It’s all about the Heat!


Who is Meena?

As a little girl, Meena remembers sneaking her Mom’s favourite wok and ladle into her room and pretending that she had her very own cooking show, happily chatting away to the camera while she stirred and added imaginary ingredients. A magician in the kitchen and her biggest inspiration, she loved watching her mom prepare delicious and fulfilling meals with ease. Though cooking had always been a hobby, she only began to take it seriously after moving out of home and into a hostel for college. Unwilling to survive on tasteless meals provided by the hostel cafeteria, Meena finally decided to don the apron and armed with a ladle set to work. Now, many years later, she can happily make a mean Indian meal at the drop of a hat!

And what about her hubby?

The star of the show, Hubby Dear has gained a handful of admirers, thanks to all his antics in and around the kitchen. Call him the guinea pig or taste-tester, but most guys often fantasize being in his shoes. Being the first to try everything that comes out from this overworked kitchen, it’s no surprise he’s the talk of the town. Or so he believes!

Hold on, isn’t there a baby in the picture now too?

Why of course! Baby Dear became an integral part of HOH in the summer of 2011 when he was first introduced to his first solid food – the sweet potato. Now he continues to experiment with different flavours and textures of food. Not one to watch people eat from the sidelines without at least attempting to grab a bite of what’s on their plate, it won’t be too far long when he’ll join the ranks of his Daddy Dear as the official HOH taste-testers. Baby Dear was diagnosed with a severe wheat allergy at seven months, and HOH has since then become completely gluten-free.

*UPDATE (June 2012): We’re happy to announce that Baby Dear has outgrown his wheat allergy and is free from any food sensitivities. For all my gluten sensitive readers, I would like to assure you that Indian food can be easily adapted to a gluten-free diet. Although I will once again post recipes with gluten in them, I will also try my very best to give tips and pointers on how a recipe can be made gluten-free, whereever possible.

What’s with all the heat?

Not one to resist any spicy treat, Meena is obsessed with flavour even, if not especially, in simple foods. She truly believes that even a simple quick meal can be made to feel special, and a little spice never hurt anyone, now did it? This food blog is her attempt at sharing her creativity and love of food with everyone. It’s a food journal with many little notes that she hopes would come in very handy when she finally writes her own cookbook. Now, if only that publisher would come along! Meena is pleased to have you know that the publisher did come knocking afterall, and she is now the proud author of TWO cookbooks:

- Knack Indian Cooking: A Step-by-Step Guide to Authentic Dishes Made Easy by Globe Pequot Press
- 500 Indian Dishes by Quintet Publishing

So how did she get into cooking?

Meena began cooking when she moved into a hostel about 11 years ago. Living on your own teaches you a lot, and cooking is one of them! The first few months, she survived mainly on instant noodles and the local take-away. Not long after, she decided that it was time to do something about it. So she called up her mom, and that was the beginning of their regular recipe exchanges over the phone (did she mention it was long distance?!).

Every time they would talk, the topic of what each of them had for lunch or dinner was an unavoidable question. With that continued the saga of how it was made, and what other variations could be added to make better, and not to mention, simpler.

It wasn’t long before she realized she enjoyed cooking, and why not, she was good at it! It was always a proud moment for her when she got a compliment on her culinary skills. And an even bigger one for her Mom when they would tell her that her daughter fell right into her footsteps.

Now seriously, can Indian cooking really be as quick and simple as she says?

Of the few complaints that Meena often gets on Indian cooking, the one that stands most prominent is the myth that Indian cooking is just too hard. Now before you roll your eyes at her and say, yea sure, easy for her, she’s Indian just hear her out. True, Meena was born Indian, but as much as she would like to believe, she wasn’t born with Indian culinary instincts induced within her being. Like any of you not familiar with the South-Asian cuisine, she too started off without much knowledge of this exotic cuisine. After spending too much of her time cribbing about how little people actually knew about Indian food, she decided to start a series, Indian 101, to introduce her lovely readers to its simple cooking basics. The cooking primer became so popular, that Meena was asked to turn it into a monthly column for the food section of The Mississauga News.

So what are you waiting for? Click here to get started.

Tell me more about Meena’s work…

Meena is a freelance food writer, recipe developer and cooking instructor based in Mississauga, Ontario. Her articles have been published in various online and print magazines/newspapers, including the Christian Science Monitor, Alive magazine and The Mississauga News. She appeared as a special guest for a food segment for Slice TV’s ‘The Mom Show’, aired in the Fall of ’08, and has been featured and interviewed in many digital and print media, including Harper’s Bazaar India.

Meena is available to talk about all things related to South Asian cooking, including writing assignments, recipe developments, cooking demonstrations and media interviews. She welcomes inquiries on product testing and cookbook reviews.

As a food consultant, Meena can help you create a meal plan to suit your needs, lifestyle and taste. She will also spend time teaching you how to shop, organize and cook for an Asian themed meal. To request a private consultation to best suit your needs or to book a private cooking session with her, please contact her at meena@hookedonheat.com.

Some of Meena’s current work has included recipe development for Dairy Farmers of Canada, Nanak Foods and Manitoba Canola Growers.

Questions? Suggestions? Requests?

Meena tries her best to correspond and respond to each comment personally. However, she is only human and as much as she hates it, she does have to lead a life outside this blog. Drop her a line with all your queries and she’ll try to get to them as soon as possible! Regarding recipe requests, Meena will try and fulfill them to the best of her culinary capability. However, please bear in mind that she is a moody cook and your request will have to wait in the pipeline till she feels the urge to create it. Unless of course, it contains chocolate. She’s always in the mood for chocolate!

You can find Meena on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Google+.