Where were you born, raised, and where/what did you study?
Born in Jaipur, Rajasthan, raised and educated in Mumbai…graduated from Science College, majoring in Chemistry and Physics and then went on to post-graduate in Special Education at the Center for Mentally Challenged.
You recently released a book on Sindhi Cuisine - can you tell us about your inspiration behind this book?
October 2005, I was in India. “Mom is critical, come soon” said my brother over a long distance call. Travelling formalities took some time, when I reached; Mom was there no more. All that remained were her beautiful memories. There were chutneys and pickles, sweets and spices, a bottle of peeled garlic, a jar of pickled carrots, frozen samosas in the freezer, all still fresh in the fridge. Mom was a great cook; her life revolved around her kitchen, everyone who tasted her food came back for more. I wanted to preserve her memories and rekindle her art of cooking. I quickly ran to my bookshelf to get my scribbled notes. I wanted to share her culinary art with the next generation. My cookbook began to breathe.
3How long did it take you to compile this collection of recipes from the very first one to its published form? Was it difficult setting out to get your book published?
I had collected mom’s recipes for many years, scribbling down the method that she used, trying out each dish under her guidance. But the process of writing a recipe book is very tedious. It took me more than two years to compile them in a proper form. Writing a recipe book is not just jotting down the method and sharing with the world, a lot of research is involved. Sindhi food is intricate, thoughtful; satisfying labor of love, and it’s a matter of choice like all cuisines are. It’s sad that young children haven’t been brought up with it, and they will never enjoy it the way we do. There is definitely a tough competition between Sindhi cuisine and other varied cuisine; the reason being non-exposure and non-availability of numerous ingredients. I had to understand the history behind the ingredients used in Sindhi cooking, the type of special food used during festivals, the tradition of using certain kind of food on a particular day and its’ importance in the Sindhi culture. The recipes had to be tried, tested and checked for proper measurements of the ingredients.
However, It wasn’t difficult to find a publisher. The first publisher (Popular Prakashan) I approached informally (at a book launch), accepted it immediately because they were impressed with the content and variety of dishes mentioned in the book. Normally, people are familiar with only handful of dishes like Sindhi Curry, SaiiBhaji, pilafs, but there are many more dishes, that are simple to make on daily basis and yet so nutritious. Sindhi food is comfort food that warms the heart. It is wholesome, delicious, very gourmet Indian and compliments the good life. Publisher had great faith in my work but it took them another four years to get it out in print. I think editing and other formalities do take time.
How many copies have been printed and where or how can one get a copy especially from outside India?
For a start, 1000 copies have been published and it is available online all over India at ‘Amazon’ (http://www.amazon.in/Sindhi-Cuisine-Pushpee-Moorjani/dp/8179917940/) It will take some time to sell online internationally. But many people have approached me for selling it in their friends’ circles, and bulk orders can be booked with my publishers (http://www.popularprakashan.com/) to bring the book to any country.
Do you have an online or Kindle version available as well?
Yes, it’s available on Kindle too
What are your hopes for this book?
I am very happy with the response the book is getting and I am hoping that my book is found in every Sindhi home.
After the partition, Sindhi were scattered all over the world and because of the non-availability of the ingredients in their new environment, they adjusted to a new fusion food. The process of globalisation has also reawakened an interest in, and focus on, regional identities and the roots of our culture.
All these changes have led to a growing interest in regional and local foods. If correctly handled this interest in regional foods can and will create new opportunities for food lovers. Sindhi food is also quite popular around the world because Sindhi are well known for their hospitality and a Sindhi woman expresses her love for her guest by stuffing them with food till they drop dead!
I have written this book mainly for young people who grew up enjoying Grandmother’s cuisine. They enjoyed the Sindhi food whenever they visited their grand parents home. In the families, where Sindhi food is cooked regularly, the youngsters realize the value of the spices used in Sindhi cuisine and their health benefits. The recipes are simple and easy to follow. With the Global fusion and international taste, the original flavors are disappearing. There are just handful of people who really know to cook the right and original recipes, I hope to succeed in communicating with Sindhi youth and help revive our age-old tradition, culture, and food to next few generations ahead.
We have noticed there were no pictures in this collection of recipes - how do you think readers may feel about that? What was the reason not to print pictures of the food with the recipes?
True, there are no pictures in the book and many people may be disappointed. Pictures were not added so as to keep the cost affordable for everyone. (as I mentioned earlier, I wish to see my book in every Sindhi home) On closer examination, it has been noticed that the content is so good that very few people actually miss it. In todays trend, digital pictures are splashed all over the net, and it is easy to get the picture of any dish you want. In fact I have created a board on Pinterest, on #SindhiCuisine at http://www.pinterest.com/pushpz/sindhi-cuisine/ especially for those who would like to see how the dish looks like. People are encouraged to send in their food pictures after trying out a recipe from this book. Gradually, I will have a picture of every dish mentioned in the book on my Pinterest board
8What are your other projects that is keeping you busy and what are your plans next?
Most of my time is spent in reading and writing. I maintain seven blogs that keeps me quite busy. Besides that, I am the coordinator and trustee of Swami Brahmanand Pratishthan, Center for Mentally Challenged. We have two centers in NaviMumbai, where we train more than 180 Special Children in special skills programmed as per their ability. I plan to build a residential home for mentally challenged in near future where such children can lead a secure and sheltered life.
9 What previous writing accomplishments have you achieved and what writing projects are you doing currently?
I have published 2 books on computers for kids, a set of 24 modules on mathematics for pre-school and two stories in 'Chicken soup' series. Presently, working on book on ‘Teaching Computers to Special Children’
You have a blog - what is the address and what do you generally write about?
I maintain seven blogs writing on various topics such as food, travel, special education, Mumbai city, poems and fiction. All blogs are inter-connected. You can visit my blog on food at http://papadchai.blogspot.com
Also I have a FaceBook page at http://facebook.in/pushpeeworld. Do like and share my page.