A blast from the past….

Article about Ma Rani from 1984 in the Islington Gazette about her dinner party catering.

Friday May 11, 1984 ~ Weekend, Islington Gazette

Rani spices up the take-away trade’ by Caroline Holland

Rushing home with a take-away curry have you ever said to yourself: “There must be a better way of doing this!”

Spicey sauces spill onto clothes and car-seats, and by the time you are home it’s luke warm and those mysterious names and numbers on the menu aren’t what you thought anyway!

Rani Baker has the answer – there IS a better way. She has started a home cooking service from her kitchen in Celia Road, Upper Holloway.

I went round to see Rani, 34, who prepared a sample meal and spread it out between us on the kitchen table.

The exotic smells were wickedly tempting but somehow I managed to ignore my tummy rumblings and find out how she cooked them.

It was her £5 a head menu and included a meat starter, two meat dishes, two vegetable dishes, rice, poppadoms and a variety of side dishes, with pineapple for desert.

Clearly it’s not for someone wanting hot food in a hurry – Rani caters for a special party between four and 12 people. The dishes are only half cooked and she delivers them with instructions for final preparation – and she provides the garnishes! She also has a menus at £7.50 and £10 a head which are a little more special and include delicacies like Gajarela. This is a sweet made from carrots and spices boiled in milk – and Rani assured me its delicious!

Most of the recipes are in her head and come from her mother who got them from her mother. Said Rani: ” I can remember cooking my first meal when I was nine. My earliest recollections are of always being around my mother when she was cooking”.

Rani had a conventional upbringing. Her family settled in England when she was 12 and instead of an arranged marriage she went off to study pharmacology. There her mother sent her packets of freshly ground Garam Masala – Indian spices – so she could cook for her landlord and his wife. She married Graham and they have two children, Saira who is six and Richard who is nearly two.

Of her new service, Rani said: “There is not a lot of profit in it but I am not doing it for money – I am doing it because I love it”

Her food is spicey – yes I did get to try some! – but not hot. She serves fresh green chillies for anyone who likes having their mouth burnt out! Rani goes to Southall to do the shopping for fresh herbs and spices and cheap but good meat – mostly lamb and chicken. I can see her recipes are going to be handed down through many more families than just their own!

Fast forward 26 years and she is doing it all over again but with me as a 31 year old working with her and another brother having been added to the brood two years after the article was written! This is a piece of family history more than anything!

26 years later!!! I think I love stripes!!!!!

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