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My professional culinary journey began in the 1970s when I moved to the United States from Mumbai, the city of my birth, with my husband and teenage children. It has been a fun-filled, enormously rewarding road, packed with learning experiences I never imagined I would encounter. Now, after a career of 34 plus years teaching cooking classes throughout the Unites States and internationally, and 2 cookbooks later, I look back with immense gratitude for a life blessed with a wealth of memorable experiences in the world of food.
In 2011, I moved back to Mumbai and to a food scene vastly changed from the one I left so many decades ago. Technology has put information in the hands of all and global food is what India’s cities are trying to emulate. With the liberalization of imports, ingredients from around the world are freely available to anyone willing to pay the price. As always, the Indian palate requires adapting the cuisine of any country to “Indianize” it. Witness Chinese Indian cuisine, one of the most popular foreign cuisines in the country. Completely unrecognizable by the rest of the world as even vaguely Chinese, it is hugely popular with all Indians. Sushi in India consists of at least fifty percent vegetarian offerings and has been widely embraced. The main reasons for this are dual. Firstly, there is a large population of Indians who are strictly vegetarian. There is a large number amongst the well traveled who enjoy food and more recently, wine, and who want to have access to these within the country. They can afford to indulge their taste buds in the best of the best. The upscale restaurants that serve a foreign cuisine have, perforce, adapted to the vegetarian customer if they want to be successful. Secondly, the Indian palate craves spice. It is in the genes. Even McDonalds has had to spice up their condiments to sell their otherwise bland burgers and potato patties.
Easy Indian Cooking, published in 2004, is in the works for an update. I am currently working on adding more recipes, all of course to fit the mandate of “simple and easy.” It continues to inspire the young and those who feel challenged by the mere sight of a stove. I continue to receive messages of gratitude for opening up a world of simple Indian dishes to the novice as well as those more comfortable in the Indian kitchen.
The Complete Book of Indian Cooking, published in 2007, continues to do brisk business. This book not only explains the differences and similarities between the regional dishes but the signature spices and ingredients of the different regions as well. The inquisitive cook will enjoy the book and learn much, while the adventurous cook will attain the comfort level and the knowledge to experiment with spices and ingredients in Indian and non-Indian dishes.