GM: When did you first start cooking? Who or what is your biggest cooking inspiration?
SD: I’ve always found myself in the kitchen from a young age, even if that was mixing up some mac ‘n cheese with that (suspect) orange powdery substance (I know, perhaps it’s generous to call this “cooking”) of my youth. But mostly, and most prominently, it was my reverent observance of my mom who would cook Indian food nearly every single night for my family. Dinner together, at the table, was not something you could opt out of in my household, and we’d wait until everyone was seated at the table before scooping up fluffy basmati rice, spooning dal & vegetables, and tearing roti to pinch up vegetables with our fingers.
I was always amazed by how seamlessly she would toss ingredients into the pot, relying on nothing but her eyes and andaz (which translates to something to the effect of “your own style,” in Hindi) to conjure up beyond delicious dishes in no time. The women in my family are my biggest cooking inspirations – whether it’s my mom and the impact she’s had on my recipes and life in general, my aunt (who I call Amiya) who was a restauranteur in Australia and who serves as our family’s home cook compass, and my grandmothers Nanu and Dadi who have imparted nostalgia into many of the dishes I create today.