Madhuradas Lakhani was a Gujarati entrepreneur, one of many who made Uganda their home under British rule. He set up the first printing press in Kenya and a timber yard and Pepsi Cola bottling plant on the outskirts of Kampala. In 1972 all of this came to an abrupt end. Ten years after Ugandan independence Idi Amin awoke from a dream declaring that god had instructed him to expel all Asians. This was the culmination of the government’s Africanisation policies, it forced the Lakhani family and countless others to surrender everything to the authorities and flee the country. They were given asylum in England where Madhuradas began work as a lorry driver for Scunthorpe steel. His daughter Nita, who had always had staff to prepare family meals, learnt to cook for the first time. She prepared Indian food with British ingredients, being careful to close the kitchen windows after complaints from neighbours about the smell. Nita’s daughter Meera is now compiling all the recipes her mother has taught her into a book. She has cooked every dish at home in London using the spoon her mother first bought in 1975.

23 Sep 2012