Food writer, cookbook author and recipe contributor for the New York Times, Bon Appétit and The New Yorker among others
What do you do in the food world and what do you love about it?
I write about food, mainly for Bon Appétit and the New York Times (I also do these fun videos for Bon Appétit's YouTube channel). I love getting to tell people's stories, particularly those voices that I feel are perennially underrepresented in media. I get so much pleasure out of talking to other people, and trying to understand how they fit into the larger conversation about food. Food is so universal, you can use it as an entry point to talk about literally anything — music, religion, tech, and so on.
How has your mother influenced your cooking and how has your relationship with her evolved throughout your career?
My cooking is 95 percent shaped by watching my mother cook growing up. Her cuisine, which comprises these unique, totally unfussy hybridized Indian dishes, is most familiar to me, and that's what I end up cooking when I'm home. I think that like many kids, I took my mom (and both my parents) for granted growing up — I didn't realize all that my mom went through to raise two kids while also pursuing a career in the tech industry and putting dinner on the table and pursuing her multitude of other passions (wine! travel! theater! etc.). Writing this cookbook with her, and writing about her in general throughout my career, has given me this renewed sense of pride in everything she did for our family growing up. Before the Lean In movement had a name, my mom was already doing it! She showed us that you can prioritize work and your interests and still be a really excellent parent and role model to your kids. I also have realized how important it is to just ask your parents questions! I have learned so much about my mom's upbringing, her values, and the moments in life that shaped her in writing about her through the years. These are tidbits that I may not have otherwise thought to ask.
Cooking with your family in 5 words- go!
It's always a group activity!!!
What recipe/meal/technique have you mastered recently that you're most proud of?
Learning to make my aunt Sonia's Pav Bhaji (like a vegetarian sloppy joe), which I have long lusted after, was a pretty big triumph — especially finding out that it's not actually that hard to make.
What do you hope people will take from your new book Indian-ish?
I hope people will laugh with and relate to my family and its narrative, and I hope people will feel unintimidated by Indian flavors. I want dal chawal to be as normalized a dish in America as spaghetti!