My Bambiri: How Vij's chef and co-owner is making organic baby food accessible

Feb 11 2022, 8:32 pm

Vij’s Chef and Co-Owner Meeru Dhalwala loves it when patrons bring their baby into the restaurant. It reminds her of when she used to cook for her own children when they were younger.

“I love babies. I have two daughters who are now adults,” said Dhalwala. “While I didn’t win any prizes for potty training, bedtime schedules, or getting them to school on time, I was a star at cooking for them. My younger daughter’s first full sentence in her cute toddler voice was, ‘Mama, I wan’ more.'”

Dhalwala is now helping new mothers feed their own babies with her recently launched line of sustainably farmed and organic baby foods, My Bambiri.

 

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“My Bambiri is hand-made by me with organic grains, as well as produce from BC farms with beautiful soil,” Dhalwala said in an interview. “It’s simple foods made creatively with a touch of traditional wisdom. My Bambiri foods are baby’s first ‘culinary building blocks.'”

The India-born, Washington, DC-raised, and Vancouver-based restauranteur was inspired to create My Bambiri after meeting many new mothers at Vij’s and hearing their experiences.

My Bambiri

Chef Meeru Dhalwala, founder of My Bambiri Baby Foods/Submitted

“In 27 years of running the restaurant, I’ve met plenty of moms who overstress their baby’s nutrition,” said Dhalwala. “There are also moms who have so many financial or time stresses that their babies end up eating French fries just to fill up their tummies. Neither is a good start for a baby,” she said.

“Unhealthy diets start with unhealthy eating habits that start early in one’s life. So I decided to start from the beginning.”

My Bambiri, named after a nickname given to Dhalwala by her parents when she learned how to crawl, currently offers four flavours for babies six to 12 months old: Blueberry-Sunflower Seeds, Apple-Teff (an ancient grain), Beets-Red Lentils, and Lentils-Basmati Rice.

My Bambiri

My Bambiri Baby Foods/Submitted

The sustainably farmed and organic baby foods are available for purchase at www.mybambiri.com and via takeout order at Vij’s. The items come frozen to lock in the nutrition at the time of cooking. All the parent or caregiver has to do is thaw them in the fridge and microwave for 15 to 25 seconds.

“For My Bambiri, creating the taste and recipes was the easiest part. I close my eyes and imagine what would a baby want to eat,” shared Dhalwala. “These are vegetarian recipes with fun ingredients that I made for my girls when they were babies, just tweaked a bit.

Dhalwala says she would make different baby foods at Vij’s for fun.

“Moms from the Cambie neighbourhood would bring their babies to the restaurant or I would take the food to them. My first baby was Ryan who was being raised vegan and 9 months old,” she explained.

“I knew I was on to something when I made the Apple-Teff dish. No joke, after he finished the food, baby Ryan grabbed the bowl and put it in his mouth to lick! This is the photo that launched me and my quest for My Bambiri.”

My Bambiri

Baby Ryan finishing a bowl of My Bambiri’s Apple-Teff./Submitted

Dhalwala also told Daily Hive that while she cooks for the babies, she prices the food for the parents. People can purchase My Bambiri products according to their income levels.

“My Bambiri has three different prices and all parents can pay according to their unique financial circumstances,” said Dhalwala. “If a parent is better off financially, they can pay a higher amount for the baby food to help keep the business going while helping someone else who isn’t as well off to pay less.”

All profits above the net cost will go towards baby foods being donated to the Food Stash Foundation for distribution to food-insecure families.

“Access to healthy foods is a human right for all babies and toddlers and therefore their parents. My parents struggled financially but were adamant about feeding their children healthy and nutritious foods. They also balked at charity as working parents. All parents want agency with their means and income levels and I want to help them with that.”

My Bambiri

My Bambiri Baby Foods/Submitted

After Dhalwala has paid off her expenses for making the first batch, she plans on expanding into toddler foods.

“My goal is to get this healthy, smartly sourced, and fun-tasting baby food into as many babies as possible,” said Dhalwala. “I want everyone to feel as if My Bambiri is one team of parents, irrespective of their family incomes. A baby is a baby and the more of us that get the right start in health, the better it is for our world.”

Daily Hive

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This content was created by Daily Hive's Community Partnerships team.
Daniel ChaiDaniel Chai

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