There’s Indian food and then there’s Nimita’s Cuisine. From ingredient preparation to the final dish, Nimita Dhirajlal combines her passion for nurturing and supporting the community with local, organic ingredients to create delicious and nourishing Ayurvedic dishes. I have been lucky enough to get to know Nimita and enjoy her Indian meals and I can truly say it’s been a life changing experience for the mind, body and soul.
As we get into the season of giving, I’m excited to give you all the opportunity to get to know Nimita for the 12th addition of my Pillow Talk series. We enjoyed a delicious meal with friends and, post-feast, we chatted fireside about the benefits of sharing meals cooked with care, how she uses panchakarma retreats to recharge and what goes into creating her very own sleep temple.
When you were in school, what was your favorite subject and what did you want to “grow up” to be?
English literature was my favorite subject growing up. Being an only child, I learned to immerse myself into different worlds through the stories that I read. Mrs. Williams was my inspiration through the books she chose for us to read and I remember dreaming to be like her. I wanted to teach.
What contributed to you becoming the businesswoman that you are today?
My family’s roots come from the merchant world so at a very young age, I was working at their stores, learning how to retail and deal with the public. Business was second nature as the whole family was involved in these endeavors.
Which female entrepreneurs do you admire?
This is a hard question, since I find myself admiring all women who offer their creativity and mindfulness to the world…more so now, with the permission of expression we are finally being granted. However, I do tend to gravitate more towards those women entrepreneurs that do not lose themselves in the alpha world in their creation that the feminine softness may be forgotten. Perhaps, because this is a good reminder to preserve the feminine in myself.
What was your inspiration behind starting Nimita’s Cuisine?
Cooking has always been my passion. I have been teaching cooking classes since 1994. After having been trained by a Himalayan monk who highly specializes in the field of Ayurveda (Swami Vidhyadishananda Giri), I was inspired to cook his recipes for healing and wellness to share with our community. Plus, this type of cooking is seasonal and slow cooked. This in turn allows me to work with our local farmers and also forces me to slow down when cooking the meals. I quickly found the benefits of sharing meals cooked with care. There is a deep satisfaction that takes place when others appreciate the flavors and the benefits of our work.
Where do you source your ingredients?
Mainly our local, organic farms such as Given’s Farms. When I get a chance to go to India, I bring back bulks of spices from the local farms there.
What is one of your favorite dishes to cook?
Any type of curry. Perhaps the vegetable korma is one of my favorites since it allows me to incorporate as many seasonal veggies as I wish. The cashew blends in all the flavors. We keep this dish vegan since we use coconut milk instead of dairy.
Where do you get inspiration for new recipes?
Through the surprises mother nature brings us. Since we use seasonal vegetables, we never know what we are getting that week. The vegetables inspire the creations, through their colors, flavors and seasonal combinations. For example, this week we got these beautiful red peppers, as they are in season now. I decided to make Harissa (a Moroccan dipping sauce) that would go really well with a holiday meal.
What has been your favorite part about creating a business?
What’s the most challenging part of your professional life?
When you have your own business, it’s like having a child. It’s a full time job. So it has been challenging to find time for myself. My free time is spent traveling back to Spain to visit my parents who continue to live there.
What do you think is the single most important ingredient to success?
Integrity and not to get wrapped into other people’s stories. Keep focusing on the best I can offer.
How do you try to manage your work/life balance?
This is ongoing work for me. As a caterer, life is unpredictable. You never know when your next job will be. I do take the mornings to myself when I can though.
What do you see yourself doing next to express yourself professionally?
A cookbook has always been in the back burner. I would like to complete this project by 2019.
How do you manage the fear and doubt that inevitably creeps in when you’re paving a less trodden path?
My intuition is always my greatest ally. I have learned to rely on this. I also speak to the women from my inner circle who know me well and consult with them. This always seems to give me insights and makes me feel more secure in the steps to the unknown.
What have you been most afraid of trying in your career, but you did it anyway?
I had never fed over 5,000 people in my career when I opened my business. By the second year, we were running large festivals and cooking for such large crowds. The thought was scary, but we did it! Over the years, we have run plenty of festivals with such numbers.
Was there any opportunity that you had in your life that you didn’t take?
I could have had an arranged marriage, continued to be part of my culture and lived a predictable and relatively stable life. I opted for exploration of life and slipped into my role of curiosity of different cultures, expansion in career paths and unpredictability. I must say that life has been more complex and yet more colorful at the same time.
Any sleep rituals that you use to help quiet the mind after a long day?
Meditation, reading or even sometimes watching a happy movie.
What’s the biggest gift you give yourself to recharge?
I love going to India for my panchakarma retreats. These are deep and gentle cleanses that completely rejuvenate me. They are also carried out with such loving care that my soul comes back recharged to give.
What’s your favorite food to indulge in?
Pizza! Thin crust and well done.
What’s the first thing you do after you wake up?
I spend time in silence for 3 hours every morning.
What’s the last thing you do before bed?
Think about the good things that happened that day.
How do you make your bedroom a sacred space?
The beds in my house are the pieces of furniture I most invest in. I figured that if I am to spend 8 hours in bed every day, then this becomes my sleeping temple. The mattresses are to my comfort, the sheets are soft and of the best quality I can find. I have many comfortable pillows since they become my holding companions, whether to snuggle with or to use them for support. And of course, they have to be beautiful for my eyes to lay on so that my safe nest becomes a haven of comfort.