Ismailis in the News: Pinky Lilani – Food Guru

Pinky Lilani

Food guru spices it up

Haima Desshpande

The flavours of chicken tikka masala, rogan josh and tadka daal combined with her culinary expertise captured the taste buds and hearts of Britishers and got Indian-born Pinky Lilani the Order of the British Empire (OBE) last week from Queen Elizabeth II. No wonder then, she successfully used the magic of Indian spices to string together friendships in the UK.

So popular are her Spice Magic seminars — which include motivational demonstrations on the preparation of a selection of Indian delicacies — that Lilani has earned the sobriquet Food Guru. In a poll conducted by the Good Housekeeping magazine, she was voted as one of the 100 most busy women in Britain.

In Mumbai on invitation by the Rotary Club, Lilani spoke exclusively to DNA about racism, food and on being included in the Queen’s Honours List (2007). “I love food and am very passionate about it. Food is a great way to build relationships,” said Lilani. Witty and charming, Lilani firmly believes that in the quest for success one has to ask for everything. “The only thing you get without asking is infectious disease,” she said tongue firmly in cheek.

Though ecstatic about her OBE status, she feels that it is more of an honour and inspiration for the Asian women in Britain rather than recognition for herself. A Muslim from the Aga Khan sect, Lilani credits her success to her husband Mehboob. “The only reason I am able to fly was because my husband gave me the wings to do so,” she said. But she added, “The Indian man does not take his woman seriously.”

An author of two popular books — Spice Magic and Soul Magic – she is a development consultant with some of the major food companies in Europe including Sharwoods. She also advices on a range of Indian food products stocked by Sainsburys, Safeway and Tesco. Lilani has also starred in a television series on Indian food.

According to her, things have changed over the years in Britain. “When I first went there, people asked me if my husband had a corner shop. Three years ago, they asked me if I knew Lakshmi Mittal. Last week out of 12 radio interviews I did, 11 of the interviewers asked me if I knew Shilpa Shetty. To me, this smacked of racism. Thirty years ago, they would have side-stepped the issue but since India is an economic giant today, it can no longer ignored,” stated Lilani.

Revealing the darker side of racism in Britain, she informed that over 50 per cent of the people in the UK think that they live in a racist society. “About 32 per cent of the people in Britain think that multiculturalism threatens the British way of life. About 54 per cent feel that parts of the country does not feel like Britain any more due to immigration. There has to be integration, but this is not losing one’s culture it is about integrating into the British value system,” said Lilani.

Her Spice Magic seminars and Spice Magic Team Building Day — provide unique approaches to team awareness and interaction through an informal dining experience and motivational demonstration on the preparation of Indian delicacies.

Daily News and Analysis – India

Author: ismailimail

Independent, civil society media featuring Ismaili Muslim community, inter and intra faith endeavors, achievements and humanitarian works.

6 thoughts

  1. hi! Pinky
    Can you not do something to organise a get togather of old mwanza tanzania Ismaily families..I need to find news of my long lost family of Sadrubhai and kamelbhai Gulamhussein ..their mum was my foster mum like and although i was born of hindu parents Kulsum masis’s influence was so great on me that in times of despair i just rememcer her and those happy days in mwanza that i forget all my sorrows..i need her now more than ever although she may not be alive..


  2. hi pinky,
    i am married to a canadian wife. we do not often get good indian food at home.
    Do you have cookbooks or online recipes of ismaily dishes we can attemp to cook.


  3. Hi!pinky,
    Thank you for your help ..I feel much better now that i know where my brother is..
    Regards and god bless
    Viren Naik


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