I'm Anneeka. The dadima's brand all started my from my personal story so I want to take a few moments to share it with you.
In 2015, I started research for a book, titled dadima's. My quest was to gather culinary wisdom from wise grandmothers (or dadimas) around the UK, and then share this knowledge for all to benefit. I chose to learn from those grandmothers who had been cooking traditional, timeless, recipes, with love, for years – just like my own dadima.
The inspiration for dadima's began years before 2015 and unknowingly, the seed was sewn since childhood.
I've always shared a special bond with my dadima (grandmother).
I spent my early childhood living under the same roof as my dadima, and I loved hanging out with her (she was like my best friend). I often pretended to be sick at school so that I could go and see her instead. They soon cottoned on.
Dadima played a key role in my upbringing and values. I would listen, wide-eyed, to her captivating stories, whilst watching her cook the most delicious dishes. My dadima's cooking was an extension of her wisdom. She used simple ingredients, prepared them mindfully, and cooked them with love to nourish her family. She would share memories of her time in India, of how she learnt to cook from her mother-in-law, and what life was like when she moved to the UK - (if you've read my book, you'll find more on this in her story section). I would tell her she was “the best cook in the whole wide world”, and also the best storyteller.
When I moved abroad and lived away from home, I remained close to my dadima. Since my late teens, I feared that in our advanced world - where it's all about 'what's new?' and the latest food trends – traditional culinary knowledge from the elder generation, was at risk of being forgotten. I wanted to bridge the gap and help my generation benefit from this valuable culinary knowledge. I hadn’t thought about how I would do that, but I knew that language & writing had excited me since I was a little girl - to the extent that I pursued this at university.
I decided to combine my love for food, an appreciation of the old, and writing, into dadima's memoir cookbook.
what home-cooking means to me
For me, cooking the meals that I've grown up on, brings a heart-warming sense of nostalgia and home. Most importantly, it's the stories behind the dishes, that make home-made food so special. When I cook a paratha (Indian stuffed flatbread), for example, I smile as I think of my dadima in her cosy little kitchen, lovingly spreading homemade ghee over a crispy paratha, whilst talking to me about the importance of a bit of fat in our diet, to keep us going and give us energy. I can almost smell the creamy, buttery aroma of freshly made ghee as I write this. Or, when I'm making aloo gobi, I think of the times when my sister and I would de-brief mum about our day at school, whilst she was cooking aloo gobi, and we were given the job of raitha yoghurt and picking the coriander. Growing up, my family kitchen was the hub for stories, life advice, laughter and connecting.
I learnt to cook from talented elder women in my family - particularly my dadima, my nanima (nan) and my mum - all three of them made home-cooking look effortless. Learning was a casual, organic process, which formed part of everyday life in my close-knit Indian family. These women cook using their instinct and experience, and rarely did they measure ingredients. All three of them are fusspots when it comes to the quality of their ingredients and taste. They are very resourceful when it comes to rustling something up for those last minute visitors. This is what I call, dadima's style. As such, I've adopted a creative, intuitive, and slightly 'go-with-the-flow' approach to cooking.