“Cooking is an art, and if you learn how to cook you will never die hungry.”
I often remember these wise words my grandmother would lovingly share with me in Urdu. There was a special warmth in the way she spoke to me as a child when I would spend much of my time observing her skillful hands cooking delectable dishes. Whether it was kneading the dough, cleaning and cutting vegetables, or stirring at the stove, my grandmother enjoyed being in the kitchen. The sparkle in her eye as she wielded her magical hands to prepare any dish is fresh in my mind as what first drew me to the wonders of cooking.
As a teenager, I remember being drawn to my mother in the kitchen. I recall how I rushed to grab an onion from the pantry or bring forth an item from the fridge when my mother requested it. I was drawn into the precision of how she cooked along with the enticing aroma of Indian food that wafted through the house every time she was in the kitchen. This furthered my interest in cooking and I yearned to play a more active role in producing dishes.
As a child of two hard-working parents, I often found myself in an empty kitchen. Hoping that I could expand my culinary skills when my mother was away at work, I would intently pore over her cook books, comparing recipes and striving to grasp the correct measurements for various spices, which could really make any dish shine, if used appropriately.
I began sharing photos and videos of my culinary experiments with friends and family–many of whom enjoyed cooking, but shied away from preparing Indian food. I received many words of encouragement as they commented on my affinity and expertise with cooking Indian dishes, but initially did not seem eager to try out the recipes for themselves. It was then I realized their hesitation did not stem from disliking Indian food, but rather, they doubted their own ability to cook Indian food. At that moment, I understood we were limited in the kitchen because we were so used to watching and assisting–never given the full authority to cook, which furthered our discomfort.
This epiphany sparked my desire to share my recipes and passion with others in my generation–people who love devouring Indian food but don’t really know where to begin. I have certainly had many failures in the kitchen, and I understand how discouraging they can be, but any small success quickly makes up for a botched recipe. These recipes are designed to be adjusted to your taste but offer a strong foundation to help kickstart your kitchen experiments. I hope you rediscover your love for cooking Indian meals at home, as I have done over the past several years. But most of all, I hope you find joy in making these recipes for your close family and friends to share the art of cooking and the simplicity of finding delight and success in the kitchen.
Nashta translates to breakfast or snack, but the recipes you’ll find here will go beyond the confinement of a specific meal type or time of day. I hope to experiment and go beyond traditional Indian dishes, to fusing them with some of the non Indian dishes I grew up eating as well. I’m excited to start this journey in the kitchen and can’t wait to share my struggles and successes with you.
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Special thanks to my family, Babal, Faria, and Huda, without whose support and advice, this blog would not be possible.
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