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Monday, November 28, 2016

Tête à Tête #28: Beautiful & talented chef Anjalina Chugani

This is a very special interview. Apart from being family and dear to me, I have seen the progress in her cuisine and what she has been capable to achieve.
I am proud to present the famous chef Anjalina Chugani and her first cookbook Soul Spices

BelleBarcelone: When you were a kid would you have predicted that you would be a chef ?

Anjalina: Not at all. I always wanted and dreamed of being a fashion designer and having my own magazine!

BB: What’s the weirdest thing that has happened to you during this process?

AC: There’s been nothing too weird. I have met some odd people, but then again, they probably think the same way about me. 

BB: You were into design then writing and now in the gastronomy. How was the voyage?

AC: The journey has always been exciting.. I’ve always been more creatively inclined so it seems natural for me to change professions this way. I was also a business english teacher for a long time between my fashion designing and while I wrote my first book. Going into gastronomy felt really natural and logical to me, for some reason.

BB: We all can see you love what you are doing and you are good at it. How did the idea of the book came up? Is it only in Spanish?

AC: I enjoy writing so much. I always have. And since I started writing my blog, then called Rainbowspoon, about 6 years ago, I realised I had a voice. I enjoyed talking about food, describing it’s characteristics, how I felt while tasting a certain ingredient or dish… I wanted to share things with people. So the idea surfaced a few times but I wanted to gain more experience in my profession first. It is primarily in Spanish, however I have included a whole section of all the recipes and spice profiles in English too!

BB: What’s the journey from now on? After the book? Any plan on opening your own restaurant?

AC: I’d like to travel around, with my book and do many more workshops, private ones too and maybe work with the local activity centers. I’d love to, someday, open my own co-working space, with other cooks like me, and perhaps organise more events and create opportunities for young people to practice their skills in the kitchen.

BB: What inspires you in your cuisine?

AC: SO many things, from the time of year, seasonal produce, natural colours, I’m always inspired by colour, new ways to use spices, challenges and types of ingredients that I normally don’t use, I enjoy experimenting with them and seeing the outcome. And I’m constantly inspired by my children and my memories.

BB: Any word of wisdom to someone who thinks he can’t cook?

AC: In my opinion, everyone can cook. It’s like telling someone they can’t draw or sing. Each individual has their own style and perspective on doing these things. If you think you can’t do something, like cook for instance, then I’m afraid you haven’t made the effort, or have given up too soon. It’s always about learning from your mistakes and being motivated to do it differently the next time.  I couldn’t even cook rice 16 years ago!

BB: What do you think of the vegetarian cuisine? Is there a vegan & vegetarian options to all your dishes?

AC: I love vegetarian cuisine! In fact, I eat more veg than I do meat or fish I think! I was vegetarian for about 10 years while I was living in India. I believe that it’s a healthy way to live however I also believe in balance. My dishes are hugely adaptable to vegetarians. I focus a lot on those who, at times, find it challenging to come up with new recipes themselves. And now I’ve been trying to focus on vegan recipes too. It’s exciting!

BB: What’s your biggest dream?

AC: That’s tough because I feel like I’m living my biggest dream right now. Professionally, I have been very lucky to have been able to pursue my dreams and fulfil them step by step. And this is what is happening this very moment!

BB: 3 Ingredients in one dish? ( what could you prepare)

AC: Chilli Cheesy scrambled eggs: eggs, cheese and green chillies!

BB: Your favorite breakfast?

AC: That’s hard I have so many. Masala Dosas for sure and pancakes with maple syrup and lots of crunchy bacon (so sinful, I know!)!

BB: Your favorite cuisine?

AC: Also a tough question. South Indian, and Indian in general.

BB: Your favorite dish?

AC: Chicken Biryani, Hyderabad style! My favourite vegetarian dish would be anything with paneer!

BB: One ingredient you wouldn’t be able to cook without?
AC Butter!

BB: One ingredient you wouldn’t cook with?
AC: Morcilla. (blood sausage)

Get her first cooking book Soul Spices here

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