QL features: Shehar Bano Rizvi

QL features: Shehar Bano Rizvi

Qatar Living
By Qatar Living

Losing a parent can be one of the most difficult things ever. But to channel that into a tribute that carries ahead the legacy of your parents can be the most rewarding thing. And that really holds true for Shehar Bano Rizvi, more popularly known as the PMPMom on Instagram. She is the author of the Paris Gourmand Award-winning cookbook ‘Virsa’, which won the Best in the World Cookbook title in November 2021. Bano is a certified Project Management Professional (hence the name PMP mom) whose career took a backseat as she took a 10-year break to become a hands-on mother to her three lovely kids.

Pursuing her passions

Shehar Bano came to Doha back in 2004, as a newly-wed bride. Having never set foot in the kitchen, she relied on her mother to share with her the failsafe family recipes—all of which she noted down and began cooking. Motherhood soon followed and she quit her high-profile banking career to focus on her maternal instincts. Not the one to rest, Bano also maintained an active interest in her passions that included cake-decorating, photography, home décor projects, party-planning, and DIY projects. While these activities did help her channel her creativity, deep down she still struggled to find her own identity apart from her role as a daughter, wife, and mother.

Paying a tribute to her mother

In the September of 2014, Bano lost her father Dr. Hasan Rizvi to lung cancer and that left the entire family devastated. While coping with a parent’s death is never easy, it made Bano think she must honor her mother while she was still alive, and the idea for a recipe cookbook came to her. She wanted to write, conceptualize, and photograph her own cookbook where she shared her easy but extremely reliable heirloom family recipes for the world to enjoy. She wished to dedicate it to her mother and make her happy. And that’s how Virsa came into being.

Virsa—the heritage and its legacy

Shehar Bano clarifies that Virsa was never a planned project. The idea began as an ancestral recipe book to honor her mother and soon turned into a dedication to both her parents. Even the name ‘Virsa’ just struck her one night when she decided she’d be naming the book as it contained recipes her family had been using for generations, right from when her grandparents migrated from Agra to Karachi, pre-partition of India-Pakistan. The name ‘Virsa’ means heritage in Urdu and just felt apt for the book.

Philanthropic efforts

While Bano knew that the book was a tribute to her mother and her immense love for cooking, she wanted to do something that also honored her father’s memory too. Since her father was an ophthalmologist by profession and a philanthropist, she wanted the sales proceeds of her book do something that carried forward his legacy. She set up an endowment fund at LRBT Free Eye Hospital in Pakistan, which gets 100% profits from the book. The sales proceeds have so far generated PKR 8,00,000 in 2021, which sponsored 77 surgeries last year and are expected to fund 140 more in 2022. To be able to facilitate that kind of tribute to her father in his memory has truly humbled Bano, and she hopes the Virsa legacy may continue on.  

Winning accolades

Virsa is more than just a cookbook. It has a universal appeal and going through most of the recipes highlights how many shared, similar ones our cultures. Plus, it is so simply well-put-together that anybody could cook them, quite literally. Virsa recently won the Best in the World Cookbook Award at the Paris Gourmand Awards. Bano and her book have also been featured in many local, Pakistani, and international publications as well. Most recently, Bano’s interview was also featured in BBC Urdu.

What’s next?

Shehar Bano says Qatar has been crucial to her journey of finding herself and Virsa. The country has given her so much and she’s watched it grow before her own eyes. The amazing support from the local community here has been extremely encouraging. On being asked what’s next, Bano is quite excited for her upcoming projects. Without giving away too much she says, there could be a Virsa 2, as her mother has quite a lot of family recipes to share. She also hints that there could be a possible project that draws parallels between Qatari and Indian-Pakistani cuisine and similarities between the palates.

Here's hoping and wishing Shehar Bano gets to continue the legacy of her parents and goes on to achieve greater heights!

--

Make sure to check out our social media to keep track of the latest content. 

Instagram - @qatarliving

Twitter - @qatarliving

Facebook - Qatar Living

YouTube qatarlivingofficial

Log in or register to post comments

More from Qatar Living

Qatar's first Eid festival to take place this Eid ul Fitr

Qatar's first Eid festival to take place this Eid ul Fitr

Qatar Tourism announces the first ever Eid Festival to take place from 3-5 May
An evening at Souq Waqif

An evening at Souq Waqif

The most traditional spot in Qatar is none other than Souq Waqif. Let's explore a series of things you can do there!
Restaurants in Qatar to Visit For Eid 2022

Restaurants in Qatar to Visit For Eid 2022

Finding a suitable restaurant during Eid can be challenging, that's why these few picks will not let you down, and provide you the right space (and right food) for your Eid gatherings
Where to get traditional outfits for Eid 2022

Where to get traditional outfits for Eid 2022

Whether it is traditional jalabiyas and abayas for women or the thobe and ghutra for men, there are many shops that cater to this requirement. Here’s where you can shop for traditional Indian and Arab clothing for Eid 2022 in Qatar.
List of Salons for Eid 2022

List of Salons for Eid 2022

Get yourself pampered by enjoying the services of the best salons in Doha
Favorite Henna Artists for Eid 2022

Favorite Henna Artists for Eid 2022

It's that time of year, when the anticipation for Eid Al Fitr is building up along with Henna appointments from all across the region.
9 activities to plan your Eid 2022 vacation in Qatar

9 activities to plan your Eid 2022 vacation in Qatar

This Eid 2022 vacation, explore a variety of outdoor and indoor activities that you can do with your friends and family in Qatar.
5 beaches in Qatar to visit on Eid 2022

5 beaches in Qatar to visit on Eid 2022

We’ve compiled a list of five beaches you can visit for Eid 2022 and enjoy a pleasant afternoon or evening on the Eid weekend.