photo courtesy of Charisma (Charisma’s Cache)

We first came across Charisma’s blog when we saw her beautiful floral Diwali pom DIY.  Since then we’ve been hooked on her site.  She’s a former neuroscience researcher turned fashion designer who loves to create in as many ways as she can.  Her website, Charisma’s Cache, started out as a portfolio of her designs while she was still in school.  We reached out to her to found out how her site evolved to a lifestyle blog, but more so about this delicious recipe.

What got you interested in writing/blogging in general?

I started my website back in 2013 as a portfolio of my designs.  At first it was literally just a website with pictures of dresses I had made in school.  Suddenly in the process I had become the photographer, the stylist, the set designer, and sometimes even the model so I decided to document the things I learned.  Then in 2015 the site evolved again.

My husband and I had just gotten married and started a home together.   We wanted to live a healthy sustainable lifestyle so we started documenting our vegetarian meals as a way to remember them for ourselves.  Amidst this, we found our friends asking for guidance while practicing “meatless monday” so we decided to share our recipes.  Although I have been a vegetarian my entire life, I love that this has become a trend because I think it encourages the right idea.  I have found that many of my friends continue to practice it on other days of the week naturally, once they have implemented this habit.

Another main factor for sharing was that I felt like the presence of authentic Indian recipes online was a little harder to come by through internet searches.  I would find myself trying to learn how to make something like Malai Kofta for instance from someone without expertise on Indian food.  I find that frustrating – it’s like going to an ethnic restaurant that has great reviews online, only to realize that it’s not authentic and its reviews are not accurate.

The last main motivator for blogging my recipes was the lack of “Indian vegetarian-friendly” recipes, and by that I mean eggless recipes.  I would find myself searching for new “American” vegetarian recipes only to find out they have egg in them.  In the US because eggs are part of the dairy section most people consider them to be included in the vegetarian diet, but in reality for many Indians, eggs are considered to be poultry and consequently are not part of our diet.  I started posting my recipes for those who shared this plight.

How many years have you been blogging?

If we are talking actual blogging I would say less than a year [before her site was just a portfolio].

How active are you (daily/weekly/monthly posts)?

I generally post “meatless monday” or vegetarian recipes at least weekly, however as I am designing or crafting, I will post relevant articles in between.  Sometimes I find myself so inspired and full of creative energy that I can’t stop myself from designing.  And after hours of designing, sewing, creating, photographing, etc., it’s really rewarding to be able to share the final product on my site and social media!  I also try not to blog just to blog.  I only post when I have something special I want to share.

Who are your three favorite bloggers to follow?

For fashion, I really love Julia Engel of Gal Meets Glam.  She’s got this great grounded feminine style.  For beauty, I really love Teni Panosian of Miss Maven.  Her video tutorials on YouTube saved me as I desperately tried to learn how to do my own makeup for some of my wedding events.  And lastly for food, I really love Nik Sharma’s blog, A Brown Table.  He has some pretty inspiring flavors & recipes – like Orange Blossom Clove Ice Cream.  Not to mention his pictures are absolutely stunning.

If you could only pick one dish as your absolutely favorite bar none, what would it be?

Ugh.  Such a difficult question!!  I feel super torn, but if I had to pick an entree that would always have my vote, it would be Pav Bhaji.  But only the real stuff that comes from the streets of Mumbai!  I’m a self-proclaimed Pav Bhaji snob.  In fact, I refused to learn how to make it from my own mother, because she hasn’t lived in Mumbai in 30+ years.  My fiya [paternal aunt] taught me how to make authentic Pav Bhaji [you can find that recipe here].  Once on a visit to Mumbai, I ate it for three days straight (breakfast, lunch and dinner).  No lie.  It’s kind of my claim to fame in my dad’s side of the family!

It’s important to mention that the next contender would be a bean burrito with queso & fresh salsa.  But only the white queso that you get in the south (I might also be a queso snob).

What three ingredients do you always keep stocked in your kitchen?

Oh I love this question!  I am pretty strict about not running out of El Pato Jalapeno Sauce, cilantro, and avocado.  I would however like to note that if Mint Oreos, frozen Kit Kats & Moose Tracks were healthy than I would pick those any day!

Tell us a little bit about this Chole + Batura recipe.  Who inspired it?  Is it a family recipe? And how did you end up making quinao baturas??

My best friend and I were eating dinner at one of our favorite Indian restaurants in Nashville – Woodlands.  Technically this place is known for its South Indian food, but this one North Indian dish they make spectacularly.  I used to always go here to eat literally just their sambhar + coconut chutney but this one time my best friend insisted I try her Chole that she had ordered.  I should mention that I am not a traditional dry brown chole fan.  So obviously I was reluctant, but when the dish arrived it was red, creamy and saucy.   I had to give it a try.  I was so in love with it, that I converted my entire family to ordering this dish.  We go and essentially get 5 orders of Chole!

One day when I was back home with my husband, I was craving it really bad so I decided to try my hand at making it.  I think I tried about 4 times before finally getting it with this recipe.  And it was actually a complete fluke that the baturas were made out of quinao flour.  We just didn’t have enough regular whole wheat flour so we substituted with quinoa flour.  I had also read somewhere that yogurt can help make the baturas fluffy and moist.  So naturally I tried greek yogurt.  When my husband and I were frying the baturas, I was so sure that we had changed too many components of the recipe that we were going to be eating our Chole with bread, but these baturas were amazing!  Fluffy, moist, and airy.  Like I said fluke.  But I’ll take it!

Our review of this recipe:

This Chole recipe has got us salivating!  It’s creamy, spicy, savory and chock full of flavor.  We never thought to pressure cook the garbanzos to make them extra soft – but will never forget this step now.  We really love how she uses more spices than just chole masala to create this dish like fennel and amchur powder.  The sauce is just so good – like lick the container clean good!  We were pretty convinced that the baturas would be healthy granola pseudo baturas, but they taste shockingly traditional – fluffy & moist.  This chole & batura recipe is pretty easy to follow and the quantity of chole is quite large.  We recommend halving the recipe of just the chole itself, but if you do decide to make all of it just know you can freeze the rest.  It freezes really well!  Oh, and just in case you don’t want to deal with all those spices, you can actually buy her masala packet here.  She’ll even custom create it to your spice level.

Looks like we know what we will be making for our next dinner party!



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