With its international clientele and plush rooms kitted out with Burmese teak furniture, the Ritz was the place to stay in Ahmedabad when it opened in 1938.
Frequented by the British and other Europeans, as well Indian nobility and wealthy businessmen, the Ritz was as famous for its food as its rooms.
In the kitchen was Maria Edveges Julia D’souza, who ran the hotel with her husband, Geraldo Augustino Pereira (who was originally from Goa but left in search of greener pastures). After losing a liquor business when prohibition was enforced in Gujarat, the couple went on to open the Ritz.
The original site of the hotel was built by descendants of Ahmed Shah, founder of Ahmedabad. Employed there was head waiter Jerome Almeida, who had just returned from sailing on P&O cruise ships - an experience which saw him suggest a number of new dishes for the Ritz.
Today, the hotel may have gone - it was razed to the ground in 1989 to make way for a bus terminus (which still hasn’t been built!) - but the recipes of the Ritz live on, thanks to Maria Edviges’ granddaughter, Nicole Pereira Khurana.
Nicole launches No Borders by NPK
In September last year, Nicole launched No Borders by NPK - a home delivery food service that gives Maria’s culinary creations a new lease of life.
Growing up in the Ritz, Nicole learnt how to cook from her grandmother. "I have her hand-written recipe books, which I treasure - they are very brittle now, but I’ve scanned them to preserve them.
"My grandmother had a great eye for for recycling, and many of the things in the hotel came from the Sunday market. My grandfather had a green thumb and grew all the vegetables that the hotel kitchen required, plus the gardening - they taught us well."
Today, Nicole serves up family-size portions of Goan cuisine, as well as a range of dishes from Sindh province, and delivers them to her Instagram followers in Ahmedabad. On the menu are mouth-watering treats like spicy pork vindaloo, crab curry and succulent mutton chops.
"It’s been awesome," Nicole says of her journey so far. "I moved into a North Indian home and discovered a whole new cuisine. The name of my business reflects the fact that there should be no borders with food. I’m trying to bring two cultures, two different styles of cooking together."
Speculating on the success of her new venture, Nicole says: "Authentic Goan food in Ahmedabad is scarce, and most of it is mass production. My Goan food is very popular - I think it’s because the Gujarati is a big traveller. You can call them the Globe Trotter of India. My soul is in this Goan food."
Nicole has some help with the preparation and cleaning, but she’s responsible for all the cooking. Just like her grandmother before her, she heads back to Goa a couple of times a year to source her ingredients.
Another attribute she inherited from Maria is a passion for recycling and reducing waste. For that reason, you’ll find your dishes from No Borders turn up in glass dishes - just how Nicole serves her food at home.
Asked to name her best dish, Nicole struggles to answer, but finally settles on her chill con carne. "It’s the last meal my grandmother made me before she passed - so that dish is the closest to my heart."
Right now, No Borders by NPK is only for all those lucky people in Ahmedabad, so the rest of us will just have to keep dreaming about Nicole's killer fish curry, and her grandmother's chilli con carne...
- No Borders by NPK offers delivery in Ahmedabad. Get in touch with Nicole via Instagram or call 98255 23050. Food photography by Ashit Parikh.