A great cook, with a keen eye for fashion, colour and community spirit, Anjam Jabeen takes her Mamajaan range of curry sauces from the kitchen table and local delis to one of London’s’ most prestigious stores, Fortnum and Mason. Poppy Watt meets Anjam and her daughter at home in Hampstead to discover the inspiration behind the brand.
From a large traditional Punjabi family and the eldest of five sisters and one brother Anjam always helped out in the kitchen so it’s no surprise that she says, “My goal was to introduce convenience to wholesome family meals.
“It can take a good couple of hours to make a traditional curry from scratch with all the chopping, preparing and cooking. Many curry sauces available in jars do not taste the same as homemade, so I decided I wanted to make healthy curry sauce with fresh products and an unforgettable taste. Now I have created the sauce, all you need to do is add your favourite ingredients be it meat, fish or vegetables and cook to soak up the unique flavours. The result is a wonderful homemade taste!
“My inspiration for cooking was truly influenced from the year I spent in rural Punjab when I was 12, taking cooking lessons from my grandmother. She had a huge house, with an abundance of visitors. We would make big pots of curry and sauces and even bury meats in coals underground to cook. We used the plentiful fresh produce available on her farm, from home-reared, roasted meat to fresh mangoes from her garden tree to make richly flavoured sauces.
“Everything was local and fresh. We would get fish from the local dam, milk from our own buffalo and even slaughtered our own goats– it was a great experience in food education.”
“Over the years I have travelled to many places: Thailand, India and Kenya and have taken ideas from each place – I am fascinated by the different styles and techniques of cooking.
“In Hampstead I loved to cook for friends, traditional curries with fresh ingredients sourced in London. News soon spread and before I knew it, many friends would come knocking on my door eager for a jar of my freshly made, low fat sauces.
“One of the local mums suggested that I approach the local Budgen store in Belsize Park. Andrew Thornton the store manager had heard about my sauces and was more than happy to sell them in store providing the packaging was above board.
“I went to a branding company who helped me design a logo – the tone of the packaging was inspired by the bright colours of the fabric I used to make colourful Punjabi suits for my sisters when we were younger. I even chased a girl down a street as I saw she was carrying a green bag the exact colour I wanted for my boxes! The brand name Mamajaan’s came from my daughter Kinza – it is what she calls me!
“Three months later Mamajaan’s curry sauces were stocked on the shelves in Budgens Haverstock Hill and it wasn’t long before my range was being sold across other local Budgens.
“Production outgrew my kitchen, so I now use Olive grows commercial kitchens in Park Royal. George runs the catering facility and is passionate about great food. He has been a great encouragement for me and other entrepreneurs and rising chefs.”
Anjam is not only changing the world with her healthy cooking alternatives, with no preservatives, additives or additional salt but for the last six years has also worked for the Anthony Nolan Charity matching bone marrow donors with patients. www.anthonynolan.org and helping to save lives.
The Mamajaan’s range consist of:
Keats Kashmir – a mild, rich curry with creamy coconut and hints of ginger
Camden Chitur – a tangy sauce made with tomatoes and green mango for all the family
Hampstead Harooni – a deep, spicy flavour with fresh lemongrass and roasted mustard seeds, giving it a smoky taste
Belsize Bhuna – a spicy sauce made with green chilli and coriander that has a kick, but won’t blow your head off.
For your chance to win the complete collection of Mamajaan’s sauces just answer the following question:
What side dish has Anjam suggested on her website?
For assistance look at www.mamajaans.co.uk side dishes.
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