Thursday, February 24, 2011

What’s Cooking in your Kitchen – Indian Simmer?

Today I will be going into the kitchen of Prerna from the Indian Simmer blog. I discovered Prerna’s blog a while ago while blog hopping and was instantly hooked, like many of us.  Prerna is from a small town in India but move to the US a few years ago and lives in Charlotte, NC.  During Prerna’s spare time she writes and teaches us about recipes and photography.  I love reading about her Indian background and all the Indian recipes she features, she makes them look so simple and amazing.  But that is not all,  her photography and styling is absolutely beautiful.  I am so excited to be in her kitchen today.

How long have you been cooking and who was the person who encouraged you to come into the kitchen and learn about food?

Food and cooking has always been a big part of my life and it has always intrigued me. In my family, kitchen was the center point of the house. Both my mom and dad are great cooks and growing up I saw everyone take turns in the kitchen making something for the rest of the crowd. So I always had some experienced hands holding mine while stirring a pot as a child. But then while running behind career and ambitions, I somehow drifted away from the kitchen!

Years and years later, after getting married and flying thousands of miles away from home, I found myself back in the kitchen. Now, my husband’s and my little 18-month-old’s satisfied faces after a meal encourage me to do better and learn more about food.

Why did you decide to start a food blog? And why do you love it?

After moving to the US, I got exposed to cuisines, cultures and people of the world for the first time. In turn, the move also helped me appreciate my own country’s cuisine and traditions even more. But there was one thing that surprised me every time I talked with someone about Indian cuisine. Most people felt that Indian food is all about curry and spicy food! And every time I thought to myself that there was so much more to this cuisine. One day I was sitting with my husband talking about it and in a very movie like way I said to him, “wish I could tell people about how varied, easy and ‘not so much about curry’ Indian food is” and he said “then why don’t you write a blog.”  And that’s how I started Indian Simmer!

Why I love it? It might take long to answer that question because I have SO many reasons for that! But if I could pick one thing then it has to be people. If it was not for this blog, I would have never realized how warm, appreciative and constructive people can be to someone who is almost a stranger. Well, stranger no more!

You are originally from India, tell us why you moved to the US?

I have to say that US was hardly ever on my life map. Until I met this guy who now I call my husband! He used to work in the US when we decided to get married. Next thing I knew I was here!

I am Swedish and know about moving from country to country and it is not always easy.  What was your hardest transition from India to the US?

To me, the hardest part in the transition comes from relationships – with people and culture. In India we are so used to being surrounded by people, even events and sounds. Not just friends and family but also everyone around you. Hawkers screaming on the streets, neighbors knocking on the door every evening for a cup of tea, sounds of temple bells when it’s time to pray – just a few of many that you grow up with. That’s what I missed the most when I moved here. I missed being surrounded by people and being involved in their lives all the time. Invited or not.

Is there any food or flavor you miss from India that you can’t get in the US?

Now the world has got so small that you can get anything and everything from one part of the globe in the other. Except one. That “real” taste of street food. Samosas and Pav Bhaji taste good only when they come from the tiny little corner shop at the end of the street. That’s what I miss the most.

Do you have a signature dish? What is it and how did you come up with it?

I can’t really call anything my signature dish but there are a few that my friends and family say I make, umm.. kinda best!

Aloo Gobhi

Matar Paneer

Falooda Kulfi (Indian style ice cream)

What are three things people don’t know about you?

My favorite kind of a vacation is spending time on the beach but I don’t know how to swim, so I can’t really get ‘in’ the water!

I have HATED the smell of milk for as long as I can remember! I cannot drink a glass of white milk. The smell continues to be a big turn off.

I remember as a child once packing my bags and leaving home just because my dad asked me to do something against my ‘principles’. I was may be 5-6 years old. I took my suitcase and walked all of fifteen steps to my neighbor’s house. By evening, my mom showed up with a bag full of samosas and bribed me to come back home. Anything for hot samosas in a brown bag!

Do you have a cooking trick or technique you use all the time and would like to tell us about it?

I was surprised to learn that people are not really accustomed to using pressure cookers here in the US. It was kind of “the” cooking technique that my mom taught me early on and I use it all the time in my kitchen.

What is your favorite kitchen gadget?

You’ll laugh but it has to be my mortar and pestle. We Indians are a bit too sensitive about our chai and to flavor it we use several different kinds of spices. From ginger to cardamom and many more and the more you crush them before adding to your tea, the more their flavors shine. I don’t know how my day would progress if I were to make tea without that mortar and pestle.

Name 3 thing you always have in your refrigerator.

Lemons, eggs and frozen green peas. I start to panic if I open my refrigerator and don’t find any one of these.

What is your favorite Holiday and why?

My favorite holiday has to be Diwali – the festival of lights. It’s a Hindu festival and as the name suggests, it is celebrated by illuminating your entire house with lights – big and small. Before you know, the entire town turns into a sea of lights. India is a country with people having different religious beliefs and backgrounds but this is one festival when people from all backgrounds come together and celebrate. I remember sitting at pooja (prayers) with my family and staring at bowls loaded with Gulab Jamuns, hoping that prayers would soon end and we can go out eat those Gulab Jamuns and get some fireworks going!

What advice would you give to other food bloggers?

Read other blogs, ask questions, reach out to people if you want some answers and try to make and maintain a good connection with your readers and people whose work you like. Network! Twitter and Facebook are really great tools to meet likeminded people.

Submit your work to as many public platforms as you can manage. Tastespotting, Foodgawker and FoodBuzz are good places where you can showcase your work and get attention.

Last but not the least, don’t lose the essence of what you are. Try to be as real as possible to your readers. I have realized that unless you have fun with what you are doing, others are equally less likely to enjoy your work!

I want to thank Prerna for letting me in her kitchen! Thank you!

** All images from this post are taken and copyrighted by Prerna from Indian Simmer. **

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12 Responses to “What’s Cooking in your Kitchen – Indian Simmer?”

  1. 1

    carolinaheartstring — February 24, 2011 @ 9:38 am

    Great post. Enjoyed it very much.

  2. 2

    kellypea — February 24, 2011 @ 9:42 am

    Fabulous interview! Your vibrant personality shines through 🙂 You have me wanting hot samosas in a brown bag from that little shop on the corner and agree that street food or something local is impossible to recreate.

  3. 3

    Kath — February 24, 2011 @ 10:18 am

    What a lovely interview! Thank you! I was aware of Indian Simmer, but hadn’t really explored it much. That will change! 🙂

  4. 4

    Tweets that mention What’s Cooking in your Kitchen – Indian Simmer? — Delishhh -- — February 24, 2011 @ 10:35 am

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  5. 5

    Sonia — February 24, 2011 @ 1:42 pm

    Nice interview of Prerna! It’s nice to know something more about you. Yes, she is one of the best representative of Indian food and culture!

  6. 6

    Soma — February 24, 2011 @ 1:50 pm

    Finally.. nice to see that pretty face and the loving family!

  7. 7

    Satrupa — February 24, 2011 @ 6:09 pm

    I am a big fan of Prerna ……… ‘Prerna’ means Inspiration and she is so true to her name. Luvd the interview.

    Loads of luv n hugs to Prerna


  8. 8

    Splendid Willow — February 24, 2011 @ 11:28 pm

    Great interview, Ewa! I would want to follow her around in her kitchen as well! I love Indian food and would not mind tasting that Indian ice cream.

    Nice meeting you Prerna!

    Hugs to you both.


  9. 9

    Megan — February 25, 2011 @ 6:44 am

    Great post! It’s always nice to meet the face behind the words! And some great advice! 🙂

  10. 10

    Alena — February 25, 2011 @ 7:45 am

    Such a great interview and the pictures are beautiful. Can’t wait to explore this new blog!

  11. 11

    Eliana — February 25, 2011 @ 11:49 am

    Love the interview! I love Prerna and all the deliciousness in her wonderful blog.

  12. 12

    Prerna@IndianSimmer — February 25, 2011 @ 2:06 pm

    Thanks for joining me in my kitchen Ewa! 🙂
    So glad we got to know each other and it was nothing less than a delight to do this interview with you!

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