June 9, 2012

Eastern Eye : Changing fortunes through charity

Eastern Eye : Changing fortunes through charity

The daughter and the face of one of the leading Indian food dynasties in the world is doing her bit to tackle poverty – by giving people lessons on how to cook a curry.Culinary expert Anjali Pathak, brand ambassador for her family’s multi-million-pound Indian food company Patak’s, is lending her services to Find Your Feet – a charity which empowers and supports poor rural families in third world countries. She is using her knowledge of Indian food to help the charity in their ‘Curry for Change’ campaign which started last Friday and will run for the whole month.

“There are so many charities around but I heard this particular charity was a foodie charity, so I thought, ‘wow, let me see what this is about,’” Pathak told Eastern Eye.

The 30-year-old, who currently lives in northwest London, will be providing tips and recipes to be included inside a starter pack given to people to eat in and organise their very own curry evening. Friends and family who are invited to the evening will be expected to donate a small sum of money to the charity, which helps families in India, Nepal, Malawi and Zimbabwe. There are special prizes for the biggest fundraisers. The charity predominantly helps farmers and enables them to grow enough food to feed their children all year round and earn enough money so they can send them to school and pay for basic healthcare.

Pathak is the daughter of Kirit and Meena Pathak, the husband-and-wife team who helped make the brand of curry pastes and sauces into a household name, since its launch in 1957. Patak’s was sold to food processing company, Associated British Foods, for a reported £200 million in 2007, but the family still play an integral part in its running, with Pathak as the ‘face’ of the brand. In her spare time she also does consultancy work, writing about food, creating new recipes and advising people on using Indian spices and ingredients. She added that being involved with the charity was through her own initiative and not through the Patak’s brand. “It’s a way of making my own mark on the world. This attracted me personally because what they are trying to do is different from what a lot of other organisations are doing. “They don’t just give money to farmers. They educate them, so they are actually investing in education. It’s about building on local skills and local knowledge to be able to improve their harvest or start their own business.”

She added: “Back in the day, my grandparents were originally farmers. I think it’s great knowing that there is a charity helping people like my grandfather. If he didn’t leave India and go to Afri- ca, and come to England and set up Patak’s, we would still be in India. We would have really loved to have a charity that was going to help us to do what we know best.

“Half of these people don’t want to leave the farms because that’s their livelihood and they like it because their village is there.”

Pathak will be giving a free cookery master class for the top fundraisers in the campaign, and Indian restaurants such as Dishoom, Cinnamon Club, Benares and Roti Chai will be donating a portion of their revenue during June to the charity.

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