Wednesday, October 17th, 2018
Last Sunday, 14 October 2018, I was interviewed by Paul Shuttleworth’s Sunday Kitchen at BBC Radio Shropshire. I have done this a few times and I think my best yet.
If you haven’t heard the interview, here is some of it in words.
Paul asked me to sum up what I did “I teach you to cook Indian food and create my own handmade spice blends” that’s about right, do you agree?
I talked about how I taught myself to cook when I was weaning Sam, he’s now 21. Before that, I could put a meal together but it was never that good or special.
We talk about how my friends encouraged me to start a business and I have shaped it into what it is today, one of them is still right behind me, supporting and encouraging me on a regular basis.
There was a mention of me missing a spreadsheet or two with my first ever demonstration, still makes me laugh at how scared I was! That fear of failure and moment of vulnerability encouraged me to learn to teach, so I invested in the business and myself by going back to college for a teaching certificate.
Paul asked if I would like to be a celebrity chef, a demo person, a teacher, the person with the biggest range of spices. I can 100%, hand on heart say, all I ever set out to do was to earn an honest living. What does that means to me? Well, just be true to the style of cooking and only make tweaks for health benefits and keep the style of cooking as authentic as it should be.
We discuss the health issues I have and the challenges I face by still working from home. How the buck stops with me and how the business is shaped to your needs, not mine. We, as a family business are very grateful to the amazing support and encouragement we have around us.
Paul talked about the evolution of spices and asked me why I would have my own range. I explained that if I was making a curry from scratch (I never do because it is too time-consuming) then I would dry roast some whole spices, add oil, onion, salt, ginger/garlic, fresh chillies, ground spices and that’s before I have even think about veg prep. So, I tried a commercial blend of spices and made a curry for my family. The curry was thrown in the bin and my family were not happy at all. We had beans on toast and I needed to find a solution.
Paul made a valid point that most consumers would not recognise the difference between commercial garam masala and my home-made blend. Paul compares them, he tastes them and he recognises they are both very different. Phew… he guessed the right one. It is actually quite obvious as I leave a little texture in my garam masala blend.
There was confession time with how I use garam masala in my Christmas bakes and sweet dishes. I’d much rather use the tiniest pinch of garam masala than allspice. Garam masala, when added to hot chocolate can be truly magical and do you ever remember when I encouraged the amazing chef, Chris Burt to add it his chocolate meringue pudding?
A chef, cook, instructor, spice blender, food demonstrator….Paul asked me who am I? I am very much a home cook, that’s my journey. I teach you to use your senses, trust your judgement and cook as a family.
There was confession time…. my hours spent watching Ready Steady Cook, green peppers and red tomatoes if I remember rightly? Poor Sam, that’s why he’s such a great foodie, he was subjected to watching this rather than Teletubbies. It taught me well, I learnt so many top tips from TV.
Luckily Paul went onto the test of usual curry powder verses my curry masala and guessed right. He was generous with his words and I explained how to make the best curries.
If you would like to learn to cook with me or take the masala spice challenge, please get in touch.
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.