First generation British Punjabi
I was born in Nurmahal in the Punjab region of India. My parents travelled to the West Midlands from India in 1963, when I was a toddler. We settled in Wolverhampton, where I was raised with my three younger sisters. Although I have no recollections of India, I have very vivid memories of my Mother’s cooking. Everything was cooked from scratch, with vegetables and herbs grown in the garden. Natural yoghurt was made from a live culture and incubated overnight in the airing cupboard. Like many Asian families, we had a large galvanised bin with a lid, which held chapati flour and shelves of large ice cream containers which held a variety of different coloured lentils and pulses, jars of home made pickled vegetables and individual spices which my Mother used to make her own garam massala. I have fond memories of my Mother laying the spices on a metal tray and leaving them out in the garden on a sunny day to dry. She would pick out any stones she came across. My Sisters and I would take it in turns to grind the massala by turning the handle on a grinding machine which she attached to the dining table via a clamp. The wonderful aroma would fill my nostrils- it felt warm and soothing. The food was colourful, aromatic and absolutely delicious. I learnt to cook from my Mother.
At the age of 16, I left my parental home, and there ensued a rift which lasted for 41 years. During this time, what did remain a constant in my life, was the wonderful cuisine of the Punjab which is part of my Cultural Heritage. I have shared it with my children, and latterly my grandchildren, as well as my friends, and colleagues.
As an adult, I have always worked in the caring professions, latterly as a fostering Social Worker. Whilst I felt it was my passion and my calling for many years, more recently, my health has suffered, and I have been left feeling that I had nothing more to give. Towards the end of 2017, I decided that it was time to take a new career path. At 55 years of age, it was a daunting prospect. The idea came to me when my family gathered for a shared meal. All the grandchildren made their own chapatis, and my daughter posted a photo on Face Book with the title “Nanna’s Chapati School”. A light bulb moment ensued, with the dawning of a new era and chapter in my life, one where I could be “present” for my family and enjoy what I have always shared and loved with a wider audience!! My social work skills and knowledge are integrated into what I now share
I have successfully facilitated many workshops at my home. They have proved to be very joyful, relaxing and therapeutic with many new friends made along the way. I have also delivered inspirational talks about my journey to groups across Devon and Cornwall. I am now seeking to extend my repertoire to include catering for private functions of up to 50 guests, following my 5* Hygiene rating awarded this year. I aim to educate and inspire others to re-create their own dishes at home with flatbreads, dispelling stereotypical views of curry being hot, and moving away for the traditional restaurant style of cuisine to home cooked traditional food. There is something very primitive about preparing and sharing food, it’s also therapeutic, and engages our senses. The more colourful and aromatic, the more intense the experience. The health giving properties of the spices are an added bonus, and we can all feel when a meal is made with love. We experience a tangible warm and loving hug.