Trini Cooking With Natasha: Bringing West Indian Recipes to Your Screen

Trini Cooking With Natasha
[Photo Courtesy of Natasha Laggan]

Natasha Laggan uploaded her first cooking video to her YouTube channel, Trini Cooking With Natasha, four years ago. Since then, her videos have found large success on the internet within the Indo-Caribbean community, even receiving acknowledgments from other West Indian creatives, such as KI Persad, and Prnc Charming.

With almost 96,000 subscribers, Laggan provides the world with a new way to look at West Indian cuisine. 

I have changed and grown so much,” she said. “People are so receptive. Not many people know about our culture, but so many are willing to learn. All I want to do is let everyone know about our food because it’s so delicious.

Laggan first discovered her passions for food and teaching at the age of 11, when she was still living in Trinidad & Tobago.

[Read Related: Photo Series ‘Masala, No Chai’ Visualizes Indo Caribbean Culture]

I’ve always liked cooking. My parents have a food business back in Trinidad, and I just loved to take part in it,” she recalled. “I learned a lot from my father’s mother and my mother.

After moving to Florida in 2010, Laggan finally gained the courage to film her first video — a how-to on whipping up her favorite dessert, cassava pone. But her success was slow, according to Laggan, at times leaving her discouraged.  

However, to grow her following and set herself apart, she wove her creativity into every recipe. Each of her dishes features a unique twist on the original recipe. She mixes traditional Caribbean cuisine with modern food trends, introducing new concepts such as gluten-free roti and doubles, curry crawfish, and even a Trini ramen bowl.

Trini Cooking With Natasha
[Photo Courtesy of Natasha Laggan]

People ask me to try new ideas with recipes. So I do,” Laggan said. “I got the idea for gluten-free doubles from the concept of crepes since those don’t require flour. Modernizing recipes is good. If people who want to eat [West Indian] foods can’t due to [health conditions] or other reasons, this just gives them more options.

Laggan said she owes much of her success to her diverse audience, including a number of male followers. Gender roles are still deeply entrenched in many West Indian families, but Laggan said she finds that there are more and more men who are challenging the idea that women are solely responsible for cooking for the family. 

[Read Related: We Asked 4 Food Bloggers What Inspires Them to Cook and Here’s What they Said]

“I have seen that in a lot more families — the husband has been stepping up in the role of the cook. I get a lot of feedback and questions from husbands who want to cook my recipes for their wives,” she said. 

And for the brown boys and girls that can’t roll round rotis to save their lives, Laggan has some words of advice. 

Preparation is the most important thing. Have all the ingredients and prep and see the order of the ingredients. Lay it out on the countertop so it’s easier,” she said. “Take your time go step-by-step. Having everything prepared is the biggest hurdle.

By Alyssa Mongroo

Alyssa is a law student at New England Law | Boston. She has a bachelor's in Criminal Justice from Marist … Read more ›

Diwali Dhamaka 2023: A Gilded Gift Guide Worth Shopping From

diwali gifts

Diwali, the Festival of Lights, is a time for joy, togetherness, and celebration. As we come together with family and friends to honor the victory of light over darkness and hope over despair, we also exchange heartfelt gifts to show love and to honor those we hold dear. It’s a time to clean and brighten up our homes, dazzle in festive fashion, share and pass down customs we choose to honor with our kids, and savor delectable treats with loved ones. The essence of Diwali lies in the thoughtful exchange of gifts that symbolize affection, appreciation, and blessings. Now, let’s explore our carefully selected brands to help you find the perfect Diwali gifts and beyond (so be sure to bookmark for many desi-centric holidays).

[Read Related: 17 Ayurvedic Beauty Brands on our Radar Right Now]

Illuminate Your Space: Diwali Home Delights

Casa Amarosa

If boho is your vibe, you have to check out Casa Amarosa. Be sure to check out their eco-friendly gift collection for some great gift ideas this Diwali.

Kaapus Co.

Kaapus Co. needs to be on your list if you’re looking to shop for home linens. Shop block-printed cotton goods for your home. Sustainably handcrafted with love.

Marble Lotus

Infuse some South Asian influences into your home decor with the Marble Lotus collection. We are sure you’ll find something here for everyone!


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Saundrya (Soni) Mehra (@marble_lotus)

Arjuna Design Studio

Arjuna Design Studio is your one-stop shop for everything home-related. From linens to kitchenware to art. You’ll find it all here.

Scrumptious Wicks

Want your home to smell divine for your guests? Scrumptious Wicks has you covered. Their Diwali candle trio sounds like a dream. We can’t wait to try it!


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Scrumptious Wicks (@scrumptiouswicks)

Shop Lavica

Candle and mithai, together? Never heard of it, right? Shop Lavica’s festive candles will be sure to add that quirk to your Diwali decor! Just don’t confuse them for actual mithai!

Home Bound Decor

If you’re looking to personalize your festive season gifts this year, be sure to check out Home Bound Decor!

Shop Aditi

Let their candles transport your senses through time!


If you’re looking for greeting cards or cute home goods with some South Asian flair, look no further than Pyarful!


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Pyarful™ (@pyarful)


Home goods curated from designers in India, that you’d love in your home, no matter where in the world you are!


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by VRSA (@shopvrsa)

Glow and Behold: Beauty Essentials for Diwali

Live Tinted

LiveTinted’s Huesticks are a versatile solution for all your makeup needs, including color correction, blush, eyeshadow, and lipstick.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by LIVE TINTED (@livetinted)

Shaz & Kiks

Shaz & Kiks, a South Asian haircare brand, should find a place on your beauty shelf ASAP. Their Hair Pre-wash offers all the benefits of a deep hair oil massage without the hassle of greasy strands.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by SHAZ & KIKS (@shazandkiks)


Indulge in luxury and Ayurvedic wisdom this festive season with Ranavat.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by RANAVAT (@ranavat)


Your mother’s wisdom comes to life in Ghlee’s products, harnessing the goodness of ghee. Their lip balms are a godsend, especially during the harsh winters.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Ghlee Skincare (@shopghlee)

Umm Skincare

If you want to pamper yourself or create a relaxing retreat in the comfort of your home, Umm Skincare allows you to curate your own experience without breaking the bank.

Kulfi Beauty

Kulfi Beauty products perfectly blend fun and elegance. Their award-winning Nazar No More Eyeliner will keep those inquisitive aunties at bay, especially during the festive season.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by KULFI (

Squigs Beauty

A fun, Ayurveda-rooted beauty brand is sure to make a fantastic gift and spread positive vibes. We adore their Double Shot Face Serum and Gooseberry Delight Hair Oil.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Squigs™ (@squigsbeauty)


Sahajan harnesses ancient Ayurvedic wisdom to create evidence-based skincare products.

Did you know Sahajan products are available at 400 Marriott hotels worldwide? We recommend trying their Golden Milk Cleanser.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Sahajan (@sahajanskincare)

Of The Root

Of the Root offers gender-neutral, naturally sourced skincare products that tap into the power of eastern herbs native to Sri Lanka.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by OFTHEROOT (@oftheroot)

Fable & Mane

If you’re seeking some TLC for your locks, Fable and Mane has you covered. Their HoliRoots Hair Oil has gained a cult following for good reason.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Fable & Mane (@fableandmane)

Inde Wilde

It’s the perfect fusion of natural formulations and scientific backing. Founded by Diipa Khosla, Inde Wilde products have gained massive popularity globally.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by ind? wild (@indewild)

Asna Beauty

Asna provides a range of clean and sustainable products that empower you to reach your full potential for beauty and wellness.

Did you know that the amla in their products comes from their own family farm? How cool!


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Asna Beauty (@asnabeauty_)


Aavrani takes ancient rituals and adapts them to modern-day skincare. This brand has a dedicated following, a testament to the quality of their products.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by AAVRANI ? (@aavrani)


Blume’s vegan, certified clean, climate-neutral, and plastic-neutral range allows you to look and feel good, thanks to its all-natural ingredients. Their TikTok-trending product, the Meltdown Gel Cream with Ceramides, is in our cart — how about yours?


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by BLUME (@blume)

Diwali Dazzle: Fashion for the Festive Diva



Maabae is your go-to source for heritage jewelry inspired by the nomadic tribal communities of Rajasthan.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by MAABAE (@maabae__)

Studio Kiyan

Shop handmade accessories for the maximalist in you. We love their Evil Eye Earrings.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Samadnya K (@samadnya.k)


Surmeyi is a lifestyle and accessory brand that crafts objects that evoke a sense of belonging. We adore their Qalam Pen for your journaling needs.

Nath Jewelry

Your destination for urban interpretations of South Asian classics. We’re particularly fond of their Twin Jhumki.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Nath Jewelry (@nathjewelrynyc)

Sonu Company

If you’re looking to indulge in some sonu (gold) this festive season, check out Sonu Company for their fine jewelry. As seen on the latest season of “Indian Matchmaking,” they even offer bespoke engagement rings to help you drop a hint to that special someone. This brand is 100% Seema Aunty approved!


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Sonu Company (


Lakdawala demonstrates that sustainability and luxury can coexist in fine jewelry made from fairmined gold.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by LAKDAWALA (@shoplakdawala)


For high-quality baubles that complement your everyday wear collection, Roz’s pieces are versatile, bold, and functional.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by r ? z (


Hyperbole belongs on your list for fashion jewelry to elevate your festive looks. Their latest Dvaar collection is inspired by the doors of India.


A woman-run brand that crafts quirky, handmade jewelry responsibly sourced from materials like clay, wood, silk, and more.

Reemat Designs

Reemat Designs fuses the classic and contemporary to create high-end fashion jewelry that’s a great addition to your festive collection.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by ReeMat Designs (@reematdesigns_)


Mor Collections

If you’re searching for timeless fashion essentials and statement pieces that can be mixed and matched to create unique looks, Mor Collections has you covered.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by MOR Collections (@mor.collections)

Recover Season

Inspired by the colors of sunsets, Recover Season creates garments that employ differently-abled artisans and prioritize ethical production practices.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by RECOVER SEASON (@recoverseason)

Maars Market

Maars Market brings the best brands from Pakistan to your doorstep. Whether you’re in search of Western silhouettes, footwear, or accessories, they have something for you.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Maars Market (@maarsmarket)

Tilted Lotus

This brand turned heads during NYFW this year with its first-ever show. — now it’s time to bring the runway to your (or a loved one’s) closet! Their bold designs are true conversation starters.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Miliana singh (@lanapatelxoxo)

Shop Merakhi

A slow fashion brand that strives to keep the magic of traditional artisanship alive. Their designs are ideal for your upcoming Diwali parties!


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by MERAKHI (@shopmerakhi)

Shop Transcend

A brand that crafts everyday wear pieces with South Asian aesthetics. If you love floral prints, you must check them out.

Tega Collective

Tega Collective empowers indigenous communities in India and creates stunning pieces that can be dressed up or down, depending on your mood.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Tega Collective (@tegacollective)

Pali (@wearpali)

Pali offers small-batch collections of contemporary, everyday wear rooted in traditional crafts. They also have great options for the men in your life.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Jainil Mehta (@jainil_dreamtodance)

Shop Raga

RAGA reimagines classic silhouettes with vibrant textiles and beautiful bohemian prints, inspiring authentic self-expression. Whether you’re looking for options for menswear or womenswear, they have something for everyone.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by @shopraga

Jamil by MD

Jamil by MD’s designs are a fusion of South Asian and American culture and fashion. Their ‘Modern Muse’ collection offers versatile options that can transition effortlessly from day to night.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by JAMIL (@jamilbymd)


If you’re looking for pieces from Indian brands, look no further than Shop Amotha.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Amotha (@amothaofficial)

Shop Sakhya

Want to add some pre-loved items to your wardrobe this festive season? Then be sure to check out Shop Sakhya.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by SAKHYA (@shopsakhya)



Lilith is a luxury footwear brand for women that creates with intention. We adore their Kali Blue Sneakers; they make a bold statement.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Lilith NYC™ (


Kivvi infuses Indian ethnic prints into vegan footwear, offering a wide range from sandals to loafers to shoes.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by KIVVI handmade shoes (@kivvionline)

Little Lights, Big Delights: Diwali Kids’ Picks

Modi Toys

A household favorite, Modi Toys offers delightful gifts for your little ones that will surely light up their eyes with excitement.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Modi Toys™ (@moditoys)

Every Girl Dolls

Every Girl Dolls was created by two moms who wanted to find affordable, fun dolls for their kids that also celebrate South Asian culture and diverse skin tones.

Vichaar & Prem

Looking to gift something educational to your little ones? Vichaar and Prem’s Visual Stimulation cards and mini print postcards make an ideal choice.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Varun & Radhika (@vichaar.and.prem)

Bhaasha Basics

Help your kids embrace and celebrate their culture this festive season with Bhaasha Basics.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Bhaasha Basics (@bhaashabasics)

Kulture Khazana

Kulture Khazana’s products are sure to make Diwali a memorable occasion for your kids. Their interactive and engaging products aim to share Indian cultural stories with children through play activities.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Kulture Khazana ® (@kulture_khazana)

Bolo Bolo Baby

Immerse your children in our rich culture through language with BBB’s products. They promote hands-on learning and spark curiosity in our little ones.

The Heritage Supply Co.

Connect your children to their heritage with toys, educational tools, and sensory play products.

Feast Mode On: Diwali Foodie Faves

Kola Goodies

Satisfy your latte cravings with Kola Goodies’ product range, which includes vegan lattes and Masala Chai, all made with ethically sourced ingredients from South Asia and crafted in the USA.


If you suffer from painful cramps during your menstrual cycle, Neeshi offers great products to help balance your hormones with natural treats.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Neeshi (@shopneeshi)

Diaspora Co.

Add some spice to your life this festive season with Diaspora Co’s freshest, heirloom, and single-origin spices directly from farmers in South Asia.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Diaspora Co. Spices (@diasporaco)

Eat Doosra

Looking for snacks or nibbles to share with your guests at your Diwali party? Check out Doosra’s non-traditional take on classic Indian chai-time snacks.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by doosra (@eatdoosra)

Malai Icecream

Explore Malai’s Diwali special edition pints, inspired by South Asian desserts, to impress your dinner guests this festive season.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Malai (@malai_icecream)


Recommended by the likes of Oprah Winfrey and Ellen DeGeneres, Vahdam sources premium teas directly from India and delivers them to your doorstep.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by VAHDAM® India (@vahdamindia)

Kolkata Chai Co.

If you’re craving authentic chai that tastes just like what you’d get back in India, check out Kolkata Chai Co. Their “Aunty Approved” masala chai is a must-try!


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Kolkata Chai Co. (@kolkatachaico)


Move over Trader Joe’s Chilli Crunch. Paro’s Tarka oil is here! Share South Asian comfort food with your guests with ease this festive season and take the hassle out of entertaining.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Paro (@fromparo)

Brooklyn Delhi

With delicious condiments and sauces inspired by our spices, Brooklyn Delhi is a must-try and offers an instant connection to our culture.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Brooklyn Delhi (@brooklyndelhi)

Two Brothers Organic Farm

A family-run certified organic farm that produces incredible products from desi cow ghee to moringa powder to healthy snacks like Ragi and Rice Krispies and Nachni laddoos.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Lakshana (@madebylakshana)

Madras Tiffin Co.

Looking for catering options for your Diwali parties? Madras Tiffin Co. has a delectable menu that is sure to impress


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Madras Tiffin Co. (@madrastiffinco)

As we celebrate Diwali and exchange gifts symbolizing affection and blessings, let’s also remember the importance of mindful giving. Supporting smaller South Asian businesses during this festive season is a wonderful way to strengthen communities. However, let’s buy thoughtfully, within our means, and prioritize meaningful gifts over extravagance. The essence of Diwali lies in love and togetherness, and by doing what works best for you, we can keep that spirit alive.

Avatar photo
By MihikaShivkumar

Mihika Shivkumar is a program manager in the tech industry, leveraging her expertise to drive innovation and efficiency. Beyond her … Read more ›

5 Indo Caribbean Food Experts you Need to Know This Winter Season

trinidad curry
Curried Chicken with Roti Parata or Roti, popular Middle Eastern/Indian cuisine

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.

1. Matthew’s Guyanese Cooking

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

2. Trini Cooking with Natasha

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.

[Read Related: 5 Indo-Caribbean Recipes for the Holiday Season you Have to Make]

3. Cooking with Ria

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.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by CookingWithRia (@cookingwithria)

4. Chef Devan

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.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Devan Rajkumar (@chefdevan)

5. Taste of Trinbago

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.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Taste of Trini ?? (@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.

Featured Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

By Subrina Singh

Subrina Singh holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Asian & Asian American Studies from Stony Brook University and a Master’s Degree … Read more ›

Chef Devan Rajkumar: Bringing Indo Caribbean Flavors to South Asia and Beyond

Chef Dev

Passion is something many claim to have, but few truly possess. Whether it’s hobbies, professions or romances, it’s the secret ingredient we all crave but is quite difficult to come by. But on meeting Chef Devan Rajkumar — aka Chef Dev — it takes just a few moments to understand true passion. For the Indo Guyanese chef from Toronto, passion has always been food and its power to connect, nourish, excite and represent. 

[Read Related: 5 Indo Caribbean Food Experts you Need to Know This Winter Season]

It was there, as a child, when he followed his mother and grandmother around the temple, getting daal stains on his kurtas

Today, he’s used it to become a TV personality on Canada’s “Cityline” and Food Network Canada’s “Fire Masters,” to collaborate with renowned caterers The Food Dudes, develop his own line of signature soups and host pop-up events around the world. 


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Devan Rajkumar (@chefdevan)

Whatever the outlet, Rajkumar feeds his mission to be an ambassador for modern, West and East Indian cuisine. I recently sat down with him to talk about this and the experience of bringing Indo Caribbean flavors to South Asia and beyond.

Feeding a passion for food

“The sights, the sounds, the aromatics. The excitement of the kitchen has just always appealed to me,” he began. “Food moves me in a certain way. I want to nurture and nourish. I’ve just always wanted to do for others.”

As he sat back in a ‘Guyana vs. the world’ tank top, Rajkumar’s energy was palpable.

“I’ve always lived and breathed food, all day, all night. Like I’m talking about food right now. I’m constantly talking about food.”

To Rajkumar, food is education — one of the best (and most enjoyable) ways to learn, teach and explore the world — and he credits his older brother Jai for inspiring this mindset. Jai was the first to introduce him to different cuisines, teach him to be curious about the world and show him how to challenge the norms of a “typical brown kid.”

Despite this encouragement, however, a culinary career wasn’t Rajkumar’s first instinct. The son of a businessman, he initially jumped around universities and career paths. He also struggled with substance abuse and grief after Jai’s passing. Through all the challenges, food remained a constant, and the sense of community it created was a powerful draw.  

“At a very young age, I recognized how food made me feel if I was in a bad mood and how it made others feel,” he shared. 

He’s always looked forward to sitting around a table with friends and family, enjoying a nice meal, and how everybody could share their stories or just forget their troubles.

“Food is a very powerful vehicle for transporting someone.”  

In 2009, Rajkumar finally followed his passion and joined a culinary school. He realized he had a knack for creating this experience for others.

“I realized I had the power and the gift to nourish and nurture someone else in this way,” and it became irresistible. 

A cook with no boundaries, Rajkumar didn’t want to limit the number of people he reached to just those in Canada. 


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by BFF (@burgersnfriesforever)

For many, success in the culinary world is having a thriving restaurant, but after spending six months opening one with The Food Dudes in 2015, Rajkumar realized this route wasn’t for him. 

“I wanted more culture,” he explained. “I wanted to learn and not so much get my ass kicked, but to be a sponge. I knew I needed to travel to broaden my horizons.”

So he did. Rajkumar spent months cooking in India, London, Peru and Dubai. He shared his experiences on social media and people back home took note.

“When I returned to Toronto,” he continued, “that trip had established me as a cook who had no boundaries. As someone who wasn’t afraid to explore and get out of their comfort zone.” 

And get out of his comfort zone he did. 

“From catering to a pop-up abroad to filming ‘Cityline and speaking engagements, every day is different,” he explained. “I’ve had my bouts with imposter syndrome, but ultimately, I’ve gotten to make more of an impact than just opening a restaurant.” 

That impact has especially been prominent in South Asia. 


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Devan Rajkumar (@chefdevan)

“Mad Love” in the Motherlands

Rajkumar embraces not only his Caribbean culture, but his South Asian roots as well. 

The temple he grew up in was a blend of Guyanese and East Indians, so he knew foods from a typical Guyanese household like alu curry and saijan but also East Indian favorites like dhokla and malai kofta

“Ultimately, we came from India,” he declared. “I embrace the culture and I am very comfortable leaning back and forth into it. It’s in me. It’s who I am.”

In fact, Rajkumar noted his career became much more defined and successful when he really began to identify as not just a chef, but as an Indo Guyanese Canadian chef. 

Hearing this, it was no surprise that Guyana, India and Pakistan stand out as some of  his favorite destinations. 

“Guyana is hugely impactful for me,” he shared, having visited his parents’ homeland frequently. “As soon as that door opens [at the airport], you smell Guyana. You smell the sugarcane burning from rum factories. I have all these wonderful sights, sounds, smells and flavors from those trips.”

His sentiments for India are similar.

“Incredible India is incredible India,” he referred to the country’s tourism slogan. “Every 100-200 kilometers, the menus can change completely. I can live in India for the rest of my life and never see it all.”

Pakistan, however, is in a class all its own.

“There’s something special about Lahore,” Chef Dev explained. “I was told Lahori hospitality rivals the best in the world and I got to experience that. I was interviewed on national television by Mustafa Shah. I explored Old Lahore with Ali Rehman. I got to cook my own chicken karahi at Butt Karahi. Anything I needed, I had. I’ve never met kinder people in my life.” 


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Devan Rajkumar (@chefdevan)

Rajkumar’s first trip in 2020 was only nine days long, but its impact stayed with him. 

He couldn’t have been more excited to return for a month, earlier this year, and host what his friends there dubbed the “Mad Love Pop-Up,” after one of his signature sayings. 

He filled the menu for the 18-day event with global dishes like ceviche and scotch eggs but infused them with West and East Indian flavors like masala, jerk and cassareep — a rich extract of the bitter cassava native to Guyana. Before he left, he even prepared Guyana’s national dish of pepper pot, a hearty meat stew, for the staff meal. 

“My whole thought process was ‘let me give these people — my family there — an experience they’ve never had before,” he detailed. “Any time I give someone pepper pot or cassareep, they’re just so shocked. It’s so unique.”

Rajkumar is always excited to share the flavors and culture of Guyana with new people, but with his roots in South Asia, bringing them to Pakistan was that much more profound. 

“In India, maybe it’s different, but in Lahore, most people don’t know about Guyana or where it is. That’s another reason why I did this. That’s why I do all the things I do. That’s why I’m wearing this tank top — to raise awareness about my culture and how beautiful it is,” he said. 

Time in South Asia has also helped Rajkumar gain a deeper appreciation for the origins of many Indo Caribbean dishes and reinforced his love for them.   

“Guyanese cuisine doesn’t just have Indian influence, but so many dishes in some way, shape, or form come from there. Like when I’m eating sada roti, I can tie it back to which type of flatbread it came from in India. I feel like a better-equipped chef at the end of the day. I’m more connected to my Guyanese roots and to the culture overall.” 

Rajkumar wants to foster a deeper understanding and relationship between both heritages. He wants his food to build connections, not disparity. 

Bringing the world back home

Rajkumar has visited over 20 countries, but Pakistan remains one place he’ll cherish his entire life. He is grateful not only for the opportunities he’s had there, but also for the chance to offer a fresh, alternative view of the country from what is often shown by the media.  

Chef Dev Rajkumar
Chef Devan Rajkumar wants to use his culinary skills and experiences to bring people together.

“When people saw me posting content from Lahore, they were like, ‘Oh my God, this is Pakistan?’ This is not what we expected. This is not what we thought we’d see.’ They were shocked at how beautiful, kind, and welcoming everyone was.”

Reactions like these are Rajkumar’s ultimate goal.

A cookbook is due next year. He has aspirations of launching merchandise and cookware, traveling to South East Asia, and continuing his pop-ups, but ultimately, he concludes,

“I just want to stand for something. I want to continue to learn, remain humble, represent my Western and Eastern cultures and spread mad love. I want to be an ambassador to that world and be someone who’s dedicated to his craft, bettering himself and those around him.” 

“I just want to continue to grow as a person,” he added with sincerity as he touched on his sobriety and what it’s taught him about achieving your goals. 

“That might sound cliche, but it’s new to me. I’ve spent the last two years learning about myself and being vulnerable about how I feel, my healing journey and what I’m going through. If I excel and continue to invest time and discipline in that arena, everything else around me will flourish. I believe that goes for anyone.”

Rajkumar is going far literally and figuratively, but no matter where he lands, you can be sure he’ll bring something back for his supporters, whether it be a new view of the world or a concoction like a ceviche pani puri on one of his menus. 

“That’s my travels to India, Pakistan and Peru all in one bite!” he exclaimed. 

Chef Dev’s journey has not always been an easy one, but it’s a powerful example of the success one can taste with hard work, embracing authenticity and following true passion. 

To learn more about his work visit his website or follow his Instagram for real-time updates, recipes, and all the ‘mad love.’ 

Photos Credit: Alec Luna

Avatar photo
By Ramona Sukhraj

With a B.S. in Marketing from the UCONN School of Business, Ramona has made a name for herself publishing over … Read more ›