Jaisinghani Anita - Jaisinghani, Anita

Anita Jaisinghani

Biography

Anita Jaisinghani is the chef & owner of 2 award-winning restaurants in Houston & New York City. Raised in India & trained as a microbiologist, she gradually developed her love of food into a career, beginning with an out-of-home catering business & selling chutneys through Whole Foods.

Following her first restaurant job at the legendary Café Annie, Anita opened Indika in Houston, serving deeply personal dishes that illustrated her desire to portray Indian food in a new light. Pondicheri followed in 2011, serving India inspired breakfast, lunch & dinner dishes, unique baked goods, local beers,... READ MORE

Anita Jaisinghani is the chef & owner of 2 award-winning restaurants in Houston & New York City. Raised in India & trained as a microbiologist, she gradually developed her love of food into a career, beginning with an out-of-home catering business & selling chutneys through Whole Foods.

Following her first restaurant job at the legendary Café Annie, Anita opened Indika in Houston, serving deeply personal dishes that illustrated her desire to portray Indian food in a new light. Pondicheri followed in 2011, serving India inspired breakfast, lunch & dinner dishes, unique baked goods, local beers, fine wines & cocktails. Pondicheri expanded with the opening of the Bake Lab + Shop in 2014, its first out-of-state outpost in NYC in 2016 & a museum café in Asia Society Texas Center in 2017. The shops in the Houston & New York restaurants offer cooking aids & signature spice blends that complement Pondicheri’s online recipe hub, India1948.com.

Like its namesake town, Pondicheri aims to create a vibrant environment in which myriad regional & cultural influences converge to provide a diverse & complex experience. With all of her kaleidoscopic menus, Anita combines the complexities of Indian cuisine with leanings toward the ancient body of Ayurveda & the goodness of fresh, local ingredients.

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What is your favorite NYC restaurant? And what is your go-to dish? Cosme. I have yet to eat anything there I did not enjoy, & it is the only place I have gone back to... What is your ultimate meal? A long drawn meal with my family & friends in beautiful surroundings. What three things are always in your pantry? Spices, ghee & nuts. Rest I buy as I need. If you weren't a chef, what would you be? An interior designer - I love the liberal use of pungent color all over India, including the slums. If you could cook with anyone, who would that be? At home in Houston, Rigo has cooked with me at Indika & Pondicheri for 15 years. We have an almost psychic rhythm in the kitchen by now. What’s your favorite NYCWFF memory? NYCWFF was one of the first big events we participated in & everyone made us feel so welcome in NYC!

Recipe Name:
Smoked Eggplant
Recipe Ingredients:
• Pulp from 2 medium sized eggplants
(approx. 2 cups)
• 3 Tbsp olive oil
• 1 tsp cumin seeds
• 1 cup minced onion
• 2 tsp minced garlic
• Smoked eggplant pulp as shown above
• 1½ tsp turmeric
• 1 tsp black pepper
• 1 tsp salt
• 1 cup fresh firm tomatoes, cut into ½ inch pieces
• 1 Tbsp raisins or currants
• 2 Tbsp chopped cilantro
Recipe Instructions:
In a large skillet, heat up the olive oil and cumin seeds together. In a minute or two, the cumin seeds* will start sputtering and popping. As soon as this is done, add the minced onion and garlic and cook on medium heat until onions are translucent, approximately 7-8 minutes.
Add the smoked eggplant, turmeric and salt and continue cooking for another minute or two. Add the tomatoes and turn the heat to high. Cook for about 2 minutes or until the juice from the tomatoes has been incorporated. Turn the heat off and let the eggplant mixture rest. After about 15-20 minutes, stir in the raisin and chopped cilantro. Serve warm, cold or at room temperature.
* Note
Popping cumin seeds in oil brings out their flavor tremendously. But be careful not to let them get too dark a brown or black or they will taste burnt and bitter.
Variations:
• Replace cumin seeds with fennel or mustard seeds
• Replace olive oil with ghee, sesame oil or a fat of your choice
• Replace the tomatoes with ½ cup of plain yogurt or sour cream and add it at the end on low heat.
• Place it in a casserole dish, top with your favorite melting cheese, bake for 10-12 minutes at 350F and serve with bread as a delicious dip.
• Add one sliced Serrano or 1 tsp red chili powder at the end to amp it up.