Rinku Bhattacharya is the author of the blog, Cooking in Westchester, where she shares her life experiences and original recipes that combine Indian spices with produce from her backyard and local farmers markets. Rinku loves food, numbers, kids, books and her camera. Rinku is blessed with a gardener husband, who always surprises her with a prolific and fresh supply of produce to keep her creative instincts flowing. Rinku has been teaching recreational cooking classes for the past six years, and her cookbook The Bengali Five Spice Chronicles, highlights and offers many simple recipes from Eastern India. Rinku can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
Finding my culinary wavelength has taken me on a journey of highs and lows, before settling down to a style that works. I think of my cooking today as practical, simple and sustainable. I have always been comfortable in the kitchen, since I feel like I practically grew up in my grandmother’s kitchen. I started cooking for myself in earnest, when I was out of graduate school and living by myself. I missed the simple home flavors that could not be found in any restaurant. They had to be created, well, at home. Since a lot of my cooking was done for just myself the recipes were simple, practical and fresh. They centered on a plethora of core Asian flavors with a heavy Indian accent, after all, this is what home cooking to me was all about! A couple of years later, I went through this phase where I tested and tried things from the elaborate to the extremely complex to return to where I started; cooking food and developing recipes that are simple, practical and fresh.
These recipes serve me well now as I cook for my family of four. Yes, I have moved beyond the small city apartment to a small cozy home with a sprawling and vibrant backyard. I have realized that as a working mother, that available time is an even rarer commodity and the need to cook fresh and healthy food (to feed my children) an even stronger priority. So, I continue to spend time in the kitchen, creating food that is simple, practical and fresh.
I will share with you every few weeks a recipe that is usually tossed together quickly with simple ingredients and essential spices. I would love to be able to talk through spices along the way and welcome your questions and recipe requests.
Today’s corn curry uses tender sweet corn, low fat milk, mustard seeds, turmeric, chilies and curry leaves. Turmeric is a very basic spice in the Indian pantry. It seems to have jumped up the popularity scale these days because people have realized its essential, beneficial qualities. Turmeric is anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant rich and is said to prevent cancer. All of this and most importantly, it imparts a pretty color to the food when cooked.
Given the suddenly popularity of this spice these days, I call it trendy turmeric. However, I think that most of the ancient spices are making a comeback, right alongside their partners – ancient grains as people realize the value of a nutritious and balanced meal.
Corn Curry with Curry Leaves
This simple curry is one of the first recipes that I like to offer students. Inspired by the flavors of the northern state of Gujarat, this lovely curry is great as a chunky soup or light meal with some warm flatbreads of your choice.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
2 tablespoons oil
¾ teaspoon mustard seeds
1/8 teaspoon asafetida
1 tablespoon ginger paste
10 curry leaves
1 red onion, cut into a fine dice
4 dried red chilies
1 minced green chili
11/2 cups fresh corn kernels (can use frozen)
½ teaspoon turmeric
2 cups milk (2% or whole)
Salt to taste
¾ teaspoon sugar
Lime juice (if desired)
2 tablespoons minced cilantro
Method of Preparation
Heat the oil and add in the mustard seeds and wait till the seeds begin to crackle.
Add in the asafetida and followed by the ginger paste in a few seconds.
Add in the curry leaves and the red onions and sauté the onions lightly for about 3 minutes. The oil will crackle a little when the curry leaves are added, so take care to not let the oil splutter.
Add in the dried red chilies and the green chilies, followed by the corn and turmeric and stir well to let the seasonings mix in.
Add in the milk and bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes.
Stir in the sugar.
Let the mixture cool slightly and sprinkle with the lime juice and cilantro and serve.
It is officially that time of year—the holiday season. There’s nothing like Christmas and New Year’s in the West Indies. Between the pepperpot in Guyana and the palm trees decorated in lights in Trinidad, the home food, warm weather and laid-back ambiance makes us wish we could escape the cold and head back to the Caribbean. Most of us, however, cannot “take holiday” and find ourselves hungry for fresh dhal puri and doubles. But, thanks to these Indo-Caribbean food bloggers, we can bring the motherland to our kitchens.
From Diwali mithai specialties to curry chicken, Matthew is creating a name for himself as a young Guyanese food blogger. He makes a great effort to incorporate Hindu holidays and traditions on his Instagram account, in conjunction with the customary foods and sweets associated with these religious events. However, his expertise does not end there, with new and alternative recipes for classic dishes such as curry chicken and bhara, Matthew takes center stage sharing both traditional Guyanese dishes as well as specific religious dishes made for festivals. His most popular YouTube video, with 1.4 million views, features his grandmother and focuses on the best tips to make the softest Guyanese paratha roti. In addition, his YouTube account is home to many videos offering guidance to Indo Caribbean cooking. Find recipes at @mattews.guyanese.cooking
Natasha Laggan of Trini Cooking with Natasha is wildly popular throughout the Caribbean and the U.S. With humble beginnings, Natasha credits her love of food to her family’s business. She speaks of the nostalgia home food provides her as she reminisces memories of her grandmother’s cooking and helping her mother make sandwiches early in the morning. Featured by Forbes, Natasha grew her Facebook following quickly throughout the pandemic by posting old YouTube videos. Today, she has more than 1 million followers on Facebook and over 200K followers on YouTube. She uses her passion for cooking and Trinidadian culture to bring easy-to-follow recipes to viewers. Her following has now reached the West Indian diaspora globally as she has also become a brand ambassador to two well-known food companies. Follow the food expert @trinicookingwithnatasha.
With over 100K followers on YouTube, Ria is quite the expert when it comes to making roti. Her dhal puri, sada roti and paratha roti tutorials have over 1M views! However, her expertise does not stop there. Of the 180 YouTube tutorials, her recipes vary from curry to other Trinidadian favorites like macaroni pie and pigtail soup. Just scrolling through her YouTube page makes your mouth water. From doubles to classic Trinidad bakes like pound cake and sweet bread, she provides precision and anecdotal commentary while guiding you through the familiarity of home food. Check out Ria’s page at @cookingwithria.
Known as Chef Devan, Devan Rajkumar embraces his Guyanese Canadian heritage by creating recipes combining flavors of both the East and West Indies. His love of food has allowed him to expand his role to judge in a popular Canadian cooking show: Food Network Canada’s Fire Masters. His cooking often blends the flavors of multiple cultures but also creates the classic recipes of his motherland. With a multitude of interests, Chef Dev uses his social media platform to connect with followers by sharing various aspects of his life that go beyond cooking. His most recent YouTube video provides a trailer for an upcoming video “Tastes Guyana” which shows him exploring Guyana from the inside, specifically deep parts of the inner country. To learn more about Chef Devan follow @chefdevan.
Reshmi is the chef behind the growing blog, Taste of Trinbago. A Trinidadian native who now resides in Texas, she uses her love of food and Trinidadian culture to share hacks, tips and easy recipes with West Indians throughout the globe. She finds a way to simplify traditional West Indian meals, that we once watched our elders make with curiosity. From holiday specialties like black cake to Diwali delicacies, Reshmi has brought vegetarian and non-veg recipes to followers in an extremely accessible way. She even posts recipe cards on her IG highlights for followers who may need written instructions. Her IG profile is a mix of various West Indian foods while also sharing bits of her life and even her secrets to baby food. Follow her @tasteoftrinbago.
These are just five Indo Caribbean food bloggers sharing their secrets to easy cooking. The once very daunting recipes and food instructions our parents gave have been simplified by most of these bloggers through video, voice over and modernized recipes. We no longer have to estimate a “dash, pinch or tuk” of any masala. We are just days away from Christmas and this is the perfect time to find the best-suited recipe to make that paratha for Santa.