Ram Anand Written by
from Malaysia

MA Directing Film and Television

Hi everyone, my name is Ram from Malaysia, and I’m an MA Directing Film and Television student. Today, I am going to talk about how my cooking skills have developed since coming to live in Bournemouth.

Food options in Bournemouth

Even though Bournemouth has a lot of diverse food options, we are often restricted by cost as students. As well as this, those of us from different continents won’t have immediate or easy access to our home cuisines when we crave them.

I was never a good cook before I came to Bournemouth. Street food was pretty cheap for a single bachelor like me back in Malaysia, and I could always visit my family and eat home-cooked food if I wanted some unique dishes that weren’t necessarily available elsewhere. Coming from a Malaysian-Indian family, I’ve been exposed to a vast array of regional cuisines due to Malaysia’s diversity. Malay, Indian and Chinese cuisine have been my regular staples. It’s difficult to replicate that level of diversity in my food options here in Bournemouth, and despite the selection of restaurants here, I soon found myself driven to start attempting to cook.

Getting ingredients and cooking in Bournemouth

One of the mistakes I made when coming to Bournemouth was underestimating the amount of ingredients I would need to start cooking. I had great difficulty cooking regularly in the initial stages because certain spices and mixtures I wanted were only available in Malaysia or from some neighbouring countries. I eventually managed to get some friends to help by sending some ingredients from back home for my cooking. I soon learned how to combine ingredients from different countries to achieve the same result in the dishes; many other Asian countries use similar ingredients in producing their dishes.

After a lot of trial-and-error, I soon became a decent enough cook that now my friends from neighbouring countries such as Indonesia and India have been enjoying the dishes I’ve made here, although I still do not consider myself to be anywhere near my mother’s level of cooking! There are plenty of Asian stores in Bournemouth which sell some basic spices and ingredients which can be used for Asian cooking, so thankfully I don’t always have to turn to my Malaysian friends for a supply of ingredients.

Learning to cook has not only kept my living costs at a minimum, but it has also satisfied my food cravings. It’s also allowed me to create a special bond with some of my international friends here, and I’m now part of a group that was formed just for the purpose of cooking together!