Growing up in New Zealand was quite an experience for Perzen Patel, who migrated from India as a teenager.
Among her most memorable experiences were shared lunches with friends at school.
There was many a time when she felt embarrassed to open her lunchbox in front of her Kiwi friends at school. While other children brought sandwiches, Perzen’s mother would pack leftover meals from the night before. Some days it was Potato Bhaji, Rice and Curry and on other days it would be Lentils with Roti.
Regardless of what lunch she would get, a friend would ask her, “Is that Butter Chicken?”
It took many years for Perzen to fully understand that annoying question, because Butter Chicken, Tikka Masala and Naan had, for since long been the only Indian dishes with which New Zealanders were most familiar.
She often thought how Kiwis would ever learn the real taste of India.
“If no one made the effort to get them to appreciate the vast variety and the true flavours of the Indian cuisine, the misconception will continue,” she told herself.
Perzen and her husband Rushad decided to launch ‘Dolly Mumma,’ with a wide range of Indian delicacies to the multicultural New Zealand market. Her passion for cooking soon developed into a family business.
Today, with an increasing number of quality Indian Restaurants, Kiwis have a wide choice of diverse cuisine and dishes. However for an average New Zealander, cooking with Indian flavours can still be very daunting.
“I truly felt that if I wanted people to experience the incredible taste of India, I had to bring those flavours into their kitchen and show them how versatile and easy cooking an Indian meal could be. As a mother of two children, I also realised that it had to be quick, easy and uncomplicated. That was the only way people would give it a try,” she said.