Lella Umedaly was born in Pretoria, South Africa in 1930 to parents with ancestry in India. They practiced the Ismaili Moslem faith, a sect of the Shia Moslem faith. When Lella told her father as a young girl that she wanted to be a pilot, her father told her that she would be piloting her pots and pans in the kitchen. Indeed she did.
Eventually Lella moved to Uganda in East Africa where she married, had five children, became a Montessori schoolteacher and a businesswoman. She educated over 2,000 children in her career. Lella and her family were expelled from Uganda by the infamous Idi Amin in 1972 as part of the expulsion of over 80,000 people of Indian ancestry and came to Canada as a refugee. This cookbook was born as her children and her children's children, missing her special brand of fresh and quick Indian cooking, would call with questions such as "How do you make curries brown?"
Mamajee's Kitchen is a fusion of the tastes and influences of three continents. The foundation was laid in India with elements added in Africa and final touches that come from Canada. Each continent influenced the ingredients, taste, appearance, aroma and texture of the dishes. From India come the bright, deep flavours, the striking colours and the delightful aromas that float from the kitchen when dishes are being prepared. The recipes in Mamajee's Kitchen are often variations on the traditional, taking advantage of shortcuts in preparation, low fat alternative ingredients and shorter cooking times in the interest of providing healthy and tasty alternatives.
The book begins with Mamajee's Spice Cupboard which sets out the list of necessary spices, where to find them and how to prepare them so they are easy to access. Additional sections include Appetizers, Meat/Poultry Dishes, Seafood/Fish Dishes, Vegetable Dishes, Rice, Breads, Pickles, Chutneys, Desserts, Drinks with a glossary and index.
Lella Umedaly currently lives in North Vancouver, BC.