Ronny Patel comes from a country where 800 million wives traditionally kick their husbands out of the kitchen.
He is pleased that cooking shows have reversed this trend in the west. Aussie wife, Natalee Jayne welcomes him into her Daisy Hill kitchen and he has just started his own restaurant.
Ronny migrated from Gujarat province, in 2002, and memorised its rich spices and street food but soon noticed that Indian flavours down under, appear to be “watered down” for local palettes.
One day Ronny, while immersed in his courier job, had a lightbulb moment, deciding to start a restaurant that can “fully immerse diners in authentic culture and music.
Named Ginger Spice, it opened at 85 Coronation Street, Boronia Heights, Brisbane.
It has Fiji Indian influence, Gujarat spices, a Bollywood feel, Gurba dancing on his monitors to educate patrons, while providing “dress-up” clothes for photo opportunities.
Spice from the home state where Ghandi used to eat
Ronny said “My earliest influences were spices from my home state where Ghandi used to eat and where 70 million people have taken mainly vegetarian dishes to a new level. It’s fashion and fabrics are known the world over.
“Almost every street and suburb where I came from has its own signature dishes that tantalise your taste buds. Accompaniments include sweet, sour and spicy chutneys, pickles, ghee and a salad of chopped vegetables served raw or steamed in spices.
“The balance of tastes can include sweetness, bitterness, sourness and heat varying between dishes, and the thali or round tray, has more colours than a rainbow. It can include yellow of turmeric, whiteness from dairy products, redness from tomatoes, the green of leafy vegetables, the brown of pulses, and the colours of various spices, relishes and salad vegetables, all designed to dance on your taste buds.
“I always had a passion to cater for more than a patron’s stomach. We want to give them a sensory overload, with sights, sounds and friendliness of India,” said Ronny.
Is fast food stifling your conversation?
Speaking to Logan locals on the street indicated that many Indian expats love to sit, talk and take their time, while appreciating complex Indian flavours. Sonu Rathaur, who works at a Logan carwash, endorsed lengthy dinner conversations, “which you don’t do with that fast food,” he said.
Pop culture icon, Selena Gomez recently wore the bindi on her forehead during a music video and went on the Ellen Degeneres show to talk up her love of the culture.
Indian influence has particularly changed the eating habits of the Middle East, North Africa, South Africa, Southeast Asia, the British Isles, Fiji, and the Caribbean.
The spice trade between India and Europe is often cited by historians as the primary catalyst for Europe’s Age of Discovery. Now with Indian food and culture, Ronny hopes North Fijian plus Gujarat cuisine can help Australia have its own “age of discovery.”