Cooking has always been a part of my life in a big way, whether I realised it or not. Growing up as an immigrant in Dubai, the biggest link to my Indian heritage was the hours I would spend helping my mother make traditional dishes that didn’t just taste like home but felt like it too.
Spices tinged the air as the whistling of the pressure cooker sang on while my father made his famous mutton curry. The scent would engulf the kitchen, the turmeric and chili powder making me tear up but, as time passed on, the smell just felt comforting like the warmth of a lie-in on a weekend.
I never appreciated enough the time and patience cooking with my parents instilled in me and, when I moved to the UK for University, how much I craved that sort of connection. It was at that point that I decided to start connecting with my culture by learning recipes passed on by my parents and the ever-prevalent feature in my culinary life: Google.
It was while making biryani for my housemates that I made the decision that I wanted to pursue PR and it was over a warm chai that I told my parents I wanted to take a different route in my career than what we’d initially discussed.
Before the interview that got me my dream job starting out at MK I nervously planned the dish I wanted to make that night and the ingredients- star anise, poppy seeds, asafetida, etc.- to keep myself grounded and remind myself I always had things to come back home to.
When you’re cooking a curry, you don’t look at what’s not there- you work with what you have. Mistakes can always be corrected and if you’ve put too much turmeric in you can always balance it with other spices. To me, cooking teaches me discipline and helps give me perspective in tackling problems that seem too big to overcome at times because, at the end of the day, I’m still serving up something I love and that’s the goal I’m always trying to get to.
At MK we work with various restaurants and cafés and I couldn’t be more fortunate to be able to support such fantastic businesses. Whether it’s a gastropub or a one-stop café away from your shopping, what’s important in every situation is the drive to continue to do better and make things that help you connect with others.
We all owe it to ourselves to form connections that mean something to us, that add something to our lives in a fulfilling way. For me, my connections start in the kitchen; what helps you connect?