» Go to news main

Spice Girl Chutney ‑ Flavours of home

Posted by Stephanie Rogers on December 6, 2023 in News
‘Spice Girls’  (L to R): Shaily Tandekar, Niruppama Senthilkumar, Samyuktha Kandasamy
‘Spice Girls’ (L to R): Shaily Tandekar, Niruppama Senthilkumar, Samyuktha Kandasamy

The flavours of home have permanently connected three Indian students after creating a specialized chutney in the Food Lab on the Dalhousie Agricultural Campus as part of an eight-week experiential program called Cultiv8 Chef.

Cultiv8 CHEF introduces students to kitchen basics, food security, preservation, and value-added food product development.  Run by Chef Reinier Boermans and Cultiv8's Jason Grant, Cultiv8 Chef is a spin-off of Sustain by Cultiiv8 - a small, student-run campus vegetable production farm - completing an early-stage entrepreneurial pipeline model from field to fork.

Shaily Tandekar, Niruppama Senthilkumar, Samyuktha Kandasamy, otherwise known as the Spice Girls, created Spice Girl Chutney which was featured at the Scholarship Banquet on campus in November. Chutney is a spread typically associated with cuisines of the Indian subcontinent.

“Working with Jason and chef Reinier Boermans was an amazing experience,” said the Spice Girls.  “Their guidance helped us in thinking out of the box and I think that was the reason we came up with this chutney recipe which resembles flavors of home but at the same time connects us with Nova Scotia.”

This extracurricular program runs in the evenings and allows students to engage with one another while learning to create new dishes of their own and try others, while being in a safe environment to learn.

“After an introduction to kitchen basics, students begin by following recipes to create select dishes, and proceed to create their own value-added food product through an iterative, customer feedback-focused learning model,” explained Jason Grant.  “The program culminates with a showcase where student teams present their Cultiv8 CHEF journey and products to a panel of enthusiastic supporters.”

Shaily Tandekar was born and raised in a small town in Madhya Pradesh called Itarsi and recently completing her dual degree program at the Faculty of Agriculture.

“After sessions, when we used to sit and discuss the dish we made and evaluate it, was the best,” she explained.  “It was the time we used to enjoy, appreciate and critically analyze each other's dishes."

Although Shaily has graduated and has started her M.Sc. Plant Science at the University of Saskatchewan, she said she would love to come back and participate in the Cultiv8 CHEF program again.

Niruppama Senthilkumar grew up in a town where she could see both the beauty of mother nature and human technological integration.  She was interested in Cultiv8 CHEF because of her passion for creating sustainable solutions for environmental problems and wanting to explore more solutions for food insecurity.

Samyuktha Kandasamy grew up in a quiet rural town in Tamil Nadu, India, where agriculture has been a cherished tradition in her family for generations. She is deeply interested in sustainable production practices. Although not entirely passionate about cooking, she now says her Cultiv8 CHEF experience has created an aspiration to continue to cook and explore the culinary world.

Cultiv8 Chef is proudly sponsored by TD Canada Trust.