Today’s interview comes all the way from Ghaziabad and is brought to us by Nidhi from Nikunj Forks and Spoons. NIKUNJ = NIDHI + PANKAJ, Nidhi’s blog is as an ode as a token of love and respect to her husband Pankaj whom she lost a few years back. Take a look through her food blog and you will certainly fall in love with her easy and healthy recipes. Read the interview till last to find how Nidhi works on building a healthy community.
If you would like to follow Nidhi on social media, you can do so on Facebook
Tell us about yourself.
Hello Everyone. I am Nidhi Aggarwal. I am a Punjabi lady born and bought up in Amritsar and Ghaziabad. Professionally am a Software Engineer and I worked with NIC for 2 years. Married to a Delhite, I then became a global citizen as Pankaj my husband was very fond of visiting different places. So to enjoy his passion and to enjoy my motherhood I left my job. Being a foodie I just love food and cooking and same goes for my family. I started cooking at the very small age. We sisters used to help mom in the kitchen and followed the footstep of my mom and that’s how I developed my cooking skills. We never keep maids for cooking. A foodie by nature and a passionate cook loves everything about food. Cooking is my passion. I love experimenting with food in my kitchen and try to bring the best in whatever I cook. Thanks to my family for always motivating me and becoming my guinea pigs… I cook with all my heart and soul and this love is evident in the dishes I cook. I believe in sharing a lot thus whatever I cook I share with fellow friends and my fan followings.
How you became passionate about food?
I had always loved food and cooking as my first love, but since last two years, I had become passionate as every time I cook, it seems I am cooking for Pankaj, my husband whom I lost physically 2 years back. Cooking is my way of remembering him.
Have you stayed in any other city or country?If yes, how were your food experiences there
Yes, as we both lived travelling we had travelled quite a few places. Was in Japan for 6 months in 2006. We being vegetarian hardly used to eat out but had a very nice experience in learning sushi in foreign language learning centre. In 2008, we were in Us for few months, there got to taste some great English Breakfast and became familiar with Mexican food with Taco Bell and Greek Food. Also got to taste some Pakistani food in Indian Restaurant. All in all a very exploring food experience.
Then from 2013 to 2016, we were in Taiwan, Taiwanese food is quite raw and bland and we being vegetarian used to make each n everything at home. From Indian to Mexican, from Greek to Chinese, samosa to kulfi, from kulcha to rasagulla as I didn’t want my kids and hubby to miss India. Food experience in Taiwan was amazing as I got an opportunity to show my culinary skills to Taiwanese people by organizing food stall and they just loved it.
What’s the story behind starting your blog?
My blog is named Nikunjforksandspoons.wordpress.com and this blog happened after I lost my husband Pankaj. This is an ode to him as a token of love and respect. NIKUNJ =NIDHI + PANKAJ, we are inseparable, what if death has taken him away, I see him with my closed eyes, I feel him with my open eyes, I know he is here and will always be.
What is your favourite food memory?
Just a few days before his hospitalization, I remember Pankaj one night said: “year I want to eat Kulfi Falooda, missing like anything”. Next time I searched the recipe and made kulfi and while making Falooda, failed at first attempt, but didn’t lose hope as I was determined will surprise him and make him eat in the evening when he is back. Bang on he was surprised and very very happy to eat it and I was super happy I could fulfil his desire……didn’t know this was among his last few desires.
How do you get your inspiration?
My biggest Inspiration is Pankaj, who always used to motivate and encourage to try new things. My family is my inspiration whom I love to the core, for their health n taste I keep on trying new variations so that I can provide them HEALTHY food.
What has enabled you to find success?
For me, success comes only when you have tasted failure. My family is my greatest support and critic, they have always taken my failures into a positive direction and have always motivated me that enables me to try out new things every time without fearing about failure.
I find success every time when my family smiles and give me a thumbs up.
Who in the food world do you most admire?
I had always followed chef Sanjeev Kapoor in my initial years of cooking. Loved him for his simplicity, his recipes always used to be simple with simple ingredients always available and with simple steps. I admire and love chef Vikas Khanna too for his creativity.
What do you find new and exciting about the food industry?
The food industry is one of the largest and vital industry. It’s always so exciting to see new creative dishes and trends that restaurant follow. There is so much to learn and try. With each passing day, I learn something new and read something new about food. Like recently have come to know about the use and benefits of microgreens. In fact, not only using them have started growing my own mustard greens.
The Biggest Challenge/s you faced while putting up your blog?
Even though being a software engineer, am not very tech savvy and hate working on computers for hours, and setting up a blog requires a lot of time on the computer so that was my biggest challenge.
What keeps you going?
Constant love, support and motivation of the family and followers keep me going.
What is your day like?
My day starts at 5 with cooking and ends at 9 with cooking. I have two school going kids for whom I need to prepare Tiffins and breakfast, then after the walk n morning tea, it’s my session with my tab for all the queries I post in food groups. Thereafter it’s the breakfast time for my parents and myself. Between breakfast and lunch time apart from preparing lunch I sneak in some time to do some sketching or painting another hobby for whom am passionate. Post lunch it’s time for kids to come back and then the day vanishes juggling between kids n kitchen.
Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten?
We are not sure of next 10 min so how can I think of next 5 years or so. I live n believe in Today, I love cooking and love to cook for my family and will keep doing the same till my last breath.
What do you most love about your job/work?
What I love most is through cooking all the 3 meals is monotonous, but still, there are n no. of options and variations, you can try and ENJOY. The best part is the smiles I get to see on the faces when I do my work. Remember I belong to foodies….they love to eat and I love to cook.
A recipe that you would want the entire world to know.
There is no one,, but quite a few HEALTHY recipes which I innovated. Be it Rainbow Dhokla with no artificial colours or instant non-fried Dahi bhalle made in an appe pan or non-fried shahi tukda. I keep on sharing my recipes in food groups so that maximum people should come to know about these HEALTHY recipes. Even some of them have been published in newspapers too.
Favourite foods to cook with?
I love playing with colours be it on canvas or in my kitchen. So to add colours to the food I try to play with vegetables. I also love to play with different kind of flours, my recent favourite is almond flour. But still, HEALTHY nature of the food I cook is always at the back of my mind.
What do you do for fun?
For me spending time with my family is utmost fun as we are happy-go-lucky family. I love playing cricket with my 5-year-old son. For me, cooking & painting is also fun as I ENJOY while doing.
If you had just one wish, what would it be?
My one and only wish is if I could have some more years with Pankaj but I know that can never be fulfilled so my wish would be for everyone to follow a HEALTHY and stressfree life and everyone should live a happy life.
Best piece of advice you would give a food enthusiast?
I would just suggest every foodie to never let the passion go… keep trying and keep sharing.
Sharing is learning.
Anything else you want to add?
I would love to add about Microgreens. Recently I have been inspired by growing our own Microgreens. These tiny little greens after the first leaves grow are super HEALTHY and nutrient dense. So I would suggest everyone give it a try as it’s not only HEALTHY to grow and use micro greens but it’s therapeutic too.
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