Key Takeaways:

Anjana’s twist on a traditional Indian vegetarian recipe draws out more flavor and leads to a fulfilling, delicious meal.

Anjana is a creative genius in the kitchen. She loves to experiment with different foods and flavors, shying away from boring everyday dishes in favor of fun, delicious recipes.

Tell us a little about yourself and your background.

I was born and brought up in Trivandrum, India, and I had a pretty happy-go-lucky kind of life. There were a few ups and downs, but I got through them.

Tell me about how you became interested in cooking.

I have been interested in cooking for as long as I can remember. The first thing that I made was lemon juice in the third grade. From that time, I have been interested in cooking. The first dish I tried to make was chapatis. A few years later, during school Gandhi Jayanti celebrations, our teachers taught us to prepare chocolate fudge. The process of making chocolate fudge intrigued me so much. They used ingredients that were pretty new to me, like cocoa powder and milk powder. After getting married, I went to the UAE and stayed there for many years. I got to meet people from so many different places, and we used to have cooking sessions with each other. Everyone would cook dishes from all around the world. I like to cook unique and special dishes. It's not the daily routine of cooking that I admire. 

Who taught you to cook, or are you self-taught?

My dad taught me how to cook. I observed my mom cook, but she never ventured into anything other than the routine stuff. It was my father who experimented with cooking. I was his sous chef. He used to make fantastic payasam. My inspiration to cook was my father.

Tell me a little about the dish you submitted.

Rice Moong Dal Kanji is something that we have once every week. It is the kind of food that leaves you feeling satisfied. It is a very fulfilling dish. It's just rice and green gram, but the added factor is that you use coconut milk instead of just grated coconut. 

What are the origins of this recipe? Is this recipe your own or passed down in the family?

Rice Moong Dal Kanji is a traditional dish with a twist. The conventional form of this dish is that you take the cooked rice with green gram and add grated coconut, but here I add coconut milk and zeera.

What was your inspiration behind submitting this recipe? What makes this recipe unique to you?

Rice Moong Dal Kanji is my comfort food. Everybody in my family loves it, and they all feel content after eating it. 

Who is your cooking inspiration, and why?

My father is my inspiration because he tried new recipes, explored, and experimented.

Do you have any favorite dishes or any favorite food memories from childhood?

My father used to make chutney using roasted red chilies, small shallots, and tamarind. He would crush all these dry ingredients with his hands, and that technique intrigued me. Then he would add salt and coconut oil. I felt like his hands had that magic that gave that chutney a unique taste.

What's the most memorable meal that you've made?

I cooked all the traditional dishes for 75 people during Mangala Pooja. 

Is there a type of food that intrigues you and that you'd like to learn to prepare?

I want to learn how to cook barbecue. Even though I don't like it, my son enjoys it. So I would like to learn to cook that.

What's the importance of sharing a meal around the table?

I love the process of sharing meals. You get to cook food, invite people over, and eat together. 

Have you ever taught anyone to cook?

Yes, I have conducted cooking sessions at my office.

What advice do you have for people just starting on culinary pursuits?

Start with simple things that you enjoy cooking and then experiment. My cousin always asked me to add vinegar to fried rice, and I never did that because I thought it would not make much of a difference. But once I started doing that, I noticed how much better the dish tastes.

May 31, 2022
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