Tag Archives: Guest Blogger

Spotlighted: Pallavi from Veggie Zest

27 Aug

Recently I was lucky enough to stumble upon a lovely blog called “Veggie Zest”. As most of you probably know, I am a vegetarian and have been for almost 2 years, so when I first began flicking through the webpages of this amazing blog I was so overwhelmed by the beautiful photography and unique vegetarian recipes featured I immediately began bookmarking. This Plum and Frangipane Tart had my mouth watering as did these Zucchini Pancakes. This blog is so jam packed with amazing vegetarian recipes and after only an hour of scrolling I could feel my culinary horizons expanding!  A few days later Pallavi, who runs Veggie Zest contacted me with interest in becoming a guest blogger and I jumped at the chance to pick her mind. Here is what she had to say;

Hi I am Pallavi and I blog at veggiezest.com. My blog Veggie Zest focuses on vegan and vegetarian recipes from around the world. Through my blog I try to promote vegetarianism by creating great tasting and looking food in hopes of inspiring my readers to try new things. Through out life I have been fortunate enough travel and experience a wide variety of cultures. I believe that this exposure and my love for food reflects in my cooking. My recipes are very contemporary with a global flavour appealing to all our senses. 

How did you learn to cook and when did you start?

I have always loved eating a good and well prepared meal but I didn’t start cooking till I was 27. I survived my school years on Ramen noodles (really – no exaggeration there!!). At 27, I was newly married & went through a short period of unemployment. During that time, I guess all my creative energy somehow got focused on cooking and food.  I would end up experimenting with vegetarian versions of whatever we (my husband & I) ate at restaurants. I loved seeing his reaction every time I surprised him with a vegetarian version of his favorite chicken-based dish (which is true till date). I was learning a lot from food shows and the internet and I was mostly doing salads and simple desserts at that time. Gradually, I became more and more experimental and confident with my cooking. It’s a learning process (just like anything else), and I feel you improve with time and several failed attempts.

Cooking doesn’t come naturally to a lot of people. Where would you suggest a person start off when it comes to learning to cook? Do you have any tips or advice for culinary success?

Cooking is such a great blend of science and art that it’s bound to satisfy you if you try to understand it. The world that we live in now is full of information on any subject. I think one can learn best visually. So watching cooking shows and searching for recipe videos on youtube is a great way of learning. Youtube specially, because you find so many home cooking videos and you don’t get intimidated by the fact that a “chef” is preparing some dish. For starters, I would suggest starting with salads and simple appetizers.

What inspires you to keep coming up with all the amazing recipes you feature on your blog?

I feel inspiration is everywhere and in everything. I get inspired by eating a good meal at a restaurant or at someone’s place or by looking at different cultural cooking methods. I think the variety of food & Ingredients available to us from all parts of the world in general inspire and excite me.

Also, the abundant yet unknown existence of vegetarian recipes in all cuisines is the driving force behind my creations. I also get very inspired by the thought of showing people how vegetarian food can be flavorful and nutritious at the same time.

What are your go to/favourite vegetarian recipe/s? Would you like to share one?

I love making bruschetta for many reasons like it was one of my first non-Indian recipe that was appreciated and enjoyed by many, its vegetarian and vegan at the same time, it’s a simple recipe that requires minimum number of ingredients and what I love the most about it is how fresh it tastes.

Bruschetta Recipe:

Pallavi’s Bruschetta

Things you will need:

1/2 french baguette
4 big size  tomatoes (vine if possible), make sure they are hard and not very juicy
1 1/2 tbs good quality extra virgin olive oil, a little more for drizzling on the baguette
4 cloves of garlic
1 tbs balsamic vinegar
handful of fresh basil leaves
2 tsp sugar

What to do:

Make two slits at the bottom of the tomatoes (in an “x” shape). Blanch the tomatoes in hot water for 5 min (covered). Put in a bowl of cold water– you want to remove the skin from the tomato. After removing the skin, de-seed the tomatoes with the help of a spoon (try not to squish them too much). Chop into small bite size dices. Finely chop 2 cloves of garlic, add to the tomatoes. Tear the basil leaves and add to the tomatoes. Add salt, sugar and balsamic vinegar, olive oil and mix well.Keep aside.

Lightly toast the baguette slices (in the oven or on a pan), drizzle some olive oil on the slices and rub with a garlic clove while they are warm.  Arrange the baguette slices in the serving dish and spoon a generous amount of tomato mixture with some liquid (by now the tomatoes would have released some liquid- stir it to mix with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar). Serve warm. Enjoy!

On your blog you say you have traveled a lot. What parts of the world would you like to see that you already haven’t and why?

I would love to go to Europe, Italy & France in particular.

Italy - because Italians have this fantastic way of celebrating the whole “eating” ritual. They are such happy people; they sing and crack jokes on the dining table and passionately enjoy eating food on huge dining tables with lots of friends and family. I would love to be a part of that experience.

France - because French patisseries are my weakness – I just love the fresh baked bread and croissants and their brilliant collection of pastries, oh it’s to die for.

What advice would you give those wanting to travel the world and broaden their culinary horizons?

I would say be open towards trying new things and don’t be afraid of experimenting. Understanding how a dish is prepared and its cultural significance also sometimes helps in liking it. I love talking to the servers and the restaurant owners when dining out and asking them about their input on the dishes. Street Food is the best way to experience the local customs and traditional ways of cooking and preparing food.

Fallavi’s Amazing Plum & Frangipane Tart. Click on the image for recipe.

How do you keep your diet balanced when not consuming any meat? A common question I am sure you hear all the time (I know I do) is where do you get your protein from when not consuming any meat? 

I feel the nutrition one gets from consuming vegetables, grains, lentils, nuts and seeds are more than sufficient for a human body. Your body obviously gets used to what you feed it from the beginning and you feel weak at first when you try to eliminate any kind of food (for whatever reason). The key is to know the nutritional value of what you consume & eat a balanced diet. In vegetarian diet legumes, nuts & seeds are a fantastic source of protein. Soy is so high in protein as well.

The photographs or your blog look like they could be straight out of a cookbook. They are truly stunning. Do you have any tips or advice for food bloggers wanting to take great photographs? (Lighting, props etc)

That is a HUGE compliment – thank you so much! You know, whenever someone asks me that question I feel kind of nervous because I am a self taught photographer and still have to learn so much. But since I have been doing it for almost 2 years now, I am more than happy to share my knowledge with the readers here. Some rules and ides that I stick to are:

  1.  I always work in natural light; I find it more appealing and easier to work with. I, of course use the basic principles of diffusing and reflecting the light (there is lot of information available on the web on this subject).
  2.  Experiment with light – depending on which part of the world you are living in, you need to figure out the time of the day during which the quality and effect of light appeals you the most. The time of the year also matters. I live in a beach town, so it’s pretty sunny throughout the year, but there are certain hours of the day when the sun gives out this reddish tint in the photos – I try to avoid photo-shooting around those hours.
  3. Some knowledge of Photoshop is great – it comes in really handy for color correction (if there is a need), adding watermarks and cropping the pictures to make them web or print ready.
  4.  As far as having different kind of props goes - know that you don’t have to buy everything. Don’t hesitate to borrow something that you like from your family and friends, they will be more than happy to see their things in your photos – trust me. However, your collection will grow slowly over a period of time.
  5.  Also, if you are new to photography, don’t just go and buy the most expensive camera in the market – cameras are expensive. First play around with the one you already have, once you understand a little bit of the basics and get a hang of it, you can research and get a camera that you like the most.

I would like to thank Pallavi for allowing me to interview her and for her amazing responses and advice. If like Pallavi you would like to become a guest blogger here at Pixi Wishes & Forehead Kisses visit this link for more details. I look forward to hearing from you.

Thanks, Becky, K.


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