a minute agoWriter: Marzia Jaffer
Manju is active even at this age, running her own restaurant in England and making the desi Gujarati taste popular among Europeans. Bhel puri, pani puri, paneer masala, kanda palak… This is Manju’s signature spicy dish. The taste of this desi food comes from hands that have been folded, but the passion and enthusiasm of the kitchen remains intact. Manju shares this flavor story with us like this:
From childhood to old age, I had the opportunity to visit India only 3 times.
I have only had the opportunity to visit India 3 times
I was born in India, but from childhood to old age I had the opportunity to visit India only 3 times. You can say that the desire for an Indian daughter-in-law brought me to India. Once to bring a devarani and twice to bring the daughters-in-law to the children. One of my daughters in law is from Surat and the other is from Vadodara.
Although I have African nationality, but because of my grandmother’s insistence, my mother had to go to India and give birth to me. My maternal grandmother is in “Varsada Village” in Anand District of Gujarat, but after 1936 I never went there. There were no grandparents, the aunt took care of the father. After their marriage, Bua sent Papa to Africa to pursue a career.
journey from Africa to England
When I was 12, my father died. The responsibility of the younger brothers fell on my shoulders. To survive in tough times, I started tiffin service work by cooking food at an early age. In the evening she taught children and when she had time, she earned money by sewing a little.
After we got married, we moved from Africa to England. At that time the age of the eldest son was 6 years and the age of the youngest son was a year and a half.
A new struggle began in England
On May 24, 1964, I married an African businessman of Gujarati origin. After a few years of marriage, we left Africa on business and moved to England with two children and a few quid. At that time the age of the eldest son was 6 years and the age of the youngest son was a year and a half.
Although Devar had already moved to England from Africa so we got a place to stay at his house for a week. Neither did English, nor was there a job nearby. We rented a small house in London, where we spent 7 years. I got a job in an electronic switchboard manufacturing company and retired from there. The children were young and we both worked as husband and wife. To take care of the children, I worked during the day and the husband worked at night. Sometimes my mother took care of the children. In this way the children grew up like this.
In 2017 my sons opened a small restaurant for me in Brighton, not far from London.
Cooking was a hobby from childhood. Before the kids were little and I didn’t even have a lot of money, so I didn’t think much about business. My dream of opening a restaurant was lost in some corner of my heart, but at this stage of age, the children and daughters-in-law fulfilled it.
Zindagi Ka Dream Year 2017
Five years ago, in 2017, my sons opened a small restaurant for me in Brighton, not far from London. But the confinement again stopped the dream from becoming a reality. Even during that time I was not idle. In these two years I have launched a sealed chutney. Now everything is normal. My dreams take flight and so do I.
Pure Veg Gujarati Menu
Although there are many Indian food restaurants here, but most of the white people prefer the food of Manju restaurant, because here the food is prepared and served like home, which white people like very much.
We have come up with the concept of sharing thali which consists of 4 elements. At Manju Restaurant, food is prepared only with sunflower oil. Do not use ghee, oil and sugar. Maybe that’s why the British love our food. This dish is 14 hundred pounds (14 hundred rupees according to Indian price). Among our specialties, Gujarati Style Dosa, Special Dhokla is the neatest.
Among the special dishes, Gujarati style dosa, special dhokla is the neatest.
I’m active from morning to night
I get up at 5:30 in the morning and work until 12 at night. I spend most of my time in the kitchen, whether it’s a home kitchen or a restaurant kitchen. I don’t like to sit. I keep experimenting. This is also why a disease like the corona was defeated. My whole house had corona, but I was saved from the corona even at this age.
related to spirituality
I am very close to spirituality. I start the day with worship. I do yoga to keep fit. Whenever I go to India, I definitely go to see the Kul Devi of my village. My dream is to see the Golden Temple once, but God knows when it will be finished.
My two daughters-in-law and my children accompany me to the restaurant. My younger daughter-in-law is the head chef and my older daughter-in-law is Shu-chef. Both sons work in marketing. Apart from this, there are 8 workers, which include people of Indian and British origin.
Celebration of the Hindustani Festivals
I celebrate Diwali very well in restaurants. From the decoration to the plate, everything is done according to Lakshmi Puja. On the day of Diwali, I go to welcome each of my clients with a saree and wish Diwali by putting a bindi on the client.
It is not allowed to celebrate Holi here, so colors cannot be played. On the day of Holi, I tell my guests about Holi. On this day the restaurant’s menu is filled with colors like Holi. I only serve the dishes prepared on Holi. On August 15, that is, Independence Day, I also decorate my restaurant with tricolors and welcome guests amid patriotic songs.
Can’t be reserved for the party, so order-in or take-out only.
Restaurant theme and music
The art and culture of Gujarat will be seen at Manju Restaurant. Big plates on the walls, my old tiffins that I used to have in Africa. Pot Achari, Gujarati spice rack, I have made a poster of my favorite yellow saree.
lack of space in the restaurant
My restaurant is very small so I can’t do much here but in future I want to put pictures of Gandhiji, Modiji and Amitabh Bachchan here. There are about 200 Indians living here, but due to space limitations we can’t book for the party, so we only order in or take out.
I also received the Great Taste Award for Lemon Pickle.
Apart from English, Indian, VIP customers also come to Manju restaurant. Musicians from England, Harry Potter film crew, MPs have come here but we also treat them as normal customers. I also got the Great Taste Award for the delicious Gujrati dish and the lemon pickle.