Kris Dhillon was born in the Punjab, a lush, fertile region located in the North West of India and considered to be the food basket of India. Her parents were farmers and growing, harvesting, preserving and cooking food was an important part of their lives.
The family migrated to England in the late 1950’s when Kris was just five years old. Her passion for food was kindled watching her parents lovingly grow and nurture ingredients that were not available in England, in a small back garden and an unfamiliar climate. Home grown herbs and vegetables featured daily to produce delicious meals and unlike most children her age, Kris was keen to join in with the preparation and cooking. So much so that by the time she was just 8 years old, she could make chapattis and by the time she was 12, Kris was often cooking for the entire family.
About twelve years later, Kris returned to India to visit family and friends. Expecting to be bored, and alienated by a country of which she had little memory. She was instead, absolutely fascinated by it.
She found the fields were full of fresh produce; corn, sugar cane, spinach, mustard greens, chillies, radishes, turnips, carrots, marrows, aubergines, spring onions, garlic and herbs. Kris was particularly invigorated by the freshness, variety and diversity of the many wonderful ingredients that she was not familiar with because at that time they were not available in England.
Her growing interest and love of fresh food was consolidated during that visit when, plucking a carrot from the ground, she bit into it and tasted for the first time the intense flavour and sweetness of a carrot, grown as it should be and as fresh as it could possibly get. She often recounts that experience to her children and in fact anyone who will listen.
Meal times took on a special meaning to her and during that year in India, she learnt how to make many traditional Indian dishes and sweets from her grandmother and aunts.
Kris was in her late twenties when she got involved with cooking on a commercial basis, opening an Indian Restaurant and later, a successful catering business in Wolverhampton. It was then she became aware of the essential differences in the methods used for restaurant curries and the need to reveal these to lovers of Indian food wanting to recreate their favourite dishes in their own kitchens. The Curry Secret was published in 1989 and twenty years on it is as popular as ever.
Kris now spends her time between Australia, where her children live, and England where she has her roots. Kris recently purchased Mount Sugarloaf Farm, 8 acres surounded by vinyards and beautiful grazing country some 280 kilometres west of Sydney and is in the process of turning it into an oasis for growing all her own organic fruit and vegetables, not to mention her favourite herbs and spices.