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Numra Siddiqui

Introducing Numra Siddiqui, The Chef Owner of Empress Market. In February she hosted a sensational four course meal of Pakistani Punjab's cooking, to celebrate the Basant Kite Flying Festival.

Empress Market 3 Empress Market

Tell us a little bit about your practice…

Empress Market is an events catering company based in London. I serve modern South Asian cooking with a British perspective at my seasonal supperclubs and catering wedding, parties and dinners.

My menus are rooted in a heritage of Pakistani and Indian family recipes, a love for global cuisine and a nod to modern London living.

What does Home mean to you?

Home is a place where you feel the strongest sense of belonging. It goes beyond the practical place where you take your coat off at the end of a working day or even your childhood house. Home is a feeling for me - I’ve felt an immediate sense of at home in places I’ve been for the first time. It could be a close friend’s home or even a new country. The sense of home is how welcome and safe I felt to be myself when I was in that space.

Creating a sense of Home is very important to me. I always need to decorate the space I live in. My Home should be a nurturing space, where I can relax and escape the hustle of the outside world. I love collecting knick knacks from my travels. I prefer buying hardcopies of books I’ve read to put on my bookshelves. Photographs, art prints, movie posters and even the first bunch of roses my partner gave me hang on my walls.

I want my home to tell the story about who I am, and be an expression of my life’s experiences. It’s not for anyone else to look at, it’s for me to always find inspiration from the world I have created for myself and the place I made Home.

How does your own idea of home inform the food you make and the events you run?

To understand Home as a state of being means I can lay my dinner table anywhere and create a sense of home not just for myself but for my guests.

It really warms my heart when people recount childhood stories of eating the dishes I serve on my own dinner table. This is especially true for Pakistanis who have left their home country to make a new life in London. It’s so nice to be a part of their journey of connecting to what they left behind and how they move forward in London.

"My style of cooking at Empress Market is simple yet stylish, with an emphasis on colour, vibrancy and most importantly, flavour."
- Numra Siddiqui


What are your impressions of Museum of the Home and its collections?

I’ve always loved visiting Museum of Home. It’s a powerful record of London life and it’s so interesting to see how our lives have changed in style and interest over the years. You get such a real sense of the people of London, how our lives have improved with technology and travel.

I’ve visited the Museum before and after the renovations, from the exhibition rooms, to the café and gardens, it’s a lovely space to meet friends or even spend a few hours on your own escaping the hustle of the city. I particularly like that the Museum is in East London, in a more residential area. It feels like it is part of the everyday London life.

The Museum is currently running a campaign to tackle food inequality as part of their Campaign for Change. In what way do you think the Museum is suited to raise awareness around this issue?

Museum of Home’s campaign to tackle food inequality is a unique opportunity to encourage more people to cook at home.

Ultra Processed Food (ready meals, junk food, takeaways) has such a big part to play in people cooking less and eating unhealthy meals. They’re easier to prepare and large scale commercial production has meant they are easier to buy as well!

Fresh/raw ingredients are comparatively more expensive now. In effect, low income households, short on time and budget, feel they have no other option but to rely on UPF. It would be good to see Museum of Home highlighting the importance of cooking from scratch and the ways it can be more cost effective in the long run.

Countertalk: Home Cooking Series

We've hosted some exciting independent chefs with events making creative use of our spaces. Our Home Cooking series explores some of these chefs and the brilliant ideas they've brought to the Museum.