When people say "yes" to love and adventure it often changes the course of their lives. Eastlife Magazine's Jes Magill writes:
That's exactly what happened when 20-year-old Perzen Darukhanawalla flew out of Auckland, bound for Canada on a exchange programme in 2007. Rushad Patel did the same when he travelled from India at about the same time to study in Florida.
Through family connections, and as chance would have it, Perzen and Rushad met and their love for one another flourished. Although separated by distance and circumstance they continued a long-distance relationship between India and New Zealand for five years while they established their careers.
Rushad eventually enticed the love of his life back to India in 2011 where the couple promptly and happily married. But, there was one problem for this Parsi couple - Perzen couldn't cook. "Living in New Zealand, I had no idea about cooking with Indian flavours. When I went to India, suddenly I was living in an extended family where cooking is the way to everyone's heart."
"She always made me a curry with the best ingredients including fresh curry leaf and coconut. When she asked me one day what I'd like to inherit from her, I said all I wanted was a great big pot of her curry so I could keep eating it forever."
“Because we moved to New Zealand, I wasn’t able to be as close to her in my later years. When she passed I was distraught that I had lost her curry recipe.” However when Perzen’s mum was trawling through Dolly Mumma’s household items she found her mother’s diary with the curry recipe inside. “For me, eventually replicating it was like having a piece of her back,” Perzen says.
A year after her marriage, Perzen combined her writing skills with her newfound enthusiasm for cooking and started Bawi Bride, a food blog documenting lost Parsi recipes. Bawi Bride came about by drawing on the humorous side of being a newly-married Parsi bride who didn’t know her way around a kitchen, and Dolly Mumma’s curry recipe was one of Perzen’s first blog posts. Soon after came an offshoot of the blog, a catering business called Bawi Bride Kitchen.
Success followed hard work, with Perzen being named India’s Best Regional Food Blogger in 2014, 2015 and 2016. In 2015 she quit her day job to focus on her burgeoning catering business. Then in 2019, she was presented with the Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award by the World Zoroastrian Chamber of Commerce, and by that time her story had been featured in more than 100 publications worldwide. Fast forward to 2020 and Perzen and Rushad are now settled in New Zealand with their two young sons.
Returning here last year, Perzen’s plan was to revive her communications career but her passion for food had other ideas. They blended together Rushad's business expertise and Perzen's creativity and love for food and launched Dolly Mumma in October 2020.
“We started Dolly Mumma because we wanted people to taste the real India and, from a family perspective, create something inspired by our Indian heritage for our boys; something they could grow up with, savour and appreciate,” Perzen explains. She is also keen to point out this range isn’t just about cooking Indian food. It is about exploring Indian flavours and discovering how home cooks can use these spices in their own everyday dishes; to help them be adventurous and move past the ‘lemon salt and pepper’ mindset.