Am really enjoy seasonal fruits now. We drink watermelon and musk melon juice everyday. These are the pleasures of seasonality. Thankfully, watching NDTV with my father in law about being “Single in the City” with Vikram Chandra. From Mint Lounge this week

Sat, Mar 30 2013. 11 22 AM IST

Luxury in food is about being seasonal
Seasonality is a concept that was understood instinctively by people of the previous generation, regardless of country
Shoba Narayan

Seasonal fruits, like mangoes, are popular for their health benefits. Photo: Kalpak Pathak/Hindustan Times.
The watermelons are here now. Glorious green round balls with dark green veins piled a block high in Cox Town, Bangalore. Chop them open for translucent flesh the colour of nail polish—pockmarked with pits that children spit while imagining whole orchards sprouting up around them.
The grapes are here too. Fruit vendors roll carts piled high with that single fruit—one harvest’s bounty. Summer will soon be here—the relentless march of grapes, melons and watermelons, all culminating in the marvellous swansong that is the Indian mango. In two months, we will see mounds of golden mangoes—one variety after another till the hot season ends. I wait for the Imam Pasand and think the Alphonso is overrated, but you are welcome to your opinion too.
Years ago, I interviewed iconic chef Alice Waters about her cooking philosophy at Chez Panisse, California. Waters, who revolutionized the way American chefs cooked, said simplicity and seasonality were her bywords. This same word—seasonal—was repeated by uber-chefs such as Daniel Boulud, Mario Batali, Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Thomas Keller. At the time, I didn’t understand this word or the concept. Why was a seasonal menu so important to them? What did it even mean in the US, where you could buy luscious mangoes imported from Mexico at the Korean deli down the street in the dead of winter? Wasn’t luxury the ability to eat anything anywhere anytime? Wasn’t there a particular pleasure in buying grapes from Chile; sugar snap peas from Georgia; pomegranates from West Asia; and mangoes from India all through the year at New York grocery stores such as Zabar’s, Citarella or Kalustyan’s?
Let me explain this overused foodie word as it plays out in the Indian context. Seasonal is what you cannot have. In Bangalore today, you cannot have chikoos for love or for money. Papayas too are waning, as are pomegranates and oranges. You still get them but they aren’t ubiquitous. The humble mosambi (sweet lime) is coming into season, while loose-jacket oranges are slowly going off. Grapes are in their prime now and will last a week, tops, before the watermelons have their aria. This specificity is the luxury of seasonal fruits and vegetables.
It has to do with taste, time and geography. To eat a cauliflower in Delhi in the winter is to experience this vegetable in its prime. Certain fruits and vegetables are delicacies that make their appearance like shy heroines at the behest of nature and climate.
Macrobiotics formalized these concepts by suggesting that people ought to eat only those foods that were indigenous, local and seasonal, for health reasons. Among the elders in my family, it was traditional to eat agasti leaves or agathi keerai (Sesbania grandiflora) on the 12th lunar day or dwadasi—after the previous day’s ekadasi fast—because it had vermicidal qualities. So you’d fast on one day, and detox on the next. These days, we go to Ananda in the Himalayas, Uttarakhand, or Canyon Ranch in the US to achieve the same effect.
Perhaps because of norms such as these, seasonality is a concept that was understood instinctively by people of the previous generation, regardless of country. Americans who grew up in the Depression era of the 1930s understood the concept of seasonality because they were used to forgoing certain types of food. Indians even to this day understand seasonality and how it is linked with taste and cost. Fresh figs will arrive in Delhi during certain times of the year and it is best to devour them before they disappear. Strawberries from Panchgani and Mahabaleshwar will arrive in Mumbai, drawing envy from down-southers like me. Mumbaikars will devour them and soon they’ll be gone.
Among the Rajputs of Rajasthan, seasonality is interpreted as eating the choicest game at the perfect time. So says Harsh Vardhan Singh, who runs Chhatra Sagar, a luxury tented camp in Nimaj. Ducks are most flavourful after their migration from Siberia. Foie gras was eaten before the geese migrated back because their livers would triple in size in preparation for the trip. In neighbouring Deogarh Mahal, Shatrunjai Singh Deogarh told me that venison tasted best in spring because that was when the four-horned deer, famous for its saddle meat, would have eaten fresh berries and fruits, lending its meat a lovely tartness. “And most of Rajasthan will not eat meat in the monsoon or during breeding season,” said Singh.
This interplay between feasting and fasting is the essence of living seasonally. Today, we do both. We go to Le Cirque in Delhi or Wasabi by Morimoto in Mumbai to dine on Wagyu beef or Parma ham that has flown thousands of kilometres to graze our plate and palate. We also come home and slurp on some strawberries, figs or grapes in the peak of their ripeness to enjoy local, seasonal, low-impact foods that don’t require us to buy carbon credits.
Shoba Narayan is eating local green grapes to offset the carbon credits of her Kesselstatt Riesling that has flown in all the way from Mosel, Germany.
Also Read | Shoba’s previous Lounge columns

Living in Paris

To French wine, cheese, bread, but sadly, for a vegetarian– not French food.  Thank you, dear Elisabeth– our lunches together give me a taste of France right here in Bangalore.

How the French do it

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First Published: Thu, Dec 06 2012. 08 20 PM IST
Dessert wines and candy shops, all within walking distance in Paris. Photo: Jorge Royan/Wikimedia Commons
Updated: Thu, Dec 06 2012. 08 34 PM IST
Down the street from my home in Paris are three cheese shops, four beauty salons, five bakeries, six wine shops and seven bistros, revealing, in no uncertain terms, the French approach to priorities in life.
It isn’t my home, really. It belongs to Elisabeth Guez, my neighbour in Bangalore. In a twist in the decades-old tale of entrepreneurship and immigration, Elisabeth’s husband, Michel, moved to Bangalore four years ago to start a firm and seek his fortune. When he first told me his company’s name, Smartesting, I thought it had to do with IIT coaching. But the website says that it is about “business critical applications testing”, which you probably understand, even though I don’t.
In Bangalore, Elisabeth and I bonded over her Mariage Frères Earl Grey tea and my south Indian coffee. When they heard that I was visiting Paris, they gave me the keys to their chic apartment near the Champs Elysèes and allowed me to pretend, if just for a week, that I actually lived there.
Living in a residential neighbourhood helps a tourist learn the rhythms of a new city. Some are universal: harried parents hustling children to school in the morning; suited office workers grabbing a croissant and a coffee before jumping into the Metro; vegetable vendors unloading the day’s produce. The details differ. Where we have mangoes, they have fragrant peaches, nectarines and apricots. Where we have delicate lady’s finger, they have white asparagus. The Oriental lilies that I love cost Rs.100 a stem in Bangalore. In Paris, they cost €12 (Rs.850) each. Beauty salons advertise a variety of treatments that will zap cellulite, contour faces and take out wrinkles. Cheese and wine are incredibly cheap relative to India.
Every evening, people walk into wine stores and discuss choices with the caviste behind the counter. The caviste begins with the same question: “Blanc ou rouge” (red or white)? Each customer lists preferences: dry, burgundy, and approximate budget. The caviste walks through the store, picking out bottles from different wineries and then, after some discussion about the vineyard, the type of grape and the vintage, a selection is made. The customer pays and takes it home for that night’s dinner. The same scenario repeats itself at the cheese shop. Short of telling you the name of the goats that were the source of that Clochette, the cheese monger can tell you pretty much everything about her cheeses: which part of the country it is from and how long it has been aged. The French have a word for this obsession with the source of things. They call it “provenance” and it illumines how they live and what they do.
Indians have this obsession too—or rather, we used to, before we became too busy to care where our food came from. My sister-in-law, Priya, who grew up in Kolkata, tells me that Bengalis buy (or used to buy) everything fresh every morning—even cooking oil. South Indians buy fresh vegetables every day, but the day’s oil? That’s a bit extreme, I thought. Buying the day’s fruits and vegetables is, of course, a great Indian tradition. Walk down the streets in Mumbai’s Chembur, Bangalore’s Cox Town, Chennai’s Gandhi Nagar, or Delhi’s Greater Kailash, and you will see women come out of their homes and choose their vegetables. They expertly pick out the most purple brinjals, perfectly ripe tomatoes, cauliflowers without black spots, and the tenderest greens, bargaining all the while for the best price. The scenario repeats itself for fruits, except that neighbourhood aunties and uncles walk to the vendor carrying plastic woven baskets reminiscent of Bottega Veneta’s intrecciato style.
Women of our parents’ generation go a step further. I know homes in all four Indian metros that still grind their flour in the chakki (flour mill). My aunt in Delhi mixes a bit of ragi, oats, jowar and bajra with her wheat to make home-style multigrain flour that is heartier than the “chakki-fresh” Aashirvaad or Annapurna atta that I buy. In Chembur, Sion and Matunga, south Indian women still walk to the neighbourhood mill to grind their sambhar powder—made with dried red chillies (the Byadagi chillies of Karnataka are the best to use), coriander seeds, pepper, mustard seeds, fenugreek, cumin, asafoetida, fresh curry leaves, and two types of dal. You wait in line for the chakki-master to pour the raw ingredients into the cement-mixer-type instruments. It snarls like a banshee while the spices are being mixed. You pour down some extra lentil seeds (tuvar dal) just to make sure that the remnant of the powdered spices are mopped up. In Bangalore, they charge us Rs.30 per kg at the local chakki. Most women make 5kg batches of sambhar powder that they store in giant stainless steel “drums” for use through the year. Fresh local seasonal vegetables cooked with home-made spice mixtures—that’s provenance, Indian style. Pity we are losing it.
Shoba Narayan enjoys her local chakki, but she wishes she had a caviste in her neighbourhood too. Write to her at
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First Published: Thu, Dec 06 2012. 08 20 PM IST

A night out with girlfriends

This essay appeared in M magazine of The National. Click here for the link.

A night out with girlfriends is simply good therapy
Shoba Narayan
Last Updated: Mar 22, 2011

My three girlfriends and I went out one night recently to The Pink Poppadam, a modern Indian restaurant in Bangalore. Mostly, we talked about our homes and lives, spouses and in-laws, children and careers, fears and hopes. We returned home a little lighter and ready to face the month ahead.

As numerous studies have shown, men and women bond differently. My husband rarely discusses his mental angst or marital issues with his buddies. When they get together, they talk about sports, current events and the markets. When we fight, he goes off to watch a game. I call a friend. These are stereotypes, but they come from a real paradigm. Women gain comfort from talking to each other. We sort each other out.

On this night, for instance, all four of us wives complained about how technology had ruined our ability to connect with our partners. “My husband is on the phone all the time,” said my friend Sheila. “If he is not checking his BlackBerry, he is texting. And this happens even during dinner. I’ve made this rule that he cannot take phone calls while we eat, but it doesn’t seem to be working because each call is an ‘important’ one.”

The rest of us nodded sympathetically. So it wasn’t only in our homes where this was an issue.

Another friend told us how hard it is living in a joint family with her in-laws. “My husband doesn’t want to get in the middle of it, but sometimes that only compounds the problem,” she cried. “My mother-in-law thinks she can say anything to me and get away with it, because he won’t correct his mother. It is left to me to be the bad guy and rudely shut her up, which I don’t want to do.”

We gave her solutions: “Move out. Or get them to go back to their ancestral home in the village.”

“Your husband thinks he is being the good son but what about being a good husband?”

“Stay quiet and put up with it,” said one friend dourly. “Old people never change. Maybe they’ll die soon.”

We all laughed and launched into a discussion about our own in-laws.

And so it went. I confided my fears over my teenage daughter posting photographs of herself on Facebook. My friends advised me not to be so conservative. “This generation lives out their lives on Facebook,” they said. I nodded thoughtfully. Maybe I ought to ease up on my kid.

When we started this ritual of going out together, all four of us were a little cautious. We were part of the same social group and had met each other at parties. But intimacy is different. Where do you start and how much do you confide? I’ve thought about this and have come up with some tips should you decide on a monthly meet-up:

• Pick women who are extroverted. There is nothing worse than sharing your problems with a silent partner.

• Pick women you respect but who think differently to you. This is key because their approach to life will be different from yours and will force you to look at issues from another angle.

• Go to a nice restaurant. Have fun with it. This isn’t only group therapy. It is a chance to laugh as well.

• If your husband grouses about your leaving for the evening, tell him it is good for your marriage. And it is.

• Make a pact that nothing that is said during the evening will get repeated. Choose discreet women, not gossips.

• Enjoy yourselves!

Shoba Narayan is a journalist based in Bangalore, India. She is the author of Monsoon Diary: A Memoir with Recipes.

New Zealand Food Tour for FT

Articles > Newspapers > Financial Times > New Zealand Food Tour
New Zealand Food Tour
– By Shoba Narayan

(This article originally appeared in May 2005)
For being such an isolated faraway country, New Zealand is a veritable culinary cornucopia. There are olives for the pressing, berries for the picking and wines for the sampling all within a span of miles and sometimes within the same village. Happy sheep bound about the bucolic countryside feasting on the verdant meadows, all of which, no doubt, add flavor to New Zealand’s prized lamb. Salmon, trout and whitebait frisk and frolic in pristine lakes and rivers yielding meltingly fresh seafood that grace many a restaurant’s platter. Bluff oysters, Akaroa salmon, Nelson’s King scallops, West Coast whitebait and Kaikoura crayfish—these are the bounty of New Zealand’s waters. There is beef, ham and venison too from cattle reared on rolling hills and wide-open pastures. I’ve never seen such happy animals as I have in New Zealand and they all probably add to the taste of its cuisine.

This is an old land but a young country. The Maori chanced upon it in 1350 A.D. when they rowed across the Pacific from Hawaiiki. The Irish and English discovered it a mere two generations ago bringing with them a hardy ‘food as fuel’ philosophy that was reflected in hearty roasts, potatoes and dark ale. “Used to be that a big night out would be to Barry’s Bistro for Steak Diane and a big cask of Muller Thurgau,” laughs Debbie Baldook, executive chef of the Millbrook Resort in Queenstown. In the last ten years however, Kiwi cuisine has gone from being ‘roast of the day’ to dishes that are startlingly inventive or completely out-of-control depending on your point of view. Mussel soup with passionfruit mousse anyone?

Devoid of a culinary tradition—the Maori hangi feasts don’t seem to have made a dent in the current cooking scene—New Zealand as a country embraces innovation. Chefs are encouraged to experiment and come up with fusion-combinations that borrow from the cuisines of the Pacific Rim. The results can be incredible or inedible. One restaurant served up a giant flax leaf wrapped around a tiny bowl containing an infusion of some sort. I wasn’t sure if the foot-high flax leaf was a wrap or ornament. So I simply sent the dish back. As Chef Michael Maguire at the Lakes restaurant in Christchurch says, “Sometimes you end up paying $36 for what is essentially several layers of garnish.”

Maguire himself is wary of such histrionics. His food is as earthy and harmonious as the Canterbury countryside on which it is based. He scours the world for spices and condiments but uses them sparingly. His pan seared scallops with pineapple salsa and coconut sorbet is a fine reflection of his teenage years in Singapore and his apprenticeship with three-star Michelin chef Marco Russo in the UK. Like most chefs, Maguire has to please two sets of mutually exclusive diners— older Christchurch locals who are wary of spices and a younger, more worldly clientele that seeks nouvelle cuisine. “I run a very flexible kitchen,” says Maguire. “There is no grandstanding. Basically, we’ll cook whatever the customer wants.”

For being a medium-sized city with a population of 366,000, Christchurch has more cafes and bars per head than anywhere else in New Zealand. Moroccan, Mexican, Indian, Turkish, Spanish, Old English, you name it and they have it. Christchurch is also a city that pretends it is in old England with hedge-lined squares where boys in white play cricket and a Victorian tramway that ambles along cobblestone streets. Men in hats can take you on a ‘punt’ along the Avon River in traditional English flat-bottomed boats and Hagley Park is a picture of manicured perfection.

Christchurch’s café and bistro scene, however, is decidedly modern. Black-uniformed wait-staff briskly take your order and come back with sandwiches or paninis stuffed with ingredients that are sourced from around the world: hummus, tzatziki, couscous, kale, miso and curry are all proffered and accepted. Vegetarians and vegans are graciously accommodated without much fuss. And restaurants, even the finest ones resist brocaded stuffiness. The service at 50 on the Park at the George Hotel, one of the city’s oldest dining establishments, for instance, is formal yet friendly. Nathan Bates, the executive chef sources the world for his spices and inspirations and works with over 40 local suppliers including foragers, bakers and beekeepers for ingredients. The results show in his sparkling if pricey cuisine. A duo of Canterbury lamb cutlet and cut of loin costs $32 while mains at the seafood-focused Pescatore restaurant upstairs start at $41.

There is a reason for this high price and it is one that locals rue: the best lamb, seafood, wines and oils are exported. If local chefs want them, they have to pay export prices. Most chefs make do with the B-grade stuff which is quite good by global standards, while the chefs at top restaurants pass on the expense to their customers.

For those willing to pay the price, however, New Zealand offers a bounty of produce, dairy, seafood and meats in the most startling of places. At the tiny mountain village of Geraldine, en route to the glaciers of Mount Cook, I encountered some exceptional cheeses in a tiny store. Talbot Forest Cheese, they were called, and they were all produced locally. I sampled some perfectly ripe Chevre le Blanc—a camembert made from goat’s milk, some aged Gouda, a creamy brie called Canter-brie in a nod to the region, and a smoky Manuka before buying the whole lot for the road.

Right next door, Barker’s Berry barn offered a variety of jams, preserves and chutneys neatly lined up in bottles alongside free samples for tasting. The apricot, boysenberry and blackcurrant jams were fresh and tasty as were the wildberry and orange preserves. But what caught my eye were the chutneys: capsicum and apricot, green tomato and jalapeno, tamarillo and plum and spiced beetroot. I can’t say that I liked all of them but the interesting and sometimes outrageous combinations typified New Zealand’s culinary sensibility.

After fifteen days of driving around the South Island, we realized that the climate and scenery seemed to encourage artisanal products. In obscure small towns, we found chocolatiers, cheese-mongers, herb and lavender farmers, butchers, bakers and icecream-makers practicing and perfecting their craft. Beesonline mixes vinegar and honey and sells its ‘honeygars’ nationwide. Prenzel Distilling Company sells apricot, peach and sour apple schnapps with butterscotch cream at the Grape Escape gourmet outlet in Nelson. Kinaki Wild Herbs sells herbs that the Maori used such as koru, pikopiko, horopito and kawakawa, all of which can be infused into native avocado oil to give an instant Kiwi flavor to dishes. Pacific Harvest company promotes kelp and seaweed. And Salumeria Fontana seasons sausages with Sicilian sea salt, black pepper, Southland elephant garlic and Italian wine. Organic vineyards such as Sunset Valley in Nelson follow biodynamic sustainable viticultural practices.

Outside Queenstown, we found a line of berry and fruit orchards lining the road and stopped to pick cherries and sun-ripened strawberries. We sampled extra virgin olive oil at numerous presses all over the country, a legacy of the late Israeli horticulturist Gideon Blumenfeld who planted his first olive trees in 1985 and is now considered the godfather of New Zealand’s burgeoning olive oil industry. Athena Olive oil serves up some wonderfully fruity lemon-infused olive oil that are stocked in the Canterbury region. Up near Nelson, we stopped in at the Stafford Lane Estate, which grows olive and native fejoia trees beside its vineyards. I bought a peppery picholine olive oil which worked well for the Indian cuisine I cooked. As for the fejoia jam, all I have to say is that it is an acquired taste. Stafford Lane also stocked Dukkah, which is an spice-mix made of hazelnuts, coriander, cumin and sesame, somewhat reminiscent of the Israeli Za’atar. But all these were expensive. A small bottle of olive oil was $12.95.

Bread is booming in New Zealand perfected in family-owned bakeries that have, in some cases, carried sourdough starters from the old country. Rachel Scott breads have a cult following around Christchurch, while Redwood Bakkerij specializes in moist ‘half-baked’ baguettes. A minor revolution is the widespread availability of savory scones, pies and muffins. Unlike the US where muffins are cloyingly sweet, New Zealand has mastered the savory counterpart. At the Founder’s Organic Brewery in Nelson, where I sampled pints of micro-brewed beer with chirpy names like Tall Blonde, Redhead and Long Black, the in-house café sold a delicious feta cheese and sundried tomato muffin. At the Riverside Café which is part of the Riverside Community that “promotes peace through cooperative and sustainable living,” we wolfed down some savory spice-encrusted muffins while waiting for our lunch. When our crisp French fries and thin pizzas finally arrived, we could barely do justice to them. At the Hislops café in the whale-watching crayfish-eating haven that is Kaikoura township, we became smarter and lunched on a tasty burger along with some onion and cheese muffins, all washed down with a few glasses of sauvignon blanc.

Wineries are of course a major driver of the food revolution in New Zealand. After all, when the quality of the wine improves, you need food to go with it. Many wineries have in-house cafes and restaurants that serve to showcase their product. The in-house restaurant at the Pegasus Bay winery takes its cuisine very seriously and was in fact shortlisted for one of the top ten restaurants in New Zealand by Cuisine, New Zealand’s foodie magazine. The food at Pegasus Bay was deep on flavor and a perfect foil for their wines. We walked in without reservations and were told that there was a 45-minute wait. The same was true at the Carrick Winery restaurant near Queenstown. After a while, we got the message: if you want to lunch at these immensely popular winery restaurants, you’d do best to call ahead. At Pegasus Bay, our wait was rewarded with a cool apple and celery soup with truffle scented Athena oil and a handmade pumpkin and marjoram tortellini with a summer vegetable nage, all washed down with Pegasus Bay Reisling.

The Gibbston Valley winery goes one step further. In addition to the wine-tasting and full-service restaurant, there is an in-house cheesery that sells a variety of homegrown cheeses. We sampled their cheese board that offered its washed-rind cheese called ‘Monk’s Gold,’ its savory cheddar and soft brie.

Artisanal cheeses are being perfected all over the country ranging from the venerable and large Kapiti cheeses from the North Island too smaller producers like Whitestone, Talbot and others. With milk and butter being so abundant, cheese is only the natural next step. Most New Zealand cheesemakers go for the more straightforward cheeses however, rather than the more obscure ‘smelly’ European cheeses. They seem content perfect a smooth brie instead of attempting a complex gruyere. And why not? This after all is most definitely not a nation with 536 varieites of cheeses. New Zealand has 53,000 sheep and for the Kiwis, perfecting a few world-class sheep’s milk cheese is just as satisfying as trying their hand at the tricky ones. In his website, Kapiti cheese’s chairman says,
So there you have it, two culinary trends running parallel to each other. On the one hand, the Kiwi inclination towards self-effacement, restraint and quietitude and yet, on the other, this inventive playfulness, this constant innovation towards extreme-cuisine as it were from a nation that invented bungy-jumping and thrives on extreme-sports. The taciturn mountaineer a la Edmund Hillary, the national icon is just as much a Kiwi stereotype as is the voluble adrenaline-junkie Prime Minister Helen Clark who didn’t know about the Asian tsunami disaster because she was heli-skiing in Norway over Boxing Day. The question for the future is which will win out—extreme cuisine or restrained roasts.

Debbie Baldook, executive chef at the Millbrook Resort thinks that her country is over fusion, Pacific Rim and incessant invention. “Now it is all about putting clean, clear flavors on the plate,” she said while at the same time appealing to the ever-growing sophistication of the Kiwi palate. Perhaps because they are so isolated, New Zealanders are more attuned to global goings-on than other countries. They travel the world and sample its wares. They are open-minded and accepting of new things, be it spices or flavors. Baldook for instance, offers tahini sauce with her veal tenderloin and none of her clients—local or tourist—bat an eyelid, she says.
“New Zealanders are much more innovative than, say in the UK,” says Alan Hibberts, originally from London. “They are open to new flavors in a way that the English aren’t.”

“We are a shy people,” says Richard Tanner, chef-owner of Malabar, an Asian fusion restaurant in the alpine spa-outpost of Hamner Springs where vacationers come to take in the waters at the region’s hot and thermal springs. Tanner has lived and cooked in 88 countries across the globe including New York, London, Spain, India and Thailand. Originally from Hanmer Springs, he came back home to roost and roast here. His cuisine reflects his global travels and Kiwi moorings.

Chefs such as Tanner reflect the new Kiwi: world-travelled, sophisticated, open-minded, blessed with a bounty of ingredients and finally knowing what to do with them. “For the first time, I think we aren’t looking to Europe or America or Asia for inspiration,” says Bates. “We aren’t look inward. We are figuring out what we as New Zealanders can cook and eat.”

And my, what a feast that will be.
This article originally appeared in may 2005.
Copyright © 2001 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All rights reserved.

Gourmet Magazine

Gourmet magazine has a page of my pieces here.

In India, where I grew up, rice gains mystical—even mythological—proportions.

TRAVEL + CULTURE: Masala Klub, Taj West End, Bangalore
Opening an Indian restaurant in India isn’t easy. Indians are famously possessive about their food, and chefs face severe repercussions from the Authenticity Police.


It’s that time of year again, when the sweet scent of mangoes fills the air. Hungry Indians everywhere slice and slurp their way to ecstasy.

This 20-room rustic hideaway bills itself as India’s “only 100 percent eco-friendly back-to-basics lifestyle resort.” In plain English, that means solar power, windmills, and composting.


The practice of herbal medicine is alive and well in rural India.



For some reason, well-meaning Delhi-ites always try to dissuade you from visiting Chandni Chowk.

The Imperial is one of those Delhi hotels that everyone loves, including my husband. But frankly, I was a little underwhelmed.


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I am not sure that I would eat the food in Chandni Chowk, but I know Americans who have and survived.

India’s Supreme Court banned hawkers from cooking food on the street. No doubt, street-hawkers will protest about how the government is taking away their livelihood.
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Dosas are commonly described as South Indian crepes, but the description doesn’t do them justice.
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Your most memorable trip this year? The Yunnan province of China. We flew into Kunming and then drove up close to the Tibetan border.
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They offer diners the chance to sample many dishes. But before you order that tasting menu, you might just want to read on.
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In this Indian family, destiny begins in the kitchen.
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