I was born and raised in a suburb of London. A Punjabi by heritage, life for us was all about indulgences and living large. Punjab is located in north-western India, and its people, like its sprawling, fertile plains, are known for their unrestrained warmth and love of life. Having been lifted from their natural surrounding and welcoming but wet London, did nothing to dampen the joyful spirits of my family. On any given night, cousins and school friends and uncles and aunts would stop by on a whim. Conversations were animated, and moved between the stove and the dining table. The air was laden with aromas that emanated from the kitchen—scents of fenugreek, cumin, cardamom and saffron created excitement with anticipation. To me, those exotic fragrances would forever represent spontaneity, warmth and laughter.
Food was always a real family affair. Weekends, in particular, bore witness to grand, full-scale productions in our kitchen with aunts marinating meats for our tandoor, mom making neat triangular parcels for samosas, to be filled with spiced potatoes and my maternal grandmother, my little, adorable Nanima, perched on her chair stirring simmering pots of curries and orchestrating the activities of everyone else. No matter how blustery and gray the London weather, it was always warm and joyous at the dining table. You were never done till you were bursting at the seams and then some, only to hear, “go on, take another roti— you didn’t eat a thing”!
How, then, could the demystification of food not be a part of who I am today? Furthermore, living in France, Italy and New York City simply fuelled my desire to learn more and ultimately led to me becoming a graduate of the French Culinary Institute. Now a writer for several chefs as well as styling and developing recipes for my own food blog “Passport Pantry.” I continue to develop the muscle for both food-writing and cooking and enjoying every bit of the journey.
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