Parveen was born in Bradford, West Yorkshire – voted Curry capital of the UK for 4 years running. She is the middle child of seven and lived up to her label as middle child and was full of character. She recalls that the focal point of family life was family meal times when all seven siblings, mum and dad would sit down to the evening meal, eat chat and spend time with one another, she says of her childhood that was a wonderful time “were like the Asian Waltons!”
Parveen grew up in the 70’s which was a dark and depressing time for some but she says that as children they were lucky to have mums onions bhajis to come home to which they ate by candlelight. Parveen says that for her it was a magical time and when her love affair with food began. She grew up watching her mother and big sister cook amazing food and all Parveen’s recipes are based on the ones her mother used to use. The only difference is that Parveen’s mother cooked by eye and did not actually measure anything but Parveen’s recipes are thought through very carefully with each gram of spice being weighed precisely.
Parveen married in 1987 and her passion of food was further fuelled by wanting to cook for the man in her life and then later on her three children, for whom she thought was essential to provide good, wholesome and healthy food. From 1997 to 2007 Parveen worked in Childcare, first as manager of a nursery, on the board of Sure Start and then as East Anglia’s first Asian Ofsted Inspector. However in all these job roles, Parveen says the best part of the job was organising the events, cooking team lunches, Christmas and Eid parties.
The stress of the job, running a household and raising three children took its toll on Parveen and in 2007 she was diagnosed with a tumour and spent a year in and out of hospital. After her recovery, she decided to leave the corporate world behind and turn her passion into her business – food!.. So in 2008 she set up her own company; catering Bollywood parties, demonstrating, teaching cooking as well as designing and selling her own range of spices.
Parveen designed the spice box out of sheer necessity. Her son, Imran had gone to university and needed a taste of home. Parveen wrote a few recipes and emailed them to her son. Unfortunately, the dishes did not turn out the way her son wanted, so she blended a few sachets of spices and posted them off to him. Hey presto, they worked. That gave her the idea to produce a range of spice bags that she could sell along with her simple step-by-step recipes.
In 2009 Parveen appeared on the popular channel 4 show ‘Come Dine With Me’ and made her debut on Ideal world shopping channel to showcase her spice box. She got the bug to appear in front of the camera and now regularly demonstrates Indian cooking on Hochanda Shopping Channel. Her journey has been full of ups and downs and at times sheer hard work but at 51 her determination, patience and perseverance has paid off as she finally launches her first cook book ‘Parveen The Spice Queen’ in the prestigious Cambridge book store Heffers in Nov. Parveen says it is bitter sweet time as she lost her mother few months ago and naturally the book is dedicated to her mum.
Parveen is passionate about her style of cooking and believes that anyone can learn to cook using her easy recipes and individually packed little sachets of spice. She is on a mission to teach the nation to cook Indian and believes that her book ‘Parveen The Spice Queen’ will be her secret weapon – well not that secret really as it will be available for sale soon. Watch this space and look out for the Spice Queen.