Maha is from Baghdad, and although she has friends and family from all over Iraq, she spent most of her life in the capital. When she was young, Maha was a top equestrian competitor, competing in international riding events, and in college she majored in mathematics and physics. After getting married and having 5 sons, raising them (and feeding them!) became a full-time job. In 2007, Maha and her family were forced to flee Iraq because of the violence there. They lived in Jordan for several years, and moved to New York in 2014, through the United Nations. Maha has a certificate in traditional Arabic medicine, and in Queens she teaches the Qur’an and Arabic lessons and volunteers at her local Islamic center. She also recites Quranic verses while cooking as a way of putting her love into the food and making it even more delicious! While Maha has learned to cook some Greek and Chinese dishes, Iraqi cuisine is still her family’s favorite; the foods she loves best are dolma (stuffed grape leaves) and lamb biryani. Maha is excited to share the cuisine of her home country, since she hasn’t seen any Iraqi restaurants in New York, and is looking forward to learning from her students, too.
Maha is a delight, and she made us feel welcome. She has a way of getting you involved in the whole process, and you could sense her pride as we embraced her culture. What an incredible experience.”