Updated: Sep 20
Chandni is the founder, director, and editor-in-chief of Wordly Wise Publishers in New Delhi, India. She has 17 years of publishing experience, where she has edited and translated books for a variety of publishing houses in India. “I’ve edited 35 books and translated another 15 from English to Hindi, and vice versa,” Chandni says.
Do you ever write about food?
I was the Sub-Editor of a travel magazine called Tourism India where I traveled and visited famous hotels to write about their place and food. Apart from that, I’m writing my own culinary book.
Do you ever travel specifically in search of food?
I have traveled for food, particularly across the length and breadth of India, covering various regions from Leh (Laddakh) to down south in Kerala. I am a fussy eater, and I only relish my dishes when they are absolutely authentic.
Do you make it a point to focus on healthy food?
Healthy food is like a drug for me. I crave new dishes that can be made with minimum oil and spices. I am an Indian, and as you must be aware, our dishes are particularly oily and spicy. These garish dishes work against the digestive system. So, I keep trying to bring out the same flavor with alternatives and zero oil meals.
The aroma and taste in Indian dishes typically comes from long durations of roasting the curry on low flame. This takes away most of the nutrients, leaving just the taste. To lock the nutrients in, I prefer cooking with very little oil or ghee, and second, I cover the dish when on the flame. I have also observed that adding the spices early on helps in quick roasting, and the taste is enhanced, too. This quickens the process, and we save the nutrients.
Where do you turn for food inspiration?
My children! My sons are foodies, and they want something new at least four times a day! That keeps me on either my toes or glued to Google to keep cooking or looking for something different very often.
My children like eating chicken. So, I try to make varieties of it with either Indian flatbread or rice. I marinate the chicken and roast it in the air fryer. It’s an amazing gadget that can do the roasting/broiling/heating without oil. I like making chicken tikka—a savory Indian snack—in it. Once tender, I place a piece of coal in a steel bowl in the air-fryer and pour a spoonful of ghee (clarified butter) and close the lid. This gives the perfect aroma and flavor to the chicken tikka.
The dish in the photo (below) is a side-dish called chutney. Although there are many variants of it, this chutney is made with tomato, onion, garlic and soaked and de-seeded red chilies mixed together with a pinch of salt.
[[EDITORS NOTE: Curious about the coal-smoking method that Chandni refers to above? We found this YouTube video that illustrates how it works.]]
Do you believe that being a writer helps you enjoy or appreciate food more?
Being a writer definitely works in your favor when you are a food enthusiast because the creativity of one field rubs on to the other and you want to try making or having fresher types of dishes. I also feel that being a writer gives you a vision and expression that goes forward to all the fields you venture into, including food.
Do you have any favorite cookbooks?
The majority of my cooking is based on traditional grandma’s recipes; dishes which have traveled down within families. I relish cooking on special occasions, and when I do, I prefer to go all traditional with my cuisine. Indian has many regions and most of these regions have their own royal past and associated royal dishes. I prefer to stick to the royal cuisine of one region when I have guests over and try to make it as authentic as I can. Guess that’s my queenly moment!
Do you have any favorite food TV shows?
There is a show by the name of “Lost Recipes.” I simply love it. Since I am an avid fan of royalty and believe I have had a royal past in my previous life, I feel connected to the dishes of the era. Lost Recipes, as the name suggests, talks about recipes which are no longer tried. Mainly because of the rare ingredients needed, the immense amount of time needed to make them, or the labor involved. This show brings that bygone time back to us, where the host meets people who can still make those dishes with as much enthusiasm and authenticity. A well-researched show that literally brings to the table, the aroma and taste of times gone by.
Anything you’d like to add about being a writer who loves food?
George Bernard Shaw had said, “There is no sincerer love than the love of food.” I would like to add, who can understand love better than a writer who can go on writing page after page of love stories? Guess that says it all.
Did you like meeting Chandni? We profile three writers per week, so visit often. If you're a writer who loves food, email firstname.lastname@example.org.