Your Personal Chef
“I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul” – Invictus (Poem by William Ernest Henley)
I’m about to take you on my journey from a middle-class girl in Mumbai, to being a Secondary Maths teacher to becoming your personal chef! Take my hand and let the journey begin.
I was born is Mumbai, India to a middle- class family. Mumbai, a vibrant city of India, always has a special place in my heart. The city where I still enjoy street food, city where I found my dance moves and a city where I met my love of my life.
Since my childhood I was fascinated by two things – Dance and Food which are two inseparable elements of the tradition and culture I belong. In my childhood whilst I was enjoying my food, practicing my dance moves I wasn’t aware that I was in the making and I could not tell you when it became my passion.
Being a girl born into some middle-class Indian families can be quite tough. I wasn’t afforded the same privileges as compared to my youngest brother. In my culture, sons are considered to be of high importance, they are the saviour of the family and will continue the family line. They are relied upon to look after the parents in their old age. Girls were expected to stay at home and care for the family, although many women do go out to work. But, I was still incredibly lucky and cannot thank my mother and father enough; they did everything possible to make sure we were all loved and happy.
My mother is a divine cook and I have her to thank for the culinary skills I have inherited. I used to love helping my mother cook delicious meals for the family. There is saying that the way to the heart is through the alley of delicious meals. I bet my mum had this in mind every time she cooked.
As a child, food and dance were the strong pillars that held me up and I was looking forward to pursuing a career in one of those streams. But things did not go as planned; I had to complete my education. I was always told that after finishing school I would get married and look after my own family as my mother had done; it was the tradition in my family. I never understood this tradition and much as my parents tried, I fought against it. After a lot of persuasion, they allowed me to go out to work. I worked as an Import Executive for a reputed company for few months. I enjoyed it to a certain extent as I was earning good money, but the workload was enormous, and I didn’t get home ’til late. I decided to quit the job and follow a different path.
My father always says, “Teaching is the best profession for girls”. Like many people, he thinks that being a teacher you get lots of holidays, good salary and you get a good family life. So, I became a teacher and taught Mathematics in few secondary schools for 12 years in India and UK. Initially, it was great, I enjoyed teaching. But after a few years, I realised that I was teaching only 10% of the time and the other 90% was spent on administration. After having my two children I continued to teach but I wasn’t having any family life. I was stressing out planning lessons, marking and assessment, meetings and completing spreadsheets. The list of tasks was endless!
However, my passion for cooking was to find its way through. I started cookery lessons in schools for staff and students teaching some traditional Indian dishes.
In summer 2015, my husband and I decided to start raising money to provide education for three girls in India. Over two weekends I cooked traditional Indian dishes for friends and neighbours. By doing this one small thing we raised around £500; enough for at least two years’ education for those girls. I absolutely loved the whole experience and got amazing feedback. That was the light bulb moment for me – this is what I always wanted to do.
By October 2016, things had started becoming more difficult. I was too shattered in the evenings to work efficiently. I was setting my alarm for 4:00 am on my teaching days. It was the only way I could find some extra time to do marking, planning and catching up with other things. I was constantly tired and never felt like I was doing as good a job as I wanted to be doing. I was trying desperately to keep my head above water, which was a ridiculous and soul-destroying way to live. I remember coming home and crying on my husband’s shoulder as I was so unhappy with my job. I felt like I was trying to be superwoman. I was managing family life, cooking, looking after children, marking, planning, Ofsted, meetings and the school run. It was all too much. That’s when I decided to quit teaching. I know it was a big decision for me and my husband to make. It takes immense courage and a healthy dose of madness to put an end to what is a financially stable living, to pursue your real calling.
In December 2016, I left teaching to pursue my dream of cooking authentic Indian food at home to deliver to my clients. Quitting my job to start cooking was something that I was at peace with because it felt natural to me.
When I came in this country I could not find the taste I was looking for and I was shocked when I had my first Indian food in a restaurant and friends said this is how the Indian food taste like. I could not find the original aroma, the earthiness of spices, the real traditional dishes and the rich flavours.
I am on a mission to bring my passion of Fresh Authentic Traditional Indian dishes to you. I use only quality fresh seasonal ingredients and combine British produce with Indian spices to create dishes like Butter chicken, Malwani Chicken, Mughlai lamb and biryanis to name the few. My boldness in marrying various ingredients with spices, together with a blend of traditional and modern dishes on the menu, has give Pure Indian Cooking its uniqueness.
It’s been a year and a half since I started to follow my dream. I have met inspiring business people and gained amazing regular clients who love my quality authentic Indian food.
There have been lots of mistakes, ups and downs but that’s business for you and all part of the learning curve. It has been difficult journey to introduce my dishes to people in Fylde and Wyre areas. Clients are influenced by British Indian food supplied by the many restaurants and takeaways. But, I am getting there.
Part of the difficulty is getting across that I am not a takeaway. My service is different – it is a premier pre-order food delivery service. To ensure the high quality I provide, I need orders at least 8 hours in advance. I cook to order in small quantities. There is no mass preparation of chicken tikka masala. I know that I am going against the rule of our instant world by asking at least 8 hours’ notice. But the principle of Dalvi’s is ‘fresh and authentic’. I want you to enjoy my fresh dishes, smell the aroma and taste the flavours. I want you to believe. I use quality ingredients, marinate any meat and fish dishes and prepare fresh curry sauces. I shop for these ingredients, depending on the order, to ensure their freshness. All my dishes are homemade and cooked from scratch using traditional methods. All this takes time but is worth waiting for 8 hours to enjoy the quality and difference of my food.
I am a full-time mum and some people have said I am crazy for choosing to do something which will take a long time to become successful. But what is the meaning of life if there is no challenge and no love for what you do? I love what I do; it makes me feel alive. It is my passion and it adds extra meaning to my life. I am very blessed to have a very supportive husband and two amazing children. Without them, I could not have achieved what I have so far!
“Follow your own passion – not your parents’ or teachers’ – YOURS.” (Robert Ballard)