My mother was born in a small village in Northern India called Malataj and grew up in East Africa before leaving for the UK. My dad was born in Uganda where he lived before moving to London in 1966.
From the day my mother arrived in London, she worked at her brother’s Indian restaurant in Hanover Place, Tottenham Court Road in the heart of central London. Funnily enough, the restaurant was next door to a second hand record shop at the time… which turned out to be Richard Branson’s very first Virgin Records store!
I was born into a busy household and a rich culture that revolved around food. Many of my dad’s family fled to the UK after Idi Amin kicked out the Asian population from Uganda. They lived with us for a few years and I remember thirteen people living in our small, two bedroom terrace house. We’d all sit on the floor to eat because there wasn’t enough space.
Growing up I was always around amazing food. By 1980 my parents had opened their own family restaurant called ‘Friends Corner’ in Wembley, London. It was a small place but with a fabulous family feel and incredible home-style food. Each day of the week mom would prepare a special dish. Many customers would come back on the same day to enjoy their favorite meal.
As a kid I pretty much grew up in that restaurant. I’d do my homework in the kitchen after school while mom cooked for the customers. I remember learning basic math using mom’s fresh Chapatti breads for addition and subtraction! As I got older, I worked in the restaurant after school or helped with catering for events and weddings, often serving hundreds of people at a time. In my family, like many Indian families, life revolved around food.
In 2010, I moved to California with my English husband and two-year old daughter. Our second child was born here. The process of relocating to the USA has been an extraordinary experience and, as a family, we are well settled and I am inspired to start Kitchen Curry Master.
Quite simply, what I found is that great Indian cuisine can be extremely hard to find. If you’re lucky you might find a decent restaurant but if you want to eat healthy and cook for yourself, it can be challenging to find the key ingredients. Even if you can find them, you’ll probably need to visit multiple stores and pay extravagant prices.
Even with all of the ingredients, cooking authentic, fresh Indian food can be a daunting challenge with so many delicate spices and, at first glance, complicated recipes.
For me though, the most important thing about great Indian food is that it’s really easy. Like most things, you just need to have the right tools (our spices) and know what to do with them.
I pulled together some of our favorite dishes, many of which have been passed down the generations, and put the recipes together with the necessary spices to cook all of these great dishes. I’m sharing the food that has been at the heart of our family’s kitchen for generations so that it can be discovered and enjoyed by everybody.
Extra special thanks to mom for all your help and support.