Updated: Feb 26
Introducing Ruchita, Author of 'Love, Comfort, Passion, Craving' a cookbook celebrating everyday heritage recipes from the vast treasury of Indian Cuisine.
A snippet ...
"Love, Comfort, Passion, Craving is my answer to the question ‘what is food?’ It is a personal journey of discovery because it has helped me, for the first time in my life, to address food and what it means in a positive, life-affirming way. Indian food embodies my heritage, my family when I was growing up in India with all its rituals and customs, my rebirth upon moving to Manchester in 2005 at the age of 21, and a seemingly destined progression to a career I could never have dreamed possible. The recipes are simple, no frills, wholesome recipes which make home cooking a joy."
How long have you been writing?
RG: As far as I can remember, I have always written. I used to write Nancy Drew fan fiction when I first started reading them. I was fascinated by the young sleuth who was so good at solving the most complex crimes. I imagined living in America and driving around with my best friend, saving the world as we went. I found an escape in writing, it helped me a lot through some difficult times in my life.
My first job after graduation was as a journalist at a local daily in Pune, India. I absolutely loved it. It is then I realised my passion lay in writing and journalism, which in turn led to me applying to do a masters in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan university. Writing brought me to the UK, and I fell in love with the country.
After finishing my MA in novel writing, I continued to work and volunteer in various roles that were connected to writing in one way or another - public relations, freelance journalism, community magazines, and so on.
Since starting Masala Masters in 2016, storytelling has been a big part of the brand. Everything I cook has a personal connection, and I enjoy writing about it. Love, Comfort, Passion, Craving is my way of consolidating some of those stories in one manuscript.
What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting out?
RG: I will echo something my Tutor, Paul Magrs, always said to us: "Write whatever you feel like writing, but write every day."
It does not have to make sense to anyone, not even you, but just the act of writing makes way for the good stuff that is simmering just under the surface ...
Where do you draw inspiration from?
RG: I love people's stories. We are all the main characters in our life story, and that fascinates me. Every person in the world is the sun in their little solar system, sharing their light and nurturing their world. That is huge inspiration.
I am very much a reminiscer- if there is such a word. I love looking back at life, exploring the magic that was, because looking back has a unique way of highlighting happy times. It gives me hope for the future, because no matter how hard life feels sometimes, there is hope that when we look back, we will see all the amazing things we achieved when we felt we couldn’t carry on anymore. That’s inspirational.
What book is currently on your bedside table?
RG: Lots! But I’m reading His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman and I am hooked.
RG: The everyday human battling life’s challenges like a boss. No one knows what anyone else is facing and yet, we fight like Vikings every single day.
If you could invite one person to dinner, who would it be and what would you cook?
RG: I am a feeder by nature, so this is a difficult question. My kitchen is an open space - anyone who comes is fed, so I can’t answer this one.
What’s your favourite food?
RG: Aai‘s methichi bhaji and bhakri - perhaps one of the simplest Indian meals, and special to me because it was what I ate with my grandparents as a little girl. Fresh fenugreek leaves tossed with chillies and garlic, and then served with a millet flatbread, cooked on a live flame to give it a freshly charred flavour. Oh, and then slathered in ghee! (p.s it’s the first recipe in the book.)
What is the best part of your day?
RG: I like the last hour or so before I fall asleep because I try to read. But, especially if the children are asleep, it means I have time to myself.
What do you do when you’re not working?
RG: I like creating with my hands, so any activity that allows me to do that is great. I love crochet, knitting, sewing, painting; I do actually find that cooking and baking help me unwind, so if I’m not cooking for work, I would probably cook to unwind!
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given? By whom?
RG: "Always keep your eyes and ears open." My dad, when I first moved to the UK. It has been tremendously helpful and I hold it close to this day. I say it to my children as well. You never know what you might learn.
What would we most likely find you doing on a weekend?
RG: Being made to clean ... (by my husband. I’m not a naturally tidy person)
What fictional place would you like to visit most?
RG: Wakanda forever.
Do you do sports?
RG: I used to play basketball in India. I also represented my school in Shot put.
What’s your favourite animated film?
RG: Beauty and Beast
Who is your (celebrity) crush?
RG: George Clooney; Alexander Skaarsgard