My 2016 in Indian food: Katy Essex, Find Your Feet

Curry For Change Logo

Find Your Feet is a charity whose Goliath-like impact is all the more impressive given its David-sized stature. Tacking food poverty is the main aim; and the annual Curry For Change campaign is a vital part of the ever-more successful strategy. As 2016 draws to a close, Fundraising & Communications Officer Katy Essex sheds light on the year’s brightest points.

Your highlight of the year – and why it was so?

Hosting our sell-out cookery classes at School of Wok. We were supported by the likes of Asma Khan, Chit Chaat Chai, Hari Ghotra and The Urban Rajah, and learnt to rustle up all sorts of Indian dishes, from street food to curry classics. We even got a mention in Time Out. Our final Curry For Change week total was £4453.49, which will be doubled by Natco.

Favourite Indian place you ate at?

With so many innovative new chefs and pop-ups on the scene, it’s difficult to choose. I absolutely loved the unique vibe at Chit Chaat Chai’s new restaurant in Wandsworth Town. The cocktails are fabulous, and the team introduced me to my first-ever Bombay bhel and pani puri.

Favourite non-Indian place you ate at?

Early in the year, Creole Kitchen’s Vanessa Bolosier and Selina Periampillai of Taste Mauritius joined forces for an incredible Mauritian and French Caribbean supperclub at the Beachcomber Bar in Notting Hill. The food, drinks and atmosphere were all great. My favourite dish was definitely the pineapple rum cake with cardamom clotted cream.

Chin's Kitchen Chintal Kakaya nankhatai handmade Indian shortbread biscuits cookies rose and cardamom sweet

Chin’s Kitchen’s nankhatai

The Indian foodies who’ve done great things?

There are loads of new Indian food businesses going from strength to strength. Brockley restaurant Masala Wala Café – which held a sell-out supperclub for Curry For Change, Raastawala, whose team creates authentic Kolkata street food, and Chintal Kakaya of Chin’s Kitchen with her delicious home-made nankhatai.

The Indian dish you’ve cooked the most this year?

I never realised how much I loved paneer until I tried this recipe for creamy tomato paneer by Mallika Basu last year. Ever since then, I’ve been addicted – and make it whenever I have friends over.

Your 2017 plans?

We want to make the next Curry For Change bigger and better than ever before. This year, we ran a series of cooking classes, and our very own supperclub. We’ve had such positive feedback that we definitely want to take these initiatives forward in order to get as many people as possible cooking curry to help change the lives of families who suffer from hunger.

I was very lucky that this year I got to visit India, and meet some of the people that the campaign is helping to support. I met women who were working together to save money, so that they could take out loans to start businesses or buy seeds.

I visited villages where people were coming together to discuss their issues, learn about their rights, and demand change. I met families who now have enough nutritious food to eat all year round. And all that is thanks to everyone who has been a part of Curry For Change. We can’t wait to see what happens next year!

Who would you crown your Indian chef of the year?

We’ve had so much support from Darjeeling Express’s wonderful founder Asma Khan. She’s given up so much of her time to supporting the families we work with, hosting a cooking class and cooking up a feast at our supperclub. That night we raised £1526, which was doubled to £3052 by Natco Foods, our campaign sponsor.

  • To read about Indian events and openings for December, click here
  • To read more about Find Your Feet and Curry For Change, click here
  • For my Curry For Change Bombay Bad Boy chocolate cheesecake recipe, click here
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