Posted on Wed, Sep. 14, 2005
Occupation: Owner of Indian Foods Co. (952-593-3000)
Q: How did you get your start?
A: I was a corporate lawyer, and I didn't want to be cut off from Indian culture. In 1988, I pioneered sales of Shamiana Indian food products. We eventually sold it, and the company later closed. I'm no longer a lawyer. I now run the world's best Indian Food site. I also started offering cooking classes three years ago. It's always fun to get people involved in Indian cooking.
Q: What's your cooking philosophy?
A: It's about enjoying the seasonal food that's available.
Q: What is the dish you are most proud of?
A: When I'm entertaining, I like to serve thali, an Indian platter. There will be lentil, curry and vegetable dishes served with rice or bread and chutney. The tastes and smells should mingle, and the dishes should look good together. That's how we judge good Indian food.
Q: What's your favorite restaurant?
A: The Loring Pasta Bar in Dinkytown. I like the ambience, and I think the menu is eclectic and creative. And I like that it's not part of a chain.
Q: Who in the food business do you most admire?
A: My uncle, Ajit Kerkar. He created the Taj group of hotels in India and is one of the reasons I got into the food business. He ran hotels all over the world and put Indian restaurants in all of them. He helped put Indian food on the map.
Q: What's the most bizarre food you've ever eaten?
A: I'm quite adventurous, and I don't mind tasting most things. However, I keep seeing animal tongue sold at Russian markets, but I haven't tried it yet.
Q: What's in your refrigerator at home?
A: I don't stock up on much, but I always have yogurt on hand. I always have a very empty refrigerator because I buy from the farmers' market every weekend. I prefer the St. Paul market but usually end up at the Minneapolis one because it's closer to home.
Q: What's your favorite junk food?
A: Bhel puri. It's Indian street food that's got rice, lentils, noodles, peanuts and wheat cracker. We put boiled potatoes and onions in it and a lot of different chutneys. And then we put cilantro on top.
Q: Where is home to you?
- Nancy Ngo