Poppy Watt talks to former lawyer Neeta Mehta, founder of Sweet Karma about her decision to move from the courtroom to the kitchen with her new range of authentic Indian treats!
Born in England, Neeta is the youngest daughter of a traditional Indian family and grew up combining traditional Indian cooking with the modern food culture of everyday Britain.
“I had been planning my sweet samosa range for three years” says Neeta “but it wasn’t until the legal firm where I was a partner folded that I told myself, ‘it’s now or never’. It was time to follow my dream of creating a sweet samosa to fill a gap in the Anglo-Indian dessert market.
“I had long recognized the need for a good Indian meal to have a great dessert. I wanted to keep the Indian tradition but felt traditional desserts were too sweet for the UK palate. I decided on a samosa with a nice crisp pastry and a gooey, indulgent filling, which could be enjoyed on its own or accompanied with ice cream, fresh fruit salad, or Greek yoghurt.
“Being vegetarian I think I have always been interested in food. It does tend to make you more adventurous in the kitchen. I look for variety, great taste and the opportunity to make something appealing to the palate.”
Currently, there are four varieties of samosa, all made in the UK using delicate triangles of filo pastry, filled with four high quality fillings free from artificial colours and flavourings.
The samosa can be used directly from the freezer, baked for 15 minutes and then served with your favourite accompaniments – Neeta’s idea was to offer a tasty dessert, which was going to be quick and simple to prepare.
and cinnamon – Apple combines
beautifully with the warm, sweet spice of cinnamon in the sweet samosa against
the crisp, flaky pastry.
Mango – This is a mouth watering sweet, subtle, exotic flavor.
Dark chocolate – here there’s a high quality Belgian chocolate for a creamy, rich ganache filling.
Raspberry – the sharp, fresh flavour of raspberries makes a delectable dessert.
“Following your heart is something I would thoroughly recommend.” Says Neeta. “My life switch from law has been a liberating one – I believe anything is possible with hard work and determination. It has been hard work launching a business but the rewards in seeing an idea come to life is worth it. You need great determination, to believe in yourself and stay positive to go into business – from experience and others I’ve talked to it also always takes longer than you think!
“It’s been a steep learning curve, but the samosas have had a hugely positive reaction from testers and I hope they’ll get the same from restaurants and shoppers.
“The greatest challenge has been juggling the various roles that you would normally have a team of people to do in a large organisation and the financial implications of the decision – day to day living, lifestyle and social life takes a temporary big knock!
“I use two suppliers for my samosas, this was done on purpose - one in the South a small quintessentially English company to get the best of British tastes, and one in the North specialising in Asian frozen foods. It took over a year to find the right suppliers – a tip I would give to anyone starting out in the food business is network and you’ll find your suppliers.
When I found the right ones it just clicked!
“My father, a professor, came to England in the sixties and he’s my ultimate inspiration. He gets up at 4.30 each morning, still does full days of research work, writes books and attends conferences. That strong work ethic and doing something you love is what drives both of us. Thankfully, my partner Jon is not only supportive of my dreams but also helps practically as we move through the process together.”
Neeta’s first cookery book was by Madhur Jaffrey. She still rates her as the most influential Indian chef to bring Asian cuisine to the masses. “I remember the first recipe I chose to make was ras malai “ says Neeta “a classic Indian dessert – sweet curd balls in a cream sauce. That really indicated from an early age the direction I was going.
“The influences since then have been the numerous chefs with a sweet tooth - Nigella Lawson, Lorraine Pascale. I always adapt recipes and have fun. I am using coconut palm sugar at the moment, which gives lovely treacle tasting sugar effect to desserts.
Sweet Karma retail packs of 4 Dark Belgian chocolate and 4 Apple and cinnamon, which can be found at the Hounslow and Hayes branches of Quality Foods one of the largest Asian supermarket chains in the UK. Additional flavours are also currently available to caterers.
Now, Hampshire- based Sweet Karma has been named as a finalist in the frozen desserts category of the 2013 Quality Food Awards, for their apple and cinnamon sweet samosas, alongside other finalists Sainsbury’s and Lidl – so watch this space.
For your chance to win 2 boxes of frozen sweet samosa (one Dark Belgium Chocolate and the other Apple and Cinnamon) to be presented to the winner at Hounslow Quality Foods store on Saturday 2nd November just answer the following question:
How many calories in our apple and cinnamon samosa?
A Over 100
B Over 150 calories
C Under 100 calories
Send your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org ensuring you place the words Sweet Karma in the subject header and also include your unique Women Talking username with the submission.
This competition has now closed.
The editor’s decision is final and there are no cash alternatives.