We were lucky to catch up with Nandita Godbole recently and have shared our conversation below.
Alright, Nandita thanks for taking the time to share your stories and insights with us today. So let’s jump to your mission – what’s the backstory behind how you developed the mission that drives your brand?
I have always been interested in food. When I was growing up in India, our kitchen was a fun space for me: from waiting to skim the cream off a pot of hot milk, hand churning cream to make butter, or being the sous chef to my mother when she took baking lessons – I had loved it all. It was a space where loved ones created tactile forms of care.
But my mission and brand “Curry Cravings” emerged after 9/11. This tragedy also exposed the urgency of the representation of immigrant cultures in the United States. As a young immigrant to this country and a new bride, I struggled to find acceptance of my culture and traditions. The intuitive teacher in me saw this as an opportunity to bridge the gap through the most natural channel: sharing my food traditions as cooking lessons with those who were open to learning. The brand started as a tongue-in-cheek invitation to discuss the false notion that curry is a single dish or flavor.
Although I had trained as a botanist and then as a landscape architect, the umbrella of “Curry Cravings” continued to offer me great comfort and emotional stability and became my platform to inspire conversations around immigrant lives. As a young parent, I realized that the next generation of young people would benefit from having the groundwork completed so that they never have to feel the sting of discrimination as I once had experienced as a brown immigrant mother. It fuels my mission to create a space that is welcoming to all. Over the past 20 years, Curry Cravings™ LLC has evolved into a virtual space for a healthy exchange of cultural ideas. Here, I facilitate the conversations that tie heritage traditions to lived experiences.
Great, appreciate you sharing that with us. Before we ask you to share more of your insights, can you take a moment to introduce yourself and how you got to where you are today to our readers
Although I am self-taught, my elders – the keepers of our food traditions continue to guide me in my work. I had dreamed of sharing my work through a cookbook when I did not have an established platform or following. In 2014, this challenge encouraged me to seek a non-traditional option: crowdfunding. Since then, using the crowdfunding model, I have written and published six cookbooks devoted to Indian cuisine, and am working on my seventh cookbook, Masaleydaar: classic Indian spice blends. Each of my cookbooks has reached a large global audience. From my first cookbook in 2014 with no conventional platfrom, now in 2022, I have authored six cookbooks and have readers in more than 30 countries.
As an indie author, I also spend a lot of time photographing and designing my cookbooks. Each book is created with great care to earn its rightful place on the bookshelf and in the kitchen. Corresponding to it, I speak on topics that extend beyond the culinary world into wellness, Ayurveda, health and entrepreneurship. I keep my connection to readers past my cookbooks as a freelance journalist. I also continue to host secret suppers – to build community and celebrate Indian cuisine.
I have always loved hand-made pottery but struggled to find suitable ways to present and celebrate the Indian cuisine, those that would tell a story that resonated beyond the preparation. To help with that, I have launched a hand-made line of pottery: Mṛttikā by Nandita. Mrttika means ‘fragrant earth’ in Sanskrit, and many other classical Indian languages, including my mother tongue Gujarati and father tongue Marathi. As an homage to its roots, Mṛttikā by Nandita embraces Indian aesthetics over art styles and celebrates the earthy and granular quality of the Indian cuisine through the colors, forms, intent, and purpose of each piece. Each unique piece combines art with functionality.
For dining events/ speaking engagements: www.currycravings.com
For cookbooks, Mrittika by Nandita, and informative blog posts: www.currycravingskitchen.com
My journalism portfolio: www.currycravings.contently.com
Instagram & Twitter: @currycravings
We’d love to hear a story of resilience from your journey.
Being an entrepreneur is never easy. A home burglary in 2018 caused significant financial losses, and the resulting depression impacted my physical health and wiped out my mental health. I tried to power through and put a great deal of effort on regaining my strengths. I published two more cookbooks and got ready to start a book that I had been dreaming about since the inception of the Curry Cravings brand in 2004.
But, in Jan. 2022, less than 12 hours after I had launched its crowdfunding campaign, I had a more devastating setback. In broad daylight my workhorse computer and camera were stolen from my car. More than 50% of that computer was not backed up, including the contents of my camera. I lost five years of deep and research that would shape my next cookbook. Money and support had already been coming in, but I could not turn back or give up and cancel the project. I knew what succumbing to depression could cost me. I owed it to myself and readers who had supported me through everything to persevere.
It took nearly two months to feel confident enough to return to testing and writing recipes. During this time, I also discovered my love of pottery and slowly started making more pieces to support my passion for the Indian cuisine. It birthed my pottery line, Mrittika, which means fragrant earth or Mother Earth. Just as Mother Earth nurtures and nourishes us, developing Mrittika has nourished my spirits and offered a physical and spiritual vessel for my culinary experiments. Mrittika added a new dimension to my business, one that I had never dreamed possible and more importantly, has breathed new life into me.
What’s the most rewarding aspect of being a creative in your experience?
Being creative has been a constant part of my life. While my mediums embrace the journey; my creations represent the milestones. Through my work in food, I explore how our individual and shared human experiences shape, identify, anchor, and can unite us.
- Website: www.currycravingskitchen.com
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/currycravings
- Linkedin: www.linkedin.com/nanditagodbole
- Twitter: www.twitter.com/currycravings
- Other: www.currycravings.com www.currycravings.contently.com