A labour of love: Bobby’s publishes its first cook book

Cook With Love

One of Britain’s oldest and most famous vegetarian Indian restaurants is sharing the secrets of its popular family recipes in a new cook book.

Cook With Love has been lovingly created by the Lakhani family, which has run the iconic Bobby’s in Leicester for the past 45 years.

Compiled by Enna Lakhani, it features many of the restaurant’s favourite recipes, and will be officially unveiled on Friday October 22 at a VIP reception to be held at Leicester’s Morningside Arena.

“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 days.

“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.”

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.”

Cook With Love is published by A Way With Media (£30) and is now available to order from www.awaywithmedia.com/buy-books/bobbys
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