Guys! I have something exciting today. Namely, a guest post from one of my favorite new friends–Vijay, who is Editor and “Chief Nosher” at NoshOn.It, a daily email to inspire you to cook just a little bit better each and every day. They feature hand-picked recipes from up-and-coming bloggers (like moi) and expert cooking tips, so you don’t have to think about what to make for dinner. If you want to try out their daily newsletters, just head over here: http://noshon.it/. I’m subscribed myself! You can never have too much in the way of inspiration, you know?
Vijay is going to share his recipe for dal palak, a comforting, rustic, hearty vegetarian Indian dish of lentils, spinach and fragrant spices. (Are you excited yet?) But first, let’s get to know Vijay a little better! He kindly let me bug him with some interview questions.
Can you tell me a bit about how you started NoshOnIt, and why?
“NoshOnIt was started out of my passion for wanting to break down the barriers to great cooking at home. I truly believe that ANYONE can (and should) be an amazing cook with just a little bit of inspiration and a touch of education. Plus, I think the best inspiration comes from people you can relate to, so we built NoshOnIt as a platform to help showcase the best up-and-coming bloggers and their work. What I think is really unique about what we do is that we use email as our main channel – you don’t have to think about it, it just comes to you, and it’s always delicious.”
You always seem to be having so much fun running the newsletter. What’s your very favorite thing about it?
“Making friends around the world – no question about it. Even though I haven’t met most of our bloggers or readers in person, doing what we do has allowed me the chance to get to know people everywhere! I literally believe I could go to almost any city and have someone I can call a friend.”
What were you doing before?
“In a time long long ago, I attended culinary school and cooked professionally for a bit, but ultimately realized that I was much better in my own kitchen at home. Since then, I’ve done a bunch of things related to food & wine, including helping open a winery, being an event & wedding planner, and a brief speedbump that they call an MBA.”
Why are you passionate about food and cooking?
“Food is my way of showing love. I truly believe that there is almost no thing in this world that is as much of a common denominator as a good, hearty meal. I like to make food that brings people together in an unfussy, comfortable way but that also challenges their taste buds with bold, exciting flavors. Also, I think that learning about new cultures is best done through their food, even if you can’t make the trip.”
What was your favorite food as a kid? How about now?
“At home growing up, I ate mostly the South Indian vegetarian food that my mom made. The one thing I ate almost every day was yogurt mixed with rice. It sounds weird to most people, but it’s an absolute staple in any South Indian household. Also, on weekends, my mom would make dosa, a thin and crispy rice crepe. I still can’t eat it anywhere else but at home. Now, my tastes have evolved as I’ve traveled, explored, and cooked on my own. If there is crispy, slow-roasted pork on the menu, you’ll have to pull me away.”
What about your favorite food to cook these days? Do you have a signature dish?
“I go through phases, sometimes driven by the season and sometimes driven by a whim. Lately, I’ve been into trying Korean and Vietnamese recipes at home. The combination of flavors in both cuisines is just explosive! But the one thing I go back to (and gets requested over and over again) is Carnitas, preferably with pickled onions and homemade salsa verde. I dare you to have just one bite.”
Okay, lastly I want to know what the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten is.
“Goat brain curry. It was at a high-end, fusion Indian restaurant and apparently it’s a rustic specialty of some village. The spices masked the creamy texture of the brains…but, I’m not feeling any smarter so I think I’ll pass on a second helping!”
I bet you like him as much as I do. I also bet you’re going to be just as intrigued by this dish as I am! So let’s have Vijay tell us about it.
Thanks so much to Danguole for having me. I’m so happy to be sharing this recipe with you today because it’s comfort food at its finest…at least in Indian households! I know that Danguole lives in the slightly more temperate climate of Reno, but out here in Boston, it is COLD. And dark. And rainy. Not the most pleasant of environments.
When it’s dreary out, I think back to the food of my childhood. Growing up in Houston, TX, in a South Indian home, we primarily ate vegetarian food at home. As I’ve moved around the country (and world) and traveled, my palate and culinary interests have come along with me. I love exploring new cultures through experimenting with their recipes and understanding their food. I hope this recipe helps you do that for Indian food.