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Cook Opens Home For Authentic Indian Meals

Kanchan Sadhwani, the woman behind the websites Maharaja Tava and Mother Knows Best
*This article was published in ABS-CBNNews.com last July 23, 2013.

MANILA -- Kanchan Sadhwani, the woman behind the websites Maharaja Tava and Mother Knows Best, is not only a cook but is also a life coach, professional healer and angel card reader.

She is also a part-time teacher for those who are interested in Indian culture and cuisine at her home and at The Maya Kitchen. Each of her guests can really feel at home, whether they are long-time friends or just new clients interested in tasting her authentic Indian home-cooked meals.

I was welcomed to her home to try her delicious food a few months ago. Kanchan greeted us at the door of her modest home in the heart of Ortigas, with a smile. Before we could proceed, she quickly explained to us that we would be getting -- a complete Indian experience.

To start with, she stuck a small intricate sticker on our foreheads and explained that this was called "bindi."
Usually for foreigners, this does not have any meaning. But as Kanchan explained it, the bindi gives importance to our spiritual or third eye. According to belief, when a person’s third eye is opened, he gains true enlightenment and also becomes closer to God. In other Indian traditions, a bindi is worn by a married woman. I feared I might never get married with a bindi on my forehead so I welcomed the former.

A few seconds later, we were inside her home. The aroma of fresh spices and curry filled the air and I grew hungry. Before I could fully identify each dish set upon her carefully crafted wooden table, our host gave us a sheet of paper explaining the individual dishes we would be devouring over lunch.

Pehli Pesh: Chili Pakoras & Samosas 
Pehli Pesh: Chili Pakoras & Samosas
Starters in Indian cuisine are called pehli pesh, and on this particular meal, we were served delicious samosas, a traditionally fried pastry filled with a medley of vegetables and served with sweet-spicy tamarind chutney.
While the samosa was not new to me, I feared for my life when our host invited me to try the chili pakoras, a fried dish comprised of pitted green chillies. Surprisingly, it was very enjoyable and did not exude any spicy aftertaste. The trick, according to Kanchan, was to remove the seeds carefully as they were the ones responsible for the spicy flavor of the chilli.
Khana Khazana: Maharashtra Lamb Curry, Tadka Dal, and Bengan Bharta 
Khana Khazana: Maharashtra Lamb Curry, Tadka Dal, and Bengan Bharta
Maharashtra Lamb Curry
Tadka Dal
The main course, or khana khazana, was a diverse offering suited to fit our diets: Maharashtra lamb curry, juicy and tender lamb simmered with herbs and spices; tadka dal, a personal favorite of mine, which highly resembled our local monggo soup made from lentils; and bengan bharta, a hearty dish of grilled eggplant mixed with a spicy blend of onion and coriander. I especially enjoyed the way the dal was cooked, as there were some restaurants that serve it with too much oil.

Meetha: Rose Flavoured Kulfi
Throughout the years that I ate at Indian restaurants, I never considered ordering dessert. Kanchan changed my mindset about Indian dessert (meetha) as she took out her last dish for the day, badshah falooda. As she explained, our host had prepared it for us with her own hands. It was a delicious and refreshing rose flavoured kulfi with special yogurt and vermicelli sprinkled with roasted almonds; sort of like ice cream or cold yogurt.

Ah, the perfect end to a spicy, yet delicious meal.

Kanchan Sadhwani offers private lunch parties in her home, where a delicious home-cooked and authentic Indian meal can be chosen from one of her available set meals. She also holds regular classes at The Maya Kitchen.
For inquiries and class schedules, visit www.maharaja-tava.com.

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