Gujarati Rasoi, run by mother and son team Lalita and Urvesh, has been at Broadway Market for five years, having started around six months after the market was reborn. Lalita used to cook the food in Leicester and bring it down on a Saturday morning, leaving at 5.30am. Urvesh lived here in London, and would meet her at the market with all the equipment. He viewed it as an experiment away from his day job as a designer, but they both realised their homecooking was becoming pretty popular and decided to take it further. In addition to selling tasty thalis and samosa chaats they have now gone into business producing their own attractively labelled sauces and chutneys. These are made to traditional recipes, except the apple chutney (known as murobo), which is made with apples from Chegworth Valley instead of mango.
Interview with Urvesh Parvais
“Gujarati food is a blend of the fragrant spices from the south and influences from central India as well as the north. All the spices are allowed to sing; its not just about chilli, it’s a complex but subtle mixture of hot, sweet, sour, garam masala, ground cumin and coriander seeds, black and white pepper, cumin, cloves and cinnamon. It sounds like a lot of ingredients, but when they work in harmony they’re very good…
All the recipes are from my grandparents, who came here from Kenya in the 1960s. They were given recipes by their grandparents, and this lineage goes back a long way. That’s the point, it’s a tradition we celebrate every time we sit to eat together. It’s this tradition we share with our customers. The recipes were never written down, always passed on orally and by practice from mother to daughter over countless generations. I have learnt many of these recipes – I love the legacy I am inheriting and cherish it.
I’ve always held the belief that my mother’s cooking was great, and all my extended family think so too. When I left home to study and had the occasion to sample Indian restaurant food, I was always deeply disappointed and embarrassed for the owners and cooks, who should know better. So when I got wind of Broadway Market happening I thought this would be a great time and place to share our tradition – all I needed to do was convince my mother…
I invited a group of friends to my flat, took out the sofas from the front room and set up two tables to make a huge square and set it for twelve people. The idea was for my friends to sample my mother’s food and for my mother to get feedback and get her head around the idea that her cooking heritage has value outside of our home and family. Well it was a big success – everyone loved the food and the collective consensus was that we should do something. It was then and there that our plan to set up a stall at Broadway Market was hatched!”
The ingredients listed in these recipes should be fairly easy to get hold of; if you’re stuck for jaggery – a product distilled from sugar-cane juice – try specialist grocers such as Taj Stores at 112 Brick Lane. Urvesh has shared recipes for two of his favourite curries, plus riatha, a cool yoghurt-based dish served as an accompaniment to either curry, alongside hot chapatis. Curries are created in two stages: the vaghar (tempering of the spices) and the cooking. The vaghar releases the flavour from the spices.