A labour of love: Bobby’s first cook book could be the perfect gift this Valentine's Day.
'Cook With Love' has been affectionately written by the Lakhani family, which has run the
famous Bobby's restaurant in Leicester for beyond 45 years.
Compiled by Enna Lakhani, it features many of the restaurant’s favourite recipes.
Released in October last year, it's eye-catching, popping-pink cover shouts 'Valentine's Day'.
And what better way is there to support Leicester's local independents than buying meaningful gifts?
“It’s been a real labour of love for us,” says Enna, the daughter-in-law of founders
Bhagwanji and Mangla Lakhani who opened the restaurant – named after their
favourite Bollywood movie of the era – on St Valentine’s Day 1976.
The book is dedicated to Mangla, described by Enna as ‘a woman whose passion for
her family, food and life knew no bounds’.
“She created alchemy in the kitchen, her small, magical hands never needing to
measure ingredients but always producing consistently perfect food.
"She loved to feed people and instinctively knew what everyone loved to eat, never compromising on the dishes she cooked.
“Not only did she have an incomparable knowledge of the kitchen, she remained engaged in everything from current affairs and politics to Indian fashion until her final
“I learned a lot about the art of cookery from Mangla after I got married, and she would always tell me to watch and learn, so we could turn it into a book one day. I hope she would be proud of what we have created.”
Cook With Love has been compiled by Enna with help from 10 other members of the family, and recognises the contributions of all the chefs and colleagues who have worked at Bobby’s over the past 45 years.
There is also a foreword from popular TV comic and presenter Hardeep Singh Koli,
one of the restaurant’s many celebrity fans.
He says: “To describe Bobby’s as simply a place to eat ignores the role it has played
in not only feeding the incoming Gujarati immigrants, but more importantly
introducing a ‘different’ Indian food to the local English community.”
Contents of the Cook Book
The book features more than a dozen of the most popular recipes from Bobby’s Deli, along with sections on street food, Indo-Chinese, Gujarati Rasoi, food fit for a Maharaja’s Feast, plus sides, snacks, sweets, rice, bread and chutneys.
Situated in the heart of Leicester’s iconic Golden Mile, Bobby’s has become a vegetarian culinary institution, offering a gastronomic journey through the Indian subcontinent from street food to traditional Gujarati thalis.
It was one of the first vegetarian Indian restaurants of its kind in the UK, setting the benchmark not only for exceptional, authentic cuisine but for unforgettable hospitality.
It was listed in the top 30 restaurants in The Sunday Times’s best places for a curry,
and has gathered fans from across the country – and the globe, including Indian
cookery guru Madhur Jaffrey who travelled there specifically to sample a rarely
served Gujarati dish of Dal Dhokli.
Enna says: “This book shares some of the secrets of Bobby’s, while also continuing
the legacy of an incredible family, which today includes 14 grand-children and 12
great grand-children, who are all still enjoying Bobby’s food.”
A Way With Media, which has published the book, says: “The story of Bobby’s is not
simply that of a neighbourhood restaurant. It’s the story of an institution, a way of life,
a race to freedom by an exceptional family who made Leicester their home and who
came to be a valued and integral part of the city’s landscape.
“Filled with easy-to-follow recipes that will equip the novice with new skills and help
the experienced cook to improve, Cook With Love is a heart-warming tale with great
ideas that will bring culinary magic to kitchens across the UK.”
Written by Levithia Biji
Levitha is a broadcast journalism graduate, currently studying MA International Media and Communication Studies at the University of Nottingham. Having lived in three countries and being fluent in three languages, she's passionate about global journalism. She's recently finished an internship with Niche Magazine and also runs her own blog, Levitha Mariam.