Meeru Dhalwala’s vision is for each person to connect him/herself (body and soul) to the 3 pillars of food and cooking: culture, personal nutrition/health, and the impact of agriculture and eating choices on the environment.
Meeru was born in India and moved to Washington, DC at a young age with her parents. In DC, she worked with various international non-profit organizations on human rights and economic development projects. She received her MSc degree in Development Studies from Bath University in England. Meeru moved to Vancouver in February 1995 and has since been cooking and running the kitchens at Vij’s and Rangoli restaurants. Vij’s has been hailed by the New York Times as “easily among the finest Indian restaurants in the world.”
Meeru works closely with her all-female kitchen staff–all of whom hail from villages in the Punjab, India—to experiment with various cooking techniques and spice combinations for all of the recipes at the two restaurants.
Meeru also penned the three Vij’s cookbooks: Vij’s—Elegant and Inspired Indian Cuisine, which won Cuisine Canada’s 2007 Gold Award for Best Cookbook, and Vij’s at Home: Relax, Honey, which placed second in the Best Indian Cuisine Book in the World category at the 2010 Gourmand International World Cookbook Awards in Paris, France. The third cookbook, Vij’s Indian—Our Cherished Recipes and Stories, with Penguin-Random House was released in October 2016 and was shortlisted for best Indian Cookbook at the 2017 Gourmand International World Cookbook Awards.
Meeru’s particular focus is to forge relationships with other local businesses, and farmers in particular. She is committed to improving her business environmental footprint, most notably through her choices in produce, seafood and meats. She was on the board of directors for Vancouver Farmers Markets from 2011 to 2017, and has developed close, professional relationships with many BC farmers.
In addition to her avid support of the farmers markets Meeru sits on the Advisory Board of UBC’s Faculty of Land and Food Systems. She also works closely with staff at the Faculty and UBC Farm on various fundraising initiatives to build an academic, teaching, sustainable farming center for students, the BC community, and visitors from around the world.
Meeru’s special community project is an annual international food fair called “Joy of Feeding” that is held every summer in Vancouver. Joy of Feeding features 15 home cooks of various ethnic backgrounds and professions showcasing their family favorite comfort foods. This event is held at UBC Farm and is also a fundraiser for the farm. In addition to the focus on home cooked meals from around the world, most of the food is sourced locally and/or organically. Meeru’s bigger vision is to have a worldwide Joy of Feeding day where various communities throughout the world gather together to feature and share their home cooked meals, combining what they can source locally with their special ingredients particular to their cuisines.