Cooking and How it Inspires Me and Spices and Seasons
My name is Rinku Bhattacharya, I write the Blog Spice Chronicles and I am the author of three cookbooks – The Bengali Five Spice Chronicles, Spices and Seasons, and the newest Instant Indian. I love to cook, because I feel food offers me a connection to people around me, it offers me a way to connect the past to the present and a way to channel my affection for my family into reality. Other than writing cookbooks and sharing recipes I do personalized cooking classes from my home kitchen. This has been a fun and fulfilling experience.
I did not formally learn cooking from anyone. Having said that, I spent a lot of time as a child in my grandmother’s kitchen. She was an amazing and fastidious cook. She had a spot for me in her kitchen and I sat there and watched what she did in fascination. She wove culinary facts, techniques, and information along with folklore, stories of her childhood and other interesting information. I had no idea that I was really learning through these sessions. It was much later when I left India, I began to start re-creating Indian food. Finding good authentic Indian food over two decades ago was a stretch in the US. Especially in suburban America where I live. We have certainly come a long way and people are much more appreciative of good Indian food and realize that there is a world of flavor beyond Chicken Tikka Masala.
Most of my cooking is practical and is what I cook for my family. In fact, I believe this is what makes my cookbooks unique. They are extremely accessible, the recipes fit into a busy lifestyle. For better or worse, I do my own photography because I do want the food to look real and not something that is overly styled and artificial. Spices and Seasons is really the book that I use for teaching a lot of my classes. I get a lot of the same questions during cooking classes. So I put a collection of all the questions that I get asked about spices, techniques, tools into various sections within Spices and Seasons.
Along with mainstream Indian cooking, I love playing with flavors and infusing an Indian touch to things. So there are a lot of fun, Indian inspired recipes in the book. These are often the ones that are crowd pleasers and generate conversations. My favorite chapter is Indian for the Holidays, where you have recipes of roasts, my take on a spice infused Ham and holiday turkey.
Rinku Bhattacharya combines her two great loves―Indian cooking and sustainable living―to give readers a simple, accessible way to cook seasonally, locally, and flavorfully. Inspired by the bounty of local produce, mostly from her own backyard, Rinku set out to create recipes for busy, time-strapped home cooks who want to blend Indian flavors into nutritious family meals. Arranged in chapters from appetizers through desserts, the cookbook includes everything from small bites, soups, seafood, meat and poultry, and vegetables, to condiments, breads, and sweets. You’ll find recipes for tempting fare like “Mango and Goat Cheese Mini Crisps,” “Roasted Red Pepper Chutney,” “Crisped Okra with Dry Spice Rub,” “Smoky Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Puree,” and “Red Harvest Masala Cornish Hens,” to name a few. As exotic and enticing as these recipes sound, the ingredients are easily found, and the instructions are simple. Rinku encourages readers to explore the bounty of their local farms and markets and embrace the rich flavors of India to cook food that is nutritious, healthy, seasonal and most importantly, delicious.
About Rinku Bhattacharya
Rinku Bhattacharya (spicechronicles.com) was born in India, and now lives in a house with a vibrant backyard in Hudson Valley, New York with her husband, an avid gardener, and their two children. Rinku’s simple, sustainable approach to Indian cooking is showcased on her blog, Spice Chronicles, and in her Journal News column Spices and Seasons.
Rinku has been teaching recreational cooking classes for the past nine years and works extensively with local area farmer’s markets on seasonal demonstrations and discussions. Rinku is also the author of The Bengali Five Spice Chronicles (Hippocrene Books, 2012), winner of the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards 2013 for Best Indian Cuisine. She writes for the Poughkeepsie Journal, the Journal News, and several online sites, and is a frequent guest on CT Style TV.