‘I lost weight eating Indian Takeaways’: Yorkshire couple lose six stone by swapping cakes for curries

A Yorkshire woman who started a bakery business to help her mental health ended up piling on the pounds until she swapped cakes for curries.

Soneeta Bondhi had been working alongside her husband Gav in parcel factories on zero hour contracts when they discovered they’d need IVF to conceive.

“With us both on £9 per hour, I couldn’t wait so long to be able to afford IVF. It was impacting my mental health.

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“My stubbornness was not going to allow me to drop it, so I did what I did best. I started baking as a side hustle, small things for family members and friends initially.

Soneeta and Mark from The Spicy BakerSoneeta and Mark from The Spicy Baker
Soneeta and Mark from The Spicy Baker

“We had already paid for a honeymoon to Jamaica before we discovered we would need to pay for IVF.

“It had taken two years to pay it and I knew it would cost probably triple what we paid for that holiday to even have a chance of starting IVF. It was such a sad time, so dark for us.

“We tried to cancel the holiday we saved for and get our money back, letting them know what awful situation we had found ourselves in and the holiday operator wasn’t having any of it.”

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Soneeta started doing little fairs and markets taking her homemade goodies around Yorkshire and ‘peddling’ them as best she could.

Soneeta started out baking before swapping cakes for curriesSoneeta started out baking before swapping cakes for curries
Soneeta started out baking before swapping cakes for curries

She made a range of jams, caramels, and even a range of Christmas cakes and soft filled chocolates.

She added: “I combined my love of motorbikes and baking and The Baking Biker was born.”

Soneeta and her husband still longed for a child and she ended up off her day job with depression.

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She said: “During my sick time the only thing that stopped me spinning into a deeper depression was baking and making beautiful creations to delight my customers.

The Spicy Biker food has helped Soneeta and Mark lose weightThe Spicy Biker food has helped Soneeta and Mark lose weight
The Spicy Biker food has helped Soneeta and Mark lose weight

“I'd always been the type of person that applied myself 100 per cent and I'd decided that I was going to put having a baby on the top of my priorities list.

“The Baking Biker grew and picked up momentum. People liked my stuff and they were talking about it. Shortly before going on Honeymoon that winter I lost my job.

“I set out on our Honeymoon, riddled with anxiety and depression, through a bleak winter with no planned future in front of me.

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“It was a beautiful bittersweet two weeks, drenched in Caribbean sun and doused in rum cocktails.”

The not so Slimming World friendly foodsThe not so Slimming World friendly foods
The not so Slimming World friendly foods

When the couple returned they put their last hopes on opening The Baking Biker inside Trinity Kitchen in Leeds City Centre.

Soneeta: “First we had to get an awful childfree Christmas out of the way, then to get ready for Trinity.

“We didn’t have much so we decided to get a bit of finance for the bit of kitchen equipment - ironically we used IKEA. It was satisfying to know IKEA was inadvertently helping us on our way.

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“So we took our flat pack and set off on our Trinity stint picking bits of shelving out of skips and reclaiming bits of our stand. It was awesome.“We grew and grew and grew. We came out of Trinity with momentum and by this time I had roped my husband into the business.

“Trinity had made him a master baker and his confidence grew at the same rate as our business.”

With IVF and mortgage bills looming the couple realised they would have to sell a lot of brownies for two pounds to afford everything.

Some of the Slimming World friendly foodSome of the Slimming World friendly food
Some of the Slimming World friendly food

Sonneta said: “We once again swivelled to night markets, food festivals and fairs but to compete we needed to up our offering.

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“We started to move into Indian cuisine. I'd always been interested in cooking even at a young age. I'd stand on a step next to the gas hob stirring my mum’s onions whilst she chopped up some garlic.

“People liked my cooking, so we started making more curries.”

By this time the pair had been eating cookies and brownies and they’d both piled on the weight. They decided to start Slimming World.

Soneeta said: “We were fed up with healthy meals at home, we missed our takeaways and our favourite has always been Indian, so we decided to make our own but a healthy version.

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“Our Slimming World instructor was absolutely fantastic - she encouraged us and cheered for us and pushed us to not only lose weight but also to grow our business and that’s how The Spicy Biker came to be.

“We started selling spice bags to our slimming world buddies who loved them, they were so popular that people wanted us to cook for them so we did.

“Once again that business, our family, our lives totally pivoted and started making Indian food that was healthy and tasty at the same time, we did slimming friendly takeaways and we had awesome feedback. We filled our weekends doing small breweries, events and food festivals that were run by our friends.

“This gave us a great start to our early career.”

Once they had saved enough money they started a round of IVF.

“It didn’t work, we tried again, and again nothing worked.”

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Together eating healthy Indian food however meant that Soneeta and Gav lost six stone during this challenging time.

Soneeta added: “We didn’t have many more attempts in us anymore. We started our final IVF attempt in December of 2018, on holiday. I didn’t tell anyone, not even Gav knew, I injected hormones in the aeroplane toilet, more injections in Spanish restaurants.

“Gav had no idea and it wasn’t until we got back that he thought we were ready to start.

“We had an awesome holiday, drove to Wales for IVF procedures and we finally got pregnant with Josh.

“I kept the pregnancy a secret for as long as I could.”

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Soneeta said that losing weight “definitely” helped her to conceive and have a healthy pregnancy.

“Josh arrived seven weeks early on a busy Bank holiday weekend - I was in labour at work and just thought it was back pain”, she added.

“He arrived safely, healthy and we stayed in Pinderfields NICU for nine days and now he’s just turned four.”

A whole new chapter has now begun for their family. Once lockdown was over Soneeta and Mark decided to chase their main dream of opening their own restaurant.

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Soneeta said: “We have been looking for bricks and mortar for a while now and never found a place that suited us.

“Late last year when we signed the lease on a new place and I’m really hoping we have found our forever home.”

The Spicy Biker has now opened in Wakefield City Centre on Cross Street which is trendily nicknamed 'Eat Street’.

The restaurant opened with a menu including some firm favourites such as “Dad’s Famous Bhaji’s.”

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Soneeta added: “We still keep the Dhal and rice on the menu. It is free on Slimming World, the chicken curry is about six syns we always keep something on the menu for ourselves really. Our Channa is also free on Slimming World with rice.”

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