Kathy Gori is the founder of The Colors of Indian Cooking. She has been cooking Indian food for 26 years. A screenwriter by trade, she works at home, so trading a hot keyboard for a hot stove is just a matter of a few steps. Kathy’s obsession with Indian cooking began when her sister-in-law, Elizabeth, an Indologist who'd lived and worked in India, introduced her to the intricacies of the Indian kitchen.
Thousands of hours and hundreds of dishes later, Kathy makes her own chutneys, grinds her own spices and enjoys exploring the various cuisines of the sub-continent. She has cooked for some of the Dalai Lama's monks, the Director of the Delhi Museum and President Bill Clinton's California campaign staff. She is always learning and loves to share her knowledge and love of Indian cooking with others.
Kathy is a food writer for Honest Cooking and other magazines, and her blog The Colors of Indian Cooking is in its 7th year. She is currently helping design gluten free and vegan recipes for a new Sonoma restaurant, CocoaPlanet .
In addition to her writing and cooking, Kathy was the voice of Rosemary the Telephone Operator in the Hanna-Barbera series Hong Kong Phooey. She has voiced many films and commercials, winning a Clio Award. She lives with her husband/writing partner and food photographer Alan Berger and her Siberian Husky Patsy in Sonoma.
1. The short blurb on your website reveals so much about you. Your life seems so exciting and colorful. But to start off our interview, I'd like to ask about your fascination with Indian cuisine. What is it about this cuisine that has caught your interest? In your opinion, what makes it so unique from other cuisines?
Plain and simple what I love about Indian cuisine is the endless variety of tastes and cooking styles. It is one of the most complicated and varied cuisines in the world in my opinion. Also, India is such a vast place...the subcontinent that calling something Indian cuisine is actually like calling something European cuisine.....the same as we have French, or Italian or German cuisines each distinctly different...they have Maharastran, Gujarati, Tamil, etc.
I don't think I'll ever get to the bottom of Indian cuisine and that suits me just fine. I originally started cooking Indian food when I was diagnosed with cancer back in 1990...I was a vegetarian at the time and my doctor suggested Indian food would be a tasty and healthy sort of food to cook during chemo, very suited to a vegetarian.
My sister-in-law is an Indologist and has lived and worked in India so she came out to Los Angeles to start me out and it just grew from there.
I think the thing that makes it different is that it is so complicated and yet at heart so simple as a cuisine. everything depends on the spices and how one puts them together.
2. I've recently seen the trailer of Chaos Theory. I'm definitely going to watch it now. It must be so exciting to work as a screenwriter? What is the most challenging thing about it?
My husband (who is my writing partner and also takes all the photos for my blog) and I did an uncredited re-write on Chaos Theory, so our names don't appear on screen. We were the third writers put on the script before filming. This is how things are commonly done in Hollywood as scripts pass through multiple drafts by different people the studio hires to do re-writes.The original writer almost always gets sole credit which is part of our union rules.
The most challenging thing about being a screenwriter is the endless drafts one has to do before a project actually goes to film and the patience that requires. It's deferred gratification, which is the one thing I love about cooking..instant gratification! You make something, and then you eat it!!!!
3. I presume you've been to India several times. How did immersing yourself in the country and it's culture influence your cooking?
I haven't been to India yet but my husband has traveled there a number of times as have members of his family who have strong ties there. I have counted on my sister in law, and various older Indian ladies in Los Angeles to guide me when I was first learning the cuisine 26 years ago.
I don't think I'll even get to the end of the learning process...Indian cuisine is vast! Also I'm constantly in contact with friends in Indian and Indian friends who live here and travel back and forth...they keep my cooking honest.
4. Do you develop your own recipes? Is it as challenging as I imagine it would be?
Sometimes I develop my own recipes but most of the time I cook traditional Indian food the old school way. Paul Wolfert the James Beard award winner has been my mentor and she started me cooking traditionally in clay pots using from scratch methods. That is what interests me about the cuisine also which is trying to do things as they have been done for generations in a modern kitchen.
I also like to see how I can make the recipes more healthy for modern eaters, baking rather than frying, reducing the amount of sugar and oil in some recipes, while still keeping them traditional. Actually making them healthier is not very difficult.
5. You've cooked for the Dalai Lama's monks and the Director of the Delhi Museum. If you were to cook for the Prime Minister of India, which recipe would you prepare?
Wow! well, if I were to cook for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, I think I would serve a meal of Gujarti dishes since that is his home state. I am mainly a vegetarian and Gujarat is renowned for it's vegetarian cuisine
One of my favorite Indian chefs of all time is Tarla Dalal who was a master of Gujarati food. There would definitely be Karman Dhoklas and Khandvi on the menu as to the other dishes I take a lot of time before I plan out an Indian meal to make sure I have all the different tastes and textures required perfectly matched, I'd certainly take my time planning for an event like that!
Do you want to try out this cuisine and whip out Indian treats? Check out a couple of products from Kathy Gori’s online store, The Chaunk.
• The Chaunk Indian Spice 8 Pack which includes basic Indian spices for someone getting started with the cuisine and some of our favorite vegetarian recipes
• The Chaunk Rubs and Flavors a set of 3 Indian Spice Blends: Kashmiri BBQ rub, Bengali 5 Spice Mix, and Triple C Grill Rub.
“Whenever I'm invited to an Indian meal at Kathy Gori's house, I'm dazzled by the exotic aromas emitted from her kitchen and entranced by the deep flavors of her fabulous food. Now with her Chaunk Box, Kathy has done us all a great service. Whether you're new to Indian cuisine or a practiced hand, her curated collection of spices will help you prepare terrific Indian dishes.”
-Paula Wolfert, cookbook author and the winner of numerous culinary awards
"When it comes to Indian flavors, I check with Kathy first. This kit is like having her in the kitchen with me and that's a welcome thought."
-Steve Sando (Owner and founder of Rancho Gordo Food)
"From the very first time, Kathy Gori’s cooking was a revelation to me. Her dishes burst with freshness and flavor; every dish was glorious…"
-Alice Medrich (Cook Book Author and James Beard award winner)
How to Reach Kathy Gori of The Colors of Indian Cooking
Photo Credit: Alan Berger