When I was just 8 years old, my father was so worried about me being affected by western culture that he sent me from my Canadian home to a boarding school in India to be immersed in my native culture and to save myself from becoming a depraved westerner. That only lasted two years.
Two years doesn’t seem like much now, but for an 8 year old girl, it was lifetime. Those two years were so formative for me.
I learned to speak Hindi and learned to embrace my Indian heritage. I remember going to the fish market with my uncle, going to the food vendors and being enamored with the sights and colors and smells. I continued to visit India a couple of times a year as I grew.
I always felt very fortunate to come from such a rich culture, yet reside in North America. To say that our culture revolves around food would be an understatement. To give you an example, my father was so creative and so intrigued by the power of food that even though he worked in the fashion industry, he opened a restaurant simply to entertain his clients. And he was so ahead of his time in the way he experimented with the flavors of his food. It was new and different and so full of love. My father would come from the restaurant and would bring different foods to the house. It was what we now call “fusion.” He taught me that without love, food is missing an irreplaceable ingredient and won’t taste the same. He taught me that this also applied to gardening. We loved to garden together and to see the produce of our land grow and nourish our bodies.
As I have grown, I find that I agree with my father more and more; love is the most important part of life; love for work, love for the earth, and love for food. These are my driving forces.
Although I am not a formally-educated chef, since infancy I attended the “culinary school” of my family’s kitchen. Both of my grandmothers were incredible teachers. They were from different parts of India and both taught me about festivals, spices, different types of food, and also the times of the day when to eat certain food. As soon as you entered the home, you knew that there was something cooking on the stove because the home always smelled like the next spicy creation that would feed the family and keep us alive.
It was almost like a ritual for us. Shopping for food, preparing the food, the chatter that inevitably comes with the preparation of the food. Using our hands and our heart to prepare rustic and temporary works of art. Food was always a production. And we never had leftovers for dinner. To do so would be to steal from the joy of a freshly prepared meal.
When my father became ill with cancer we began to cook much healthier. It was a no brainer – we made healthy food to keep him alive and to keep us together. Because he was in treatments for large periods of time, my mother went back to being a vegetarian for my father. During the time that he was ill, my brother and I would escape from the fact that he was ill and we distracted ourselves by being in the kitchen, connected, cooking, and remaining close.
After my father passed away, we began to eat more westernized dishes. When I got married I was encouraged to cook by my husband. He liked it when I experimented with different flavors and cultures. He loved all the effort I put into my creations and how the food expressed my loved for those I served. In a way I was emulating the way I grew up. I was creating the same kind of environment – one where a cozy, healthy, delicious moment had its place in time.
As I was cooking, it seemed to be the only moment that satisfied everyone. And if ever someone wasn’t satisfied, I worked hard to make it better the next time. It was a stress relief for me – a form of therapy. It was the opportunity to do something beautiful for those you love.
As people visited and tasted my creations, they asked for the recipes. I would give them a bag full of spices and spice mixes so that they would be able to make it themselves. I also took writing classes to keep my creative mind alert and ready for whatever the future had in store. And that’s how this little idea came to fruition.
I may not be the most renowned cook in the world, but I am having the best time while doing it. It’s a place to share and give love. These are passions of mine. All of my interests have love as the cornerstone, and through it, I am fulfilled and inspired to continue.
Over the years, I started to recognize something special about cooking and our relationship to food. Yes – food is a necessary part of our health and well-being. But I realized that it also has the ability to teach us many important lessons. Many of the principles that make up a delightful meal are the same principles that make up a fulfilling life. Ideas like balance, relationships, blending, and time are critically important in both the kitchen and in our day-to-day experiences, and our ability to manage them directly impact our success. In more ways than one, life is like a recipe, and I became passionate about sharing those keys with everyone I can.
Soon thereafter, I was fortunate to make some incredible friends. Serendipity led me to meet FutureWise. The team saw an incredible vision for how Life is a Recipe could go beyond the stomach and inspire meaningful change in the lives of people. They are the source of some incredible pathways for self-improvement and we are excited to be able to share them with you in the near future. The programs that we’re preparing to launch together are mind-blowingly relevant and I’m excited to see how they propel my friends into their best selves.