatest thing about my home kitchen is how comfortable I feel in it. It’s the same kitchen I grew up in, where my love of food and cooking was nurtured. The best food is made when you’re relaxed, in a good mood, and cooking with love, for those you love.

    Every kitchen should have a great food processor- and sharp blades are vital. There’s no need to chop onions (or anything, really) by hand when you can just blitz them up with quick-sticks. I can’t imagine prepping any of my dishes without one.

    Find out more about Dumpling Girl via their Instagram.

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    Words by Shazia Salie.

    Feature image: FreshSplash via Getty Images