PICTURE OF THE DAY: Cardinal Keith's kitchen heaven

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By Christine Lavelle

SIKH TREATS: Scotland’s Catholic leader rolled up his sleeves and donned a tabard today as he helped out in a Sikh cafe kitchen today. Cardinal Keith O’Brien stopped in at Edinburgh’s Punjab’n Raosi Café – which translates as the Punjabi Women’s Kitchen – in a bid to unite faiths.

Picture by Katielee Arrowsmith
He mustered up some chapattis before tucking into a haggis pakora with the staff.

Workers at the Leith Walk shop said they hoped his visit would shake off “common perceptions of Sikhs as being anti-social.”

Speaking while settling down to some Indian food, the Cardinal said: “It is vitally important that we look after inter-faith relationships like this, because it is not a relationship unless people actually meet.

“How do you get to know your neighbours if you do not knock on any doors?”

The cafe was opened by Sikh Sanjog, a voluntary organization set up in 1989 to support Sikh women as they move into the mainstream.

Trishna Singh, business developer, said: “The confidence of the women who volunteer here has grown hugely since we opened.

“There are many here who would not have dreamed of speaking to a white male before, and to see them out serving and chatting is wonderful.”

For lunch, Cardinal O’Brien opted for the cafe’s signature dish haggis pakora, which Trishna said is a prime example of how the members of the group have actively become Scottish Sikhs.

She said: “There are many common perceptions of Sikhs as being anti-social and it is just not true.

“We want to break down these barriers, and food is the perfect way to do that.”

Sikh Sanjog was one of eight organizations to receive an Enterprise Grant from the Scottish Community Foundation.

Since opening in March, the cafe has received visits from other high profile guests including MSP John Swinney, who was given the same cook-your-own-lunch treatment.

Trishna said: “We will welcome anybody who wants to come and support us and encourage our success; these visits are great for raising our profile.”

Cardinal O’Brien said he enjoyed the hospitality of the ladies at the Punjabi cafe, and said they were very good cookery teachers.

He said: “All of the staff and volunteers here are so friendly and happy; whether you are doing it right or wrong they will be smiling and laughing which is very encouraging.

“They are so delighted that you want to learn from them and just share their company.”

Victor Spence, secretary of Edinburgh Interfaith Council, said the multicultural Leith Walk is a perfect venue for this type of cafe and event.

He said: “Although Edinburgh is less diverse than many cities in the UK, the way we express our inter-faith relations is extremely vibrant.”

5 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks for posting this, it’s great to read about a successful interfaith group in the UK. We will be sharing this with the global interfaith community!

  2. thank you for the publicity, we are hoping that people reaidng this will come down to the cafe and taste the food and sample the hospitality themselves. We had a lovely time speaking to the Cardinal and found him to be a very warm friendly person. Thanks to Victor Spence of Edinburgh Interfaith Council for arranging the visit.

  3. We are so proud of our daughters wifes sisters who have achieved this venture
    With all their own hard work and trishnas
    Determintion.

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