'Come Dine With Me: South Africa’ season 9 contestant, Lianca Dookran, is a passionate physiotherapist

Physiotherapist and practice owner Lianca Dookran. Picture: Giya Photography

Physiotherapist and practice owner Lianca Dookran. Picture: Giya Photography

Published Jun 24, 2024


Durban-born Lianca Dookran is a strong, highly educated, independent, charismatic, and driven person with a strong vision of making a change in the medical field.

In 2012, Dookran founded the Assess and Progress Integrated Therapy Center that offers a holistic approach to healthcare. She provides evidence-based non-surgical treatment for acute injuries, chronic conditions, and post operative rehabilitation.

Her preferred therapy is a hands-on approach using manual massage on soft tissue, joint manipulation, core strengthening exercises and acupuncture (dry needling).

A single mom to an adopted beautiful 6-month old girl, Dookran said starting the practice was an incredible achievement for her.

“This is an incredible achievement for me, coming from a society that was relatively risk averse. Starting my practice was scary. I love the Ballito community and work within a multidisciplinary setting.”

“When I started I had no confidence in myself and I remember in those early days my clients commented that I was too cheap for the service I offered. Wanting to explore their comments, I booked myself into one of my competitors.

“Walking out, I remember thinking, ‘Okay, I can do this’. That surge of confidence led me to take a business course with the Ilembe Chamber where I became a finalist in the Ilembe Chamber Entrepreneur Program.

“This shifted the direction of how I did things in my practice and started focusing not just on my physio skills but seeing the business side of the practice as well,” she said.

Physiotherapist and practice owner Lianca Dookran. Picture: Giya Photography

Dookran said in university she was clueless about her intended career so she spent time shadowing different medical professionals and started studying for two other degrees before switching to physiotherapy and is now addicted to her work and lives for it.

“My mom was very supportive: at one point she was working three jobs, seven days a week to get me through varsity. So she didn't really have the finances for my indecisiveness but, has always supported me, even today. She is my biggest support system.

I first studied psychology then medical sciences and finally physiotherapy. To make one of the most important decisions at such a young age is impossible. I now would recommend the youth take a gap year or working holiday to find themselves,” she said.

The Ballito based entrepreneur said a day in her life is filled with amazing clients.

“I'm a self-proclaimed coffee addict and my day has to begin with good coffee. My typical day is hour-long treatments where I focus on hands-on therapy.

“Over the years I've learnt so much about the correlation of pain and the state of the mind. If a client is going through a stressful event, it exacerbates pain so I find myself to be a little bit of a psychologist, friend, shoulder to cry on, or life coach to some.

The day is spent with patients, coffee breaks, doing social media content, admin, and then rushing off to do mom duties, which is the best part of my days,” said Dookran.

Her charismatic side was revealed when she recently participated in season 9 of “Come Dine with Me: South Africa” and took home the grand prize for her night of food and entertainment.

Although she won, Dookran claims to be, “A self-proclaimed absolute non-cook.”

She said she was only inspired to enter the show after reading "Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person" by Shonda Rhimes.

“And I've been practising it for two years. So I got sent the application and had to say yes because it was part of my yes journey.

With the show, I have learnt to bet on myself every opportunity I get. I have learned that I can actually cook and that my own self-limiting beliefs needed to be broken. After almost two years of many wonderful yes moments, the biggest yes to date was saying yes to adopting my little girl,”she said.

For her dinner party, Dookran served tikka prawn pani puri and chicken feta and sundried tomatoes samoosas as a starter, lamb saag (Indian lamb and spinach curry) as a main dish, and Chai panna cotta with a berry compote and meringue as a dessert - all paired with a curated gin cocktail.

As a proud 'brown girl’ she wanted her Indian heritage to shine.

Dookran said her future plan is to expand to create more flexibility so that she can be able to spend more time with her little blessing.