Curry, cars and Children in Need

Parveen on stage during her demo at Carfest
Parveen on stage during her demo at Carfest

Well, what can I say... I had such a blast at Carfest North last weekend, Chris Evans’ brain child which raises money for BBC Children In Need, says Parveen The Spice Queen..

I was so honoured to be asked to demo and cook live on stage in the Food Fair Kitchen. I work with Simply Good Food TV and they have been taking part for years, so when I was asked to participate - not knowing anything about festivals, I just said “yes”. All I thought was, it’s me on stage with an audience, easy peasy.

Parveen with Bake Off winner Candice Brown and  Vicki Copley

Parveen with Bake Off winner Candice Brown and Vicki Copley

Well, in reality - it was an audience of over 300, rain, mud, long queues for the chemical loos, a 3-mile trek from the car park to the cooking tent, the smell of burning rubber and dress code of posh dress, wellies and furry yellow ear headband... what’s not to love!!

For me, it was a real baptism of fire, I am not a festivalgoer really, so my first experience was a real eye opener. I am a hotel with swimming pool kind of gal. I couldn’t really immerse myself into the whole festival culture, so baby steps for me. Perhaps next time, I will look into Glamping or even Camping - OK, let’s not push it, so, just Glamping then.

I was there for three days and was on stage for 30 minute slots. I cooked my pan fried tandoori chicken, onion bhajis and Peshwari naan amongst other dishes. Lucky for me it went well and I found myself not wanting to get off stage, all I could think was it’s good practice for when I do the East of England food demo in October at Peterborough Arena.

Ok, so back to Carfest, the energy was great but the real honour for me was meeting the glamorous Candice Brown, winner of The Great British Bake Off. I gave her my cook book and she asked me to sign it, so that was surreal. Candice said that she loved tarka daal and would use my recipe, so I also gave her a Tarka Daal Spice Bag along with Peshwaari Naan Kit. Can you imagine, the winner of bake off, baking with my naan kit and making my daal? So surreal. Naturally, we posed for a photo along with the home economist for Carfest, Vicki Copley who has worked with the likes of Gordon Ramsey, Jamie Oliver and the Hairy Bikers. I also had the privilege of meeting the very personable Tom Kerridge, who has lost 9 stones in weight, so I had to give him a recipe and spice bag for my fat-free chick pea chaat, well you know me, not backwards in coming forward.

Parveen at Carfest with Tom Kerridge

Parveen at Carfest with Tom Kerridge

In closing I just want to say this week, that if you have a passion for something, follow it and keep your vision clear and take opportunities that are presented to you. I went along to do the festival as it was for charity and in return met some amazing people. So many to mention but here are a few, the chef organiser, Cora (who kept us hydrated but more important made us cups of tea), the presenter Andrew Dickens, who was just so supportive, the beautiful home economist, Vickie whom I will be working with soon. Last but certainly not least I want to thank my wonderful friend Michelle who came with me to help and support me. We all need good friends.

So, as you can see it was a full weekend but I must say the freakiest fact was that I met a chef who knows city chef and fellow columnist Lee Clarke!

To try my recipe for Tandoori Chicken or Fat-Free Chick Pea Chaat email me at and I will post out the spices to the first 20 people.

Highlights from the show will be shown during BBC Children In Need, so keep an eye out for me.