Q: What first made you interested in writing about food and its importance in people's lives?
A: Food is such an intimate experience.. it touches us in ways nothing else can. Whether we love it, hate it, or are neutral towards it, it defines who we are in so many ways.
My childhood was filled with stories about food and fairies and how they changed the world. Once those stories took root in my heart, I knew that all I ever wanted to do was tell stories like that. I guess I never quite grew up!
I remember when my uncle got married, his wife was judged by the family on how much butter floated on top of her lentils, my father instilled in my heart a love of spices, I met my husband thanks to the aroma of cardamom - we are what we eat!
Q: As an author of three cookbooks about Indian food, how do you think the perceptions of Indian cuisine have changed in the United States over the years?
A: It has changed considerably but still has a long way to go. When I first arrived here, everything Indian was considered "curry." That has changed a lot in major metro areas. People understand the nuances of curries and spices. The availability of spices and terrific Indian cookbooks by authors such as Raghavan Iyer has made it much easier for Americans to cook Indian food at home and that really has helped in breaking down myths and clarifying perceptions.
Q: Your most recent book, In Conversation With Exceptional Women, features interviews you've done with a variety of women. How did you pick your interviewees, and were there common themes that made these women seen particularly "exceptional"?
A: I picked the women whose work I really loved reading. The idea behind the book was to see how the pros are succeeding at writing and what I could learn from them. I focused on the women who, to me, held true to the "bloom where you are planted" thought.
Q: You also have developed an iSpice app. How did you come up with that idea?
I have to thank my readers for this. I would often get emails from readers saying that they were in a grocery store and were wondering what cumin was or what coriander was and how they could use it. So I worked with sutro media and designed a very simple app that helps people learn about spices using a quick snapshot!
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I am working on some narrative writing projects that combine my two loves - storytelling and food!
--Interview with Deborah Kalb