A taste of the Himalayas... in Saffron Walden

Pri Bamford

Pri Bamford - Credit: Archant

SAFFRON Walden resident Pri Bamford has had a passion for cooking for as long as she can remember. Growing up in the foothills of the Himalayas, in the small idyllic town of Mussoorie in northern India, Pri recollects many happy moments watching her mother cook traditional home-cooked food.

Pri Bamford's North Indian Chicken Masala

Pri Bamford's North Indian Chicken Masala - Credit: Archant

“Often she’d allow me to peel a pod of garlic or let me stand on a stool to stir the rich curry she was creating for our family meal. My mouth still waters as I remember the sounds of spices being ground and the delicious smells wafting through the house.” remembers Pri.

Pri Bamford grew up in the foothills of the Himalayas, in the small idyllic town of Mussoorie in nor

Pri Bamford grew up in the foothills of the Himalayas, in the small idyllic town of Mussoorie in northern India - Credit: Archant

Throughout her childhood, Pri helped prepare many dishes, all recorded by her grandmother, Shanti, in an old yellow notebook. Full of recipes written in three generations of handwriting, the precious yellow book traveled with Pri when she left India at 22 years old. After studying and working in marketing and finance in the US and Sweden and the beauty industry back in India, Pri settled in Saffron Walden in 2001 with her husband, Christofer, and two sons. Cherished memories and the recipes from her Indian childhood inspired her to set up Pri’s Kitchen in August 2012 – a dream since she was a little girl.

“Put simply, I cook a delightful Indian thali in my kitchen to be enjoyed in people’s homes! My mini-feast consists of ten scrumptious freshly cooked dishes, including roti bread and a sweet. Every week there is a new menu which I deliver on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays around Saffron Walden and the villages.”

Thali is a traditional meal, which is either served at home, by the roadside or in restaurants in India. Pri’s thalis consist of ten dishes: two meat, one dal (lentils), three vegetable, raita (yoghurt), roti (bread), rice and burfi, a traditional sweet dish. All served in individual steel bowls on a round steel tray and delivered in a cotton bag. The flavours of thali vary throughout India depending on the spices and ingredients specific to the area, Pri’s thali is distinctive to Northern India.

The British have had a long love affair with Indian food. Chicken Tikka Masala is now considered our national dish, overtaking the old favorite, fish and chips! This popular dish is rumoured to have originated in a British curry house and has been developed by celebrity chefs, restaurants and supermarkets in the UK in recent years. However, Pri’s delicious North Indian Masala Chicken recipe – straight from Mussoorie – is simple, authentic, delicately spiced and there is not a hint of cream to be found!

“Mistakenly, people think Indian food is unhealthy but spices are known to have countless health benefits, as well as adding distinct flavours to the dishes, when used in correct proportions. Garlic is known to be good for the heart, cumin is an anti-oxidant and ginger can be used to treat nausea. I use olive oil for frying which is rich in monounsaturated fats, known to lower cholesterol. My rotis are always made with healthy stoneground wholemeal flour too.” explains Pri.

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Pri’s recipes may originate from Northern India but she makes sure her ingredients are sourced locally. “I like to know where all my ingredients come from. I buy my meat from a butcher in Saffron Walden and my vegetables are from here too. Even my spices come from Cambridge!”

Always enthusiastic about her food, Pri has demonstrated at various events since her launch in August 2012 and she is excited to have been invited to talk at the Words of Walden Festival in Spring 2013.

“I feel so honoured to be included in such amazing company at the festival and to be able to share my love of Indian food. My family are so delighted that our recipes are enjoyed in Saffron Walden and my Grandma Shanti is so proud.” beams Pri.

If you would like to order an authentic Indian thali from Pri’s Kitchen, visit priskitchen.co.uk or call 01799 520226.

Pri will be demonstrating at Words of Walden on 24 March and 21 April 2013 – visit hartsevents.co.uk for details.

*** RECIPE ***

North Indian Masala Chicken

500g chicken (diced breast, thigh or legs)

1 large onion (chopped finely)

2 tblsp olive oil

3 big ripe tomatoes (pureed)

1 tsp turmeric

1 tblsp ginger garlic paste

5 cloves

1 tsp peppercorns

1 inch cinnamon stick

1.5 tblsp coriander powder

1 tblsp cumin powder

1 tsp garam masala

Green chillis, slit down middle (number depends on taste)

Fresh coriander chopped


Heat the olive oil in a deep pan and add the cinnamon, cloves and peppercorns. Add the chopped onions to the spices and fry until golden brown.

Next, add the chicken, coat with the mixture on all sides and cook until slightly brown. Add the ginger, garlic paste and all the remaining dry spices, except the garam masala.

Then stir in the tomatoes and chilli and salt to taste. Cook on a moderate heat until the spice mixture separates from the oil. Add about 1.5 cups of water and cover.

Cook on low heat, until the chicken is thoroughly cooked, for approximately 20 minutes. Finally add the garam masala and stir. Garnish with fresh coriander and serve with rice or roti bread.