Come Dine With Me (Near Neighbours Style)

Come Dine With Me (Near Neighbours Style)


If you thought Nadiya Hussain’s cakes mean she is the Bangladeshi star of the British kitchen, you would be wrong! As it turns out, there are some real culinary stars in Tipton!

Earlier this year, Near Neighbours funded the Bangladeshi Women’s Association to run a ‘Come Dine with Neighbours’ event in the Black Country that offered local people a chance to showcase their home cooking in a Come Dine With Me style project.

In a celebration of homemakers in this Midlands community, a group of women with a special talent for cooking got together to show off their abilities in the kitchen.

Participants were asked to cook a dish within a specific time slot and work on their presentation before the end result was placed before a panel of judges from the local council. 

The chefs included those from English, Bangladeshi, Indian, Pakistani, Caribbean, and Czech backgrounds and, at the end of the event, they had the chance to share their food with each other.

At the event itself a huge spread of home cooking was provided ranging from Vegetable Curry to Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding. The eventual winners were from the Caribbean team, Juliet, Paulette, and Sherry who cooked Fried Plantain, Ackee and Saltfish, and fried dumplings for starters. For mains they made Rice, Peas, and Curry Goat and Chicken wings with veg, and for dessert they opted for Ginger Cake and Custard.  

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to travel to Tipton to join our Black Country coordinator, Ruth, to visit the ladies who took part; it was obvious how much they had enjoyed the cooking.

Being a foodie myself, when I asked them what they enjoyed the most I expected the answer to be the food, but I was wrong! It emerged that the joy they got from taking part came from being able to cook with the other women and being able to build friendships with them.

One of the ladies told me that being able to share cooking and eating with these ladies became something she looked forward to every week. Another chef told me how she loved being able to share her traditional family recipes.

Harjinder Ganger organised this project and told me that, “So many of these women have a really astonishing talent for cooking, but it rarely has a chance to be recognised outside of the home. It was fantastic to recognise their talents in the community and seeing how they enjoyed the experience together was really nice. We’re looking forward to making this an annual event!”

Since taking part in this competition the local community has decided to make the most of these talented ladies. They have been asked to provide cooking classes and have been to cook for the elderly, as well. (Their cooking was so good that a host of male pensioners were begging for their curry recipes, so they could have a go themselves!)

During my visit to see them they showed me video footage of their competition evening and it looked amazing. I had to ask them if they would encourage others to try something similar and they were adamant that everyone should try it! The combination of great food and great people is too good to miss!

So there it is, they’ve laid down a challenge! Why not give it a go?

Author: Mr Tim Burton-Jones

Date: 23 October 2015