A couple of years ago, Radio NZ spoke to Perzen Patel about the business she started during Covid, Dolly Mumma. She has since pivoted and is now offering online Indian cooking classes as well which are going from strength to strength. Perzen speaks to Nathan Rarere about what's happened since they last spoke and how her mission to take Kiwis beyond butter chicken is progressing!
What has happened since we last spoke?
When we had spoken, I had just started Dolly Mumma and Covid had given me space for what the business model could look like. Throughout 2021, we were doing farmers markets and things were going really well. Which is why in August 2021 my partner quit his job to focus on the business full time. Ofcourse ten days later, Auckland was in lockdown. So, obviously not the best time. But, we took things in our stride and things have really changed for our business. We had to focus on moving the business completely online.
With that, we got the insight that if we really wanted to take Kiwis beyond butter chicken it couldn't be just about the food. We had to take them on the journey, educate them and really build the bridge so that they could find out about the basics and learn those because really, its the basics that matter when it comes to Indian food.
How does a cooking class work when it's all online? One of the things that I love about Indian food is the aroma!
What we organise is a 'Cook with Me' style class. When you sign up, I send you a list of ingredients. Nothing too complicated, everything you will find in your local Indian shop. We then cook together. This way, you get a first hand experience of all the lovely aromas because they are being created in your kitchen too. Once we make our quick meal, we sit down and eat it together in the class. This way you get to have the human connection, you learn about the stories that make the dish special and your home smells as delicious as mine does.
Looks like your cooking classes are going from strength to strength?
We started the Indian cooking classes as an experiment. Originally I offered them for free or charged $5 for them because I had my weekends free and for me, it was a way to connect with the outside world, with my people. But, it's given me the opportunity to explore Indian food even more. Now we keep hosting the classes every Satuday. We also did special Valentine's Day classes. I like to keep our classes online because it removes the location barrier and it means everyone in New Zealand can join the classes.
When we are being brave and tentatively step off the safety of butter chicken, what is the first stepping stone away. What should I try at Dolly Mumma's first?
What we always recommend is starting off with our Tandoori paste. The flavours are very similar. Our Tandoori paste acts as a marinade so you simply slather it onto your chicken or protein of choice and you can make delicious Tandoori chicken either on the barbeque or in your oven. We also do a Cashew Korma for the people that don't like spices and chilli. Our Cashew Korma paste is made simply with cashews and whole spices and that will give you a very creamy, rich flavour and you can add that to your mince or make a simple curry with it. Those are two of the stones we suggest you start with.