Get Your Children To Join You While Cooking: Curry Queen Sarah Ali Choudhury
In an exclusive interview with ParentCircle, celebrated chef and mom of four, Sarah Ali Choudhury, talks about food, parenting and how to keep kids away from gadgets
By Monali Bordoloi • 5 min read
Multiple award-winning TV chef, Indian food expert, entrepreneur and columnist, Sarah Ali Choudhury started her culinary journey by cutting onions and mushrooms in her parents’ restaurant! Since then, she has come a long way, and is now considered an Indian food expert in the United Kingdom and beyond. Sarah is a force to reckon with in the female entrepreneur community in the UK and India. A brand ambassador of Indian food and culture, Sarah actively promotes cuisines from the subcontinent through various cookery shows and public speaking.
A mother of four, Sarah advocates involving children in cooking. She believes that apart from training them in an important life skill, it also will help in bonding between parent and child. Moreover, it is a great way for children to spend productive time away from gadgets!
ParentCircle catches up with Sarah Ali Choudhury, often dubbed the Curry Queen, for a tête-à-tête on food, parenting and cooking for children.
With four kids, a business and so many projects on hand, what keeps you going?
I believe that all women have a lot of potential for great accomplishments and to make a difference in people’s lives. She just needs to set her mind to it. From the beginning, I have always wanted to make a difference. I believe that your family and children should never come in the way of your success - they should be your pillars of strength.
How do you manage to motivate yourself to cook healthy meals and snacks for your children?
My children’s love for my home-cooked food keeps me motivated. When you notice that your children turn down tempting outside food for a bowl of home cooked goodness, that will inspire you to find time to cook healthy food for them. If you plan well, cooking does not take much time. Even simple food tastes amazing.
Children these days prefer Western food more than our traditional food. How can a parent make her child interested in Indian food?
You cannot avoid it entirely. What I feel is that parents should lead by example. If you stick to home-cooked food, surely your children would also follow suit. Since they are exposed to advertisement for restaurant food, it is but natural for them to crave for it. So, instead of banning it, try to set a limit to outside food.
What is your top tip to cook a tasty and nutritious meal for the entire family?
I am a big fan of Indian spices. If your ingredients are fresh, and you use the right spices, any simple home cooked meal could taste divine. I use the 5-spice mix (paanch phoron) in most of my vegetarian curries.
How do we involve children in the cooking process? How can we ensure that they learn this basic life skill?
When I was nine years old, my grandmother from Guyana, South America, stayed with us for a year. That was the time I developed a liking for cooking, just by watching her cook delicious meals. Cooking together in the kitchen with your children could be a great bonding activity. Get your children to join you while you cook, talk to them about food, sources of vegetables and give them small age-appropriate tasks.
You have helped made Indian food popular across the UK. What do you think are the biggest plus points of Indian food?
I simply love our flavourful curries. I just can’t go without eating Indian curries. The right mix of ingredients and spices are what make Indian food so flavourful. Indian food is getting accepted all over the world for its distinct flavours.
What are your must-have ingredients in the kitchen?
I cannot cook without onions, garlic and turmeric.
You are a successful entrepreneur. What's your advice to women who want to start a food business?
It’s always better to understand the business well before starting a new venture.
You have fought sexism in catering Industry. Tell us more about it.
If you walk into any restaurant kitchen, you will see only men working there. This is more common in Asian set-ups. This needs to change, we need to welcome women to the workplace.
Over the years, who have been your greatest inspiration?
Apart from my parents, I look up to inspiring people like Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey for their exceptional qualities.
What's your take on screen time and children and how do you spend a gadget-free hour with your children?
With the pandemic, schools have moved online. So, it’s not possible to ban gadget use completely, so I ask my kids to keep it to a limit. Children learn a lot from adults, so if you are glued to your phone, you can’t expect them not to spend time on gadgets.
Kitchen is a good place to spend some time with your children indoors. But nothing can beat the outdoors when it comes to spending gadget-free time.
Please share one simple and tasty recipe for our viewers.
Anything, when made with love, will turn out tasty. Check out one of my simplest chicken curry recipes in this video.
Hall of Fame:
- Sarah was declared the Entrepreneur of the Year with The Dorset Food and Drink Awards and The Perfect Global Chef of the Year in India in 2019.
- Sarah was presented with an award for her contribution to the catering industry by the British Royal Family.
- She also received an award from The British Armed Forces for outstanding contribution for The Military Covenant.
- Sarah is also President for Poole Bay Rotary Club and the Rotary district leader for diversity and equality.
- Sarah was recently appointed as an Ambassador for Lewis Manning Hospice.
About the author:
Written by Monali Bordoloi on 5 November 2020.
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