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Starting May 1st, Tune Into “Not Your Butter Chicken” – Not Your Typical Food Docuseries!

Photo via Not Your Butter Chicken

There’s a new culinary show launching May 1st, 2024 (as in, tomorrow!) – minus the standard food television series BS – that we’re actually really stoked on. Not Your Butter Chicken is a four-part docuseries hosted by local food and wine pro, Shiva Reddy, exploring the Indo-Canadian experience through the lens of food and family.

Once a competitive hockey player (hence the fantastic photo above), as well as one of Canada’s first South Asian female wine experts, Reddy has as much grit as she does charm and is as grounded as she is versitile (You might also recognize her as one of the current powerhouse team members of Burdock & Co.) and Not Your Butter Chicken – which is notably produced by all women of colour production company, JUGAAD Sisters Inc., with Telus – touchingly navigates her mother’s loss of memory, using it as the opportunity to reconnect with her heritage by visiting kitchens and seeking out community stories across the country. From the vineyards of Kelowna to the bustling streets of Fort McMurray, each episode deftly mixes personal struggle with cultural celebration – and always with a healthy dose of humour. It’s not just about uncovering the food; it’s about piecing together the memories that dementia threatens to unravel.

From Not Your Butter Chicken:

Episode One
Kamloops, BC | Theme: “Food is Sewa”

This episode interweaves Shiva’s profession of hospitality and her own mother’s commitment to the Indian concept of Sewa (being of service to others or the act of giving) with the deep historical roots of the Sikh Punjabi community in Kamloops. Shiva is welcomed by hometown hero and broadcast journalist, Meera Bains, and a gathering of the elder sawmill and railway workers who helped build Kamloops. Shiva stops in on local farmers and jumps in to help prepare lunch as a volunteer at the city’s Gurudwara (place of worship).

Episode Two
Fort McMurray, Alberta | Theme: “Ready to Roti”

This episode centres on the resilience of South Asian women throughout the hardships of migration. Shiva looks back on her hockey career, finding common ground with the past struggles of her mother and current challenges of immigrant women making a new life in Canada. She makes roti with Shweta, who left her life as a famous movie star in India to join her husband in Fort McMurray. Shiva gets back on the ice after a long hiatus with pro player Dampy Brar, who is on a mission to teach the South Asian community the game he loves – and to teach the hockey world about his community.

Episode Three
Lethbridge, B.C. | Theme: “Darkness to Light”

This episode, filmed during the festival of light known as Diwali, focuses on the new era of Indo-Canadians rewriting the script on family as they celebrate a fresh take on cultural traditions. Shiva meets up with a fascinating new generation including comedian Laksh Gill, scientist Dr. Harwinder Sidhu, Punjabi-Cree artist Madeson Singh and Dr. Pardip Athwal. Back at home, Shiva’s mom is moved into long-term care. Now no longer living full time with her mom, Shiva faces the sudden reality of becoming an empty nester and finds joy in cooking her mom’s traditional Diwali recipe.

Episode Four
Kelowna, B.C. | Theme: “What Will People Say?”

This episode introduces Shiva’s incredible rise as one of Canada’s youngest female sommeliers and connects it to the world-famous farm to table and vineyard culture in Kelowna. Shiva looks inward and contemplates the impacts of living in fear of social judgment and a common reprimand of her childhood, “what will people say?” She reaches out to other trailblazers including the family-run Kalala Organic Winery, Jennifer Deol of There and Back Again Farms and The Paisley Notebook’s Aman Dosanj. Shiva takes the wheel as she learns to drive and plans a special outing to surprise her mom.

Basically, consider Not Your Butter Chicken Reddy’s personal invitation to step into the hearth and homes of some incredible people who have built their lives here, while showcasing how food can be a bridge between generations and geographies. “Everyone knows Butter Chicken, but not the culture that created it,” says Reddy, hinting at the depth and diversity of Indian cuisine and its people.

Whether you’re the sort of person who digs a good, heartfelt story, or are just looking for a different kind of dinner inspiration, this series promises to deliver. Sold? You don’t have to wait long to see for yourself just how much more there is to Indian culture than what’s on the menu. Not Your Butter Chicken will be available to watch, beginning tomorrow (May 1st) via TELUS Optik TV Channel; or you can catch it online here. Still can’t wait? Get another taste of what to expect by scoping out the trailer below:

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