Back to contents
Pioneers | PREMIUM CONTENT

WHAT DO TOP CHEFS OFFER SEEMA?

Dec/20/2021 / by MABEL PAIS
chitra agarwal
Chitra Agrawal for Pineapple Collaborative. Photo: Liz Clayman

CHITRA AGARWAL

Who is Chitra Agrawal?

Chitra Agrawal is the co-founder (with her husband Ben Garthus — principal and creative director of GardenHaus – garden-haus.com). GardenHaus is an award-winning creative agency specializing in branding and packaging design for the food and beverage industry), of Brooklyn Delhi (brooklyndelhi.com), an award-winning food brand inspired by her Indian heritage. She is the author of “Vibrant India: Fresh Vegetarian Recipes from Bangalore to Brooklyn” (Penguin Random House, March 2017).

Chitra Agrawal has specialized in developing recipes reflective of her Indian-American identity for over a decade.

Accolades

Since launching, Brooklyn Delhi has attracted the attention of some of the world’s leading food critics. It has been featured in People Magazine, the Food Network, Vogue-India, Food & Wine, Bon Appetit, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and many more. Read all about them at brooklyndelhi.com/pages/press

To hear the couple’s story, enjoy this short video: player.vimeo.com/video/120718580

What is Brooklyn Delhi?

Brooklyn Delhi makes delicious condiments and sauces inspired by Indian culinary traditions and plant-based ingredients. Food & Wine Magazine says, “These spicy pickles will be the most versatile condiment in your pantry.”

The first line of products Brooklyn Delhi launched in 2014 focuses on an Indian pantry staple called achaar (pronounced ah-chaar), sometimes referred to as Indian pickle. Add a little bit to whatever you’re eating to give it a spicy, sour, sweet and savory kick! Traditionally, achaar is eaten with rice, dal, curry or yogurt, but Brooklyn Delhi’s recipe is super versatile and also pairs well on sandwiches, burgers, eggs, mixed into bowls, soups or noodles, with cheese & crackers, etc. and you can also use it to finish dishes – add a few spoons to punch up your pasta sauce, lentils or shakshuka.

Brooklyn Delhi recipes were developed by Agrawal. Since 2009 in Brooklyn, Agrawal has specialized in serving, teaching and writing about Indian home cooking. 

What started Agrawal’s interest in food?

“From a young age, I was always fond of achaar. I remember I was maybe 5 or 6 (years of age) biting into one of my aunt’s lemon pickles and from then on I was just hooked on those intense flavors. I often would bring back homemade pickles from relatives’ houses in India, filling my suitcase with all sorts of varieties — green mango, gooseberry, red chili, carrot, etc.,” says Agrawal. 

Agrawal set out to make her own version of achaar (75% lower in sodium than leading brands) from ingredients she found around her in her Brooklyn farm share — “like tomatoes, rhubarb, garlic and American gooseberries to highlight the flavor of the vegetables and fruits and aromatic spices along with the chilies.”

As the popularity of the achaars grew, she also developed simmer sauces (all vegan, plant-based and mild) as well to go with them, including tikka masala, butter masala and korma, using plant-based alternatives to butter, cream and yogurt. 

After selling out of her achaars at pop-up events and cooking classes, Agrawal and Garthus decided to package them for everyone to enjoy. They proudly say, “Our products are handcrafted in small batches in New York & we like it best … on everything!”

Tempted to try some of Agrawal’s sauces?

Find them at brooklyndelhi.com/pages/store-locator

What holiday dish does Chitra Agrawal offer Seema?

Sweet Potato Chaat

These sweet potatoes, based on Nik Sharma’s recipe in his book, “The Flavor Equation,” creates perfectly tender and crave-able sweet potatoes. With tart yogurt, bursts of pomegranate seeds and crunchy sev, dinner tonight is a party for two!

Method (serves 2)

  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup yogurt
  • 2 tsp Brooklyn Delhi Sweet Mango Chutney
  • Black pepper (ground)
  • Scallions (sliced)
  • Sev (crunchy Indian chickpea flour topping), or crunchy topping of choice
  • Pomegranate seeds
  • Sea salt
  • Cilantro or mint (chopped)

Brooklyn Delhi Tomato Achaar

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Rinse and scrub the sweet potatoes and slice them lengthwise. Put them on a sheet pan, cut side up, brush the potatoes with butter and season with salt. Cover the pan with foil and press around the edges to seal snugly. Bake for 20 minutes.
  2. After 20 minutes, remove the foil, flip the sweet potatoes, and cook uncovered for 20 minutes more. The sweet potatoes should be tender enough that a knife inserted in the center of the sweet potato slides through easily.
  3. To prepare the dressing, in a small bowl, combine the yogurt, Brooklyn Delhi Sweet Mango Chutney and black pepper. Taste and season with salt.
  4. To serve, top the warm roasted potatoes with a generous drizzle of dressing and add dollops of Brooklyn Delhi Tomato Achaar. Sprinkle with the scallions, sev, pomegranate seeds and chopped cilantro or mint.

HARVEEN KHERA

harveen khera

Founder of Hippie Kitchen (hknola.com), (a unique concept restaurant in New Orleans, Louisiana), Harveen is a 30-year service industry pioneer specializing in the creation and growth of innovative food service businesses. She owns the business with her artist husband, Wayne Greiner. 

Khera was born and brought up in London, and made New Orleans her home with love in 2008. 

“We have been cooking since we were teenagers and met each other at Boulevard in San Francisco under the watchful eye of Chef Nancy Oakes 25 years ago,” says Khera.

Why do patrons love Khera as much as her food creations? 

She’s created a community through food by partnering with farmers, universities, students and neighbors. Khera developed her craft working within the incredible, dedicated, professional service industry of the San Francisco Bay Area. Chefs Jeremiah Towers, Joey Altman, Sam Moganum, Yasu Ueno, Craig Stoll, Nancy Oakes and many more have been her mentors.

Where did Khera get her start?

She found a small, rundown space overlooking Union Square in San Francisco and transformed it into a hit bar! The Tunnel Top became a magnet for the service industry, as well as locals and tourists. Next came internationally recognized Tallula, a much loved restaurant in San Francisco’s Castro, launching the small plate phenomenon featuring contemporary Asian food.

Why Hippie Kitchen (HK)?

Hippie Kitchen, Khera believes, is a place for people who love good food. Hippie Kitchen is an employee-owned-and-operated neighborhood gathering place, dedicated to providing casual, fine food that is fresh, healthy, and delicious!

To get a peek into Hippie Kitchen and what its clients have to say, watch the video: youtu.be/JSak4DqkdW8

pear skillet cake by chef
HK’s scrumptious Pear Skillet Cake

How is Khera meeting the challenges of the pandemic? 

Hippie Kitchen restaurant closed in December 2020; however, they remained open to catering. 

“We now have the Hippie Kitchen Good Food Stand,” says Khera. It provides real-time thoughtfully curated uplifting meals, made by hand daily using organic, premium, non-GMO ingredients. She designed a new space with the health and safety of both the employee and customer of utmost importance. Nutritious delicious meals, providing a healthy and equitable environment, where employment leads to partnering.

“In this model what we’ve done is everything is online. You order online, or you order at a walk-up kiosk. Your food comes out in an old-style bank-teller drawer. You eat with your hands and enjoy the action in the kitchen through the large picture window. So it comes out to you…, and it’s using technology. It all comes down to what keeps everyone safe.”

Catering is available for any occasion and number of guests. Choose from the breakfast menu, boxed lunches, salad and sandwich spreads, and complete seasonal meals for a crowd.

To view the menu from the “Hippie Kitchen Good Food Stand,” visit hknola.com or call (504) 444-4113.

How is HK unique? 

Hippie Kitchen Good Food Stand offers seasonal dishes made by hand daily using organic, premium, non-GMO ingredients with whole grains and veggies, coupled with meat, poultry and fish that have been raised with extra care. All dishes are made from scratch.

What is Khera’s “Love at First Bite”? 

Khera shares her pear skillet cake holiday recipe with Seema.

“It was ‘love at first bite’ in 1994 when I was introduced to it by Mariette (Mom) Mogannam of Rendezvous of Bush Street, San Francisco, who would bring in her bakes,” Khera says. “There it was, amongst her delights — this deep beauty with a generous depth of ginger, brown sugar and perfect suspension of pear. My cardamom ice cream is perfect with it!”

PEAR  SKILLET CAKE

Ingredients

  • 3 oz. butter
  • ⅔ cup brown sugar
  • 5 ripe pears, peeled, quartered and cored
  • 1 tbsp ginger juice
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • 3 eggs (at room temperature)

Method

  1. Place 3 oz of butter and ⅔ cup brown sugar in the skillet on the flat top until it melts. 
  2. Peel, quarter and core the 5 ripe pears
  3. To make the wet batter:
    Grate 2 ripe pears with juices. Add 1 tbsp ginger juice, ½  cup vegetable oil, 1 tsp vanilla, 1 tsp orange zest, and whip with 3 eggs at room temperature with a fork.
  4. To make dry batter:
    Mix 6 oz all-purpose flour, with ½ tsp salt, ⅔ cup granulated sugar, 1⅕ tsp cinnamon, and 1 tsp baking soda, Whip together with a fork.
  5. Pour the wet batter into dry and mix well.
  6. Lay pear segments around the skillet and center
  7. Pour batter evenly over pears
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes (or until a toothpick comes out dry)

MONICA BHIDE

monica bhide

Who is Monica Bhide?

“I am a storyteller and I love to write tales about food, love, life and culture,” says Monica Bhide.

She has been featured in The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, the Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, National Public Radio, Bon Appetit and many other publications.

Equal parts storyteller and globe-trotter, Monica Bhide, an award-winning author, accomplished literary coach, and educator with over 15 years of experience, transcends countless borders — chronological, geographical, religious, and economical — to inspire her readers. 

Born in New Delhi, raised in the Middle East, and now residing outside Washington, D.C., she is now a corporate storyteller for one of the world’s leading professional services companies. Her prolific portfolio, enriched by the many places she calls home, channels a distinctly cosmopolitan worldview.

Her Books

Bhide’ works are a collection of culture-driven articles that approach the world of food first. Her books, all infused with a signature lyricism, consist of acclaimed cooking compendiums, like 2009’s “Modern Spice,” brimming with contemporary versions of traditional Indian recipes. 

Her more recent novel, “Karma and the Art of Butter Chicken,” which explores the healing power of food, led NPR’s café in Washington, D.C., to serve up creations inspired by her protagonist chef.

Her Teachings

She also speaks about the intersection of food, culture, and writing for prestigious conferences and organizations such as the Smithsonian Institution, Sackler Gallery, Les Dames d’Escoffier, and Yale University. In 2013, she was appointed as writing coach in residence for the Association of Food Journalists’ annual conference, where she counseled writers on establishing their social media brands, underscoring her ultimate strengths as an eloquent, ever evolving, and outstanding writer.

Accolades

Her work has garnered numerous accolades and has been included in four Best Food Writing anthologies (2005, 2009, 2010, and 2014). Her memoir, “A Life of Spice,” was picked by Eat Your Books as one of the top five food memoirs of 2015. Top Chef’s Padma Lakshmi picked Bhide’s “Modern Spice” (Simon & Schuster, 2009), as one of the “Best Books Ever” for Newsweek in 2009. The Chicago Tribune named Bhide “one of the seven food writers to watch in 2012.”

Radio Career 

In addition to her various storytelling endeavors, Bhide appears as a regular voice on radio programs like NPR’s “Kitchen Window,” and recently launched “Powered by Hope,” a podcast centered on life during a pandemic, and what it means to be physically distant yet connected to our very core.

Other Stints 

Bhide feels fortunate for her rich, multicultural education and enjoys giving back to the global community by serving on committees and volunteering for Les Dames d’Escoffier, The International Association of Culinary Professionals, and at her children’s schools in Northern Virginia.

To learn more, visit monicabhide.com

Her Holiday Recipe

From her culinary basket, what does Monica offer us?

Brussels spouts meet curry leaves.

Monica’s personal favorite recipes from her book “Modern Spice.”

She says: “I just adore Brussels sprouts and making them spicy made them taste even better! I updated this recipe, and now it uses coconut oil. While you can cook this with any oil, the coconut really makes the flavors shine through. Enjoy!”

Serves 4. 

Prep/Cook time: 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 10 to 15 fresh curry leaves
  • 2 whole dried red chiles, broken
  • 15 Brussels sprouts, trimmed and chopped (about 1 lb)
  • 2 medium leeks, white and green parts only, chopped
  • 3 tbsp chopped dry-roasted peanuts
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp red chile powder or red chile flakes
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp table salt to start

Method

  1. Heat the vegetable oil in a large lidded skillet over medium heat. When the oil shimmers, add the mustard seeds. When the seeds begin to sizzle, add the curry leaves, dried chiles, Brussels sprouts, and leeks.
  2. Sauté for 5 to 6 minutes on medium heat, until the vegetables begin to brown.
  3. Add the peanuts, turmeric, red chile powder, coriander, and salt. Mix well. Cook for another 2 minutes.
  4. Add about a tablespoon of water, cover, and reduce the heat to low. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes, until the vegetables are tender and completely cooked through.
  5. Serve immediately.