The organic, small-batch purées are available for pickup at Vij's in Vancouver
The restaurant industry has been hit hard over the past two years of the pandemic, and Meeru Dhalwala’s businesses weren’t immune. But rather than dwell on the unfortunate events (RIP Rangoli), the cookbook author, restaurateur and mother of two decided to pursue a long-imagined passion project—she started making baby food.
Meet My Bambiri, a line of four baby foods and an homage to the Vij’s co-owner’s childhood nickname. Bambiri, which means “spinning top” in Punjabi, perfectly describes a kiddo who just learned to crawl, bouncing from one part of the house to the next. So it’s the perfect emblem for Dhalwala’s boutique line of organic, small-batch purées for children six months and up.
My Bambiri operates on a pay-what-you-can model. There are three prices to choose from for a case of 12 four-ounce containers: $24, $42 or $60. Dhalwala wants families from all economic situations to have access to high-quality baby food, so rather than focus on profit, she decided to let the customer decide what to pay. All profits above the net cost will be donated to Food Stash Foundation, a local charity that rehomes surplus food to families and individuals experiencing food insecurity.
“For those who can pay more, you’re supporting those who need to pay less,” Dhalwala sats. “And I don’t want anyone to feel embarrassed if they need to pay less. We all want the same thing: for our babies to eat well. Just because someone is making $18 an hour shouldn’t mean they can’t feed their child properly.”
With the help of baby Alita (daughter of Acorn restaurant owner Shira Blustein) and a few of her other colleagues’ babies, Dhalwala narrowed down her recipes to four colourful concoctions: blueberries and sunflower seeds, lentils and basmati rice, apples and teff (an ancient grain), and red lentils and beets. Thanks to the pandemic, Alita also became the unofficial spokesbaby for My Bambiri. You can find her cherubic face on the brand’s website and social media accounts.
Hungry babies weren’t the only people helping Dhalwala with her pandemic project. Food Stash Foundation has given My Bambiri easily accessible storage space. And the same printers that have produced the menus for Vij’s over the years were moved to donate the nutritional info sheets that accompany each order of My Bambiri baby food when they learned about Dhalwala’s mission.
For now, My Bambiri orders will be available for pick up at Vij’s, but Dhalwala hopes to involve more local business (Main Street Brewing, we’re looking at you), giving young families a fun option, like going for a beer, while picking up food for their baby.