Reubens - home-cooked Indian food in Windsor
PUBLISHED: 00:00 17 July 2020
How a mum of two set up her own food business during the lockdown.
“I started cooking from a young age in my mother’s kitchen, and it is something I have always been passionate about,” says Raj Dhugga, who has recently set up a new business based near Windsor offering home-cooked Indian food freshly made to order. “I believe cooking needs to come from within; if you cook with love it will show in your food.”
It was Raj’s two boys who suggested that she should do something food related, and being in lockdown has given her the time and space to start Reubens.
“At the beginning of May we began with just a menu, which we shared with friends over WhatsApp. A month later we have a website, Instagram and Facebook accounts, and some amazing reviews for which I am very grateful,” says Raj.
“Reuben is my eldest son. He is 16 and the business is named after him. The elephant artwork on the website is his creation, and he and my niece, Bianca, are also in charge of the photography. My youngest son, Luca, who is 12, is already developing a love for cooking. This is very much a family business.”
Back in the spring of 2012, Raj’s husband had booked them a night at the Bukhara pop-up in Knightsbridge [Bukhara which is located in the ITC Mayura hotel in New Delhi is recognised as one of the world’s best Indian restaurants]. “I still remember it well. It was a total surprise and I only came to know about it once we arrived at the Sheraton Park Tower in Knightsbridge,” says Raj. “We ordered the meat and seafood tasting menu and whilst everything was absolutely delicious, the one dish that really blew me away was the Bukhara Dal. It was velvety smooth and unlike any Dal I had ever tasted before. We had a wonderful evening and met the head chef Manjit Gill.”
Bukhara were running a cookery course the following week and Raj knew that she had to go back. “At the cookery course I got to spend the afternoon with Manjit Gill, and we spoke about my visit with my family some days earlier and I told him how much we had all enjoyed his food – especially the Dal. I pleaded with him for the recipe and he shared it with me. This is the recipe I now base my Dal Makhani on. I think my son Reuben is it’s biggest fan,” says Raj. “I also learnt how to make Murgh Malai Kebab that afternoon, which also features on my menu.
“My recipes have grown over time. My treasured ones are from Bukhara, and many have come from my mum, like the Saag recipe. She learnt to make this when she was a young girl living in India. It’s one that has been passed down through many generations in the family. My Raj Ma recipe comes from one of my closest friends, Sajida, who learnt it from her own mother. We would cook this when we were students living together over 20 years ago.”
Berkshire Life tried a selection of dishes, including Aloo Tikki – delicious spiced potato patties – Keema Puffs, the raita and Dal Makhani. The Keema Puffs were incredible. And the Dal was special, just as Raj had told us it would be.
Next up we had Karahi Gosht (lamb cooked with spices), Murgh Malai Kebabs (creamy boneless chicken) and Kela curry (spiced bananas) and the Murgh Makhani curry (butter chicken) and naan with pilau rice, all tasty, followed by orange ice cream, which was refreshing after the hot and spicy dinner.
“Mango and strawberry are our popular flavours but I also wanted to try the more unusual, like orange and coconut ice creams,” Raj says.
In these unprecedented times, Raj also wants to support other local businesses. Iver Organic Fruit and Veg is a new business, based a stone’s throw away from Reubens, so the two businesses have teamed up to help their customers. “If you order your fruit and vegetable box by Monday afternoon you can have this delivered together with your Indian food on a Thursday or Friday evening,” says Raj.
Once lockdown is over and restaurants are open Raj is hoping they can do pop-ups for brunch and curry nights. “We are already in discussions for this and it’s very exciting,” she says. “We are also launching lunch tiffins, where you can have food freshly cooked and delivered to your office. So watch this space.”