Welcome to Sweet Chilli Kitchen – where I share my love for everything food: cooking, eating, feeding … and vegan!
I started Sweet Chilli Kitchen for two reasons: firstly (and most importantly), I feel compelled to do something with my love for food and cooking. It’s like one of those situations where you know if you don’t work up the courage to ask out your crush, you’ll spend the rest of your life regretting it! So here I am…
Secondly, whilst veganism is increasingly gaining popularity with so many turning to this plant based diet, there are plenty who still believe that a vegan diet just can’t match the satisfaction or nutritional benefits of a carnivorous or vegetarian diet. Well I think they’re wrong on all counts.
I want to show just how varied and fulfilling a vegan diet can be and challenge those who think it’s boring, limited or low in nutritional benefits. I’ll be sharing my recipes for honest, home cooking which doesn’t compromise on taste or satisfaction and delivers every bit on nutrition and variety. This is vegan cooking with sweet chilli attitude!
About me (Priya)
Like most food bloggers, I love to spend time in the kitchen creating delicious home cooked meals. My spare time is spent entertaining, eating, watching food shows and wondering what to cook next.
For me cooking is about so much more than satisfying my appetite. It’s also my way of momentarily escaping the issues which I can’t resolve in my life and doing something fulfilling, which is all mine and through which I’m able to embrace the thing I’m best at and love the most.
A few months ago I made the decision to go vegan. Why? Well, in a nutshell, I realised being vegetarian just wasn’t enough. I was born into vegetarianism and I’ve never thought about turning to fish or meat because I don’t want to be responsible for causing pain to animals.
But having seen the suffering caused to factory farmed animals in order to meet the demands of the dairy and egg industry, I felt compelled to make this change. You can read more about my transition here.
Oh and… I’m also “mimi” (mummy) to a cheeky monkey, who seems to think that he owns me and who almost everyday outsmarts me in some way, although my husband would probably say that outsmarting me is not a hard task for anyone!
My food influences
Growing up in my family, which can only be described as a fusion of east-meets-west characters – food has always been a big part of life. As with many Indian families, my family is big on entertaining and feeding people. Family gatherings were a weekly occurrence, and these were no small affairs, with food always being at the centre.
In Indian culture, they say you should welcome your guests into your home with the same show of love as you would if it was the man upstairs coming for dinner. So we show them our love by putting on a great big feast. We rarely used catering services, even when the number of guests was in the hundreds! My four aunts (Captains) and my mum (Major) – led by their demanding Colonel (my nan) were our in-house catering team (lovingly known in my family as “the spice girls”).
Surrounded by my family’s passion for cooking and regularly enjoying the most delicious vegetarian dishes, I too couldn’t help but feel a natural inclination towards food and cooking.
Naturally, much of my cooking takes inspiration from the food I’ve grown up eating. While my family’s roots go back to Gujarat (India’s westernmost state) where dishes typically have more sweet and sour undertones compared to the north Indian dishes generally found in Indian restaurants, there is also a wonderful East African twist to my family’s cooking as most of them lived in Tanzania until their late teens. And then growing up in London of course, I’ve been exposed to some amazing food from across the globe. So you could say my cooking fuses together the flavours and dishes I most love from these various cuisines… with a little twist of me for some added zest!
My food philosophy is simple. I like to use fresh ingredients, avoid processed or pre-packed foods and create recipes which simply taste good and deliver on nutrition. My family have always eaten this way and it’s the way I have continued to cook in my kitchen.
Increasingly over the years I have also become more mindful of the fat, salt and sugar content of the food I eat, a mindfulness/ fear which became more prevalent after my mum was diagnosed with endometrial cancer (cancer of the womb (uterus)) one of the many cancers which research has shown is more common in people who are overweight or obese. Being a mum now, and slightly fearful that it may be in my genes, I try to live and cook by the saying “you are what you eat”.
Growing up as a vegetarian, I’ve generally been quite careful to make sure I get all I need for a well-balanced and healthy diet. Now, as a vegan, this is an even greater focus. So it’s all about creating meals which tick as many of the nutritional requirement boxes, whilst also ensuring I satisfy my taste buds!
Transporting Sweet Chilli Kitchen to your home
I’d like to describe my recipes more as “guidelines”. I’m a self-taught cook who learnt to cook not by following recipe books, but by simply taking inspiration from the dishes I’ve enjoyed and recipes I’ve seen and simply getting in the kitchen and experimenting.
I’ve never been one to enjoy cooking with recipes which require exact quantities of ingredients. I like to feel free in the kitchen to play with my ingredients and to adjust my flavours according to my liking. So I encourage you to do the same. Make my recipes your own. Adjust the flavours to suit your pallet. Switch ingredients for those you love and most of all enjoy it.
Head Chef (the only chef) at Sweet Chilli Kitchen, Priya x