What inspired you to write this cookbook?
My mum is my biggest inspiration, the book is dedicated to her. Growing up in Malawi, Africa in the 1970’s, some foods were hard to get, mum was always baking from scratch and everything was homemade. She would effortlessly combine Eastern & Western flavours together making healthy, nutritious meals.
What are some of your favourite recipes from the cookbook?
Some of my favourite recipes from the book are: Carrot Halva with mascarpone, a beautiful decadent dessert, made with carrots, milk, butter and sugar. My mum’s Chicken Biryani, with the depths of flavour that remind me of home. The gorgeous roast Leg of lamb with a chilli crust, a real flavour combination of East and West. My mum’s Burfi, which is an Indian fudge if sorts made with milk powder and pistachios and edible rose petals another flavour that takes me right back to my childhood.
Can you explain what these recipes mean to you?
The recipes for me, are a gift, from my kitchen to yours, generations of cooking styles preserved, to be gifted for years to come. I want to share my style of Indian food with people, and show them how easy it is, with a few core ingredients and spices to create, beautiful, Indian inspired flavours that work well with the way we live today.
You’ve lived in many places around the world. How has this impacted the way you cook?
What I love about having lived in different countries, is that, you can use the different ingredients that are available and still be able to create the taste of home. By just using the core spices that make your dishes unique.
What do you love about Indian food?
Indian food for me is my soul food, it is nostalgia, passion and most of all comfort. It takes me back to my family home, wherever I am in the world. What I also love about Indian cooking is that there are no rules, every region has its own way of doing things, and each family has its own customs and traditions. Ours is using simple ingredients, although the spices are fragrant and mild, the dish is simple and suited to a Western palate.
What would you say is the secret to great Indian food?
The secret to great Indian food is using the right spice combination, to make the food taste flavourful, without overpowering the senses.
What do you hope readers will get out of your book?
I hope the readers love my recipes for being, simple and totally doable. With ingredients and spices that are easily accessible, they can create, simple, authentic, eastern inspired meals for their loved ones.
If you had one piece of advice for home cooks, what would it be?
My one piece of advice for home cooks, would be, try it, don’t be afraid, you can adjust heat and spice to suit your palate, Indian food doesn’t always mean hot and spicy.
My Indian Kitchen by Ashia Ismail-Singer, photos from Manja Wachsmuth; published in hardback by Potton & Burton, RRP: $49.99.