“There’s small hints of who I am and what My Curry Club is about everywhere in the interior,” says Northwich chef Habiba Chowdhury – speaking ahead of the grand opening of Cheshire’s first dedicated Indian cookery school in Cranage.

“I am very lucky to have dual heritage – being both Bangladeshi and British. I’m also a Muslim and a businesswoman. It’s very important to me to relate those four elements in the environment of my cookery school.”

After successfully delivering her luxury home-based classes across Cheshire, Liverpool, Manchester and Sheffield for the past 18 months, Habiba, who lives in Rudheath, has now also invested in a permanent base at Cranage Trade Park.

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She welcomes intimate groups of up to eight foodies at a time who have travelled from as far afield as Belfast and who are eager to be held by the hand and led on the same journey of discovery – learning how to cook authentic dishes and use bold flavour combinations that are rarely found on menus.

“It’s about bringing you a little out of your comfort zone, so we don’t do a chicken tikka masala,” Habiba explains. “Yes, you might love that, but it’s not authentic; it’s a dish that was created 30 years ago for the British palate. Our tastes have advanced since then and we’re open to new flavours and ideas. The Indian food industry needs to progress and catch up.”

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It was Habiba’s desire to challenge misconceptions around Indian food that inspired My Curry Club in the first place.

“People often think it’s too greasy or too spicy,” she reveals. “I remember saying to my husband Saj: “If only people knew what it really tastes like!” From the age of eight I have always wanted my own business and I knew it would be to do with food. Recognising the opportunity to re-educate people was a real lightbulb moment.

“The Indian restaurant industry is officially in decline as second and third-generation male family members turn away from the trade to take up professional jobs. I’m proud to be one of the enterprising Bangladeshi women who are stepping forward to keep it going by doing home cooking with a twist.”

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Habiba’s classes are all hands-on and nothing is prepared beforehand. Her students get to do everything from peeling and chopping their own onions and garlic to adding in their own spices; they then complete their meal with homemade naan bread and pilau rice. There’s an open invitation to stay on and eat together with your fellow cooks, or you can pack it all up to take home to showcase to your family and friends.

“I restrict numbers to a maximum of eight so I can maintain the personal touch and speak to everyone individually,” explains Habiba.

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“Whether they are a novice or a professional chef, I want people to feel inspired and confident; to know what the spices are; and to think: ‘I can go home and cook this’.”

My Curry Club is also home to Cheshire’s first ever plastic-free spice store. Spices are available to buy on site and stored enticingly in glass jars on a bazaar-style display.

“I get mine from Manchester because they’re so hard to source locally,” confides Habiba. “I wanted to make it easier for my students, so I have created a store that reminds me of my childhood experiences of choosing pick ‘n’ mix. You only buy what you need so you don’t have packets of spices being wasted in the cupboard. I encourage people to bring and reuse their own Tupperware, or I have foil containers for them to take away.”

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Habiba’s cross-cultural heritage is evident at My Curry Club – from the cast-iron ‘London’ toilet roll holder to the glass dinner table lined with saree material. She grew up more than 200 miles away in the capital before marrying Saj in 2014 and relocating to Northwich.

“It’s a very community-based environment and I’ve loved the change,” she smiles. “Cheshire is full of opportunities, which is why I have been able to make my dream come true.

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“In my culture, the quality of the food you serve reflects your respect for your guests. That’s why I am so proud to have opened my own school so people can learn to cook with confidence and create great memories that leave a positive lasting impression.”