All posts by Praba

About Praba

I am a Private Chef and Chef Instructor. I am a California Culinary Academy grad. Worked at Greens, San Francisco. Specialize in Asian Fusion, Indian, Thai, Mexican and Ayurvedic cooking. Teach customized cooking classes. Food writer and blogger.

Count Down To A Healthy Life Style


count downA few years ago, my husband had come back from India, and casually stepped on the weighing scale. My son’s jaw dropped and he said “Wow Dad! One more pound and you will be 200.” This was the moment when a switch went off, and my husband was a changed man. He went from eating just about anything, to eating healthy. And what is more remarkable is, he’s kept it going! Here is my Top Ten Steps to a healthy life style:

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Who am I ?

I am a chef instructor.I teach customized cooking classes in the bay area.My specialties are Thai,Indian, Mexican, Italian and Asian Fusion.I graduated from the California Culinary Academy and worked as an Associate Chef at Green’s Restaurant in Fort Mason.Then I moved on to menu planning and testing for restaurateurs and teaching cooking classes.

Cooking is my passion.I enjoy every aspect of cooking.The textures and colors of food, the flavors and its tastes, sharing my discoveries and knowledge to others and of course the end product – a dish that makes your taste buds tingle and your stomach happy, where else can you get this instant gratification?

Apart from this I do have a few other passions- Yoga,books,  co- hosting  a radio show (90.1FM KZSU Stanford),  two  high energy boys and a loving husband…. I  am  grateful.

Enjoy my blogs and please sign up for my classes…


A Touch on the Lip and its Straight to the Hip

I was at a party the other day. I watched people chomp down on a wide array of snacks; and as they were eating, I could see the guilt on their faces. Many were making promises of an extra workout that week.

This got me thinking. Since when did we forget the sheer joy of enjoying a snack, just for what it is? Have we forgotten what “guilt free snacking” feels like anymore? So here’s to eating in moderation and relishing every bite. Here’s my all time favorite snacks:

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Thanksgiving: Old Traditions, New Recipes

My first encounter with Mr. Gobble was on my very first day in the U.S.A. I walked into my husband’s apartment from the airport, with a heart filled with hope. The refrigerator had a ‘Welcome Home’ sign, and some delicious food from his friends. I casually opened the freezer door…and there he was, looking straight at me. He was 12 lbs of sheer fat…huge alright! “Who is that?” I asked. “Oh! yah! That’s a turkey”, said my husband, and paused “from last year”. My jaw dropped!

Thank You America!Life here was filled with this, and many more interesting surprises. My first Thanksgiving was in Dallas, TX. The tradition at our cousin’s place was that the men would cook the Thanksgiving meal. We (the women) hung out, sipping margaritas. I learnt then that my husband could chop onions. The next year it was a “Tandoori Turkey”. A year later the turkey gave way to a stuffed chicken.

As we embrace this All-American tradition, we have all adapted it to reflect our own individuality. One tradition we follow is to give thanks to everyone who has touched our lives in different ways. Another tradition is donating to our local food bank, and volunteering at the shelter.

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Nourishing Your Face: The Natural Way

It’s 10 AM on a Saturday. You have a party to attend in the evening. You have been running around all week, with no time for a facial. You look in the mirror. Your eyes are tired. Your face is pale. You are wondering, “What do I do now?”. Well, look no further that your own pantry and refrigerator!

Curry LeavesIndia is home to some of the best natural remedies. For centuries, people have used plants, vegetables, herbs and leaves to nourish their skin and bring out their beauty.

I remember a Sunday morning ritual growing up. My grand mom would heat up curry leaves, cooked in coconut oil, with fenugreek seeds. My mom would mix cream of milk, turmeric, lemon juice and chickpea flour. I would pick Hibiscus leaves from our backyard, crush it down for its juice, and mix it with shikakai (herbal powder).

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Malabar Memories: About Onam

Onam is one of the great festivals of Kerala (my home state in India). My friend Poornima throws the best Onam Party in the Bay Area. The array of Kerala food, mix of people, dressed in Kerala colors (white/off white) is something to experience.

Onam Poo KalamBack in India, I remember waking up early for Onam, with the pleasant smell of sandalwood being rubbed on a stone. My job was to collect flowers from the backyard for the “Poo Kalam” (a floral design in the front of the house). The grand finale was always the “Onam Saddhi” or “Great Feast” on the day, Thiruvonam. It signified prosperity, abundance, and to me, some absolutely delightful food.
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A Confluence of Cuisines

A few months ago, my good friend, Lakshmi Pratury called me and said, “Praba! I need you!”. She was putting together the entire conference gala for TiEcon 2006. The theme for the Gala was a “Global Bazaar”, with entertainment combining the best of the east and the west. For dinner, Lakshmi said, “Praba, come up with a menu that will blow away the 1200 people who will be at the Gala!”

TiEcon 2006 Gala DecorAs I thought more about it, I told my friend, that this crowd would be hard to please. This was an elite group of well traveled, “been there, done that”, well read, smart Indian Americans. They set a high bar in whatever they did, and were constantly in search of the “next big thing”.

The resident Chef at the venue would turn my menu into the Gala dinner. My challenge was to work with the Chef and his staff, without stepping into their kitchen! Their workers’ union rules would not allow yours truly to get in there!

I got down to work. My first take was a huge menu, that would bring together distinctively different items from all around the world, in keeping with the “Global” Theme!

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What’s The Wine, So Your Curry Can Shine?

Wine Glass and WineIndian Food has such complex flavors and tastes, that pairing a good wine can be quite a challenge. There is the easy way. You can skip the wine, and have a beer instead. Or finish your wine, cleanse your palate, have an appetizer, and then sit down for dinner. This way you will do justice to both the wine, and the food.

Here in California we are blessed with a broad selection of exquisite, and yet reasonably priced wines. We also have a wine revolution underway in India. It is now possible to pair a wide range of wines with Indian food.When selecting a wine, the mantra goes, “Simple wine with complex food, and complex wine with simple food”. Spicy food goes well with wine that is less tannic. Tannins come from the stalks and skins of the grapes, and give the wine a tinge of bitterness.

Since all our palates are varied, here are some general guidelines for choosing wines with your favorite Indian food:

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When the Door finally Opened!

Door from KeralaI have to say that I had been trying to check out this place for almost 3 months. No luck. They would have a table for two, when I needed a table for 8. I would ask for a 7pm slot, and they would only have a 5.30pm or 9pm opening. Either the day, or the time never worked. It was a place everyone was talking about.

Four weeks ago, I called in to see if they had a table for two on a special Monday night. The lady was nice on the phone. She told me they had a 6pm and a 9.30pm. Neither one would work. I called back the Friday before, only to find they were completely booked. My heart sank. My husband consoled me, saying that was not the end of the world. But for me, it was not going to be the same.
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Reflections: Lessons From Grand’Ma

Red Hot Chilli PepperMy grand mom always reminded me of a feisty red chili pepper. She was sharp, never minced her words, and made her presence felt! She was meticulous, organized at all times, and confident of her cooking techniques. Her attention to detail was impeccable. She had great wit, with a pithy quote, that was just right for the occasion. With her, there was lots of laughter in the kitchen. She shared generously of all that she knew. Her philosophy was simple – knowledge if hoarded is of no good at all!

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