Sita is an Afghan-qualified high school teacher, who, like other refugees, has not had her qualifications in use here because of the language barrier. Programs at TAFE and USQ helped to acquire language and work skills and filled Sita’s learning needs between 2016 and 2018. She discovered through the Women’s Group and getting her English skills up, that her love of baking could give her a start in business. With no childcare available after the initial support, Sita looked for an avenue where she could work from home while her children were young.
With about 40 Afghan families in the community, there was a demand for her delicious baked goods within her own community, but with her start in the stall at the local food markets and then stretching into the Multicultural Festivals, the Mosaic Festival in Brisbane, Gatton, and Dalby, Sita’s fame has grown – and so has her menu.
She is quite surprised but also delighted that her Aussie customers have embraced her goods so warmly. I think the secret to popularity is the quality of the ingredients. The natural pistachios which are painstakingly peeled from the nuts are sourced from Brisbane for her sought-after nougat (Shire pira), and her savory beef mince dumplings (Mantu) bring lots of return customers because of the reliable high quality and her trademark exotic flavours.
Sita has helped highlight the diversity of the Toowoomba community in such a dignified, beautiful manner. Her presence at Australia Day and Laurel Bank Park events is eagerly sought out. Her beautiful soul shines through her eyes as well as the treats. Her secondary school daughter, Lena, is not only her mother’s helper in making the treats but is a strong community advocate trying to get young teenagers involved in Youth Group activities to build their sense of confidence and being involved in the wider community.
An Afghan restaurant is missing from Toowoomba’s city centre food scene, but Sita is hoping she and her husband will realise their dream of opening one to share her delicious food with more and more people in the future. Til then check out Sita’s detail on her FaceBook page AfghanTraditionalSweets.
I am looking forward to sitting down to chat with Sita over a cup of her spiced saffron hot tea.