You know her as Maryam Ghaznavi: the culinary and entrepreneurial force behind South Carolina’s only Pakistani restaurants Malika and Ma’am Saab, two critically acclaimed additions to Charleston’s food and beverage scene that are redefining the industry as we know it.
Inspired by the street food recipes of Ghaznavi’s childhood in Lahore, Pakistan, Ma’am Saab achieved impressive renown within just weeks of launching as a pop-up in August 2019. Two years later, Ghaznavi and her husband, Raheel Gauba, officially opened the doors of their second concept, Malika Pakistani Chai Canteen, located in Mount Pleasant Towne Centre.
Reading over the vibrant pink-and-yellow menu, one can only imagine a young Ghaznavi channeling the scents and sounds of her mother’s kitchen in Lahore as she recreates dishes like chicken biryani and chaat papri with her own personal flair. (Pro tip: Don’t pass on the masala fries with spicy ketchup.)
Ghaznavi strives each day to share her passion for Pakistani cooking and cuisine with her community in Mount Pleasant, where she lives with her husband and two children, Sofia (12) and Arman (9). “Here, there’s such a focus on community over individual people—and that’s exactly what we believe in,” she says. When Ghaznavi finds a spare moment away from Malika and the development of a brick-and-mortar Ma’am Saab establishment downtown (slated to open later this year), family always comes first—and usually, there’s dinner involved.
Ghaznavi’s Mount Pleasant Itinerary
“Some places are our favorites because everybody can find things to eat. La Pizzeria has a good bar and everything— they just don’t get the recognition they deserve. We love their margherita pizza, and the chicken parmigiana is a favorite of the kids. The cheeses and sauces all come straight from Italy.”
Little Miss Ha
Swig & Swine and Grace & Grit
“I love Swig & Swine. And Grace & Grit. It’s very beautiful—just a nice place with good, honest food. I was really proud for them to open in that location. It’s a big accomplishment, and they have received amazing reviews.”
Mario’s Peruvian Chicken
“When we were building Malika, we couldn’t cook in our kitchen so I would order Mario’s Peruvian Chicken. It’s kind of a hidden gem. I think they [bake the chicken], which is incredible.”
SAVI Cucina + Wine Bar
“I haven’t been able to go to SAVI Cucina + Wine Bar, but my kids love, love, love it. Those fried mozzarella sticks—they’re phenomenal. When my kids went, Raheel took a picture of Sofia eating a mozzarella stick, and they have it on the wall there now.”
Ghaznavi’s Day Off
“As a family, we really like hanging out at the beach and going to museums. We are very big on movie watching, so the Regal Palmetto Grande is our place to be. Sofia also likes to go to Music in Motion Family Fun Center [in Summerville].”
- by Hannah Lee Leidy
- by Hannah Lee Leidy
- by Julia Miller