I am a professional home cook. I came up with this label because, although I’m a classically trained chef, have spent time in the kitchens of Jean Georges, Devi, and Per Se and am now a Chef and Culinary Creative Director at Junoon in New York City, my love of cooking begins in the home – creating surprising and delicious dishes for my family and friends.
I grew up with a multi-cultural upbringing – the food was a confluence of Indian, Pakistani, and East-African flavors, some of which to this day don’t exist on the restaurant scene and can only be had by going to the houses of members of my small ethnic community. I enjoy journeying in other cultures through food and have learned from working in various ethnic restaurants as well as informally through my travel experiences. My passion for international home cooking has led me to the houses of family members and friends where they have schooled me in many of the undocumented traditions – of special note are the invaluable lessons in West Indian cuisine taught to me by my husband’s Aunt Cherry in Port of Spain, Trinidad. You are as likely to find me cooking at a renowned New York eatery as at a family’s home in Cape Town or a small Ethiopian restaurant in Brooklyn with resident chef “Mama”.
My cooking style is unhesitatingly “American”, the definition of which has everything to do with the way I grew up. My food signifies that “American” cuisine is subject to interpretation, to personal reinvention, growing and evolving with the country’s increasing diversity. I am the first generation of my family born in the U.S., but I am undeniably tied to the exotic flavors that shaped me as a child and develop me as an adult. My food honors my American sensibilities and simultaneously pays homage to the flavors and traditions of a variety of ethnicities.
I’m taking the broader mosaic of my experiences to show cooks how to incorporate the flavors of my childhood, experiences and travels into everyday cooking. To that end, I just released my first cookbook, Exotic Table – Flavors, Inspiration, and Recipes from Around the World – to Your Kitchen (Adams Media; November 2013; $35). With over 100 recipes, Exotic Table is an exciting expression of my passion for bringing international spices, ingredients and traditions into American cooking and making them accessible to the home cook.
About This Blog
This site results from the amazing food, spices, traditions and experiences that inspire me. You will find here not only recipes, but also videos, travel adventures, dining experiences and other lifestyle elements I have personally curated.
With respect to the recipes I document on this site, unless otherwise noted, all of them come from me and my trials and tribulations in my test (see: apartment) kitchen. Although I document measurements and approximate cooking times, cooking is totally subjective. I endeavor to give as much detail as I can so that, as you read, you can heighten your own awareness of the cooking process and adapt where necessary. Times may vary if your oven runs a little hotter than mine; extra flour may be needed on a particularly humid day.
I would LOVE to hear your feedback on recipes or other posts. Tell me what you enjoyed, would change, or even (gasp) hated.