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Why this Kamloops restaurateur doesn't mind being called the 'chicken biryani girl'

Image Credit: SUBMITTED

Amna Ahmed of Kamloops loves to cook. She started cooking at an early age and has never looked back.

Ahmed is now one of the owners of the Spezia House, a Pakistani restaurant located in the food court on Victoria Street in Kamloops. She is known by many for her chicken briyani. The rice dish is one of her favourites to cook and one her family has enjoyed for generations. Creating and sharing the dish sparked the inception of her restaurant.

“When I came to Kamloops I was not able to find good, comfort food that suited my pallet,” Ahmed explained. “So, I started cooking my own food. My favourite dish to cook was, and still is, chicken biryani. Before I knew it, friends, and even people I did not know, were requesting my chicken biryani and I became known as ‘that chicken biryani girl’.”

Before long, Ahmed says people were pushing her to open a restaurant. When she presented the idea to her family in August, 2020, they all said yes. In October that year, after a short time of hard work and very little rest, the family officially opened for business.

“Business has not slowed down since we started,” Ahmed said. “Many people are regulars who have their favourite dishes, but even those who are passing through Kamloops tell us how good our food is.

"Chicken biryani will always be a solid star dish on the menu, but there are several other fan favourites, such as our butter chicken, chicken cheesy paratha and Pakistani spiced gyros. A popular drink is the mango lassi, which is like a smoothie that is made with Pakistani mangos, which are sweeter than the mangos from Mexico.”

Ahmed started cooking at the age of 14. Her favourite thing to do when she is not at work cooking, is cooking recreationally at home.

“Even after work I enjoy cooking, often not even changing out of my work clothes,” Ahmed laughed. “Sometimes I’m awake at four in the morning baking brownies. Cooking is by far my biggest passion.”

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