Anuradha (Anjali) Thatal is Perthshire’s queen of spices.
She spent months grinding spices with a small mortar and pestle in her hand to keep up with customer demand before finally investing in a grinder that has now drastically reduced her time making spices.
It takes her days to prepare her home-cooked Indian cuisine that customers are rightly raving about, and since launching during the pandemic in July 2020, her business, Anjali Nimto, has gone from strength to strength.
She runs her business from her home in Auchterarder with her husband, Swayam Roka, while caring for two young children.
Anjali moved to Scotland just nine years ago from Sikkim in India in 2013, where the food is very mildly spiced, has more soup-inspired dishes and has a Chinese influence.
India curry tour
Nimto means “invitation” in its regional language and Anjali Nimto is an invitation to taste a range of dishes from all over the country. Anjali calls it her “India curry tour”.
Having started with 12 clients, Anjali and her husband now look after 20 people a week, with demand increasing every day. Customers should book quickly if they want to sample the food.
“Each week, I pick a region, like Mumbai (or Bombay as it used to be called) and do everything that week around it. From starters to desserts.
“I’ve always struggled to get a good Indian meal, so I wanted to showcase my culture and show what Indian food is really about. I think that’s why people stick with us.
“I will also share the history of curry and where its influences come from.
“People told us they had never tried anything like this before, and some even wondered if it was an Indian meal because they weren’t used to this style of cooking.”
How it works?
Running a set offering every week the menu is published on it Facebook page Monday morning and orders must be received by Friday afternoon/evening. Customers then pick up their orders on Saturday from 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
The set menu, which ranges in price from around £17-£20, includes starters and a main course with rice, and dessert, sides or extras like poppadoms can also be added to orders for an extra charge .
Side dishes usually include bread, salad, riata and more, and Anjali says it takes her days to prepare the food. Although she hasn’t been able to support as many local businesses with her business as she had hoped due to cost, everything is fresh and hand cut.
“We make our own spices, which takes a lot of time. Everything is cut by hand and we don’t use anything frozen.
“My husband helps me in the kitchen. Although he is not a chef, he has worked at Gleneagles for 10 years, so he has an eye for detail.
Dishes on previous menus have included a burger-style vada pau with spicy potatoes and red and green chutney, kholapuri chicken marinated in various spices for 24 hours, a Persian lamb dish salli boti, shahi murgh korma and sungur ko masa which is a pork belly dish cooked slowly in dry red chilli and tomatoes.
Passion for cooking
Starting to cook for her family at home at the age of 12, Anjali has always been passionate about her roots.
With her siblings and father at work and her mother overseeing their house building project, ensuring the household was fed was left in Anjali’s hands.
“Feeding people is something I love to do. I made a lot of friends in Scotland around food,” she added.
The 39-year-old now also works at Capability Scotland’s Upper Springland Day Centre, where she has run several Bollywood-themed days.
It was customers and staff who persuaded Anjali to start her own business after tasting her curries.
Acquisition of the kitchen of its own Michelin-starred Indian restaurant
Anjali has a burning desire to bring together as many people around a good table.
Appearing at local venues such as The Smiddy Haugh in Auchterarder for cooking covers, his dream is to own his own Michelin-starred Indian restaurant and put cooking on the map in Fife.
“The main motive for these events is that I really want people to sit down and experience the meal.
“My goal is to have a Michelin-starred Indian restaurant and I want people to really enjoy the food. It will take a long time, but I would like it.
“We’ve had a few offers to do more events like these in the area. We hope to do one in August and maybe July if we have time.
“We might even consider doing more Indian street food.”
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[Anjali’s Nimto dreams of opening Scotland’s first Michelin Indian restaurant]