When reflecting on the happiest moments of my childhood, the most prominent memories I have with my late mother took place in the kitchen.
Returning home from school, dinner would habitually be the first thing on my mind. Most days, my sister and I would be warmly greeted by a colourful yet familiar aroma of Indian spices and vegetables sizzling on the hob. We would perch on the high stools in our kitchen, intently observing our mother in a form of culinary dance, moving with ease from rolling the chapatis, to cooking the rice and chopping the salad. Occasionally she would stop to offer us a snippet of advice (passed on from her mother), such us the most practical way to peel a pomegranate or a fail-safe combination of spices that can be used in every curry. Later she would join us with mugs of chai and a bowl of Bombay mix, catching up on our days until the steam cooker whistled.
Back then we took those simple pleasures and comforting aromas for granted, as just another part of our busy daily lives. Little did we know how instrumental these memories would be to the lives we mapped out for ourselves and the decisions we made, decades later.
Food is a means of sustenance and survival for everyone. But for some, food has an additional purpose, be it a passion, a skill or a sense of culture and identity. Raised in North London by second generation Indian parents, home cooked Indian food was one of the most enticing ways that our parents could share our diverse and vibrant heritage with us. In Indian culture, food takes centre stage at family celebrations, is a genuine expression of love and gratitude and is offered in abundance to those in need of comfort and consolation. Perhaps most significantly, however, it exemplifies the strong family bonds between the women of the family, in particular a mother and her daughter(s). Traditional family recipes are rarely written down, but instead are passed on from mother to daughter, by way of a personal initiation into the art of Indian home cooking.
As our mother passed away when we were teenagers, we were unable to partake in this cultural ritual. Instead, however, we started our own tradition of experimenting with modern and fresh interpretations of our favourite childhood dishes, as a way of remembering the happy times we spent with our wonderful mother. There are times when we’ll throw together a perfect combination of ingredients, without so much as a single thought. But deep down we’ll know that it was not a random success, but something we picked up from our mother.
This love for authentic Indian flavours and nourishing home cooking that our mother passed onto us is the biggest inspiration behind Dhikari (from the Gujarati word meaning daughters), the food business that my sister and I created. This year we launched with our duo of Modern Bombay Mixes, a more nutritious and premium interpretation of the snack that is a firm staple in many UK households. Our mother always used to keep a jar of Bombay mix available for after school treats and to serve with cups of chai whenever friends and family came to visit. We have great plans for Dhikari, to share our truly modern style of Indian cooking, but will always remember where it all began, many years ago.
Newly-launched brand Dhikari has released the first product of its line, The Modern Bombay Mix. Released in two delicious flavours, Original and Pomegranate, the Modern Bombay Mix is an aromatic blend of traditional Indian spices, nuts, seeds, buckwheat groats and split chickpeas, reinventing the original, British-staple. With their addictive Indian flavours and moreish crunch, the Modern Bombay Mix makes a thoroughly satisfying on-the-go snack, a delicious accompaniment to a glass ofwine and even a tasty topper for soups, salads, porridge and desserts. Modern Bombay Mix is gluten free, refined sugar free, vegan, and made from 100% natural ingredients, all hand baked in the UK.