SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — For the next 24 hours, a restaurant kitchen on Syracuse’s Northside will smell like Safron as part of Tamana Tajik’s family recipe.
The rice pudding, and other Afghan dishes her mom cooked growing up helped make Tajik feel like Afghanistan was her home, without living there a day in her life.
Now 24 years old, Tajik wasn’t born yet when her pregnant mother and father decided to escape the Taliban-controlled Afghanistan in the late 90s to raise her somewhere else.
After being raised in Pakistan and then Iran, Tajik’s mother brought her, and her sister to the United States. Her father returned to Afghanistan to join the National Army supported by the United States military.
Regular phone calls from her dad helped Tajik learn more about the country she considered home.
“It’s a beautiful country,” Tajik has learned. “With a lot of mountains, trees, houses close to each other. Lovely people. Their heart goes out to each other.”
This past April, those calls stopped. Her dad was killed by the Taliban, which was retaking Afghanistan cities after 20 years of American occupation.
“Why did I lose him?” Tajik asks of her dad. “He was standing for his people. He could join the Taliban, (but) he did not. He joined the military (to) help his people.”
She says: “My family helping people… that was my dad’s mission.”
His mission will continue through the girls’ raising money in Syracuse that will go to charities helping the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan left after American troops ended their 20-year assignment.
Tajik, her sister and their mother will hold a take-out dinner Friday evening from the “With Love” restaurant on North Salina Street.
People can pre-order online until noon on Friday. Food can be picked up between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. Friday at With Love (435 North Salina Street, Syracuse).
Money raised will go to charities that help people in Afghanistan find shelter, food and healthcare under the new Taliban regime.