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Irresistible temptations

Niranj Pather, left, and Prim Reddy have released their cookbook. Picture: Supplied

Niranj Pather, left, and Prim Reddy have released their cookbook. Picture: Supplied

Published Jul 4, 2020

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LIFESTYLE - RADIO and television personality and avid restaurateur Prim Reddy has taken her passion for all things culinary a step further, with the launch of her cookbook.

Born in Durban, Reddy moved to Johannesburg in 1996 to take up a career in television.

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She soon moved up the ranks as a popular face on the box from the old days of CCV to SABC 2 and, soon afterwards, to SABC 3.

Reddy later branched into radio as a host on Talk Radio 702.

After moving to Cape Town, Reddy opened her first restaurant, The Indian Chapter, in Blouberg, in 2012.

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The restaurant became so busy that she opened a second one a year later, in the same area.

With her co-author Niranj Pather (owner of the Island Hotel on Isipingo Beach), the release of their new cookbook, Temptations, has been announced.

The book - which at the time of going to print was number5 on Exclusive Books’ bestsellers list - is described as an offering encompassing various cultures and featuring heritage recipes passed down through generations, as well as dishes experienced on their travels.

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The POST

caught up with Reddy to find out more about her journey into the food space and towards the book.

Asked who influenced her passion for food, she said: “I come from a foodie family, so it was pivotal that flavours formed the centre of our lives.

“My mom has five sisters and my dad has one. Each person had their strengths and never delved into the others’ domain, which brought many laughs when the younger generation tried to upstage them. It’s getting up on a Sunday morning to a braised mutton curry with the softest potatoes and russum, a fragrance that made my heart sing and my tummy do a dance.

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“We came from a working family, so there was never time for lessons. It was about watching what the elders did and trying to equal the flavour, fragrance and taste.

“I think the real beauty was seeing the family lap up the luxury on their plates, knowing it came from a place of love. That’s where I learnt the power of flavour and how important it is in bringing people together.”

Food is an experience to be shared, agreed Reddy, which is partly what led to the launch of her restaurants and now a cookbook.

“Families that eat together stay together. Walking into a home where the fragrance of beautiful fresh food filled every inch of the house is heart-warming.

“Food is spiritual. The preparation is calming and seeing the satisfaction on people’s faces is satisfying. It’s a love that had to be shared.

“My granny once said that you know food is good when you eat and want to lay down immediately. It’s soul food and comfort food, and it’s a feeling you want to share like spreading the joy. The Indian Chapter Restaurant was a dream I never knew existed and the thought of owning a restaurant was daunting.

“After all, you’re cooking for many people who are paying, with an expectation of getting great food, with good value for money. I have a great team and we did it. The recipe book was a dream come true and Penguin Books is a prestigious publisher. I was honoured that they saw the beauty in what I do.”

Reddy said she was approached by Penguin Books to put her name to a cookbook.

“Niranj shares the same love for food that I do and she bakes like a dream. I invited her on the journey and it’s culminated into Temptations. I can’t imagine sharing this platform with anyone else. We both wrote the recipes and the content was easy to put together. I did the food and Niranj the cakes, desserts and cocktails.

“Cooking and writing are different. When you write, you’re cooking with your heart and you have to imagine every fragrance and see the dish unfold. Then it’s like God holds your pen to help communicate the recipe in a way it can be interpreted by someone reading the book. It was hard work with great laughter, joy and lots of Champagne.”

Explaining the varied cuisine featured in the book, Reddy said she did not want to be typecast.

“I’m proud to be Indian but my love for all things culinary expands beyond Indian. The common denominator is chilli and I add that into as many dishes as I can, more for the warmth than the heat. In cosmopolitan South Africa, we have a pick of the best dishes and I wanted to showcase what we, as a society, have to offer.

“From a commercial point of view, I wanted the book to appeal to everyone and not just people who wanted to make curry. We’ve evolved as a society and food goes beyond race. If anything, food eradicates any kind of prejudice. It just adds joy to people as a whole. I’ve often said that food can even prevent a world war from starting. Every recipe comes from somewhere and it’s lovely to share that story. I think it also makes it more personal, knowing that each recipe is unique in its own way.”

Reddy said the recipes that featured were tried and tested.

“These recipes gave me joy and made me reminisce about times when life was simple. I wanted to feature recipes I could talk about and, during the lockdown, that’s exactly what we did. We talked and ate. Our homes have become like restaurants and our families like guests. We’ve learnt how important it is to sit together and eat together, and like I told my story, people will be able to tell theirs. It can become quite emotional because sometimes we forget about the simple things which can give us the most joy.

“I miss my parents dearly and my father loved everything I created. I wish they were here now to share in this joy.”

Asked what she hoped the readers would take from the book, Reddy said:

“Cooking is the least stressful process and your ingredients don’t talk back.

“I think everyone should cook. The joy you see on people’s faces gives you the most joy when it’s transferred from plate to palate. The recipes are quick and easy, and there’s enough time to still put on your lipstick, put your feet up and enjoy that well-deserved glass of wine.

“I want people to experience the joy of that experience, of the love it brings and the love it shows. If I can do this, the goal has been achieved.”

Temptations can be bought at leading bookshops or online, including at loot.co.za

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