The first thing you should know about Nandita Godbole is how to pronounce her name, the right way, the given way, the Mumbai way—Mumbai being where she was born. It’s “nun-dee-tah goad-bow-lay.” Of course, if you were from India, you’d know because there are several famous actresses with the same first name.
In Atlanta, the city Nandita now calls home, she may not be a household name—not yet. Maybe soon though. Nandita is best known here as a cookbook author and frequent speaker around town.
We met at a local literary festival where I had the pleasure of moderating a panel of three local cookbook authors, including Nandita. Now, let me say, all three were fabulous cooks, authors, and entertainers. But, something about Nandita captured my attention.
Perhaps it was the exotic spices she described, cinnamon, nutmeg, turmeric, and mace. Even writing the words now brings those soft scents to my nose.
Perhaps it was the saree she wore for the event. A translucent aquamarine, sparkling with teardrop-shaped inlays of teal.
Perhaps it was her husband and daughter in the audience who snapped photos and beamed the entire time Nandita spoke, though they no doubt had heard Nandita say the same words before. Their pride in her and her achievements was obvious.
Whatever the reason, I took Nandita at her word. “The curry you think you know,” she said, “is nothing like any one of the dozens of curries available.” With that, I visited her recipe website (currycravingskitchen.com), “cracked” open a copy of Crack the Code—Nandita’s book whose cover proclaims the reader can “cook any Indian meal with confidence,”—and dove in. With Nandita’s spirit whispering encouragement over my shoulder I did manage to make Fish Cakes with Herb Butter, if not as lovely in its final presentation as her illustration, at least as tasty as I imagine hers would be. It was a matter of following the detailed instructions and mouth-watering illustrations in the book.
I would be remiss to portray Nandita as simply a cookbook author. Like the code in her book, Nandita is a layered and complex woman. She studied botany in India, came to the US to study landscape architecture and became a cookbook author and, with the release of her newest book, Not for You, a memoirist.
It’s in the writings of her memories of India and family and traditions that we can see some of what makes Nandita who she is and perhaps what intrigued me at our first meeting. In the book Not for You, over the course of the tale of three generations of her family, Nandita tells of the ingredients of her life, Love. Marriage. Denial. Crisis. Fear. Abandonment. Determination. Food. Comfort. Home. It’s the “code” and explains how food became central to her life and her identity.
For more on Nandita, visit her websites and crack open your own copy of one of her books.
See https://www.currycravingskitchen.com for her recipes
See https://www.currycravings.com/home for posts on dining, travel, and her cooking classes
See http://currycravings.wixsite.com/turmericpress for how to purchase her books
And a list of her upcoming appearances around town is included at http://bit.ly/CC_TP_NFY1app