In her own words –
“Spice is my life. As a three-year-old still living in India, my mother tells the story that I loved Indian black salt – the seasoning for onion and cucumber salads – so much that I would skip around the dining table and grab salad by the fistful from everyone’s plate. My mouth still waters as soon as I think about really good, spicy Punjabi Indian food and a perfectly-spiced side salad.
Moving to the United States shortly after and trying to navigate American culture on the outside and Indian on the inside of our home meant that I shied away from embracing my Indian roots and culture out of embarrassment. All I wanted was to be like all the other kids in my high school in Pennsylvania. Though, I still obsessed over Indian food and flavor at home.
This passion and my quest to create Indian food memories for my daughters is what led me to quit my television reporting career. While I love reporting, I would come home shattered to see my kids eating bland food. Working the early morning shift – starting at 3 a.m. – and with a husband who traveled for work made it nearly impossible to create many if any Indian food experiences for my young kids like my own mother and grandfather did for me.
My grandfather gave me my first cooking lesson at age 10 when he visited from his small village in India, and my mother diligently hand wrote all her recipes on 5 x 7 index cards for me to take to college, work on Capitol Hill, and then eventually graduate school in Hawaii. My family was always serious about food, but my schedule prevented me from sharing this with my own family. I was frustrated. So, I took some time away from daily reporting to cook, and cook, and cook.
I started blogging around 2008. The idea was to start a human food experiment – to learn to make all the Indian recipes I grew up loving and writing about them on my website, indianasapplepie.com. My goal was to share the love of my culture and language with my kids. And, maybe even write a book in the process. It was my first cookbook, The Indian Slow Cooker. My mother discovered Indian for the crock pot back in the 1970s. We used it all the time, and it seemed to make sense that other folks would want to try the same recipes we’d perfected over the years. The hunch paid off – we sold tens of thousands of copies of that book alone – encouraging Americans to try cooking a cuisine they once thought complicated in the simplest of cooking tools.
One book turned to three and I launched a spice & sauce line at select Whole Foods Markets under the brand name, Indian As Apple Pie.
I love to teach classes and really interact with my customers and fans of my books. Last summer I was asked to teach cooking classes to kids in Switzerland through the summer program at the Leysin American School situated in the Swiss Alps. It’s pure magic to see the lightbulb go off. For folks new to Indian food, it’s this amazing look of surprise that they can recreate the same flavors from their favorite Indian restaurant at home. And, for second generation Indians, it’s a sense of relief that they can recreate recipes from their childhood without giving up their day jobs.
But, regardless of where the business or my books take me literally and figuratively my girls have made one thing clear – nothing can take the place of me cooking them their favorite Indian dal – complete with a side of spicy, tangy onions.”