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Behind the scenes at the family-run Pure Punjabi

Safia and Surinder, daughter and mother team of Pure Punjabi Photo: Pure Punjabi
Safia and Surinder, daughter and mother team of Pure Punjabi Photo: Pure Punjabi

We chat to Surinder and Safia Hothi-Bellamy, mother and daughter of Pure Punjabi. They tell us about their Indian cookery school and award-winning B&B in Tintinhull, South Somerset.

SURINDER, the mother

‘The roots of our business definitely originate from my mother. She was a fantastic cook and because she moved to the UK from Punjab, everything she cooked was done the traditional way, from scratch. When I was about 7 years old, she started introducing me to cooking, there were no career-women in her days so she was training me with skills for marriage! From childhood, I was leading a dual multi-cultural life; I’d go to school in the day and then outside of school my mother would teach me the traditional domestic ways at home. I thank her for it now though because she gave me the skills which have enabled our business, Pure Punjabi to succeed.

Originally, I began by producing my own family blend of Garam Masala to be commercially available, which in turn led on to private pop-up events and the creation of our award-winning cookery school. Then we created meal kits of hand-ground spice blends which give our customers everything they need to make traditional North Indian dishes in their own homes. Now we do all three; we sell our spices online, share our cooking skills with our workshop guests and host pop-up events. It’s wonderful to be in a thriving business with Safia; the next generation is sharing my mother’s cookery skills to our guests and that’s very special.

We relocated to Somerset in April 2022. The Crown & Victoria Inn had been for sale for several years, with a dormant sale not progressing. We very quickly offered, exchanged, completed and we hit the ground running! Within a couple of months of moving here, Channel 4 had got in touch and asked us to feature in their TV show, Four in a Bed. We had to work so hard to get the rooms ready for filming in 6 weeks, but I am delighted to say that it was aired last October and that we won! For 2024, we are focussing on offering regular cookery courses and workshops as well as multi-generational pop-up events; all whilst continuing to offer our luxury B&B stays. We are fortunate to live in a very beautiful village with honey-coloured cottages and fantastic walks so it’s a great place for guests to combine Punjabi cooking with a chance to recharge.

The business community in Somerset have been really welcoming and the wider community in South Somerset have been super supportive too. We’ve been collaborating with Somerset businesses at key events; fundraising for the Dorset Air Ambulance; and I am also a judge at the BBC’s Make a Difference Awards. We are a heritage business and as such we are embracing our own heritage whilst combining it with our love for the county that we now call home. The beauty of Somerset can be so underrated, and we can’t work out why! There is so much beauty in our area and we love to open our doors to our guests so they can experience the joy of coming to a family-owned business. We’re easy-going, we want our guests to feel at home, and yet our standards are high. Whether you come to us for a cookery course or a B&B stay, we will guarantee a warm welcome – the moment our guests walk in, they are our focus and they will always be made to feel welcome in the truest sense of the word.

Great British Life: A selection of Pure Punjabi meal kit feasting dishes. Photo: Pure PunjabiA selection of Pure Punjabi meal kit feasting dishes. Photo: Pure Punjabi

SAFIA, the daughter

I look after the creative side of things; the food, producing events, tastings, social media and site visits – all the colourful bits! We’re embracing our move to Somerset and in doing so we use as many fresh local ingredients in our cooking as possible. We are also loving the opportunity of restoring this 300-year-old inn into our home for us, and our guests. We are the custodians here and we want to do this beautiful building and our gardens justice so we’re giving it a lot of love – winning Four in a Bed was fabulous as it’s the first accolade we’ve won since our relocation to Somerset and so now we have confirmation that we are doing the right thing.

Pure Punjabi is forever evolving, and we have always listened to our loyal customer base and as such we are broadening our offering when it comes to the pop-up events we have planned for the year ahead. We want to introduce our traditional Indian celebrations to Somerset and combine them with what is available locally. There is so much talent and beauty here in Somerset so by bringing in experts and preserving our Indian heritage at the same time we can offer unique events, with fantastic food of course! Our Indian community embraces multi-generational gatherings so you can expect our events to include people of all ages. No-one is too young or too old, and children are the future so it’s our wish that everyone is included. Our music always gets people up dancing so look out for a really authentic experience at our events too. The Punjabi beat is heavy on the drum which makes you less aware so its easy to lose your inhibitions and join us on the dancefloor! We work hard and we play hard, and we look forward to welcoming you.

Between you and me…

Surinder on Safia: She’s a perfectionist and as such drives me nuts! I want it yesterday and she wants it perfect, so we pull each other into the middle ground to get products and services live.

Safia on Surinder: She has a naughty sense of humour and is a lot funnier than people think she is! She also loves to laugh at her own jokes!

The Crown & Victoria Inn, 14 Farm Street, Tintinhull, Somerset, BA22 8PZ


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