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Lunch time

(article, Liz Crain)

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Indian expat Meeta Khurana, of the Germany-based food blog What's For Lunch Honey?, has lived a well-traveled life. Her father worked in the hotel business, so she practically grew up in hotels; as a result, she speaks five languages (English, German, French, Arabic, and Hindi). Although Khurana's blog is written in English, it features treats from around the world, with a heavy dose of the Indian food Khurana grew up eating. 

[%image meeta float=right width=200 credit="Photo courtesy Meeta Khurana" caption="Meeta Khurana"]
p(blue). Blog: What's For Lunch Honey? 
Average posts per month: 14
Blogger: Meeta Khurana
Age: 35
Blog place of origin: Weimar, Germany
In February, Khurana will celebrate her blog's second anniversary. Although Khurana's tone is often shoot-from-the-hip, over the past two years she's also put together several popular (and more pointed) post series, including her Cooking School and Bollywood Cooking.
Any new developments in your cooking?
I've become more daring. Besides the fact that I belong to the incredible Daring Bakers group and my baking skills have improved immensely, I find I have become bolder with new ingredients and new dishes. 
For example, instead of ducking away from beetroot, I now will go head on and try out recipes. I shied away from the vegetable not because I do not like it but because I had never cooked with it before. 

[%image reference-image float=left width=425 credit="Photo courtesy Meeta Khurana" caption="Breakfast, Indian style: a spicy egg-and-mushroom roll with a glass of masala chai."]
This attitude has rubbed off on the eating habits of my family, too. Sure, there are a few scrunched-up noses when I tell them it's beetroot for lunch today, but they always try it out. And more often than not, they like my experiments. 
Do you have a job in addition to the blog?
When I started the blog, I was working from a home office full time in a software firm. The blog was my way of relaxing and being creative. A few months ago, I decided to give up my job in search of something where I would have more contact with people. 
After almost three years of working at home, I learned that although I can discipline myself extremely well, I'm more of a people person, and need to have daily contact with colleagues and clients. This spring I most probably will be starting a new job that I've had my eye on for quite a while now. Sometimes it simply pays to wait. 
You often blog about your beloved family recipes. How do you keep them all organized?
A lot of them are in an old and rather stained diary. I hate to throw it away, because the diary itself was a present from my late granddad. It is pretty full, and I keep stuffing it with more papers and pictures. It's part of the reason I started the blog, actually — to record some of these recipes. 
If anyone ever saw this diary, they would never think it's organized. However, I know exactly where to look when I want to find a specific recipe. Other family recipes I just get from my mum — either when I'm visiting her in Dubai or holding the phone between my shoulder and chin. 
What foods do you miss since moving to Germany?
It's mostly the home-cooked Indian food I grew up on that I miss the most. My mother is an exceptional cook, but her Indian vegetables, legumes, rice dishes, and sweets are to die for. 
I was always intimidated to make Indian food myself. It all seemed so time-intensive and a lot of work with so many ingredients. But as my cravings got worse, I challenged myself to start with easy dishes, and my mum helped me over the phone. Soon I realized that once you had the practice and a few of the spices and ingredients at home, you could pretty much whip up a fantastic dish within a few minutes. 
This prompted me to start my series Bollywood Cooking, and in my very first post in this series, I explain all the common spices used in the Indian kitchen. 
What are your five top favorite spices?
Asking an Indian to name only five favorite spices is not fair! OK, let's see. I love black cumin seeds; they add such a wonderful, sweet aroma to a dish. A simple potato dish with cumin seeds is unbeatable. 

[%image nuts float=right width=325 credit="Photo courtesy Meeta Khurana" caption="Bowls of macadamia nuts and pecans."]
I also love cardamom and cinnamon because they are versatile and can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. Chiles — dried or in powder form — are perfect for my hot cravings. I love saffron, since it lends a beautiful subtle flavor to any dish it's added to. I really like pepper too — always freshly ground. And coriander seeds and Indian garam masala are also spices that I can't live without. That was more than five!
What was in your last CSA delivery?
I am lucky to have a great CSA organization that delivers fantastic goods each week. They are very transparent and go into great detail about each product, where it comes from and so on. 
The thing I love the most is that they have a large choice of box types to choose from. You can choose the regular "guess what's in the box!" box, or one specially created for pregnant and nursing mums, as well as a box where you choose exactly what goes in. That's what I go for. 
I have a few things delivered every week, like eggs, cucumber, lettuce, and bread, and then I choose other produce I need depending on what I plan to cook. This week I had a Hokkaido pumpkin, sweet potato, beetroot, pears, apples, kiwis, eggs, lettuce, cherry tomatoes, and cucumber — all for under 20 euros. 
Which do you enjoy more: photographing your food, or writing about it?
That's a difficult one. Writing is my secret passion and has been since I was at school and realized that words can create a wave of different emotions in people. I studied English literature for my A-levels and the world of Shakespeare, Austen, and Keats was opened up to me. Photography came later in life. 
I was never the creative one — could not paint, make fancy pieces of art, knit, or sculpt — and I always wished I was more creative. At school I was the sporty one, but when I discovered photography, it became my passion. Finally I had found something for which I could simply say, "This is made by me!" It's a great feeling. 

h1. Liz's favorite posts

1. In A Nutshell — Nutology
2. An Indian Breakfast: Spicy Egg and Mushroom Roll & Masala Chai
3. My Favorite — smooth and silky Palak Paneer (Spinach with Cheese)
4. Daring Bakers: Chocolate Crêpe Cake
Does your husband ever prepare German food for you?
No! The only time my husband comes into the kitchen is to help with laying the table or cutting up salad and other such tasks. If we want a proper warm meal, I am the one who does the cooking. Whenever I crave typical German food, though, we just visit my mother-in-law, who cooks fantastically. 
Do you like German food?
I enjoy it from time to time, but I could not eat it daily. It's a very heavy cuisine, with a lot of meat and potatoes — very filling. We prefer to eat lighter meals at home. But from time to time, I do prepare typical German food like the cheese spaetzle from the Allgaeu or traditional beef roulade.  
Do you have to cook for any picky eaters?
Oh no! Thankfully my two men — my husband and son — are as experimental about eating different types of foods as I am about cooking them. They are always in for something new. 
Our motto is we should try everything at least once unless it is something we absolutely detest. Soeren, my son, is so open-minded about different cuisines and products. It really is a blessing.

p(bio). Liz Crain is a writer in Portland, Oregon.

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