I stumbled upon Priya’s instagram account in the beginning of 2013 I guess. From then to till date her food pictures/recipes have always been amazing. There is not much of greasy or oily food in her feed. Though she occasionally indulge in fried snacks I love the way how her food emphasis on clean eating. If you look at her feed you will realize that eating healthy doesn’t necessarily have to be monotonous or boring. I always say that “You don’t have to be a blogger to be passionate about food” , Priya is another classic example of that.
Her passion for creating healthy,clean,simple food is what inspires me the most. Who would have thunk about making ‘Puliodharai’ with Quinoa She blends SouthIndian flavors effortlessly in her dishes and at the same time she never stops experimenting with different flavors & combinations (be it in a salad or curry or in her gluten free recipes
Here is the fun Q&A with her :
Tell us something about the glorious Mylapore 🙂 What are the memories you have growing up in a place like that and what was your favorite childhood dish?
When did you start cooking or experimenting in the kitchen?
I could not make a decent cup of tea when I landed in the US, this was the early 2000s and options for eating out as a vegetarian in small town USA meant a bowl of salad leaves. My husband was a much better cook than me and I can proudly admit that we survived the first couple of years due to his culinary skills.
My initial experiments were painful (remember there was no social media or skype). Foodnetwork was my go to channel and Ina garten was my inspiration. After the first couple of years I started to get more confident and comfortable in the kitchen.
I know your mom is a great pic from the IG pics(kozhukattai & other traditional south indian snacks) you have shared. What quality as a cook/mentor you admire about her?
What inspires me about my parents is their open mind and willingness to try (within the realm of their religious beliefs) any cuisine.
What is your favorite recipe of hers
My most favorite is Appa’s vegetable biriyani with korma , amma’s vathakuzhambu and rasam (she learnt it from her mom, my ammamma who is an in house retired “master chef”)
When you moved out of India, was it difficult to adjust to the new cuisines? Or did you enjoy experimenting with different cuisines?
I love trying different cuisines, I will try anything atleast once but that is now, initially when I came to the US it wasn’t the case, I used to be a very picky eater and it was very difficult for me to eat out. We used to drive up to Chicago every weekend for the indian meal fix!
If I look at your feed almost 80% of the pics you have shared is healthy,colorful not boring. So when did this whole ‘clean eating’ journey started?
I love the way you pair veggies & cheese in your salad.Also how you incorporate fresh fruits in your salads. what are your top three salad dressing you would recommend our readers?
a. I love Mayo but detest that its not healthy. So Yogurt (no I don’t strain it) any yogurt based dressing. My recent go to is Yogurt, Honey/Agave or Coconut nectar, turmeric, chopped or crushed fresh garlic, olive oil (optional), cumin, salt and pepper. Whip and pour on any of your favorite salad.
b. Second favorite go to salad dressing: Olive oil, crush garlic, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper
c. Lastly, Olive oil, apple cider vingar, crushed garlic, lemon juice, honey or agave or cocnut sugar, salt and pepper
Have you stopped eating White Rice completely? How does switching to Quinoa & other grains helped you to achieve fitness?
b. I do eat Non GMO (yes I try to pick Non GMO as much as I can) Lundberg farms Organic Long grain or regular rice mixed with Quinoa.I also like Ezekiel brand sprouted whole grain tortilla. I don’t eat white basmati rice that you get at the indian grocery store.
c. Yes following this diet has helped me tremendously but that alone did not help me achieve my fitness goal, I paired it with Pilates ( Marie Windsory always comes through), yoga (Jen Hilman) and some cardio speaking of which I have not done any of these in over 3 weeks , so yes I am a slacker but eating wise helps a lo
I adore your weekend prep meals for the coming week. So being a working women share some tips about planning meals ahead and some tips to save time
a. Picky eater (me), husband who travels a lot and full time job usually equates to not much time. So Sunday morning grocery shopping and afternoon meal prep for the week works out well for me. I don’t do much of a planning before I go vegetable shopping. I buy what vegetables that are in season and come up with recipes based on that.
b. Roasting a bunch of veggies and cooking some form of vegetable protein (lentils, paneer, halloumi etc) helps with the prep.
c. There is always the lemon rice (quinoa), tamarind rice, curd rice for days when I don’t feel like wraps or salads.
d. I have a sweet tooth so my desert of choice that I take to work are :
i) During summer is skillet roasted stone fruits or berries or Soak dried figs in warm water, squeeze excess water and mix it with hung yogurt and honey/coconut nectar/agave.
Who is your inspiration when it comes to cooking and what is your main source of learning? Any favorite websites or cookbook authors you adore?
I come from a typical south indian family where I was surrounded by amazing cooks; mom, grandma, dad, sister in laws, cousins who are all my inspiration. Infact I still ask them to whatsapp me certain recipes.
Alton Brown my orginal Guru from when I first landed in the US, Ina Garten.other than that I love to travel and pick up receipes from the places i visit. (yep I do take pics of menu cards and store for future inspiration;)
I don’t have any particular author or website, but when I hit a wall I google!. I love your blog, Anu’s, all of you that I follow on social media inspire me every day and helps me to fulfill my picky eater’s palette
Is shiv (her 6 yo son) a fuzzy eater? How do you plan his meals? Also at this young age I see he loves helping you out in kitchen and bake cakes as well. How did that happen?
Shiv is a very curious kid like most six year old and loves to experiment in the kitchen as well. He is very intrigued by the colors, smells and textures,so this is what attracts him to help me in the kitchen. Shiv’s help in the kitchen also means I have to answer non stop questions about the whys and whats (I have to google some of the responses) which adds to the cooking time but its one thing I absolutely look forward to and enjoy!
What according you is top 3 indulgent American foods that one should never miss on their US trip?
a.A good gooey butter cake!!
c. A warm apple pie with fresh picked apples (during Fall) or a Peach Pie (summer)
Any plans of starting a blog to document your culinary adventures & learnings?
Thank you so much for including me in your ins(ta)piration series, I have thoroughly enjoyed reading about the inspiring bloggers you have interviewed thus far and looking forward to more such fun reads
Thank you so much Priya for taking your time out that too on a busy weekend and for sharing your wonderful childhood memories, for providing so much valuable information regarding your eating routine & fitness. Keep inspiring us with your delicious food.
Dear readers if you would like to follow Priya’s day to day cooking, kindly check the link below