This week in SBS Food’s Blog Appétit – our round up of food blogs worth bookmarking – we bring you Sinfully Spicy.
By
23 Oct 2014 - 10:54 AM  UPDATED 2 Dec 2014 - 3:28 PM

Calling all Indian food lovers: Sinfully Spicy, this week’s Blog Appétit hot pick, is for you. (Neophytes, it’ll convert you too.) Indian-born and raised Tanvi Srivastava started blogging when she moved to the US as a new bride. It filled the early days in her adopted country and anchored her to home. Quickly, blogging became a passion and readers became loyal fans of Tanvi’s home-style Indian dishes. With approachable recipes and anecdotes of home, plus styling and photography you’d find in food magazines, Tanvi deftly bridges the gap between authentic Indian fare and everyday cooking. For Diwali, the Indian festival of lights, she shares a selection of sweet recipes, from chickpea balls known as besan ladoo to mewa chikki, foxnut and melon seed brittle. They’re redolent of the aromatic spices, tropical fruits and exotic nuts, seeds and gums that make Indian food so appealing and unique, and a taste of what you’ll find on Tanvi’s delicious blog.

“Growing up, Diwali meant a chance to endlessly feast on mithai (Indian sweets), a time for lighting fireworks and lots of family gatherings. Commonly known as the festival of lights, Diwali is a five-day long event celebrated across the country. The grandest among the Hindu festivals and dating about 11,000 years back, it celebrates the homecoming of Lord Rama to Ayodhya after 14 years of banishment and a triumph over the demon king Ravana.

“Living in a joint family, I was able to closely observe the traditions associated with this festival through my grandmother. She started a fortnight ahead or so, cleaning every inch of our house and purchasing new linen, drapes, decorations, utensils, clothes and gifts. The prayer room was decked out in strings of diyas (earthen lamps) and sprinkled with gangajal (holy water from the Ganges river) to purify. The deity idols were replaced with the new ones and expensive sandalwood garlands were purchased to adorn them.

“As with most cultures in the world, the kitchen was the busiest nook of our house. Celebration time meant that the kadhai (wok) didn’t come off the stove for a week. Deep-fried, decadent food was served to family and guests, and the house would smell of ghee and cardamom for days. My grandma would patiently slow-roast chickpea flour to make besan ladoos for prasad (offering to God) and there would be fresh gulab jamun, coconut burfi (fudge), gujiya (fried pastry) and grain-free mewa chikki (nut brittle) or tapioca pudding in case few guests were fasting till prayer time. To balance the mithai marathon, there were spicy snacks like papri chaat or jaljeera (cumin drink).

“Whenever I think of those years, nostalgia embraces me. Then I comfort myself trying to follow in my grandmother’s footsteps in the kitchen, recreating recipes to warm our hearts and souls during this time of joy, laughter and celebration.”

 

I started my blog to...
“Ease the boredom of a new bride who had just landed in the United States! Then, as I shared more and more of my recipes, I found that so many readers out there are looking for simple, home-style Indian food. Gradually, one of my smaller objectives became demystifying the perception that cooking Indian food is complex and requires a truckload of spices. It is not always so. There are hundreds of quick, simple dishes that can be cooked with a handful of ingredients.

“Also, as I learnt more and more, I realised that in India we are unknowingly and effortlessly cooking and eating lot of gluten-free and vegan recipes. Hopefully I can widen the variety of options for those who follow that lifestyle through my blog.”

 

The must-cook recipe on my website is...
Gobi manchurian – it will make you a cauliflower convert! Or bhuna murgh – many readers say that after they made it once, it became the ‘chicken curry’ of their house.”

 

I can’t wait to go back to...
“Key West, Florida, to eat conch fritters.”

 

My current food obsession is...
“Tahini. I discovered it too late in life and am currently addicted to it.”

 

Eating fish curry takes me back to my home in India, when I would accompany Mum in the evenings to those streets filled with fishmongers selling freshwater seafood.”

 

Nugget of cooking wisdom...
“Sniff a lot as you cook. If it smells good, it will taste good.”

 

I learnt to cook from...
“Almost all the women in my family, particularly my grandmother and mum.”

 

When I go back to my hometown Delhi, India the first thing I eat is mum’s jackfruit rice pilaf. It is out of this world!”

 

Friends always ask me to cook my...
“Homemade Indian pickles, particularly my no-oil lime pickle.”

 

The one thing I can’t cook (properly) is...
“White sauce. It always ends up too runny or too thick. It never comes out right the first time.”

 

I always have mustard oil and ghee in my pantry, whole-milk yoghurt in my fridge and puff pastry sheets in my freezer. Clearly, I am addicted to dairy and fat!”

 

My favourite biscuit to dunk in a cup of tea is...
Jeera (cumin biscuits). They are sweet and salty, and pair perfectly with gingery chai.”

 

The most difficult food to make look tasty is...
“Indian mithai (sweets). They are so heavenly to eat, but when it comes to styling, most of them look so plain.”

 

Beyond my own blog, some of my favourites reads are...
Happy Yolks; I love the kitchen action they capture through their images. David Lebovitz for his kitchen wisdom and writing. Green Kitchen Stories for their clean, homely vegetarian cooking, which wins my heart each time. Then there is food52, Australian Gourmet Traveller, Saveur and Kinfolk; I keep going back to these websites and magazines for the beautiful photography and foolproof cooking techniques.”

 

Top picks from Sinfully Spicy

1. Chickpea flour sweets (besan ladoo)

2. Indian fudge (burfi)

3. Coconut and nut pastries (mava gujiya)

4. Nut and seed brittle (mewa chikki)

 

Blog Appétit editor Yasmin Newman

Blog Appétit is our curated list of go-to food blogs we love, with a focus on high-quality photography, trusted recipes, strong editorial themes and a unique voice and personality. View previous Blog Appétit entries.