Sujatha Muralidhar hails from the city of Chennai and currently resides in Pennsylvania, USA. She is a food blogger and a recipe developer. Her blog, Pepper Bowl, is a great source of recipes suitable, not only for the Indian palate, but international. The appreciation and the satisfaction she gets from her food blog is incomparable to the working environment in a corporate sector. She is very happy to have left the corporate sector to become a full-time blogger and very interested in sharing her fusion recipes and healthy creations.
GAT: Welcome to Global Asian Times, Sujatha. How did your culinary fascination begin?
Sujatha Muralidhar: Thanks! I can safely say that the inception of culinary fascination started early in my college days. I can still remember that I spent my pocket money to buy an Oven. Time went by, and here I am with my food blog!
GAT: What inspired you to start your blog, Pepper Bowl and how did you come up with that name?
Sujatha Muralidhar: All fellow bloggers are my true inspirations in modifying my online diary into a food blog. I wanted my blog name to be simple with the spice ‘Pepper’ as this spice is closely bonded with our culture and originated from South India. The word ‘Pepper’ is derived from a Tamil word, according to the Wikipedia. So, I chose pepper in my title as it symbolizes not only spiciness, but also depicts my ancient food culture.
GAT: Who is your mentor in cooking and what is your favourite dish?
Sujatha Muralidhar: I have to say that two strong ladies in my life, my mom and my mother-in-law are my gurus. My mom does super quick cooking, of which I inherited a little from her. On the other hand, my mother-in-law taught me everything in the kitchen from seasonings to the proportions. And my favorite dish is the one and only ‘Idli‘, which I can have for all three meals a day!
GAT: You are from South India, hailed for spicy and delicious delicacies of Idli, Dosa, Uttapam and much more. Do you add your unique spices to western recipes as well?
Sujatha Muralidhar: I love fusion cooking and blending western ingredients in Indian recipes. But I prefer to leave our western recipes to let them stay western, because of my two strong critics, my husband and my son!
GAT: You say that you enter the kitchen last minute to decide the day’s menu for your family. Do you follow strict recipes, or is your cooking more spontaneously experimental?
Sujatha Muralidhar: I decide my menu spontaneously, but I stick to recipes strictly. I believe this makes the flavor, taste and texture remain constant whenever I cook. At times, I enjoy being experimental with my own recipes.
GAT: Are Indian desserts more difficult to make when compared to American or western ones?
Sujatha Muralidhar: I completely agree with this statement. Indian desserts are all about achieving the correct consistency of the sugar syrup. If you excel in this, then making an Indian dessert is like walking on the cake. But this needs proper practice and effort.
GAT: Out of vegetarian and non-vegetarian cooking, which do you prefer and why?
Sujatha Muralidhar: I prefer to go with non-vegetarian cooking, as there is a huge variety of recipes and they are much easier (less chopping work!) It is versatile, where you can adjust, alter and convert the recipes at any point of time even while cooking. But like any other Indian household, we include non-vegetarian once a week in our menus.
GAT: Do you have any plans of writing a cookbook soon?
Sujatha Muralidhar: Yes, this is one of my goals in the near future. I am currently working on my cook book which talks more about recipes and culture. Soon you can see me here with my new cook book!
GAT: Do you think Indian cooking is more healthy or western?
Sujatha Muralidhar: In my opinion, Indian cooking is healthier (if it is cooked right). Everyday Indian meals are very simple, perfect and very balanced with perfect nutrients.
GAT: You use a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables in your recipes. Do you think Indian cooking is evolving in the contemporary context to emulate the West?
Sujatha Muralidhar: No, I do not think so. Fresh fruits and vegetables are a part of Indian cuisine and will be served in every meal. We generally serve fresh fruits at the end of the meal, like banana and mango.
GAT: Which ingredients according to you form the backbone of Indian cooking to lend it a distinctive taste?
Sujatha Muralidhar: Pepper is definitely global. I can immediately say that mint leaves, coriander leaves, chili powder etc. are very important ingredients in Indian cooking. They may sound simple, but they really bring out the Indian taste and flavor. To convert any recipe into Indian, just throw in some chili powder, coriander leaves and lemon juice!
GAT: Please share with our readers a recipe they can try easily at home with minimal preparation.
Sujatha Muralidhar: Since we have talked much about global recipes, I would like to share a special fusion recipe… A perfect teatime snack, they are crispy yet melt in your mouth with a hint of Indian flavor.
- Puff pastry Sheet- 1 (thawed)
- Garlic powder – 1 tbsp
- Grated carrot – 4 tbsp
- Chopped Coriander leaves – 2 tbsp (or more)
- Salt – 1/6 tsp
- Cooking oil – 3 tbsp
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- In a mixing bowl combine cooking oil, garlic powder, coriander leaves, chopped carrot and salt.
- On the kitchen counter, dust and spread puff pastry sheet.
- Brush cooking oil over the surface of the rectangular sheet.
- Then evenly spread the carrot mixture, leaving quarter inch on the sides.
- Starting from one side of the sheet, roll gently to form a cylindrical shape.
- Using a knife, slice them to make about 20-25 pinwheels.
- Gently pat the slices to form a circular shape.
- Bake them for about 12-16 minutes until they become golden brown and crispy.
- Serve as a snack/appetizer. Best served with tea.