Indian Weekender's Priti Garude talks to Perzen about her experience starting an Indian food business during the pandemic and why she's a woman on a mission. Below is an excerpt of an interview with three amazing Kiwi Indian women making a difference.
It may not appear to be the most auspicious time to start a business. New Zealand is in its longest lockdown since the start of the pandemic. While the country is in recovery, closed borders and uncertainty is making people go stir crazy.
However, there are so many out there who are using this time to pause, reflect and act on long-ignored business ideas.
Launched in October last year, Dolly Mumma has set out to address an issue that particularly bothers most Indian migrants in New Zealand. Tired of rolling her eyes as every Indian curry dish gets called ‘butter chicken’, Perzen Patel, founder of Dolly Mumma is on a mission to educate Kiwis about the versatility of Indian flavours and the ease with which they can make Indian food.
Upon returning to New Zealand in 2019, Perzen was excited to see the increase in diversity of the New Zealand food scene, but was left disappointed that the awareness of Indian food was still limited to butter chicken, and tikka masala.
Realising that change needs to come from within the community, she highlighted, “As an Indian immigrant, it was very disappointing for me to see that when it came to Indian food, the awareness was pretty much the same as it was in 2003. A lot of us feel that way too, when we hear things like turmeric latte or ghee butter, or balloon bread which is essentially roti. But, at the same time, the big realization for me was that if we don't do something about it, if we don't share our stories and show the pathway, then we can't complain about it.”
This led to the birth of Dolly Mumma, an online store which sells pre-cooked, blended Indian curry or chutney pastes that can be added not just to Indian food but any other cuisine. Perzen says, “I realized that rather than us selling a butter chicken paste, or a chicken masala paste, we needed to show the versatility of Indian flavours and we needed to show how easy it was to use the flavours. And if we did that along with the educational front then we would really be able to make a change.”