Chef Chat, Part 2: Anita Jaisinghani of Indika

Yesterday we spoke with Indika's chef and owner, Anita Jaisinghari, about her culinary background and what rules she's willing to break. Today we continue our talk.

Eating Our Words: So we spoke about the "progressive" descriptor in your cuisine. Now tell us why you insist on using local, organic ingredients as much as possible.

Anita Jaisinghari: Eating Animals (by Jonathan Safran Foer) is a book that I think everyone should read. I am an avid reader, and when I began reading about the meat industry, I was depressed for a while. I almost quit the restaurant business. But then I realized that I cannot talk if I don't do something about it. It's not that I believe we should all be vegetarian, but rather we need to think about where we are getting out meat and how that animal is treated prior to slaughter. I have cut out all factory meats and now get all my goat, chicken, and rabbit from local, small farms. I have lost some profits, but it's not about that for me. I have never been profit-driven. I have a different path. I want to feel good when I go to bed at night.

EOW: We love a chef with a conscience! So tell us where you like to eat when you're not at work or cooking for yourself.

AJ: Feast is my favorite restaurant, hands down. I like Hugo's. I like Korean food, so occasionally I'll head out for that.

EOW: What are some of your favorite foods?

AJ: At Indika, I love the beet soup. I also love the Khichri - I eat it several times a week for breakfast. It's a rice based dish made with lentils and vegetables, like a stew, with a yogurt sauce. I'll eat meat every now and then. I recently made some delicious steaks that I bought from Whole Foods.

EOW: And what are some of the most popular choices at Indika?

AJ: Everything sells pretty evenly. I used to change up the menu four times a year, but I cut back to three to be nice to my kitchen staff. People like the spinach puree, the crab samosas, lamb shank, and the corn and mint chaat.

EOW: Do people still come in wanting something off the old menu?

AJ: Yes, definitely. But I tell them to trust me and try something new, and they do. It all works out well.

EOW: So you're doing lunch, happy hour, dinner, brunch, and you even have cooking classes. And you do it all amazingly well. Any other plans?

AJ: People ask if I'll write a cookbook, and I will at some point, but right now I just don't feel ready. I'll share recipes with anyone who wants them, but no cookbook yet. Later.

Although we are tingling with anticipation at the thought of an Indika cookbook, for now we have to settle for the amazing creations Jaisinghani turns out in the kitchen. Check back tomorrow for more on her ridiculously tasty dishes.

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