Neha Hampton: New Recipe Book
Before Covid, Neha Hampton was a private chef catering for parties and pop-ups. All of this changed when lockdown hit in early 2020 and most of us were under stay at home orders. Neha Hampton made an impressive U-turn early on. She swiftly turned her hands to making and selling a range of fresh curry pastes; and ran 12 cook-along classes.
We were super lucky to try Neha’s divine pastes. They made date night dinners during lockdown a cinch.
Neha’s range of pastes evolved into Sussex brand Pestle, which you can find in a number of independent shops; her cookery classes have evolved into a recipe book for charity. Last week, Neha published her recipe book Home: The Lockdown Collection. Each sale will fund much needed Covid vaccinations around the world. You can buy a copy of the book from Neha’s website.
Home: The Lockdown Collection
Neha’s book Home: The Lockdown Collection brings together 12 recipes from a year of live cook-alongs during the pandemic. The book aims to capture some of Neha’s favourite dishes and memories of virtual rooms of smiling faces. It’s a charity publication with a simple concept: 12 recipes + 12 months = 1 book + 1 vaccine. For every book sold, Neha is donating £5 to fund a vaccine through Gavi – Vaccine Alliance. This will help some of the world’s most vulnerable people in these difficult times.
The book went on sale last week and Neha’s husband is donation matching for the first 100 books sold. In the past week alone she’s raised enough money to fund 140 vaccines.
Last summer I interviewed Neha for digital magazine Staycation: Summer at Home. I’ve revisited the interview below. It’s a great read where you can learn all about Neha’s curry pastes and cookery influences. She’s such an inspirational woman with an unstoppable zesty energy. Don’t forget to follow her on Insta for all of her latest projects!
Neha Hampton: Cook at Home (July 2020)
Neha makes cooking from scratch a cinch. Her fresh aromatic curry pastes create beautiful dishes with just a handful of simple ingredients. This is easy, breezy holiday cooking at its best.
Neha’s pivoted elegantly from private chef to kitchen table curry paste maker using fresh ingredients sourced from Jeremy’s in Henfield and her limitless knowledge of global cuisine.
What inspired you to start making fresh curry pastes?
Curry pastes are a foundation to Asian cuisine and I’ve been making them for myself for many years now. They are great for quick tasty dinners and I regularly make up batches for my freezer. In normal times, I host supper clubs & private dining events however as a result of the current situation, I have had to completely rethink how to connect with people and share my love for food. Just 2 months ago, I came up with this idea to bring some of my favourite dishes and flavours to people who were at home and missing out on the restaurant scene. I turned the idea into reality within a very short time and I am incredibly proud of the products and I’m humbled and grateful at the positive response.
What’s your cooking background?
I am British Indian and so I grew up in a culture where our lives were centred around food. Some of my earliest memories include: standing on a stool rolling chapattis; making chutneys & pickles; the glorious month of alphonso mango season; and catching the hot summer days to dry homemade poppadoms. Indian food forms my foundation, and this alongside my travels around the world have created a passion for authentic global cuisine.
I spent most of my adult life working in Financial Services and after a lot of deliberation, I took the plunge in 2018 to follow my foodie dreams to set up my own business. Starting out in the food industry has been exciting & daunting, it’s meant that I have tried different things, succeeded & failed. My intention and my reward are the same thing – to see people enjoying authentic food and so I am really pleased to have a found a way to continue doing that.
What’s different about the pastes you create compared to jar pastes from the supermarket?
My pastes are fresh & authentic, they have no preservatives and are really simple and easy to use. What I offer is different, I cannot compete with a jar of paste on the shelves but I don’t want to. I am sharing my experience of a dish, a snapshot into another culture & that personal touch is what matters in terms of both my brand and identity.
Do you have a favourite paste / recipe combination from your range?
The funniest of questions… my husband laughs every time I use the word ‘favourite’ because I have so many. It’s now come down to many subcategories – favourite Thai salmon dish, favourite Sri Lankan veggie dish, favourite Malaysian Fish dish, etc etc. That said, there is a special shout out for Balinese Basa Gede – it is the lifeblood of Balinese cuisine which is an Hindu Indonesian island with an interesting balance of fresh and dry spices. I use it for making slow cooked duck, for stir fried rice, for a curry and for a marinade. It’s definitely my favourite versatile paste!
How did the collaboration with Nutritious Fish come about?
David and I had connected last year about fish supply for my supper clubs so when I launched this new product I made contact to see if he’d be interested and it came at a time where he was looking at ways to expand his range to make cooking fish simple and easy. Nutritious Fish shares the same ethos, with local sustainable fish, ethical packaging & free delivery across Sussex alongside my passion for fish and shellfish, this is a perfect collaboration.
How will your spend your time this summer?
Do you have any fun staycation plans? Isn’t it a funny year… like many we are a family who look forward to our summer breaks and so it’s hard to imagine this year with so many plans cancelled. That said, we’re very lucky to live in a rural area and our garden has a lot to keep us occupied. Beyond that we’ll be venturing to the beaches (early to avoid crowds), packing up picnics and going for long walks and bike rides & cooking tasty food. There are many positives that have come out of these challenging times and I hope that these extra special times with our families, supporting local businesses and the humanity that we see in our communities will long continue.
To find out more about Neha’s pastes follow Pestle on Instagram.