Bungay man's takeaway Indian 'soul food' hits the spot with locals
- Credit: Charlotte Bond
The core of great cooking often begins by learning at the feet of the people we love. Those licks of the bowl or spoon. Helping to mix the Christmas pudding and making a wish. Gradually being given the responsibility of podding beans, peeling potatoes, kneading and shaping tiny bread rolls.
It is this shared experience that bonds us. That ensures family recipes remain in circulation for years to come.
And family recipes are at the heart of a business in Bungay that’s become quite a hit with locals.
The Pink Tiffin started as a lockdown project for Sandip Bhogal – and he now has a database of over 700 customers, who can’t get enough of his authentic Indian cuisine, made with heart...using time-honoured recipes, local ingredients, and spices freshly ground for him at his mum and aunts’ favourite shop.
It’s quite a change for Sandip, who worked for Netflix as part of its office services department until the pandemic hit.
Having a holiday home they used every weekend in Bungay, Sandip, his partner and his mum moved up to Suffolk during the first lockdown and, with offices closing in the city, his contract was not renewed.
It was time, he said, to get out of the rat race. Sandip took a few months off to reset and figure out what he could do next...and like the rest of the country, found solace in the kitchen.
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“I love feeding people,” he says. “It’s something I’m so passionate about. I was feeding our neighbours [in lockdown] and they told me I should do it at a professional level. I didn’t know how I could scale it up so I did a lot of research. I went on a seminar on how to start your own food business with Ravneet Gill. She really helped me a great deal. Then I started to do some market research to get honest feedback (after all, your friends and family will always say they like what you’ve cooked). And somewhere along the way The Pink Tiffin was born!
“It’s been a challenge,” he adds, “but we’ve really grown as a brand.”
Sandip posts his ever-changing menus on social media each week, with deliveries made in and around Bungay on a Friday and Saturday.
There is a meat-based menu, pitched for Carnivores, while vegetarians can select the option for Herbivores.
It’s £28 for the meat feast, or £24 for veg, with each delivery serving two people, and some extra dishes you can add on. Everything is made from scratch – including a selection of pickles, and special north Indian savoury crackers (mathiya) crafted by Mummy Bhogal.
“My mum has taught me how to cook,” says Sandip. “Out of all the jobs I’ve had, this is the one she’s really proud of. My dad sadly passed away 20 years ago and he was such an incredible cook too. Together they could have opened a restaurant. Mum helps me out when she comes up and I’ve adapted some of her recipes to my tastes. I’ve never worked in a restaurant myself. This is all about home cooking.”
Sandip uses meat from a butcher in Harleston, and buys fresh produce from the town market and Clink’s Care Farm. He even opted to use local butter in his curries. “I make a delicious Bungay butter chicken with raw butter from Fen Farm,” he says.
One of the only things he sources out of county is his spice blends. “My mum and aunt get them ground for me in Wembley. There’s a woman there who I think grinds spices for everyone in that part of London! They’re amazing. It's so important to use fresh spices. The garam masala especially is very good. The darker it is, the better the flavour because you can see they’ve used more of the more expensive ingredients.”
I ask Sandip about the dishes of his childhood, and how they’ve translated into his business.
“I love my mum and my aunts’ daals. They keep them mild, but I love a daal with punch in it so I’ve packed in some more flavours. A lot of my customers say they’ve never tried daal like it.
“And another favourite is the vegetable sabzi dishes. I love to cook them with curry leaves and mustard seeds.”
Each meal contains four dishes. Last week that included masala chicken, dahl makhani (a creamy medley of ural dal and kidney beans enriched with Fen Farm’s raw butter and cream, seasonal mixed vegetable sabzi, and Keralan coconut cabbage (shredded cabbage and carrot with curry leaves and spice in coconut milk).
Customers can add extras such as karahi lamb cooked slowly in a thick sauce (£9), sweet, sour and spicy chilli paneer (£7.50), spiced pastry-covered dahl kachori balls (£2 for two), homemade lemon, carrot or green chilli and mustard pickle (£1.50) and even desserts, made nearby for The Pink Tiffin – from pink cherry tiffin, to a Bungay cake made with Fen Farm mascarpone, Hodmedod’s YQ flour and local honey.
“It’s all flavours I love,” enthuses Sandip. “Dishes mostly from the north and south of India.”
“It’s got to be the butter chicken. It’s just such a celebratory dish and everybody loves it. It makes me so happy when I get feedback from other people saying they’ve enjoyed it. They say they can tell it’s made with love. That kind of feedback is priceless.”
Find The Pink Tiffin on Facebook and Instagram.