In 2017, Princella Anum Gill took a gamble with her family and moved from Pakistan to Cambodia to gauge whether they could open a restaurant. Three years later, Princella Flavors of Saffron is still alive and well in Tuol Tompoung, where diners can get a taste of Pakistani and Indian dishes made from imported ingredients.
The name for the restaurant was a cooperative effort between Princella and her father.
“My father was the one who wanted to give this name [Princella] to his first business, but I came up with the name Flavors of Saffron, as saffron is the most expensive spice in the world.”
Since ancient times, saffron has been a highly prized and valuable commodity. It was once worth its weight in gold, and even more at times.
Princella, 25, who has a business degree, wanted to come to Cambodia after her friends recommended visiting the Kingdom.
She tells The Post: “In 2017 my whole family came. After three to four months exploring options here, we decided to open this eatery. We opened on December 6, 2017.”
Princella’s mother, who has 15 years of experience working as a chef, commandeered the kitchen and ensured the restaurant’s success.
“My mom is a chef and she gets help from my younger sister and two hardworking Cambodian girls,” Princella says.
“She really cooks with love. Whether it’s for just a single customer or a group of people, to her, people eating in her restaurant are not just customers. They are family and friends and she wants to cook the best food in the world for them.”
The food at Princella Flavors of Saffron will be comfortably familiar to diners from Western and Middle Eastern countries, who make up most of Princella’s customers.
But Princella says several locals have had their first-ever taste of Indian and Pakistani food at her restaurant, and she happily reports that the reviews were glowing.
She’s received rave online reviews as well, such as this one:
“This is that place where you come because you want food made from the heart. When you want authenticity. When you want FAMILY!!”
She says the dishes most ordered by foreigners are the Butter Chicken and Haleem. Locals tend to prefer the Biryani ($4) and the Aloo Parathas ($2).
‘Aloo’ is the Hindi word for potatoes and ‘paratha’ refers to thick, unleavened flatbread.
Princella says: “For my recommendation, I would say our Beef Tikka Masala and Mutton Haleem, are go-tos for anyone who wants to have the wholesome taste of food in Pakistan, along with a glass of mango lassi or a cup of chai [milk tea].”
Haleem ($5) is one of the most traditional dishes in Pakistan and India. It typically takes hours to prepare as the mutton and dal are pounded to bring out the best taste.
The healthy dish is packed full of proteins and served with fried onions, chaat masala, and ginger on the side.
The recipes borrow from Pakistani, Punjabi, Sindhi and North Indian cultures and Princella’s ingredients are all imported from Indian and Pakistani grocery stores.
Besides food, Princella and her family have offered Phnom Penh-dwellers a taste of Pakistani, or ‘Desi’, culture over the past three years, including Henna tattoos and Bollywood-style and Punjabi dance demonstrations.
“We’ve held many events and pop-ups in Cambodia since 2017. There’s also a big rooftop here in the house where we will demo and teach all of those things for a small charge,” Princella says.
Princella says she’s working on a new website for the restaurant and installing indoor air-conditioning.
Diners can also enjoy their meals outside if they prefer the fresh air.
“This is not just any restaurant where you go and order food. This is the result of overcoming many hardships and working together as a family to build a place where you will not only make money but also make an impact on the community around you and represent your culture, faith and strength to anyone who needs that in their lives.”
Princella Flavors of Saffron is open from 10am to 9pm Monday to Saturday and from 2pm to 9pm on Sundays. It’s located at 7A, Street 147, near Super Duper, Tuol Tompoung, Phnom Penh.
For delivery call 088 630 5128 or 088 609 3076.