By: Tiffany Crimi
Sarah Robin started cooking when she was just ten years old. She was inspired by her mom, an outstanding cook herself. Sarah came to the United States as a refugee in 2012 from Punjab. When she arrived in the United States, her first job was working as a cashier at Tops. While she was working there, she came to a realization about how she wanted to spend her life. She went online to see how she could improve herself, and what caught her eye was a Cosmetology course. Her mother was a cosmetologist back in her country, too. Although Sarah still had a passion for cooking, cosmetology seemed like a good and fun direction for her future.
When Sarah graduated from Cosmetology school, she was completing her refugee paperwork when she saw a card that said to call the number included if you were from another country and liked to cook. This card was Adam’s number, who is now the owner of Salt City Market. When Sarah called the number, Adam asked her questions about food from her country. Sarah was shocked: she thought she would be the one explaining everything about her cooking. Adam wanted to know if Sarah wanted to be a part of what he had in store for the Syracuse food scene. Knowing that there weren’t any Palestinian restaurants in Syracuse, Sarah wanted to be a part of this cooking experience! She missed her food and wanted to see it offered in the Syracuse area. She was asked if she could make certain dishes, but they were very difficult for her to make. She realized the ingredients in these recipes weren’t what was used back home. She asked her mom to help her and ultimately, Sarah made her own recipes.
The first time Adam tried Sarah’s food, he teared up. Sarah wanted to know if it was because of the spices (her specialty!), but that wasn’t the case: her food was the best thing he ever had. Adam wanted to know if Sarah would like to cook for his events. Sarah knew this would be her big break and agreed immediately. Her food became popular quickly, especially since no one had been able to try anything like it before. Customers wanted to know where to find her food, and soon, Sarah knew she needed to open her own restaurant. She came up with the name Punjabi Girl/With Love since this reminded her of home. Her restaurant was a chance to teach students how to cook. Adam wanted Sarah to talk to people about her cooking, but Sarah didn’t know if she could do it because of how shy she was. With Adam’s encouragement, Sarah decided to try it, and once she got her first customer, her confidence flew. Customers wanted to know everything about the food such as the spices and so much more. They encouraged her every day–her customers gave her the confidence she needed to succeed!
After experiencing a difficult few years, Sarah has been working to build her name. She has been doing pop up events and that is how she was able to be a part of Salt City Market– Adam gave her a chance to have food demonstrations to teach customers about her food and how to cook for themselves. Her favorite dish she serves is the Chicken Breoni. This dish is made up of marinated chicken with a lot of spices, yogurt, and curry. Boiled fried rice is then added and let out to steam. This dish has become Sarah’s signature dish.
Sarah has many people to thank for all of her success, especially her mom because she would use some of her recipes and add her own spices to them (especially garlic, her favorite!). This is what Sarah is known for, as her spices are what make her meals so good. Sarah loves to experiment with new dishes. Sarah wants the community to know how grateful she is for what she has been able to bring to Syracuse. She is so thankful to be in this country and for her church, friends, and the Syracuse community, especially Adam, who told Sarah that the community he helped to create was her family now.
Sarah is so grateful her dream was able to come true, especially since so many people said it wouldn’t happen. Not many believed she could do it; they believed women should stay behind and only have children and that they should not be a part of the restaurant industry. Sarah proved them wrong. “They don’t know what God thinks,” she would say. There is nothing wrong with having a big dream. “Imagination is beautiful. Everyone should have a big dream.” These are words that we should all take with us. There is a plan for each of us: we just have to listen and appreciate all that comes our way to help us get there.
These are the links to stay in contact with her and reach out to try her food!
Her Facebook is https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100017827209727
Her Facebook page for her restaurant is https://www.facebook.com/SyracuseCommunityKitchen/