Inspired Indian Cooking
It was partly because Mom’s food was readily available. But also that when I asked how she made it, I’d hear things like “Add half spoon of cumin.” Um, what size spoon? Cumin seeds or powder? Roasted? Or “Cook as long as needed.” Okay, got it — wait, how do I know what’s ‘needed?!’
Things changed once I traded the Midwest for LA in the mid-1990s, living on my own. The Food Network had just launched, and Sara Moulton’s Cooking Live and the Too Hot Tamales became must-see TV for me. I pored repeatedly over The Joy of Cooking, my first cookbook, like it was a textbook for a class I actually cared about. I started cooking for myself — and for other people.
But I still didn’t make Indian food.
Then, on the shelves of my local bookstore (Amazon and, for that matter, the modern-day Internet didn’t exist yet!), I came across something I’d never seen before: an Indian cookbook with scores of accessible recipes for many of the dishes I’d enjoyed all my life and several I’d never tried. I can do this, I thought to myself. And I did, cooking Indian food more regularly for myself, my boyfriend (now husband), our children, and friends. My Indian cookbook collection grew from one to 50+ (I have a mild, healthy-ish addiction!).
The more I cooked, the more I realized I’d learned some techniques from Mom after all. I used what I’d observed growing up and during frequent trips to India, along with my instincts and growing knowledge, to make recipes my own while staying true to tradition. More recently I’ve learned from the growing number of resources out there that demystify Indian cooking: websites, blogs, YouTube videos, and, yes, more cookbooks!
But when I talked to friends, including Indian-Americans like me, I found the vast majority were still reluctant to cook Indian food at home, despite strong interest. Written recipes, even those with pictures, seemed overly complex, ingredients difficult to find, and preparation too time-consuming.
Those conversations, coupled with my cooking knowledge and entrepreneurial spirit, motivated me to launch Inspired Indian Cooking.
I launched Inspired Indian as a monthly subscription box in October 2019. It grew quickly and the feedback was really positive. Many of my customers prepared the dishes with friends and family, and imagining so many people across the country cooking and enjoying a meal I created was truly heartwarming.
After taking a pause (thanks, COVID) and surveying my customers, I learned something.
The vast majority of customers told me they wanted individual spice kits, so they could make a given dish when they felt like it. So, I spent a year changing my business model and designing new packaging.
I also decided to open a brick and mortar location in Evanston, Illinois which I opened on December 10, 2021! It includes a retail store, commercial kitchen, and fulfillment center for online orders.
I’m excited to see where Inspired Indian goes, and even more about bringing one of the best cuisines in the world to home chefs who’ve never attempted to make these dishes at home!
Founder & Owner, Inspired Indian Cooking
Address812 Dempster St
Evanston IL 60201