Neelam’s Kitchen: Cooking California-Indian Style

When you have a professional video production business, love Indian food, crave fresh California produce, and meet a top chef who specializes in the latter two and is beautiful and humble in front of the camera, you have no choice: You must spec on a cooking show.

neelam batra, indian cooking, cooking show, voices and visions, video production

Neelam shopping at the Santa Monica Farmers Market

Meet Neelam Batra, the author of the popular Indian cookbook 1000 Indian Recipes — the 2003 Cookbook Award winner in the International category of the International Association of Cookbook Professionals. Neelam also wrote The Indian Vegetarian and Chilis to Chutneys: American Home Cooking with the Flavors of India (all are available on Amazon). As these things happen, Neelam and I “enjoy our coffee” together in Santa Monica (see the Enjoy Your Coffee group on Facebook). A few conversations about new directions led to a joint decision to embark on a venture together to produce a pilot cooking show featuring Neelam and her healthy California-style approach to Indian cuisine.

Born in New Delhi but living in Santa Monica for most of her life, Neelam’s style weaves the two traditions in ways that emphasize food that is both delicious and healthy. She stocks her pantry with grains and flour, her freezer with basics she pre-prepares, and a kitchen drawer with spices – many of which she grows in her yard, dries out, and pulverizes into powder. These staples are mixed with whatever produce inspires her each week at the local Farmer’s Market; in southern California, there are no end to the possibilities. 

To produce the pilot, V&V filmed Neelam two days ago walking around the market as she examined and chose the produce that enticed her palate this week. Yesterday we videotaped her cooking the dishes that she envisioned as she worked with the ingredients. She shared some of her philosophies and recipes in interviews, and two cameras captured her beautiful works of art at their various stages of unfolding.

neelam batra, voices and visions, indian cooking, cooking show, video production, santa monica

Curt videotaping as Neelam cooks, explains and inspires.

When the cameras shut down, our mouths opened up to a scrumptious delight: parantha bread with rosemary and cheese, charred purple cauliflower and sushito peppers with cha’at masala, stove-roasted heirloom tomatoes, and baby potatoes covered in an array of delicious spices. There are many reasons we hope the pilot that now goes into post-production editing will be successful, not the least of which is the anticipation of the next set of  Neelam’s California Indian delights!

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