South Asian Heritage Month: Cooking and Tradition

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As part of ITV Channel’s coverage of South Asian Heritage Month We met culinary experts in the Channel Islands.

Nellie Grays is Alderney’s first and only Indian restaurant to have been in operation for nearly a quarter of a century – and that happened by chance.

Chef and owner Matin was born in Bangladesh and raised in Lancashire before moving to Jersey to work in hotels.

Matin Miah moved to Jersey in 1996 and opened Nellie Grays. Photo credit: ITV Channel TV

In his spare time he visited Alderney and fell in love with the island, and it was the locals who convinced him to open a restaurant.

The locals used to say, “You come here to visit an Indian restaurant” and that got me thinking and one day I said I will try. I have really good local support here, and in winter I am fine because of the local support I get.

Matin Miah, owner and head chef at Nellie Grays

Bangladeshi cuisine is largely based on fish and vegetables and the dishes at Nellie Grays reflect this culture.

Matin says his own recipes are “very popular” with the people of Alderney.

Photo credit: ITV Channel TV

Meanwhile, Unawatuna in Jersey serves Sri Lankan dishes that are skilfully prepared by head chef Sudu Gunasekara – who still calls out his Sri Lankan mother for tips.

Nevertheless, sometimes call her to get different tips – Mom can’t be beaten – I think she learned from her mom, it’s a kind of transit [generations]. Usually all women learn it in Sri Lanka, but for me I always love to cook and spend time with my mother in the kitchen.

Sudu Gunasekara, owner and head chef at Unawatuna

Sudu uses as many fresh ingredients from Jersey as possible to prepare his dishes, including beetroot, pumpkin, and butternut squash, while his mother sends home-made curry powders from Sri Lanka.