A witty and irresistible celebration of boundary-breaking recipes written by your new favorite mother-daughter duo is HERE in all its glory. Of course, it includes an innovative desi-American spin, andwhich includes a foreword by host extraordinaire Padma Lakshmi and artwork by the talented Hatecopy.
The recipes come with surprising twists instead of obsessively long ingredient lists or complicated steps and are easy to whip up in 20 minutes.
“Indian-ish”— written by Priya Krishna, who grew up in Dallas, Texas, eating mostly Indian vegetarian dishes cooked by her mom Ritu Krishna — is a trove of one-of-a-kind Indian-American hybrids that are easy to make, clever, practical, and packed with flavor.
Think Roti Pizza (which we made from scratch — read below!), Tomato Rice with Crispy Cheddar, Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Green Pea Chutney, and Malaysian Ramen.
‘Indian-ish’ is a great starter book for anyone who has ever wondered how to make basic Indian food in an American kitchen. So our in-house team of powerhouse foodies — including food editor Nisha and contributors Ann, Zheel and Megha — took her advice and made the ‘Roti Pizza.’ They — no surprise here — loved every bite but more so, the making of roti into a pizza — both foods we cherish as desi-Americans — was the most fun part.
“What I find beautiful about ‘Indian-ish’ is the representation of Indian food. It’s so playfully captured and pays homage to a hardworking Indian mother who cleverly combined the best of both worlds for her family all on one plate,” Ann Itoop, a first gen South Indian food writer, said.
“What I loved most about the book is how Priya incorporated recipes she’s grown up with along with new twists on traditional Indian meals. ‘Indian-ish’ is perfect for young people who enjoy flavor and are learning to cook and especially for young moms who want to infuse desi flavors in their everyday meals,” Nisha Pawar, a mom trying to pass down her love of Indian food, culture, & lifestyle to her daughter, said.
In addition to trying out a recipe, we also had the chance to interview Priya and learn more insight on how the book came about and how it has shaped her relationship with her mom, the co-author.
What inspired you to write a cookbook?
An editor for another cookbook I had worked on, Power Vegetables, approached me because she had cooked and tasted a bunch of my mom’s recipes and felt like they would make for the perfect modern cookbook about Indian food. As soon as she said this, it totally clicked into place — that there aren’t too many Indian cookbooks out there that (1) tell a really contemporary story about what it means to live in a first-gen/second-gen household, and to be an Indian family in America (2) demonstrate that Indian food is not really all that hard! I wanted this to be super accessible. I wanted someone my age to see this book from across the store and think, This book I meant for me.
What was it like working together as a mother-daughter duo?
For the most part, writing a book with your mom is the best. My mom wrote pretty much wrote all the recipes in the book, and she did an amazing job! She is not a writer by profession (she works in the software world), but she wrote some pretty near-perfect recipes! My mom is also amazing at project managing and helped me stay on task, prioritize, and organize my thoughts.
Most importantly, though, she gave me the kind of support that you want and expect from a mom throughout the whole process. And because she was my co-author, she knew exactly what I was going through. Now I can’t imagine writing ANY cookbook without my mom!
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Do you cook together often? When did it start? What has your bonding experience been like over the years?
For as long as I can remember, my mom has been putting me to work in the kitchen. When I was little, I would clean the green chilies, then as I got older I was doing chopping and grating. When I was in high school, I would bring my homework down to the kitchen and just set up shop on the kitchen island so I could hang out with and talk to my mom while she cooked. Cooking has always been one of the main ways that we have spent time together, even before I became a food writer.
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Where did the recipes originate? Were the recipes you had passed along to friends and family before putting them on paper?
With the exception of a few sourced from friends and family, they are all recipes my mom developed in the time after she immigrated to the U.S. in 1980. A few of them she had passed along to various cousins and family members who had asked, but for the most part, these were recipes that were being written down for the very first time.
What has the overall process of creating a cookbook been like from start to finish?
Hard! It’s hard at every stage, from coming up with the recipes to the testing to the photo shoot to the promotion. There are so many little decisions you have to make, and each feels monumental. But when you hold the actual book in your hands, it’s awesome.
What’s something you now know about on another that you didn’t know before? That my mom is SO good at project managing! I mean, it is technically her job. But wow, I wish my mom were my boss.
How has this process shaped your relationship with each other?
I have so much more respect for how innovative and innate of a cook she is. She developed these unbelievable recipes while she was working a demanding job and raising two kids. I also think she now understands more about what I do for a living. We’ve never had any food writers in the family, so it’s been hard for her to envision what this job entails. But now she’s gotten a front row seat to the action.
What is your favorite recipe to make at home?
Dahi toast! It’s like an Indian-ish grilled cheese sandwich and I constantly grave them. The crunchy curry leaves that go on top are just insanely good.
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What is your go-to take out or indulgent meal?
I could eat pasta for the rest of my life. Bring on the spaghetti and meatballs and cacio e pepe.