Rinku Bhattacharya is businesswoman, wife, mother, and cookbook writer based in Valhalla. She speaks in a feminine, high-pitched voice with the kind of lilting accent Americans associate with sophistication and elegance, and she’s here to teach busy Westchester home cooks that making Indian food at home can be flavorful, affordable, sustainable, and — with the help of an Instant Pot — quick.
Originally from Kolkata, India, Bhattacharya grew up on her grandmother’s recipes, like simple lentil dishes, which she still cooks in her New York kitchen to feel connected despite the distance. In 2012, Bhattacharya published her first cookbook, The Bengali Five Spice Chronicles, which she describes as “a very traditional Indian cookbook” with many anecdotes, childhood stories, and memories.
Part cookbook and part memoir, it won the Gourmand Award for Best Indian Cuisine Cookbook in 2013. Spices & Seasons followed in 2014. It combines Indian recipes with seasonal Hudson Valley produce, which Bhattacharya says is “more practical than fusion,” noting Indians have a long tradition of buying produce from local markets.
Her latest release, Instant Indian was published in October and revolves around the Instant Pot’s ability to make fast, affordable, yet deeply flavorful meals.
In addition to writing cookbooks and her Spice Chronicles blog, Bhattacharya also conducts cooking lessons in her downstairs teaching kitchen. Since settling in Westchester 19 years ago, Bhattacharya has watched county cuisine morph from “a lot of Italian and pasta” to a more cosmopolitan, inclusive community with an increasingly diverse palate.
“What consistently amuses me,” Bhattacharya says of her Westchester cooking students, “is when people realize that Indian cooking is much easier, and much more flavorful than expected.” Classes are $90 per person for two and $70 per person for groups of three or more. Contact Bhattacharya via her Spice Chronicles blog or Facebook to sign up.
In addition to cooking classes, she also holds demonstrations at local libraries. Check her Facebook page for upcoming dates.
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