University of Auckland Uni News
There's more to Indian food than Butter Chicken


profile photo of Perzen Patel taken for Uni News

Perzen Patel was a finalist in the University of Auckland's Velocity $100k challenge after cooking up an idea for a tasty business. By day she's communicating the services of the General Library; by night she's working on her Indian paste business.

Recently you were a finalist in the Velocity $100k Challenge. Were you surprised?
I took part to have a go and was sure they’d just choose tech businesses as finalists. I decided to apply to make myself write down a business plan. Getting into the finals was a nice surprise and also great because it was the catalyst to get my business going.

What’s your business called?
It’s called Dolly Mumma and named after my grandmother. I make and sell Indian spice pastes. We’ve started the #NoMoreButterChicken movement! I have an ambitious goal of educating Kiwis to know there’s more to Indian cuisine than butter chicken and chicken tikka masala! We want people to get a taste of the real India, recipes shared orally through generations.

But Kiwis love butter chicken!
They do, and I do too, but not the bright orange stuff. Kiwi butter chicken is sweet and creamy and not what Indian food is about at all.

Where did you grow up?
I came to New Zealand from Mumbai, India, when I was 15 and went to high school and university here. I returned to India for around eight years before moving back here permanently with my husband and two preschool sons late last year. We had planned to come in 2020 but my husband’s visa came earlier, which was very lucky as it turned out. 

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