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Indian Granny Kitchen: How a mother-in-law’s passion for cooking inspired engineer to launch veggie food business

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After being inspired to get in the kitchen more after watching her mother-in-law cooking, Ripu Kaur brings her delicious offering to the city of Aberdeen.

Naming her business to tie in with her mother-in-law becoming a granny after the birth of her daughter, Ripu Kaur’s Indian Granny Kitchen is one of the latest new home cooking firms to pop up on the Aberdeen scene.

Launched a few weeks ago, the 34-year-old engineer who works as a category manager for Spirit Energy is currently on maternity leave having given birth to her daughter, Meher, just five months ago.

Ripu Kaur pictured with her daughter, Meher, aged five months and Anu Kaur, her mother-in-law.

Inspired to get into the kitchen more before she gave birth, Ripu, who lives in Portlethen, took the opportunity to learn more from her husband’s mother, Anu Kaur, about Indian cuisine and the homely dishes she was best known for creating in the local community.

Originally from Agra, India, Ripu moved to Scotland in September 2010, one month after marrying her husband through an arranged marriage.

Working in oil and gas, Ripu wanted to give the people of the north-east a flavour for quality vegetarian north Indian food, something she says isn’t a focus of many Indian restaurants who primarily accommodate to meat-eaters.

Lentil cheela.

She said: “My dad was in the army so we moved around a lot. I’m originally from Agra, where the Taj Mahal is and because we travelled a lot we tried a lot of different dishes from across India.

“Our parents introduced my husband and I – it was an arranged marriage – and I spoke to my husband for around two or three months before we got married. When we got married in August 2010 that was the first time I met him, and then we moved to Scotland shortly after in September 2010.

“My mother-in-law just became a granny so that’s where the Indian Granny Kitchen name came from. My mum was working most of the time so cooking for her was a case of feeding us and moving on to the next thing.

“She (mother-in-law) really enjoys cooking and everyone in her family enjoyed eating, so when I got married I was very inspired by her and the techniques she used. I couldn’t believe how quickly she could pull together a meal for seven. I have learned a lot of recipes from her. When I went on maternity leave I had time to learn all of the dishes and desserts.”

Veggie Indian dishes

With majority of the cooking executed by Ripu, Anu does lend a hand from time-to-time, and it is her recipes Ripu has used for the weekly menu.

Specialising in vegetarian Indian cuisine, the new mum says her religion is why she focuses on vegetarian dishes more than anything.

Some of the ingredients.

She said: “My husband and I are vegetarian which is part of our religion. When I came to Scotland in 2010, I was astounded by how many restaurants were just catering for meat-eaters. I missed eating good quality vegetarian food.

“In India even if you are a meat-eater, five out of seven days you’d still be having veggie dishes. There’s such a wide variety. When you talk about daals everyone just knows the one, daal tarka, but there’s around seven we cook in different ways.

“The restaurants have to accommodate to their clientele, which are a lot of meat-eaters, and it was kind of disappointing vegetarian food wasn’t showcased as much.

Ripu Kaur with Anu Kaur preparing a dish called lentil cheela.

“We are practising Sikhs and we don’t even have egg. The way vegetarians are defined back home in India, egg isn’t considered as vegetarian.”

Northern cuisine

Focusing on highlighting cuisine from across the country, it is north Indian food Ripu and Anu cook up for the menu due to it being easier to reheat and more practical.

“Most of our cooking is north Indian. We make south Indian food like dosas and things like that at home, but I don’t think we’d be doing that with the business. The way the dosas are cooked, they have to be served straight away to be crispy, so it will be more north Indian we offer.

Veggie dishes are what Ripu will specialise in.

“It is very rich and we use a lot of nuts and cream in north Indian cooking. It is flavourful and has a lot of spices, but it isn’t necessarily hot all the time. You wouldn’t find chillies in there.

“For the menu we are trying to showcase a rich and creamy dish, and then one we would eat at home. There’s a real delicacy in there and we’ll be able to introduce people to new dishes. This week we have malai kofta which is a rich dish and the daal fry which is a more common dish for us.

Ripu Kaur, left, has launched her own dine at home business and is offering veggie Indian dishes for people to try out. Ripu, left is pictured with Anu Kaur with the lentil cheela.

“The menu will run weekly and will only be available on Saturdays. Both my husband and I work full-time and we’re not doing this for income, we want to showcase the cuisine and develop a taste of north Indian veggie cuisine in Aberdeen.

“The orders are limited to 15 per weekend. It will be a full-on operation doing it by myself and I like feeding people. Cooking for a small group is quite normal for us as in our Sikh community we cook for others at our religious place, a gurdwara.”

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