A few years ago when I resurfaced after being drowned in a series of blogging competitions, back to back photo shoots, writing and producing a cookbook, a magazine column, a newspaper column, conducting food photography workshops and completing a year studying design at college, I felt utterly lost. It took a lot out of me. I had lost my cooking mojo and my love for food. I had stopped eating and found no joy in the process of creating. So I took a massive step back. I lightened my workload, stopped my workshops, became brave enough to say no and took two days off a week to learn, visit markets, cook and meal prep, go for walks, do yoga, slow down, read, write and get in touch with food and in turn – myself.
That was a turning point in my 15-year food career as a blogger, writer, and photographer. Bit by bit, the tank which was rattling on empty started filling up with good food and good times. And when it was almost full, I started up the engine slowly and took off on a gently meandering path of exploration and revelations. Never rushing but stopping at every bend to take a closer look, to be in the moment and to smell the roses, proverbially speaking. Giving myself the gift of time was the best thing I had ever done for myself. Three years have passed since then. And what has happened in only three short years (or three long luxurious years – depending on how you look at it) is nothing short of incredible.
I am a completely different person. I have always liked myself. But now, I love who I have become. And with that love has come acceptance of everything around me. As a result, a calmness now shrouds every aspect of my life like a blanket of snow. We eat better, we explore new foods, we have dinner together every night, we have lazy long breakfasts at the weekends, we visit markets, we write down menus on whiteboards and we are more present. I have not only rediscovered my joy of cooking and eating but somehow managed to hold on to it. Cooking excites me, eating excites me even more! And I have learned so much about food and look forward to learning so much more.
In 2018, I learned to meal prep like a beast. That was probably my singular most exciting achievement in the kitchen and something I am trying to take to new heights in 2019. I perfected the art of tahini in cookies and cooking more and more delicious dishes without the use of dairy – like this gorgeous mushroom and lentil bolognese. I embraced the Instant Pot (or the multi-cooker as it is more commonly known as in Australia). Suddenly, I was able to cook delicious daals, stews, and curries every single night thanks to the Instant Pot. Which took my meal prep game to yet another level. And I finally perfected Nasu Dengaku – the Miso glazed grilled eggplant dish. Do you know how hard it is to make it look good while ensuring it also tastes delicious?
I also upped my cocktail game, stocking up a beautiful bar cart and experimenting with botanicals, liqueurs and fancy glassware. And finally, I went back to my roots, rediscovering the joys of Indian cooking (especially vegetarian!). Last year, I cooked so many things from scratch on repeat – idli, sambar, khichari, curries, sauces and all kinds of flatbreads. I am looking forward to sharing so much more with you this year.
My one wish for this year is to cook, even more, gosh I want to cook and try out so many new recipes! I would love to hear about your cooking adventures in 2018, what new dishes, cuisines, and techniques did you attempt?? And I leave you with the 20 most popular recipes on the blog in 2018.
Here’s to cooking and sharing and eating and repeating!
- 5 Ingredient Vegan Tahini Cookies (vegan/gf)
- Spinach Feta Gozleme
- Chickpea And Pumpkin Korma Curry (vegan/ gf)
- Vegan Daal Makhani (vegan/ gf)
- Old Fashioned Apple Crumble
- Gluten-Free Almond Coconut Cake (gf)
- Zucchini And Sweet Potato Slice
- Palak Paneer – Spinach And Cheese Curry (gf)
- Baked Mushroom Curry (vegan/ gf)
- Coffee And Cream Pavlova (gf)
- Milk Chocolate Brownies
- Cauliflower Steaks With Olive Caper Salsa (vegan/gf)
- Banana And Coconut Milk Bread
- Spicy Cauliflower Falafels With Beetroot Dip (vegan/ gf)
- Rainbow Veggie Daal (vegan /gf)
- Oven Baked Chicken Biryani (gf)
- Roasted Cauliflower Hummus (vegan/ gf)
- Coffee Overnight Oats (vegan)
- Miso Glazed Eggplant (vegan/ gf)
- Creamy Coconut Millet Porridge (vegan/ gf)