Posts by Savita Iyer-Ahrestani


We invite people with noteworthy ideas about food to blog on Culinate.

Savita Iyer-Ahrestani is a journalist based in State College, Pennsylvania, who writes about business, parenting, travel, and food. She has lived in Switzerland, India, Malaysia, Myanmar, the United Kingdom, Holland, and New Jersey.

Homemade paneer

No need to buy frozen

By
November 12, 2012

There are two things I look for when I move to a new place: a beauty salon where they shape eyebrows with thread, and a store that sells Indian spices.

I was happy to be able to cross both items off my list a week after moving to the town that will be my home for the next two years. Here, I found an Iranian beautician adept in the art of eyebrow threading, and the local Wegmans is huge and well stocked, with spices from every corner of the world, including India.

Continue reading Homemade paneer »

Savita Iyer-Ahrestani is a journalist based in State College, Pennsylvania, who writes about business, parenting, travel, and food. She has lived in Switzerland, India, Malaysia, Myanmar, the United Kingdom, Holland, and New Jersey.

The worldwide appeal of chocolate brownies

A family tradition

By
July 2, 2012

There are certain important family moments, and this is one of them: the four of us — my husband, my two children, and me — sitting around a plate of homemade brownies fresh from the oven.

Tomorrow is our last day in Westfield, New Jersey, the town that has been our home for three years. Around us lie boxes and bags, suitcases and more, all prepared and ready to be moved up to State College, Pennsylvania, our fifth destination in seven years, where we shall be making our home for the next two years.

Continue reading The worldwide appeal of chocolate brownies »

Savita Iyer-Ahrestani is a journalist based in State College, Pennsylvania, who writes about business, parenting, travel, and food. She has lived in Switzerland, India, Malaysia, Myanmar, the United Kingdom, Holland, and New Jersey.

Celebrating Diwali — with meat

New traditions

By
October 26, 2011

Although my parents were strict vegetarians when I was growing up in Switzerland, there were only a few days when they required the same of my brother and myself.

The death anniversaries of our grandparents, for example, were always pure vegetarian days at home, per the Hindu Brahmin tradition. We were also vegetarian on certain important dates in the Hindu calendar, like the birthday of the God Krishna. And of course, we were always vegetarian on Diwali, the most important festival in the Hindu calendar, which falls today (October 26).

In my adult life, I’ve followed my parents and continued to respect these vegetarian dates.

Continue reading Celebrating Diwali — with meat »

Savita Iyer-Ahrestani is a journalist based in State College, Pennsylvania, who writes about business, parenting, travel, and food. She has lived in Switzerland, India, Malaysia, Myanmar, the United Kingdom, Holland, and New Jersey.

Feasting days

In Mysore, the focus is on vegetables and sweets

By
October 12, 2011

Flavorful garlic idlis — the steamed rice cakes that are the staple of a South Indian breakfast and have become ubiquitous both in India and overseas — the size of quarter plates. Tomato rice drenched in ghee (clarified butter) and liberally garnished with fistfuls of almonds and cashew nuts. Thick, white rice pudding, known as payasam, studded with tapioca pearls.

These are just a few of the vegetarian delicacies from the glory days of the Kingdom of Mysore in southern India. (I lived in this region of India for two wonderful years not too long ago.) They are the kinds of dishes that require a multitude of ingredients and many hours of preparation; they are the dishes of grand occasions like birthdays, naming ceremonies, and major Hindu festivals, involving both the royal family of Mysore and their loyal subjects.

Continue reading Feasting days »

Savita Iyer-Ahrestani is a journalist based in State College, Pennsylvania, who writes about business, parenting, travel, and food. She has lived in Switzerland, India, Malaysia, Myanmar, the United Kingdom, Holland, and New Jersey.

Substitute, don’t deprive

Chef LaLa seeks food solutions

By
March 28, 2011

Actors and athletes, models and mortals: How many have gone the vegetarian way in the pursuit of better health?

But vegetarianism is not a panacea for good health, and the first person to say that is Laura Diaz-Brown, known as Chef LaLa. A celebrity chef and spokesperson for, among others, the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association, Diaz-Brown — who is also a trained nutritionist with numerous educational outreach initiatives — believes that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to healthy eating.

Sure, we know by and large what we shouldn’t indulge in and what we shouldn’t deprive ourselves of. But in figuring out a proper healthy diet, it’s best, Diaz-Brown says, to consult professionals, doctors as well as nutritionists, in order to come up with the optimal diet suited to an individual. And that diet may or may not include meat.

Continue reading Substitute, don’t deprive »

Savita Iyer-Ahrestani is a journalist based in State College, Pennsylvania, who writes about business, parenting, travel, and food. She has lived in Switzerland, India, Malaysia, Myanmar, the United Kingdom, Holland, and New Jersey.

From orange to green

Crossing the vegetable border

By
January 4, 2011

I’m a huge fan of Seabrook Farms' frozen creamed spinach. It might not have all the nutritional value of fresh spinach, but it goes great with many of the dishes I make, and it’s a fantastic way to get my children to eat spinach. Indeed, my Spinach Tart is a favorite (albeit grudgingly) of even my rather vegetable-averse daughter.

“Do you like spinach?” I asked her friend, who was over for a playdate on a night that I was making the dish.

“I haven’t ever tried it,” came the reply.

It took me a second to get over the shock (for lack of a better word) of the realization that an eight-year-old girl had never tried spinach. I know that things have changed a lot since my time — coming from a vegetarian family whose main food was, well, vegetables, I had little choice in the matter — and I make a lot of concessions for children, American children in particular.

Continue reading From orange to green »

Savita Iyer-Ahrestani is a journalist based in State College, Pennsylvania, who writes about business, parenting, travel, and food. She has lived in Switzerland, India, Malaysia, Myanmar, the United Kingdom, Holland, and New Jersey.

Veg up a notch

A London restaurant’s cutting-edge vegetarian cuisine

By
November 30, 2010

Culinate editor’s note: We welcome Savita Iyer-Ahrestani to the Dinner Guest blog. Savita wrote recently about her parents’ experience trying to maintain a vegetarian diet in Geneva, in the 1960s; here she will blog about vegetarian food.

Although I always order a vegetarian meal when I fly, I am also always disappointed by what I get.

On a recent flight to Europe, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I uncovered the little aluminum-foil box that held my meal and found a small, hard mound of undercooked rice and a shriveled clump of straight-out-of-a-can boiled peas.

Continue reading Veg up a notch »

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