Hello! Or should I say Namaste to all the readers who are going to indulge me in my very first attempt at blogging! It seems these days everyone is trying a Gluten Free diet and blogging. I dabbled in Gluten Free but loved bread too much so I decided to try my luck with blogging. Now what do I do? My mind is buzzing with so many ideas that I could write about, but then I remembered telling my three beautiful daughters to always Focus, Focus and Focus. I believe I should practice what I preach. Since I work in the food industry I think the most logical topic to write about will be food, specifically Indian food since I know it best, cook it often and enjoy it most. I might digress frequently to the science of food because way before I became involved in the food business I was a Nutrition Scientist and a Registered Dietitian. Maybe I can coin a new term for Nutritionists who love exquisite food. How about I call myself a Scientific Culinarian? Sounds like self- promoting? I suppose but then again, I am in sales.
My love affair with food and nutrition began when I was a young girl in India. I grew up in a Punjabi family where it was important that girls learned to not only cook, but cook well as it was an important qualification for getting married. I of course rebelled by getting married outside of my community. Ironically, it was also my father who taught me how to make absolutely beautiful round Chapatis (round Indian tortilla-style flat bread). I hated making those especially during the hot summer days. But, that was then and now I can’t wait to make Chapatis for my daughters who like to put Ghee and Sugar on it and roll it up to make a dessert. My mother always has a snickering smile on her face when she sees me very willing to roll up Chapatis.
My mother was a teacher of Home Economics and is a very thoughtful cook. She taught me how to cook healthy. We spent our summer vacations with many cousins at our oldest aunt’s place. My aunt and uncle owned a hotel and a restaurant. Of course I enjoyed spending time with them and learning fancy cooking from my aunt. My father was in a job that transferred him to different states every few years. This enabled me to enjoy and learn new cuisines every few years. All of these experiences have helped me create products that represent many regional Indian cuisines.
When I went to a college of Home Economics in Gujarat my learning of Nutrition and Food Science began. Like all other youngsters I had extra-curricular activities (one of which involved dating my then boyfriend and now husband). My husband happens to be a Zoroastrian (Parsi) and once again I had another opportunity to learn another delicious regional cuisine. There is an ongoing discussion in our family about whose food is better, and Punjabi food always wins hands down. My husband has learned to be happy rather than right which is surprising as he was always a better debater than me on our university debate team. I guess ensuring a continuous supply of good meals is far more important now.
After marriage, I moved to the US and pursued my Doctoral degree in Nutrition and Food Science and became a Registered Dietitian. My first job at General Mills in Minneapolis gave me in-depth knowledge of how integrated food and nutrition were at a scientific and commercial level. It was at General Mills where I learned all about nutrition labels, scientific evidence for the benefit of various foods and… how to write recipes as I had made friends in the cookbook division of Betty Crocker☺ I continue to use all these skills every day in my current role at Monsoon Kitchens.
During all of this frenzied life, we raised three beautiful daughters who were thankful for all the meals I made for them only after they went to college.
When my husband’s job took us to Boston I decided to try my luck at starting a business. I only knew food and nutrition and so, here I am. My cofounder and I started Monsoon Kitchens with a goal of creating home-style foods. We believe that home-style foods are much healthier and are more sustainable. I continue to improve our recipes to keep up with today’s trends of using no artificial ingredients and reasonable amounts of fat, carbs and sodium.
I hope you will enjoy our foods, stay healthy, happy and tuned in for the next time when I tell you more stories of my culinary journey, beautiful Indian culture and share useful tips on how you can learn to really enjoy meals packed with good nutrition.
Swati Elavia Ph.D., R.D.