Our dear friend and amazing chef, entrepreneur and now Kiwi Podcaster Perzen Patel a.k.a Bawi Bride featured in Eat Well New Zealand
Perzen is happiest when she is at the intersection of cooking food, eating and telling a good story. When she’s not working, she is shining a light on New Zealand’s diverse food scene through her podcast, Kiwi Foodcast and, thanks to the support of Panuku’s The Kitchen Project, Perzen has been working on the launch of her latest venture Dolly Mumma. Named for her grandmother, it’s a range of ready-to-cook pastes based on family recipes handed down through generations. Here Perzen shares her at-home kitchen essentials with Eat Well.
My kitchen at home is… the place you will always find me. It is my happy space and I am always experimenting with a new recipe or ingredient or cooking in bulk so that my three boys have enough for the week. My one pet peeve is an unorganised pantry so I’m always going on to my family about putting things back where they found it because I can’t cook if my pantry is a mess.
If I could change anything… I would have a bigger kitchen with more counter space and buy a deep freezer. I love to meal plan and cook things in bulk so it would be great to have more freezer space so I don’t have to worry about not having enough meals.
Items that are always in my fridge are… curry leaves and coriander because they are my go-to herbs for just about any kind of food I make. I always have a stock of carrots because I hide them in all the meals I make for my kids and broccoli because my son likes to open the fridge and nibble on it raw. Aside from that, there’s always cheese. We are a cheese loving family.
My pantry is full of… all kinds of sauces and spices. I have storage baskets for different kinds of cuisine so my south-east Asian ingredients like fish sauce, oyster sauce etc stay there and I have another basket for all my pastas and couscous and then shelves for my Indian spices. Now that I have a Thermomix at home I also make sauces and spice blends myself at home. I do that when the mood gets me once in a couple of months and that leaves me with plenty of flavours I can experiment with.
My favourite ingredient to cook with is… onions. I often find myself cutting a couple before I have decided what I am cooking and they are just so versatile and tasty!
My go-to meal is… a bowl of dahl. I love lentils and could have them every night of the week, making different kinds of preparations using them. Being Parsi, my favourite is Dhandar, a simple preparation made using yellow split peas, ghee, turmeric, garlic and cumin. If I’ve been away travelling for a long time or if I am happy or if I am upset, Dhandar is soul food.
I cook at home… pretty much every day. While I used to love dining out, going out for a meal with small kids if often a big mission. During lockdown I experimented making most of the takeaways I love to eat at home. Now that I know how to make a good steak and pulled pork I can’t imagine going out and paying a lot for it.
My most-used appliance is… hands down my Thermomix. I use it for milling spices, making coconut milk at home, making soups, kneading bread dough and to make the most delicious desserts.
My least used is… my stovetop. I make most of my food in the Thermomix or the oven and when I am not using either one of those it’s my deep fryer I love.
A kitchen gadget everyone should own is… a really good oven. Or maybe even two! We have a 1.5 oven in our kitchen and I often have something cooking on all levels.
A spice I can’t live without is… a blend of cumin and coriander seeds. I love putting it in everything; it adds a lovely flavour even in European or Italian food I make at home. Another discovery though not technically a spice is Worcestershire sauce. When I taste a dish and feel like its missing something but I can’t put my finger on it I generally add both of these ingredients and it always does the job.
My advice for living well is… to make time for the things you love. Whether that is cooking, writing or in this tired mum’s case, taking a nap!
Try Perzen’s recipe for Traditional Dahl.