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A Cook Abroad:
Renowned Scottish Chef Visits His Roots In Punjab -
Tony Singh





A COOK ABROAD: TONY SINGH’S INDIA. BBC Documentary Film, May 2015, English, 2hr 46 min.

Scottish chef Tony Singh has described the emotional experience of discovering how his ancestors were refugees when he travelled to Punjab to film BBC series,  A Cook Abroad.

Celebrity chef Tony Singh was moved to tears in Punjab when he found out how his family became refugees after the partition of Punjab and the subcontinent.

The Scottish cook traced the footsteps of his ancestors after they fled from Lahore to Delhi following the division of Punjab between newly created India and Pakistan in 1947.

The trip was Tony’s first proper visit to Punjab after being born and raised in Leith, Edinburgh, Scotland.

He said: “I found I can have one foot in Punjab and one foot in Scotland. And I am proud that I can have two strong, independent heritages that I can call my own.”

Tony was in Punjab to film the new BBC series ‘A Cook Abroad‘.

As well as a culinary exploration, the trip became a personal and emotional one.

He was overwhelmed when he met his 89-year-old great uncle Ameer Singh.

His uncle told him it was God’s will that Tony was in Scotland and that it made no difference to the strength of their family bond.

Ameer Singh told him: “You are my blood. You came, we talked. We are one blood.”

Tony, 45, took the Grand Trunk Road to Delhi, the same journey made by his ancestors and millions of other Sikhs as they fled their homes.

When Britain finally gave up its colonial occupation of the subcontinent, partition followed in 1947, creating a mass cross-migration that uprooted 13million people from their homes.

Sikhs and Hindus from Punjab were forced to flee to the easten half, now in new India, while Muslims similarly had to flee to Pakistan. In the scramble to get to the right side of the border, there was mass bloodshed.

And in massacres perpetrated by both sides, more than one million people died, thousands more were raped and injured or starved to death.

Tony headed first to Punjab, where his family originate, and visited the original home of his great-grandfather in Amritsar. He said: “I felt tingles in my tummy. The house had been changed but not a lot. If partition had never happened, it is where I could have been brought up.”

Amritsar was a tinderbox during partition and his family fled to Delhi to escape the violence. They included Tony’s father Baldey Singh Kusbia, who was three at the time. Ameer Singh told Tony they stayed at one of the largest refugee camps at the city’s Red Fort for six years.

Tony said: “Ameer Singh told me there was so much danger when they fled. He saw guns and bombs going off. Millions of people moved over an arbitrary line drawn in a map. My family made that journey and I can’t imagine what hardships they went through.

“We did the journey this year in a car, stopping for food and it was fun and luxury. However, they didn’t know where their next meal was coming from or where they would make it. They were on the road for weeks and then thrown into a camp. More than one million people dying – I can’t get my head round that.”

In 1953, Tony’s grandfather moved to England and then Leith.

For Tony, a classically trained chef, food was one of the highlights of his Punjabi adventure.

He fulfilled a boyhood dream to meet the Nihang, a nomadic group of Sikh warriors whose cooking is legendary.

Tony also learned that, although she was born in Glasgow, his mum’s Punjabi food is truly authentic.

He added: “I learned that good food will always bind people together.”

You can watch the excellent BBC film produced by capturing Tony Singh’s journey in Punjab, by CLICKING here Caveat: Be prepared for Tony’s thick Scottish brogue

[Courtesy: Daily Record & BBC. Edited for]
May 14, 2015

Conversation about this article

1: Sunny Grewal (Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada), May 15, 2015, 1:14 AM.

The Sikh families that witnessed and survived partition have produced amazing individuals.

2: Dr Pargat Singh (Nottingham, United Kingdom), May 20, 2015, 2:30 PM.

For those that have not seen it, Tony did a fantastic job in this documentary.

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Renowned Scottish Chef Visits His Roots In Punjab -
Tony Singh"

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