In this Big Bite series, iGlobal catches up with Ira Bahl – the force behind the increasingly popular sweet and savoury outlet 'Nani Ki Pinni'. The confectioner takes us through the inspirations behind her special creations and talks about her delectable spread of several Indian sweets that were otherwise hard to find in the UK – just as we celebrate the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi.
Nani Ki Pinni caters to the sweet tooth of every British Indian living in the Amersham area in London. After receiving tremendous positive feedback, Bahl now plans to expand to other cities around Britain. Modak – famously a special favourite of Lord Ganesha – is just one among the many sweet offerings from 'Nani Ki Pinni' which can be accessed online too.
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Here, Ira shares an easy Modak recipe to try at home and offer to Ganpati Bappa in time for the festivities.
Tell us about your journey to the UK.
I was born in Sonipat, Haryana, and raised in Delhi. I moved to the UK in 2001. Initially, I worked for an HR firm. Then I moved to London Underground.
Please tell us what items you prepare for Ganesh Chaturthi.
Ganesh Chaturthi is a special occasion for us all to receive blessings for abundance, health, and prosperity. This festival belongs to Ganeshji's favourite mithai, Modak. We have prepared different types of Modaks such as :
Kesar Pista Rose
Milk Pista Vanilla
Coconut & jaggery
What are your inspirations behind your creations?
A serendipitous event led to the founding of Nani Ki Pinni. I used to prepare Punjabi Desi ghee Pinnis and Motichoor ladoos for friends and family for festivals. During the Pandemic, I started experimenting with different sweets & delicacies at home, which my family and friends got quite fond of. Post-Pandemic, the idea took shape, and Nani Ki Pinni was started. I was driven by the fact that homemade sweets are rare in the UK, especially during festivals and special occasions, and we missed that taste of home here in the UK.
Do you prepare sweets throughout the year or only during festivities?
We prepare sweets and savouries throughout the year. Additionally, we focus on festival-specific sweets to make them more celebratory, like special Modaks during Ganesh Chaturthi, special Motichoors, paan barfi, paan ladoos, dessert cups and Kaju roses during Diwali, and homemade Gajar ka Halwa for all occasions and birthdays. Our special Gajar ka Halwa has replaced cake in many homes in Amersham during Birthdays as it is healthy, without preservatives and full of nuts.
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How did you learn to prepare these items?
I have learned all the recipes from my Punjabi mum, who is a perfectionist as far as cooKing is concerned. She is my mentor and critic and still guides me to develop new recipes. Even during festivals, she joins me in creating these delicacies. During festivities, all my family members support me to accomplish every occasion.
What response are you getting from your customers here?
We are motivated and committed to continuing this journey because of our customers. They appreciate that the sweets are homemade with natural ingredients and can be customised for special orders and occasions.
Every Asian family that has ever tasted subcontinent sweets is our customer. Currently, we are focusing on BucKinghamshire and London. We also deliver sweets & savouries parcels via Royal Mail throughout the UK.
*Info: Nani Ki Pinni