Friday, October 21st, 2016
In my younger years, I could cook enough to get by and then I was blessed with my beautiful baby and becoming his mother was the saddest and happiest time of my life, (my father had just passed away) I wanted to do the best for my new baby, always, it was non-negotiable, I remember peeling grapes, oranges, apples for him, freezing cubes of vegetables and sometimes on rare occasions, we would allow him to eat fast food and once my brother commented on how bad it was that we allowed Sam to eat burgers. That comment, made me think if I started making all these foods at home, surely, it would be better for us?
My hobby was watching cooking programmes, remember Ready, Steady, Cook? Paul Rankin was my hero. I started to cook from scratch, as children, both Krish (my husband) and I didn’t enjoy Indian food so rarely cooked it, instead our family meals were made up of pasta, pizza, cottage pie, lasagne, roast dinners, all the usual British classics and the delicious meals we had eaten on our travels. The only difference was they were home made, without the usual additives.
A few years later, we moved to Telford, that’s when I taught myself to cook Indian food, Sam, our son, started to play with his friends and rather than attempt to take him to the supermarket, I would experiment with the basics in the kitchen. I learnt to make bread without a trip to the shops, looking back, I was lazy, I would rather cook than visit the shops, but what a fabulous experience? I could rustle up good, healthy meals and they were delicious, healthy and nutritious
On the rare occasion, Sam had a meal alone, the table would be laid for him with a flower from the garden, it was my way of saying how loved and special he was to us and the photo is actually one of his “home alone” meals, children should feel loved and secure and their nutrition is part of that nurturing. Around this time we were eating brilliant salads from two books, Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi, introduced to me by Rita, my beautiful sister-in-law and River Cottage VEG everyday by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingshall.
So, then I started my little business, nobody got fed, we started to eat cereal and I even remember going for a burger late one night, let’s just skip this paragraph…..
Sam got fed up with the standard of home cooking by this time and started to cook with Krish and they just muddled through with the help of Jamie and his fifteen minute meals, I was fine because I got to eat lots of home made cakes when out doing my demos, getting paid and maintaining my curves!
This summer, I took a break from the business as I wanted to enjoy having Sam at home before he went to university so we cooked and had a great family time. Sam’s uni guide came through and it recommended he took pot noodle, tins of curry, microwaveable pizza and pasta as his staples. We, had other ideas, I gave Sam a student cookbook where he highlighted all the dishes he might like to cook, I added my notes to it, made a store cupboard list and stocked up on all the essentials for him so he only needs to buy fresh ingredients. My brilliant friend Teresa, thinks it’s hysterical that Sam has balsamic vinegar!
I have, for the first time, cooked dishes that sit in his deep freeze for when he has a craving for my home cooking, of course you would expect that of me.
Sam regularly sends me photos and this is last night’s tea that he cooked for himself:
Chicken, frozen vegetables and sweet potato baked fries, no frills, just #lovinglyhomemade by a student who went to uni only 6 weeks ago, each time he sends me a little snap of his meal, I feel so proud, everything I feel about cooking for your loved ones, has come full circle for me, he’s home today for a few days and I have his favourite meals to cook for him, so excited to see him, Sam’s my number one, my only one!
What’s stopping you from having a go?
Lajina Leal, Founder, Lajina Masala
Lajina had a Corporate Career as an Accountant for many years and whilst discussing an impending redundancy in an Indian restaurant with her friends, they persuaded her to set up an Indian Cooking School.
The fun started in October 2013 and the business has grown from strength to strength.