Maybe you recognize her by her signature cherry-red glasses, from her morning show cooking segments, or one of her viral recipe Reels (giant fusilli with spinach-jalapeño pesto, anyone?). However you may have gotten hooked on Priyanka Naik, one thing’s for sure: this New York-based chef, author, and TV personality is heating up the vegan scene, and it’s not just because of her arsenal of chilis, chutneys, and spices..
VegNews caught up with the rising plant-based star for a few rapid-fire questions to find out what makes her tick, how she’s tackling the holidays, and why she’s nuts for cashews.
1 Go-to candy?
Anything dark chocolate, vegan, and sans palm oil. One of my faves is Lindt Dark Chocolate with Orange Peel bar. Oh, and UNREAL’s dark chocolate peanut butter cups!
2Favoite holiday tradition?
Making tons of handmade snacks and sweets for Diwali—the Hindu Festival of Lights—usually around October or November. My favorites are shankarpali (a sweet biscuit-like snack) and chakli (spicy chickpea flour-based snacks).
Most overrated holiday dish?
For American holidays: pumpkin pie. I find it bland and monotone. For Indian holidays: nothing! Everything is so flavorful and dynamic.
Favorite part of the holiday season?
“Plopping,” otherwise known as sitting around with my family and watching copious amounts of movies.
Priyanka Naik / Today
Holiday dish you’re most looking forward to?
Anything my maa makes, but probably her cauliflower-black pepper pulao. For American holidays, it’s apple pie with caramel—I’m a sweets gal.
How will you be ringing in the New Year?
I’m not a planner, so it’ll be a game-time decision. Hopefully, I am somewhere fun and international!
All-time favorite appetizer?
Spinach artichoke dip and aloo papdi chaat.
Three foods you can’t live without?
Bread, nuts (any kind), and anything spicy!
The vegan product you can’t live without?
Vegan cheese. And that includes cream cheese.
The meal you can eat every day?
My mom’s pav bhaji—a Mumbai street food consisting of vegetable curry and soft rolls. It’s also the dish that inspired my winning meal that earned me the title of Food Network Champion in 2017.
Favorite vegan city?
City you’re dying to visit?
Rio de Janeiro, Brasil.
What are you waiting on to be veganized?
Taco Bell’s Mexican Pizza! And the Spicy Potato Soft Taco.
Vegan restaurant you’re obsessed with right now?
Purple Thai—a 100-percent vegan farm-to-table Thai spot in New York.
L’Artisane Bakery / Instagram
Favorite vegan restaurant?
I love L’Artisane Bakery in Miami, FL.
Restaurant you’re dying to visit?
I actually don’t have one! I travel extensively and love to explore cities while I’m there versus tons of planning. I can’t wait to see where my travels take me!
Three restaurants you’d recommend to visitors in your city?
ilili, Coletta, and Mala Project.
Current social media obsession?
In five words or less, what are you most excited about right now?
Empowering people to be sustainable!
A vegan brand you’re obsessed with right now?
Esti for its vegan cheeses and Apparis for its faux furs and puffer jackets.
Go-to coffee shop order?
I hardly buy coffee anymore, but if did, it would be an iced caramel macchiato with oat milk, light ice, and extra caramel.
What’s the last thing you ate?
Sautéed graffiti eggplant with peanuts, curry leaves, and peppers and onions with cumin basmati rice.
For American or European, Chocolate mousse. But for Indian, Basundi with strawberries and pomegranate.
Cashews lightly sautéed with vegan ghee, black salt, red chili, cumin, sugar, salt, and black pepper. I eat them with hummus, pita, coriander, and fresh veggies like cukes, tomatoes, and carrots.
Goals for the new year?
To launch a retail product under the Chef Priyanka brand, to work fast and furiously on my second book, and hopefully solidify my very own cooking show on TV.