1) Who were you before being a Chef? (Starting from your name, birthplace, education and rewards you have received in your culinary career).
PARUL SACHDEVA: My name is Parul Sachdeva and I am the owner of HEALING MEALS WITH PARUL'S COOKING HUB. My birthplace is Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh but, home town is Nainital, Uttarakhand. I grew up in various cities since my father was working in irrigation department and his job required him to move a lot. That is the reason I did my education from several cities. After few years, I got married into an incredibly supportive and loving family.
Later, we received a chance to move to Birmingham, United Kingdom. There I got an opportunity to serve as a head chef in an old age home, where I was already working as a warden. Back then, an Amritsar-based head chef was about to quit so, he went back to his home and advised me to apply for this position. With God's grace, I got the job and that was when I truly realized that serving people gave me immense happiness and I wanted to peruse this as a career. My journey from a homemaker to a home chef began in 1999 and those 22 years have taught me a lot which I wouldn't have learnt from any other way.
2) How do you feel being in this world of the food industry? (Describing all about your personality, passion and hobbies).
PARUL SACHDEVA: My constant gratitude is that, I got an opportunity to serve the culinary industry. I believe that cooking is one of the very few activities that involves the use of all our five senses at the same time. One can see the food being cooked, smell the aroma it's producing, taste it's flavours, touch and feel its texture and even hear the sizzling sound it produces while being cooked. One of the most important aspects of cooking is that one gets to work with 'Panch Tattvas'. All the elements, which are, Air, Fire, Water, Earth and Space, make one stay connected to self while giving all of their love and efforts to the food being cooked.
I can definately say that cooking has changed me as a person, spiritually, mentally and even physically. There have been times when even cooking for more than 16-18 hours a day has never felt me exhausted. My passion and motivation for cooking are some of the only sources of my stamina that allow me to do all the work. It acts as a workout station for me. Cooking Industry creates that magic which no other field does. Other than that, my work has made me calm and peaceful. I make sure that even my staff maintains the same working environment. Other than cooking, I also like to indulge myself in spiritual readings.
3) What all are your signature dishes? (Along with the names).
Though, I find myself leaning towards innovative cooking. But, if I have to name my signature dish, it would be Doli ki Roti, which is a Multani dish, passed on by my "mother- in-law" to me. It is all because of her that I am here. She has been my mentor since the beginning. Both my mothers have inculcated some great disciplinary habits into me and for that, I am eternally grateful. One of the things I learned from my mother-in-law was the ability to plan every task perfectly well and Healing Meals credit goes to her only. Doli Ki Roti, has now become a brand to me, it is extremely time-consuming and an exerting delicacy whose dough takes 32 hours to get prepared and it carries an ancient story as well.
In olden days, when daughters get married, their mothers used to prepare it as a meal for long journeys. It is a fermented roti, stuffed with different kinds of fillings. I found the story beautiful and emotional, so I decided to carry this recipe on. Other than that, I am also into Parsi Cuisines. I find myself deviating towards North Indian foods a lot, more than any other cuisines of the world. I have also written more than 500 recipes, cherish them a lot and hope to pass them on to my daughter someday.
4) What are your dreams as a chef? Where do you see yourself and your brand in future?
One of the few things that break my heart is to see food being wasted. So, as working at Healing Meals, one of the first things I do in the morning is to inwove Goddess Annapurna. I ask her to come and bless my kitchen for entire day and leave all my responsibilities to her. I chant a lot of prayers for the betterment of the people who are about to consume the food prepared by me.
It's been 30 years and I have never tasted the food while preparing. It's my believe that God will surely guide me. My dream revolves around this thought itself, that food which I produce shall heal the bodies and reaches to the souls. My believe is to start treating people around me, so that the circle of kindness shall keep on growing. Through love only, we can make this world a better place to live. I wish that Healing Meals, heals the souls of anyone and everyone who consumes it.
5) Tell about your contribution in covid times in detail. Was your family supportive?
Last year, when I realised that COVID-19 has started affecting so many people all over the world, then suddenly I thought of doing something for those who were ailing. So, I took up the responsibility of cooking food for entire staff of our society which included the guards, housekeeping members and even the RWA office staff. I prepared meals for three months in a row. Though they were not front-line workers, but they were playing an equally important role in these hard times.
Watching to our hard work, people from neighbouring colonies also started asking me how can they be of any help to her? With their helping hands, things moved on swiftly and the year passed happily. When situation went worst during the strick of the second wave then, I decided to divert all my services to Corona patients only. There were times when my husband and I have gone to houses to drop food. Later, I started getting more than 200 calls every day and I served around 250 meals per day.
Afterwards, I saw that things were improving and 99% of my clients started recovering. Their families sent heartfelt gratitude to my team and to me. All in all, my family has been a huge supporting figure in my journey. My husband has looked after all the executing processes, from taking orders to dispatching them and even to the deliveries. He made sure that I focus more on my cooking than anything else.
INTERVIEWED AND PICTURE COURTESY: Home Chef Mrs. Parul Sachdeva.
INTERVIEW TAKEN BY: Shruti Bhushal, Special Correspondent.
CONTRIBUTED BY: Khatibah Rehmat, Senior Journalist.
FOR ADVERTISEMENT RELATED ENQUIRIES KINDLY CONTACT: