From A Gourmet Cook, Food Writer And Author Of "The Dance Of Spices: Classic Indian Cooking For Today's Home Kitchen"
If Two Decades Ago Someone Had Asked Me If I Wanted To Become A Gourmet Cook, I Would Have Just Laughed. How about a food writer? I would have said, not a chance. How about an entrepreneur? My answer would have been, are you kidding?
Today I am all three.
Twenty years ago when I first came to America, I did not know much about cooking. In my new home in Columbus, Ohio, I rolled up my sleeves and tried to replicate what I had seen in my mother's kitchen, she was my role model she set a standard of excellence in me.
I used ingredients that were readily available in local markets and began experimenting.
The first of those experiments – handmade cabbage rolls stuffed with spiced mashed potatoes – won the recipe a spot on the local newspaper's food pages. As a hobby I continued to share recipes every week. A few readers also called to check whether I had written a cookbook. I was flattered and determined to generate a collection of recipes. Ultimately, my adventures in spicy experimentation led to the publication of my cookbooks.
The dance of spices I witnessed in my mother's kitchen as she expertly used the plethora of spices in preparing the seasonings is what I have brought to the American table. "The Dance of Spices" published by John Wiley & Sons, is a compilation of my most favorite recipes and my personal stories in conquering one of the finest cuisines of the world.
In the midst of my passion for food writing, I was looking for ways to create something nutritious and scrumptious for my children’s school lunches. I developed the idea of combining flaxseed with other appetizing ingredients to make mouthwatering Spreads. When I packed sandwiches smeared with Flaxseed Spread with Dates and Orange Juice for my children’s lunches their friends often traded their turkey sandwiches to our sandwiches. Their moms started calling and encouraged me to package for everybody! Soon it was followed by more flavors and a line of Organic Flaxseed Spreads in 3 intriguing tastes was born.
The Flaxseed Spreads are my unique and special products since there are no other such spreads on the market. These are the only kind. The three flavors include, Golden Flaxseed Spread with Dates and Orange Juice, Lemony Flaxseed Spread with Ginger and Honey, and Savory Flaxseed Spread with Sun-dried Tomatoes. They are nutritious, high in Omega-3 fatty acids, all natural, low-calorie, additive and preservative free and absolutely scrumptious.
The Golden Flaxseed Spread with Dates and Orange Juice was honored as an Outstanding Food Innovation of 2007 by the NASFT. Most recently, our product was awarded New Functional Food at Gulfood Awards 2010, in Dubai. There is a bountiful of serving ideas for these spreads. Children smear on bagels, toast and sandwiches. Health conscious moms spoon into a warm bowl of oatmeal and pasta. Dads top a seared piece of fish or chicken. Makes a great topping for artisan cheese. Swirled through yogurt it is a quick dip for crackers, or mixed with buttermilk makes a refreshing dressing, twirled with sour cream it can be spooned over baked potatoes. In addition, people with nut allergies can find these products easily accessible.
My forte in balancing tastes and harmonious flavors and passion for food ultimately led to the creation of a line of boutique specialty foods and the birth of Laxmi's Delights, We Value Wellness.
Our other products include scrumptious, sweet-spiced roasted walnuts, pecans and peanuts. Perfect for snacking and sprinkling everywhere from salads to gorgonzola cheese and pear slices, or serving with a cocktail. My signature line is widely available in gourmet and natural food stores including Andronicos, Amazon.com, Berkeley Bowl, Draeger’s and Whole Foods.
Over the years, in conversation and in various media, I have offered reliable, authentic recipes to my readers, listeners, and viewers. I have done that extensively in the food pages of the San Francisco Chronicle, in Gourmet, Bon Appétit, Sunset, Vegetarian Times and Fine Cooking among other publications and on television and radio shows.
As a consultant and council member of Center for Culinary Development I have created recipes for Dannon, Kellogg's, Kashi, Yoplait, Hillshire Farm, Seeds of Change, Rice-A-Roni, and Quaker Oats among others. I have worked with Roxanne Klein of Roxanne's and Jeremiah Tower of Stars Restaurant in San Francisco. My recipes were featured in the dining halls of University of California at Davis.
The greatest satisfaction comes when the people come back for more of my products along with their feedback. I would like to share some comments-- “Many moms are concerned with the long list of preservatives that convenience foods normally contain it is nice that Laxmi was able to create a product both without such unnatural additives and one that kids will actually eat,” writes Carolyn. "All of the flavors are very intriguing and satisfying, sun-dried tomato spread is almost nutty and meaty flavored. The orange-date spread was great as a dip, but I also relished eating it straight – like a pudding. I know they are spreads, but I especially enjoyed dipping straight into the jars with a small spoon for little tastes.
I could eat a tablespoon that way – and feel very satisfied," says Kathleen. "I can use the Orange-date spread as a replacement to peanut butter, and the savory ones for mayonnaise and never get tired eating on a daily bases," quips John. "This is a great concept and a fabulous invention," is what Valerie has to say. "I was pleasantly surprised at the tastes, so scrumptious. Outstanding! I liked the texture and the look of the new product," jots Mike. “I enjoyed the sun-dried tomato spread immensely, and can see using it as a mayonnaise alternative on turkey and tuna sandwiches. I enjoy the sweet spreads in my morning oatmeal. Also, the orange spread I passed along to a family with the severe nut allergy, and the lemony spread I gave to a health-conscious foodie friend of mine to try,” emails Marie.
Two decades later, I have made the transition from not knowing much about cooking to an innovative chef, skilled teacher, accomplished food writer and author and produced award winning organic gourmet foods. This is all due to the encouragement from the people and consumers.