Fatema Ayubi remembers visiting ice-cream stores in Afghanistan – colourful, decoratively tiled little shops called shir yakh feroshees – as a kid after school. It’s a memory referenced by her sister Durkhanai in Parwana’s debut cookbook: Recipes and Stories From an Afghan Kitchen.

Now Fatema, the eldest Ayubi sibling, is about to open a dessert house of her own – in a glass cube inside Plant 3 in Bowden (joining Bowden Brewing and Bowden Cellars in the new development).

It’ll be the first dedicated space for her Shirni Parwana brand – a dessert catering offshoot of her family’s celebrated Torrensville restaurant that started in 2014 and has been a regular feature at events such as Womadelaide and the Plant 4 markets. Fatema’s desserts – semolina and saffron pudding, say, or vibrantly coloured rose and pistachio ice-cream – also grace the menu at the flagship restaurant.

Now the story continues with Shirni’s permanent new digs, which Fatema will run with her daughter, Zainab Ayubi.

“It feels absolutely right for us – this year we were thinking it’s time to find somewhere to establish ourselves as a dessert house,” Fatema tells Broadsheet. “We had been looking at spaces and nothing really felt right but when we found this little shop in Plant 3, we thought, ‘This is it’.

“We’ve established ourselves a lot more now and built up our little community here,” adds Zai, who also works part-time as a midwife. “It will be exciting having something that’s both of ours, that we’ve both put love into. We’re excited to start this journey together. This will be the first time I’m equally involved as Mum is.”

The 25-square-metre box will sit on the edge of Plant 3 and open out to laneway seating next to Plant 4. It’ll be built by furniture maker Peter Fong, with a kitsch and contrasting fit-out by design studio OK-OK that plays dark against light, warm textures against metallics and golds against greys.

“It is all glass – it’s a little glass cube – but obviously we’re under the Parwana branding and we’re going to bring that [vibe] in there,” says Fatema. “It’ll have a touch of the restaurant and a touch of [CBD spin-off] Kutchi [Deli], but we’ll make it our own.”

“Instead of all the detail being on the walls, which we can’t do because the walls are glass, we’re putting all that detail and colour and texture into our counter space,” says Zai. “Our counter is going to be all different shades of lilac and different textures. And we’ve got shelving behind the counter which will be a beautiful emerald green, and we’re going to incorporate gold into that.”

“There’s going to be decadence,” adds Fatema.

It’s a fitting match for the food: an abundant line-up of beautiful, vibrantly coloured Afghan sweets, including cannoli-like cream rolls made of flaky pastry and rose-infused cream; gulab jamun (traditional sweet and spiced milk dumplings in rose and cardamom syrup); orange-and-almond syrup cakes; semolina biscuits with orange blossom; and “Persian love cake” made with pistachio, almond and semolina, and soaked in rose syrup.

“We’re looking to bring all those traditional Afghan flavours into everything we do,” says Fatema. That’ll include house-made ice-cream in flavours such as rose and pistachio; cardamon; saffron; and ginger and walnut; plus seasonal-fruit-driven scoops.

While most of the prep is done at Torrensville for now, a new kitchen on-premises will allow Fatema and Zai to flex their creative muscles even more. “Having a central kitchen there is going to give us the opportunity to showcase a lot more of what we do,” says Fatema. “We offer some weekly [sweets] at the markets, but we’re limited by space … we want to introduce people to things they haven’t tasted before.”

Part of that plan includes a new range of plated desserts with more complex, chef-y touches (“Saturday nights we want to turn the little space into a dessert bar,” says Zai), as well as monthly Sunday brunches and Afghan high tea. “Our imagination is our limit,” says Fatema.

To drink, expect traditional Afghan teas, iced and hot chais, and house-made sharbat (cordials) in flavours such as sour cherry and rose.

Shirni Parwana is expected to open at Plant 3 in spring.

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