Indian Beauty Mask

Being a Hindu, turmeric plays a very big part in my life. It’s painted throughout our lives whether we’re ingesting it for a medical reason, drinking a turmeric latte at the cafe or sprinkling it in your curry. The significance of turmeric in Indian culture means it has a prominent role in rituals. The bride & groom are generally covered head to toe with turmeric paste before they enter the altar of the wedding ceremony.  In this context, turmeric is a symbol of blessing for a healthy marital life, it has the promise of radiance and a healthy natural glow. Tumeric helps to remove dead skin cells, revealing younger and rejuvenated skin. It’s known for its purification abilities, to cleanse and purify the heart and soul. It can be used to ward off evil and curb pre-wedding jitters. The active compound in turmeric is known as curcumin, and amongst other wonderous properties, it can be used as a natural remedy for headaches and anxiety.

So, I would like to tell you about a beautiful face mask, that I religiously use, and have done since my own wedding day. This mixture contains turmeric, honey, yoghurt, chickpea flour & lemon. And some of the benefits of using this turmeric mask are;

  • Leaves your skin bright and radiant
  • Helps to slow the effects of ageing
  • Excellent for acne
  • It can also help reduce redness from blemishes and calm skin conditions like eczema and rosacea
  • Reduces dark circles
  • Protects against sun damage & ageing
  • Improves the appearance of fine lines and brown spots caused by sun damage
  • It also helps prevent the loss of skin elasticity due to long-term UV exposure
  • Helps dissolve dead skin and tighten pores

Turmeric Beauty Mask Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp honey (Manuka, if possible)
  • 1 tbsp yoghurt
  • 1 tsp of Chickpea flour ( Gram Flour /Basan)
  • 1 small squeeze of lemon juice (optional; this will help lighten dark spots whilst brightening)

Method:

  1. Mix all the ingredients together, and apply to cleansed, dry skin.
  2. Leave on for 20 minutes before rinsing off with warm water.

Please note, if your skin is sensitive, please do try a test patch!

Behind the Scenes of a Pop-Up

Chef Priya & Chef James ; Photo credit by Jodie Humphies 

Behind the scenes of my pop-up events, there is lots that happens, and a lot of preparation is needed for a big event like this. As chef and host isn’t my trained profession it’s all still very new to me,  and while I still have so much to learn, I feel that it’s going in the right direction of the dream I had in mind.

It all starts with a date in the diary and then a well thought-out menu. I spend lots of time researching how to present and plate the food, I dig deep in to my life drawing from recipes that I have been brought up on. They are not dishes like rogan josh, baltis or jalfrezi. Those dishes have been developed to adapt for the western palate and vernacular. The recipes I do select, I am often hesitant about, as I don’t want to scare my guests by giving them something too unfamiliar. So to help my guests and patrons get used to these new flavours and textures, I introduce them slowly via the tasting menu which has a variety of eight dishes.

In between setting the date of the event; recipes are tested and presentation ideas are tried. The night only goes to plan if I have prepared and preparation is KEY which means I often start working up to three days in advance. Cooking for 35 people is never easy, so it helps if I cook the sauces and dips ahead of time, I can also cut vegetables and make the starters like samosas that take more than 6 hours to prepare.

My meats are always brought fresh on the day of the pop-up from a local supplier called Gorden stores in Maidenhead. They are an Asian food specialist store that supplies meat and a range of Asian goods to local restaurants. The meat I use is halal, that has been cut and cleaned, removing all the fats and unwanted bits. Once I get in the kitchen of the Pinkneys Arms, I have to settle in by arranging my spices and produce. If they’re not within arm’s reach, it will result in wasted time in the kitchen. I then set my god statue – Lord Ganesh on the side; he is my good fortune ‘The Remover of Obstacles, and The Deity of Good Fortune’. He looks over me and makes my night go well. Don’t get me wrong, as any cook knows –  things can go wrong in the kitchen, but having inner faith of god and spirit guides always helps.

 

It all gets under way from 3.30pm onward for the dishes to be ready on time for 7.30pm service. There’s lots pans on the hob and I’ve learnt over time, that multi-tasking is what a woman knows how to do best and has been ingrained in me since I was a child. The first thing I had to learn when I was a child from the age of 11, was how to make chapattis which may not have been a bad thing because now as an adult, as soon as I’m around food, I know what to do, and I’m in my comfort zone.

I have a chef who helps me in the kitchen; James Smith. He has years of experience in the culinary world and having him there to guide me toward service time, puts my nerves to ease. Serving 35 customers is never easy, one dish after another. This is when my adrenaline kicks in and I forget all the aches and pains in my body, the lack of sleep for the last three days and I get into the zone! Usually with a glass of Malbec in my hand.

 

From serving up amuse-bouche to desserts – time goes super-fast! Serving eight dishes is madness and every time I ask “why do I do this to myself?”  The answer is that I have a love of food and, truth be told,  I’m a feeder. I naturally love feeding my friends and family and an absolute love feeding my customers. It gives me a sense of belonging and value, and it showcases my heritage. Doing this opens me as a person. During the night I greet my guests and in between service and I love getting feedback on how I can make things better, but even more, I love hear the customers tell me how much they LOVED THE FOOD. One quote that still resonates with me is “It’s better than Sindu’s”  – which is owned by Chef Atul Kochhar. It’s wonderful to receive their appreciation and in the end it proves to be a terrifically satisfying experience every time.

Hearing the voices and laugher from the restaurant warms my heart and unbelievably they are all there to support my business. So here’s to YOU for supporting me in my culinary journey!

But my night doesn’t stop there, clearing up is not my favourite thing in the world. Nor is it for chef James. But we both get on and do it with the help of the pot washers and staff. After the kitchen is spotless, James and I can relax with another glass of Malbec and a beer – a drink well deserved! Thank you James You are my hero!

Thereafter I am a walking zombie until I finally get my energy back! I’m already dreaming about the next pop up – so stay tuned…

January Pop-Up Menu Revealed

 

The eight course menu for my January pop-up is inspired by looking deep into my heritage and picking out what reminds me of my childhood. The food I grew up on was mainly vegetarian and vegan, but some of theses dishes are not so well known in British culture and I didn’t want to frighten anyone away by preparing a feast of dishes that are completely new and unfamiliar.

The first dish on the menu is called ‘Khandvi. Khandvi is the Hindi name of the dish, but in Gujarat the dish is called ‘Patuli’ – which is guaranteed to tantalise your taste buds and leave you wanting more. It’s a traditional Gujarati snack prepared with gram flour and yogurt, seasoned with sautéed sesame seeds and spices including cumin, mustard, curry leaves, coriander and coconut. It comes served with my favourite dipping sauce – coriander chutney.

Within the menu, I will include some of my classic and most beloved takeaway dishes, but elevated with refined touches to exceed all expectations; such as chicken tikka, and lamb biryani & aubergine & pea curry and to bring a touch of elegance and luxury to the event, I will also present my king prawn dish and spiced scallops. The meal will end with the British classic Eaton mess with an Indian twist – of course!

The menu has a British slant to all the flavours and will be plated beautifully to ensure that all guests experience nothing short of pure culinary delight. The night will end on a high, talking with all my guests and making sure they are happy and full with a lovely class of Malbec in my hand!