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Ammi's Kitchen: Feeding the soul and doing social good

Founded to support local women with paid work and food qualifications, the 'Mother's Kitchen' project is also turning out some amazing meals. We meet the team behind the project.

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The Ammi's Kitchen team sharing a meal at the cookbook photoshoot.

Joe Horner

Ammi's Kitchen is a social enterprise set up as part of Family Voice, a charitable organisation working with parents and children in Nether Edge. The initiative employs women who may find it difficult to get a job, helping them gain paid work experience in a supportive environment.

Profits from its food sales go towards paying for more women to attend classes to get their food and hygiene certificate, and it’s also an opportunity for local mums to develop professional culinary skills.

We asked the Ammi’s Kitchen team to tell us more about their work and delicious food they make together, which is available for takeaway and at lunchtime events at Common Ground Community Centre.

Tell us more about the idea for Ammi’s Kitchen.

The idea for Ammi's Kitchen came from working with local mums. ‘Ammi’ means ‘mother’ in Punjabi. A mother’s kitchen is exactly what we wanted to bring about.

Women come together to share their culinary skills and knowledge which they have perfected on a daily basis. They are recipes which many learnt as children when they started to cook in the family homes.

We have built excellent relationships with mums over the years and we often asked what they would like help with and they always said finding a job. We know that generally a lot of the takeaways have male chefs, but it is often the women who cook the best food in the family home. They have been cooking for their families every day and have been taught secret family recipes.

We thought this would be a great match – to train women in food hygiene and employ them to cook their recipes in a takeaway style for the local community.

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A thali plate with chana pilau, masoor tarka dal and coriander chutney, carrot pickle and chapatis made by chefs Prem, Angela and Azra.

Joe Horner

How did you get started?

We applied for funding through Bright Ideas and Power to Change to start the business. We also wanted to help the women gain valuable skills in food and hospitality, so we created a bespoke Level 1 Food Hygiene and Safety course for non-English speakers. We ask all our chefs to pass the course before joining the team.

We were awarded the funding during lockdown and had to adapt our launch plans by first selling recipe kits which were really popular. Eventually we were able to run our first Level 1 food course and trial the recipes.

We launched Ammi's Kitchen at the Inflatable Carnival as part of the Nether Edge Festival. Since then we have run a fortnightly takeaway for local customers in Nether Edge and started to work with the School for Pop Ups at Union Street, serving lunch fortnightly as well.

All our menus are either vegan or vegetarian and come from recipes from around the world. They are dishes that our ladies cook on a daily or weekly basis for their families. All of the food is sourced fresh from local suppliers and is delivered the day before cooking.

What’s the reaction been to the food?

One customer said it was the best dhaal they had ever had. Another said that you can't get authentic and healthy curries like this anywhere else.

What can people look forward to on the menu?

We work with women from all around the world so we try to showcase all the different cuisines. Up to now we have served Pakistani, Nepalese, Sri Lankan and Iraqi food. Each takeaway is a vegan set meal for two and each time it will be from a different part of the world.

What have been your favourite dishes?

All of the food is delicious! We love the dhaal and the varieties that you get from each country.

Pakistani dhaal has a spiced tarka [spices tempered in oil] on the top that brings a great depth of heat to the dish. The Nepalese Uraad dill dhaal is so tasty. We would never have thought to add dill but it works so well and brings a freshness to it.

The Sri Lankan coconut dhaal is heavenly, creamy and feeds your soul. The Iraqi fasouli, a tomato bean dish, has cinnamon which just brings an unexpected warmth and spice, which is fantastic.

Any top tips you’d share for home cooks?

Our top tips would be to cook your onions for longer than you think with the lid on, and to blend tomatoes, ginger and garlic together for a curry.

Here are a couple of easy recipes that you can try at home.

Azra’s Yoghurt Chutney

This is perfect to have with bhajis, samosas or even crisps.

  • 2 green chillies. Add the amount for your heat preference.
  • ½ teaspoon of salt (or to taste)
  • ½ pot of yoghurt (vegan or dairy)
  • ½ bunch of fresh coriander

All you have to do is blend all of these ingredients together in a food processor.

Shabana's fruit chaat

A selection of fruit - a couple of apples, bananas, a handful of grapes, a couple of kiwis and peaches. Alternatively whatever you prefer to use.

Chop your selection of fruit into small pieces. Add a few generous tablespoons of yoghurt (adjust depending on how much fruit you use), a pinch of black pepper and salt. Then add some fruit chaat masala to taste.

Chaat is a spicy, tangy fruit salad popular in Pakistan and India. Fruit chaat masala is a spice mix you can buy. It often includes chilli, muskmelon, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, cardamon and cloves.

Ammis Kitchen logo

Ammi's Kitchen logo by Studio AW-AR.

What's next for Ammi's Kitchen?

We have just started a lunch club at Common Ground. This will be held on the following Fridays: 21 October, 11 November, 25 November and 9 December. Please pop down if you are in the area.

Individuals can come and sit and have their lunch or take it away. Spice packs can also be bought from Common Ground on takeaway days, or you can email us to order one.

We are working on writing a cookbook of all the chefs' delicious recipes with the help of the fantastic Hannah Boursnell. We can't wait to share these with you.

How can people keep in touch with what’s cooking at Ammi’s kitchen?

You can find Ammi's Kitchen on Instagram and Facebook, or drop us an email. You can join our email or text message subscriber list to learn about our upcoming takeaways and events.

We will have a new website launching soon which has been created by Sheffield-based Studio AW-AR. It looks fantastic and they are the team behind our fab logo, which we love.

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