Parveen Ashraf is the creator of the Amaani Spice Box and will appear on the Channel 4 programme Come Dine With Me later this year. This interview was broadcast at 07:50 on March 1st 2010 on the BBC Peterborough Breakfast Show. The Interviewer is Andy Gall. David Whiteley features towards the end.
ANDY: Now a Peterborough edition of the Channel 4 show Come Dine with Me has been filmed and will be shown in the summer, and Parveen Ashraf who runs Amaani Spice Box was one of the contestants on the show and joins us now. Good morning.
PARVEEN: Good morning Andy.
ANDY: Thank you for coming in. Now, tell us a little bit about the show. What happened? Because it’s a great show, on Channel 4, Come Dine with Me. I love it. What was it like for you?
PARVEEN: It is. It was, I think the word is, surreal.
ANDY: Did you get on with the other contestants? Because watching it at home you kind of like a bit of friction between the contestants. But was it a happy camp?
PARVEEN: Do you know what Andy? Actually we all really got on. But the .. it was hard to get on the programme. The researchers really do their job. And they were looking for characters that possibly wouldn’t get on.
PARVEEN: So here I am, Spice Queen doing a Bollywood Night. And they had a huge camp guy who would hate his curry.
ANDY: No way!
PARVEEN: Absolutely yes way.
ANDY: Did you manage to convert him to the world of ..
PARVEEN: Not really. What I was going to do Andy was I was going to have a plan B. Maybe do a lovely sort of salmon with potatoes and dill, asparagus .. The producer said oh no no you don’t need to do that.
ANDY: The thing is though you’re not a one-trick pony though are you? You do Indian food but you can do .. like everyone does food from all round the world, don’t they?
ANDY: They do. The thing is Andy if you do the Come Dine with Me, the first thing they ask you, the first thing is, number one do you own your own house? And they ask you the menu. So actually you can’t change your menu.
ANDY: So that is .. that’s carved in stone.
ANDY: Just quickly, there’s a really nice back story to why you’ve come to where you are now, isn’t there? Born out of a .. if we can talk about it, you were ill for a little while.
PARVEEN: Actually I was ill. And I was like most mums busy, with three children, house, husband, the works. And I found a tumour in my stomach. I was really quite ill for a long time. But that actually was .. there was a silver ..
ANDY: Silver lining?
PARVEEN: Silver lining on the cloud, in that it changed my perspective on life. So I left my job, and after I recovered I now do what I love. One of the things I do is that I’m an artist. I’m also .. I started a company. A friend said can you do some food for me. And I said don’t be silly. I’m not a cook, I’m an artist. And he said, oh please, can you do some food for one of my openings for my workplace. I did some food. He said, do you know, you should do this for a living. And I thought, yeah, I should. (LAUGHS) So now I do catering. But the idea of the Spice Box came out through sheer necessity really.
ANDY: Didn’t you .. isn’t it something to do with the fact that you .. one of your .. oh thank you very much. i’ve just received some food. Perhaps we should stop .. shall we play some music?
ANDY: Let’s play music for the rest of the show and just eat.
PARVEEN: That’s it Andy, give it a go.
ANDY: Didn’t you .. one of your eldest son .. didn’t he leave for university and then you had to sort of send him food packages?
PARVEEN: Do you know what Andy, I said there’s some of these mums do that, I will never be a mum that sends food packages to a son at university. And I swore blind I wouldn’t. But I did send him some recipes. And he lives about one minute off the Curry Mile.
ANDY: One minute? OK.
PARVEEN: And he still wants my food.
ANDY: That’s lovely. That’s an endorsement of your food, isn’t it?
PARVEEN: Isn’t that a compliment? So yes, the Spice Box was something that I designed for him. So recipes, and spices, he cooked up the spices and he said Mum he said these recipes are fantastic, but this food’s not good. And I said you must be doing something wrong. And he said no, no, I’m not. I said, well, what are you using? And he said, shop bought spices.
ANDY: Oh my word. The mere thought of it.
ANDY: What about Chinese Five Spices? I use that. Does that work?
PARVEEN: (LAUGHS) Oh I can’t comment on Chinese food Andy. But have a sniff.
ANDY: Scratch and sniff radio. Yes, that is something. That’s beautiful.
PARVEEN: It’s roast and ground by my own little brown hands. In my kitchen. (LAUGHS)
ANDY: Is it specific to a certain area of India then that your cooking comes from then, or is it across the board?
PARVEEN: It’s across the board really. But really I think its Mamma Knows Best really. It’s Mum’s recipes.
ANDY: OK. Do you know what, we’re going to have to leave it there, because we’ve got to talk about Inside Out, which is coming up. I’d love to talk to you as well. But .. is David there? David, good morning.
DAVID: I’m hungry. It’s making me hungry. I’m really hungry now.
ANDY: Do you know what? Parveen, lovely to talk to you. We could talk for ever.
PARVEEN: Andy. If you can’t use them, log on to my website, and watch me cook the recipes, and follow me on line.
ANDY: Alright. OK.
DAVID: I might do that as well.
ANDY: Here look at you, elbowing in.
DAVID: Oh sorry!
ANDY: For a free lunch.
DAVID: (LAUGHS) I’ll pay for it. I don’t mind.
ANDY: Get your snought out of the trough.
DAVID: Sorry Andy.
ANDY: When’s the show coming on? Because you’re on Come Dine With Me.
PARVEEN: It’s on in summer. I think it’s going to be really good telly, because I had a butler and a waitress and I served all this plonk. But other than that it’s secret, I can’t just tell you what I did. But it’s going to be good telly I think.
ANDY: Fantastic. Look at that teasing delivery you’ve got as well there. You could work in the media. So fantastic. Thank you. Also Dave Lamb a very good narrator on that.
PARVEEN: Aah. I wonder what he’s going to do with me!
ANDY: Well it will be something. Parveen Ashraf thank you very much for talking to us. Of course runs the Amaani Spice Box as well and all the best. We look forward to seeing you on television later this year, in the summertime.
PARVEEN: Thanks Andy.