“Never let it be said that to dream is a waste of one’s time, for dreams are our realities in waiting. In dreams, we plant the seed of our future.” – Anonymous
I came across this quote today as I was trying to write this blog post to introduce myself. The title and the quote seem to be in contradiction to each other but then I realized that’s exactly what my life and environment have been since I moved to Australia has been about – an opposition of stereotypes and fads.
So let me start at the beginning.
Hi, my name is Bhavna, I am the creator, recipe developer and dream maker behind the blog ‘Just a girl from aamchi Mumbai,’ who is now embarking on this new adventure called ‘The Modern Desi.’ I am also the person known for saying, “There is more to Indian food than Butter F***ing Chicken.”
That is the first stereotype that I always love to correct. Butter chicken, the very famed Indian dish found in every Indian restaurant around the world is something that we hardly make at home. Most Indians actually also visit restaurants to eat it, and whenever I tell my non-Indian friends and colleagues here in Sydney, they do get a surprised look.
Anyway, I digress! I am here to share the story behind The Modern Desi!
The story began in Aamchi Mumbai, where I was born, lived and grew up with my family. It was reasonably traditional Indian upbringing, and many of what I consider to be my strongest
values had its roots in my first home.
In the early 2000s, I took a leap of faith to move myself and my husband firstly to Perth and then to Sydney, Australia, for work. A few months into living in Australia, I started to feel sick with symptoms of listlessness, lack of energy, and an overall feeling of empty like something was missing.
Despite paying through my nose for medical bills, no doctor was able to tell me what was wrong until I found an Indian doctor who gave me this advice – “start eating food that you ate when growing up, and you will be fine.”
At this stage of my new Australian home journey, I did not have my own space and kitchen to cook my own food. So, I started to frequent Indian takeaway restaurants and buying food from there.
To my dismay, every restaurant had the same menu! The food tasted precisely the same. Everything was either red, green, or yellow in color. The most popular was ‘Butter Chicken,” and the only Indian bread that people knew was “Naan Bread” (by the way. . . did you know Naan means Bread? so every time you say Naan Bread, you are actually saying Bread Bread).
I remembered the first time, after a work meeting, I went to the local food court and got myself a plate of Butter Chicken and Naan. As one did back home, I used my fingers to break the Naan and dip it in the gravy to scoop up the pieces of chicken. The shock that I had with my first bite!
The gravy of the Butter Chicken was so sweet and my fingers were stained with the amount of red food colouring that was added in the marination of the chicken. It was terribly disappointing, and if I was not sick before, I was definitely ill after eating all the shitty so-called Indian food.
Soon I found a place to call home which, as luck would have it, was fully furnished. So the first day after I moved in, I went to the Indian grocery store and stocked up my pantry with lentils, rice, flour and my favorite Indian spices.
I remembered the first time, after a work meeting, I went to the local food court and got myself a plate of Butter Chicken and Naan. As one did back home, I used my fingers to break the Naan and dip it in the gravy to scoop up the pieces of chicken. The shock that I had with my first bite!This started my journey to recreate the authentic, real flavours of India that is almost unknown here in Australia. Dishes that I ate growing up – made by my mother, sometimes my father, my grandfather, my mother in law and everyone else who made me who I am today.
When I started to make these foods and bring them to work for lunch or serve them as a meal for friends coming over, I realised that many people thought what I was making was delicious and they’d love to have it again and again.
And hence my first blog Just a Girl from Aamchi Mumbai grew as a place where I shared my natural, wholesome, authentic and often, fusion recipes of Indian and other cultural flavors – Bush Foods, Italian – and more!
The popularity of the blog really took me by surprise and this space where I shared, created, crafted and expressed my feelings and memories became my safe haven from my stressful, busy job, and many responsibilities that I was managing away from everything I called home. This creative space really spun the beginnings of bigger and more daring dreams for me, visions of teaching fellow food lovers how to make Indian food at home without breaking into a sweat came along
And so here I am, launching these dreams through “The Modern Desi” a space that is more than a blog but a reflection of who I am and where I want to be in the future. The word Desi is a traditional term used to describe an Indian person I am hoping that you will join me on this journey of food connecting cultures, of contradictions that will get us to the ‘real’ story and dreams of fun, wholesome cooking classes, easy wholesome recipes, and engaging food consulting services.
Check out The Modern Desi recipes for easy, wholesome Indian fusion meals that can be favorite staples in your household.
Or, check my cooking classes section for delicious and fun lessons where you get to learn, cook and eat with your friends and family around Sydney.
Be the first to get your hands on new recipes, news and offers with the Modern Desi newsletter.