I recently had the opportunity to give a short talk at Seminary Hill Winery in the Hudson Valley, sponsored by Aaron Hicklin of One Grand Books in Narrowsburg NY and Seminary Hill Winery. I was there with another truly lovely author, Brahna Yassky.

We talked about journeys, the one that Brahna took as she details in her memoir as a burn victim and survivor, and the fictional journey that Jaya takes in my novel, from being a dutiful daughter to a confident and strong woman in her own right.

Along the way, Aaron also coined Finding Warrior Pose as "enjoyable, something you don't expect, dark and disturbing, perhaps the world's first yoga dystopia". The River Reporter did a nice write-up as well, "Don't judge a book by it's cover".

I most enjoyed talking with readers, many of whom are yoga practitioners, after the event!

I began writing in earnest five years ago and have recently completed my first fiction novel, "Finding Warrior Pose". A few incidents stand out in my mind as being influential in my decision to write a book. In my book "Finding Warrior Pose," I write about many things, including travel (I’ve been to over 30 countries, lived in Saudi Arabia and India), yoga and more.

Many women I know love yoga because it is low impact, but still a great work-out. It also helps them manage their weight, relieve stress and increase flexibility. If you are yet to start a yoga routine, now is the time. However, before you hit the yoga academy in earnest, here are some beneficial poses to learn first. You can even practice them at home before making it into the yoga studio. Some of the top poses good for women are:

Child's Pose:

This is the world's most basic and common yoga pose. It is highly effective in stretching your quads, back and hips. Honestly, I could sit in this one for hours, it’s so comfortable! To get to this position,

  1. Kneel down with your big toes touching, keeping the knees a few inches apart.
  2. Seat on the knees, putting your torso between your thighs and bring your forehead to the mat.
  3. Extend yourarms forward with your palms on the floor and stay there for a minute.

Downward-Facing Dog:

This pose will stretch your spine, glutes, hamstrings and calves. It will strengthen your triceps and deltoids.

  1. Begin on all fours with your knees and feet hip-width apart. 
  2. Place your hands shoulder width apart as you spread your fingers. Straighten  yourlegs as you lift the knees off the floor. 
  3. Walk your feet back a few inches and your hands in front a few inches.
  4. Aim to have our heels as close to the ground as comfortable, but do not force it.

Boat Pose:

This pose strengthens your quadriceps and core.

  1. Sit with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Slightly lean back to balance on your sit bones.
  3. Then engage your core and begin to straighten the legs.
  4. For an extra challenge, raise your arms to shoulder height.

Plank Pose:

This pose will strengthen your back, core, arms, shoulders and quadriceps.

  1. Start while lying flat on the floor on your stomach, with your feet together.
  2. Bring your arms back to the sides of your chest, lifting your elbows up
  3. Engage yourcore and slowly lift off from the ground to get into a push-up position.
  4. Continue to pull yourself up until your arms are completely stretched off the ground. You should keep your abs engaged the whole time.

Cobra Pose:

This pose is intended to strengthen the upper body, and entails straightening the top section of your body by elevating it. Thisreduces stress by working on the lower abdomen, particularly the colon.

  1. First, lie flat on your stomach stretch on the floor with your hands by your sides.
  2. Exhale as you press your lower body on the floor.
  3. Lift your upper body by pressing your palms down.
  4. Then relax your arms completely.
  5. Then breathe slowly.
  6. Hold the stance for around 20 seconds before releasing it.

The ancient art of Yoga has been steeped in secrecy for centuries. But, now, the ancient secrets of Yoga are revealed to the readers in the form of a fiction novel. “Finding Warrior Pose,” a new novel by Priya Doty, is the next best thing to a fantasy novel.

You’re envious of your friend because she can walk into any room and suddenly, all eyes are on her. She can attract people’s attention with her body language, the way she converses, and her overall confidence.

But what is it that makes her confident? How can you develop these qualities in yourself? Is there life after the imposter syndrome?

Here are a couple of things you should do:

Try New Things

Try doing something new. Take up a new hobby or go on an adventure, or a weekend getaway. Doing something new, even if it’s a very small thing, like taking a new route to work, will help boost your confidence and help you realize you have what it takes to achieve greatness.

Once you try out different things, not only will you feel a sense of greatness, you’ll be happier too!

Try Yoga

One of the best things about yoga is that it’s not limited to exercising. Originally, yoga was supposed to help detoxify the soul. I’ve found that helps change your mindset and eliminate negative energy from the mind and body.

It also helps reduce stress and anxiety. Moreover, it’s great for fixing your posture. In a nutshell, it has a significant amount of health benefits.

Generate, don’t React

Learn to generate what you want, instead of reacting to what’s put in front of you. Put yourself in charge and remember you’re doing the picking, not the other way around. Yoga gives you the mental equanimity to see perspective, which will help you to get organized, put yourself in the driver’s seat, and start doing the things you love.

Pursue your dreams; make a plan for your goals. Even the smallest step counts. Take a short break from everything if you can afford to. Unplug yourself and focus on your mental wellbeing.

Spend Time with Other Confident Women

Empowered women empower other women. Spend time with confident women who inspire and motivate you. Be with women who make you feel positive, happy, and good about yourself.

Try to make more friends so that you’re surrounded by women who bring positive energy in your life.

If you want to learn more about yoga or want to read a novel about it, we recommend Finding Warrior Pose by Priya Doty.

Set in India, Finding Warrior Pose is about a 30-something woman named Jaya Gupta, who is being pressured into getting married by her parents. She soon learns of an old ‘ashram’ that was stolen from her family years earlier.

Determined to learn more, Jaya makes a bold decision to set off on a six-month trip to the ashram to learn yoga, unaware of the dangers that are lying ahead. The book is available on Amazon and Kindle.

Yoga is more than just fancy poses and stretches that the world knows it as. Whether you’re new to the exercise or just want to learn more, you’ve come to the right place!

There are myriad of health benefits to practicing yoga and there are hundreds of things people don’t know about the ancient exercise.

With that in mind, we bet you didn’t know these facts about the practice:

It’s One of the Most Common Exercises in the US

It might be hard to believe but yoga is widely practiced in the US. 1 in 5 American adults participates in what most people believe is an ancient practice.

Yes, that’s right! The yoga Americans practice isn’t part of the ancient practice. It’s been adapted to become mainly for exercise and some of the poses have been added by modern-day yogis.

Modern Yoga Started During the 20th Century

Even though there’s a common belief that modern day yoga has its roots from thousands of years ago, that’s not true.

Modern postural yoga, the practice of actually holding poses, originated with early 20th century guru Krishnamacharya, who taught a mix of gymnastic and wrestling moves, Western calisthenics and hatha yoga, a medieval practice all but lost in India for centuries.

Hatha Yoga Made Breath Control Possible

It’s in hatha yoga, beginning about the 10th century that an emphasis on controlling breath and maintaining certain postures arose. But it has little in common with doing a sun salutation that is taught at gyms today for maintaining abs. Medieval hatha yoga’s goals included divination and attaining immortality.

In Sanskrit, Yoga has Different Meanings

Not a lot of people are aware of this but the word “yoga” went through several changes before it came to be what we know it as today.

Other meanings include a constellation of stars, the quality of industriousness and even a fraud! That’s not something you’d expect from a word that’s commonly associated with health.

Did you know these facts about yoga? What other facts do you know? Drop a comment below to let us know!

If you want to learn more about yoga or want to read a novel about it, we recommend Finding Warrior Pose by Priya Doty.

Set in India, Finding Warrior Pose is about a young 30-something woman named Jaya Gupta, who is being pressured into getting married by her parents. She soon learns of an old ‘ashram’ that was stolen from her family years earlier.

Determined to learn more, Jaya makes a bold decision to set off on a six-month trip to the ashram to learn yoga, unaware of the dangers that are lying ahead. The book is available on Amazon and Kindle.

The book Finding Warrior Pose is about yoga. After all, it's named after a common pose in yoga, Warrior Pose. But what got me fascinated with yoga in the first place, and how does it inform my life? Read on to hear more!

Yoga is a practice

At its heart, I fell in love with yoga, specifically ashtanga yoga, after falling in love with the discipline of doing it every day. Ashtanga came to me through a friend's recommendation. This led to a year where I became so dedicated to ashtanga that I would wake up at 5 AM, take the subway to Soho, and practice the mysore practice (self-led yoga) at a world-famous ashtanga studio every morning, and then clamber into work at my advertising agency job on the west side, sweaty, shaky, and happy. The discipline and simplicity of ashtanga is what I like about it: once you learn the poses, you can do it anywhere, anytime, with or without an instructor. After years of bopping about to different classes all over the place: hot yoga, vinyasa, kundalini, and so forth, it was a relief to find just one type of yoga to focus upon.

Yoga is spiritual

As a Hindu, practicing yoga is intertwined in observing religion and spirituality. It is not a pure religious practice like a pooja or other ceremony, per se, but more like a spiritual practice. That's because a large part of Hindu culture is respect and even worship for your guru. You would honor your guru before any class or practice. I find in yoga practices, that same feeling of gratitude and respect come out for the people who teach me yoga. And these days, most classes have Hindu statues up front and chant "Om" before and after classes, so this just adds to the feeling of being in a religious place - to be doing things that I would do in a Hindu ritual on a daily basis. Most Hindus do an every day pooja at home after they shower and before they get the day started. Honestly, that simple pooja is such a small, and such a common part of my life, that seeing it at a yoga class is just something I fall right into the habit of doing, with the small thrill of doing it somewhere outside the home. I often wonder how other yoga practitioners, who are not Hindu, experience this part of the class. Do they accept it as religion, or perhaps as a spiritual thing? It's something I'd love to know.

Yoga is meditation

Many years ago, I was in India with my cousins and aunt. My aunt had gotten way into a popular yoga guru who was teaching yoga. Well, I was really into yoga at the point too, so when my aunt asked me to join her in practice, I agreed. There I was, ready for the toughest yoga poses that required the most strength, like chaturanga. I was ready to show her all I'd learned. And? My aunt never moved off the floor. You see yoga for her and the way it was taught was mostly breathing and meditation. I learned that meditation is a huge part of yoga, whether that is in sivasana at the end of a class, or breathing exercises that balance your mind and body. That was something I learned much later, and my experience with my aunt showed that how yoga has been adapted into something in the US: strength-focused and physical, wasn't necessarily how other parts of the world experienced it.

And last, yoga is history

Any form of physical practice that has gone on so long, with so many different variations, and yet so popular, is a thing to study. Where did it come from? What informs the people behind creating it? And how do we just accept it as a thing that so many of us do? When I started to imagine Finding Warrior Pose, I was curious to pick at an imagined origin for yoga. I imagined an ashram that was steeped in history, with secret, hidden nooks of things to find. I imagined the monasteries of Tibet, which I'd had the occasion to explore back in 1997. The monasteries were dark places, lit up by home-made lamps dipped in yak butter, with the thick smell of it seeping into the rock themselves. A lot of that mystery, and the history behind it, informed how I wrote Finding Warrior Pose.

I frequently hear marketers refer to themselves as story tellers.

As a marketer by trade, and someone who's worked at a major ad agency, been part of creative advertising campaigns, and also a fiction author, the meaning of "story telling" is something that carries a lot of weight. I don't love to see it thrown around casually.

Story telling in the way marketers describe it, is short, punchy and to the point. It's the:

And it can usually be achieved by explaining a small story, that puts the listener into a mindset of imagination - it gets them to think creatively about what their life would be like if they had this product, for example: "you're a busy mom. you don't have time to take out your cat's litter. that's why catlitter.com will do the messy work for you." The core of it is that there's a pain point - whether that's time, identity, money - that the product will help you solve. It's also a way to differentiate your product: so that whenever a buyer is making a choice from a metaphorical retail shelf, they are putting you into one category "good design", or "works really fast" or whatever, so that whenever the buyer goes to buy something, you'll be top of mind.

Story writing is a completely different craft. Most commercially appealing novels are:

I've written a personal review for every book I've finished over a 10-year period. Everything from fiction novels, to romance, mystery, to history, to current affairs, business books, parenting books. Anything. The only thing that I found over the years that distinguished a book that was a "time pass" that I quickly forgot about, and a "this will stay with me a while" book was: world creation. The non-fiction writers who sucked you into a new way of thinking, or the fiction writers that created an entirely new world.. those are the ones to stay with.

So are there any commonalities between story telling and story writing? Empathy. Empathy for another's pain point is at the core of "story telling" as defined by marketing. Empathy to be able to create believable characters and dialog that inhabit another world is the core of "story writing".

“In her debut novel, Priya Doty has produced a fun, hugely compelling novel about self-discovery and solving a centuries-old mystery at a yoga retreat in India.  Part beach read, mostly thriller, a great-page turner.”

Johnny Diaz, author of Boston Boys Club and Take the Lead

"Recently unemployed and perpetually single and pressured to get married by her pushy Indian family, Jaya Gupta finds herself at a crossroads. The novel sets in motion when Jaya learns about her family’s hometown in India, where they owned a plot of land that’s now an ashram in India. The plot of land was stolen from them many years ago, and, interested to learn more about the town where her family comes from, Jaya makes a bold decision to set off on a six-month trip to the ashram to learn yoga, unaware of the dangers that are lying ahead . . .

Sometimes serious, sometimes funny, Finding Warrior Pose is both a fast-paced novel à la Dan-Brown with its unexpected twists and turns, but weaved throughout you’ll find important themes: courage and self-exploration; family and social issues; redemption. Priya Doty has created a world you wouldn’t want to leave, a world filled with action, lifelike dialogues, and relatable characters. You’ll stay up all night wanting more and more and more."

Jeremy Taylor, author of the Cornerstone of Happiness

This was a gripping and galloping page-turner that had me captivated from beginning to end. I found so many brilliant nuances slyly planted by the author which revealed additional rich textures of the characters, their intertwined relationships, and their harrowing journey sublimely juxtaposed against the splendors of India. I did not want this story to end!

Debbie Chinn, author of Dancing in Their Light

Finding Warrior Pose has a cover! 

Finding Warrior Pose has a cover!

Learn the back story about what I write about, the book, and how the cover was designed and selected.

Fun Asian Stories: I’m a fiction writer, covering the experience of being Asian American, and Indian American, both in the US and in other places including in India. While everything I write is fiction, it is very much inspired by my personal history, and the fact that I spent so much of my years crossing cultures: raised as an Indian American in Texas and Saudi Arabia and India and Chicago, becoming an adult in New York City, marrying a man from the South, and traveling to 30 countries on 5 continents.

While I've always been a writer, I didn't start crafting real stories until well into my 30's. I tend to write things that are fun and take me out of the headspace of the day to day. My general point of view is: if I'm not having fun writing something, chances are the reader isn't having fun, either. That's why my focus is on writing fun asian stories.

So what is Finding Warrior Pose about?

In Finding Warrior Pose, the protagonist Jaya Gupta, is sent on a quest. The story starts with her in a bit of a pickle, having lost her job and having no real dating prospects, being badgered weekly by her family about her life. When her grandmother uncovers a loose tie to a world-famous yoga ashram back in India, she browbeats Jaya into going. And so, Jaya is off to the yoga ashram for a six month sabbatical. She finds a love interest, meets new friends, and she gets to do some really cool travel to places like Goa. But, she also encounters a great big, supernatural mystery at the yoga ashram, which puts her and her friends' lives in danger, and that sets her off on an adventure across northern India to unravel the source of the mystery, and save herself in the process.

Early readers have said this is a fun and quick read, and the travel adventure of it particularly grabs them – and reminds them of their own travels to locations like Bali, India, and Thailand. That’s why in a way, I’ve come to describe this book as a bit like a cross between Eat Pray Love (the travel and self discovery) with the Da Vinci Code (the uncovering of a secret to solve).

Read on to see how the cover was designed and tested

I found a great visual artist, Matina Korologos at Lutema Photo NYC. She also did the cover of an independent fiction novel called Caligula's Kitchen, written by James Terminiello that I really loved, and part of what stood out was how unique the cover was.

We looked at other authors for inspiration who write from a similar perspective and fiction genre. I was fascinated at the outset by the enormous importance of colors in south asian writers' books. The use of color has meaning in Asian cultures, connoting everything from growth, health, life, marriage, death. I was also intrigued by the use of symbols. Symbols telegraph meaning, and since the cover has to succinctly convey the entirety of the novel and create interest, all in one visual, the choice of symbols to reflect the novel matter.

Here are some of the authors whose covers (and work) inspired me.

Kevin Kwan, for showing with Crazy Rich Asians that yes, stories about Asian culture could be totally entertaining. He's like the grand-father of all of this.

Novels from authors Gus Lee, Jesse Q. Sutanto, Sanjena Sathian, Sonali Dev, and Mia P. Manansala because each of them had aspects of their covers that I really dug, from the use of color, to the use of symbols to tell their stories in a rich and succinct way.

I was also inspired by the book and reading community on instagram, and some of the creators which conjure up the best visuals of how enjoyable it is to be a reader. A few of the feeds and people that stood out are below (though I have to say that there are probably 50 more that I could think of to call out - seriously book bloggers are the best for inspiration).

Picking the key symbols ultimately was how the cover was designed. Working with Matina, she recommended we look at imagery such as yoga and something to convey the places where the novel takes place, NYC and India. We quickly landed on an image of Warrior Pose One in yoga, which aligned to the book's title. We also chose a silhouette style to convey some of the mystery of the lead character getting "lost in" the place she was in.

Last but not least, how we tested the book

As a digital and growth marketer, I know that small tweaks can really change the trajectory of what is successful and what is not. I also got a ton of practical tips on testing from Ricardo Fayet and his team at Reedsy who are an awesome resource for all the writers and budding authors out there.

To run the test we ran 5 different cover options as a Facebook test for 5 days, spending $5 a day, with broad targeting to the types of people and interests that would appeal to the novel. In retrospect, I could have spent even less than $5. Even $1 would have been fine!

The covers tested (that didn't win) are below.

The first two were unbelievably cool: juxtaposing the city of NYC and the image of the Empire State Building with a temple from India to show the character's progression from one place to the next.There was also a banyan leaf motif in one of them. Unfortunately, these tested the worst! I'm pretty sure in retrospect that the reason they tested the worst is because they were (1) too detailed and (2) didn't have enough color contrast. In a busy environment with many posts and sponsored posts being shown at you on a screen, they didn't pop.

The second two were also unbelievably cool, and I was obsessed with finding a way to show the character lost inside the image of the New Delhi's Red Fort. I didn't love the orange and green color contrast. I was amazed to see that the option with the thicker green band, the 4th one, tested the best. In retrospect though, I think it tested the best because it (1) had a color contrast and (2) because it showed a frame and some blank space.

So if there are any lessons learned here, I think it's that covers that have some blank space, and some color contrast, are probably going to do better.

And with that, we get to the final cover option, the one that was chosen at the top of the page. I think it has all of what the testing showed worked best: a high color contrast between the purplish maroon and yellow, and a lot of open space. Matina was able to work in subtle imagery of a goddess statue behind the warrior posed woman, which I thought conveys the mystery and depth of the story, without getting too busy.

Finding Warrior Pose publishes May 2022

Subscribe to the newsletter for next month's blog, which will be on the subject of travel, and follow me on Instagram for more updates as the book readies for launch!

I am new to the Grishaverse. For months, the insanely gorgeous cover of Shadow and Bone has been taunting me on Instagram. I have bookmarked this cover and saved it, thinking “if and when I finally find the perfect person to design the cover of my book, I want it to look this amazing.” But it was this weekend that I finally got to dive into the new Netflix series. Now, a full three episodes in, I am struck by the question that the main character, Alina Starkov, keeps getting which is “What Are You?”.

Alina is a half breed. She’s half Shu. Which makes her look different enough to not be the same, whilst not so different as to be a complete foreigner. And in some ways, the series at least, sets her up to be an outsider, by virtue of the way she looks and by the virtue of what those looks and the racial make-up that it represents mean.

This question that Alina is dogged by is one I’ve also had to answer to: “what are you?” There are so many flavors of this question that have followed me throughout my life, if perhaps less dramatically, but not any less impactfully.

 Will I be looked down upon for not having a Texan accent?

That was my concern in Kindergarten in Houston, Texas, worried that others would notice my lack of a twang and think that I did not belong. This is my first memory of knowing that I was different, which isn’t so long after the path of my memories begins.

What tribe are you from?


In high school, a well-meaning woman in the bathroom of a dance studio in Glen Ellyn Illinois, actually asked me what tribe I was from, thinking I was native American after I told her I was Indian.

Where are you from? No, I mean, where are your parents from?


A classic question that was pitched to me in my early 20’s at Buckingham Fountain in Chicago. If memory serves it was Taste of Chicago weekend, and it was probably meant as a pick up line, but fell slightly flat, when the answer I gave was: Chicago.

I mean, you’re not really American, so you get it


The Europeans I met in grad school said this one a lot. And it was delivered as a compliment, as in, hey, we can all band together because we are all of the world where have experienced some version of lack of resources or lack of domination that allows us to be friends.

Go back to your country!

Thanks to our former President, millions felt completely valid in taking back their country for themselves, and one of his acolytes, complete with a MAGA hat at a Walmart in rural Pennsylvania, delivered this line while whizzing by on a motorized scooter.

Americans do things this way


That’s what a lot of the adults around me growing up said. They, although they had their citizenship, did things one way, and of course Americans, implying Americans who had been there longer than them, did things another, less desirable way.

What started with George Floyd last summer, and what brings me back to the cultural zeitgeist of the Shadow & Bone series, is this: we are now experiencing the othering of American culture, in which every single person now believes that they in fact, are an other.

You’re an other if you’re a white Republican, coasting against the grain of the liberal elite. You’re an other if you’re LGBTQ+ (Happy Pride!). You’re an other if you’re a millennial and you’re an other if you’re not. But just as frequently, you’re an other with a cross over. You’re an other white Texan with a collection of guns and half Chinese grand babies. You’re a Filipino-American who absolutely loves to go camping and wear Carhartt.

And perhaps it is the case that the othering of society IS the goal, in which every single person is empowered to be exactly who they are, with all the overlapping identities and affiliations, posited at different points of time, that this implies.

It is a truism of New York City that what makes you cool here is being unique. You’ve got some unique way of being? Cool. We’ve got a place for you. You open up our hearts just a little bit, when we see you dressed the way you are, acting the way you do, out in public, just living your truth.

Friends, I do not know where Alina Starkov’s journey will take her, but I assume she will come into her own, grow into herself and find her presence in the world. And perhaps that is what we need now, is to embrace every aspect of our otherness that we can grasp, and scream at the world that our otherness is in fact a power to be harnessed and not a thing to be washed out, and turn it into our own.

Open Air Vegetable Market

It’s Mother’s Day, and perhaps because it’s Spring, I’m thinking a lot about how vegetables – the preparing and cooking of them – factored into my relationships with the maternal influences in my life.

You have to start with 1980’s India, where vegetables arrived from the sabzi mandi (vegetable market) raw and imperfect.

Cucumbers require salting to remove bitterness. At least, the ones you bought in the open-air market, that had not been modified and specified to grow just so. So, as an eight-year old, I would sit with Nani after our breakfast, nashta, every morning in the summers when we visited, at her kitchen table, with its plastic sheet covering the nicer table cloth, preparing the cucumbers she loved to eat. She would cut the top off a cucumber, dab it in a pile of salt, and then rub the salt into the rest of the cucumber’s body. One by one. I asked her, why do you need to do this, and she said that the salt would work its way through the cucumbers, and make them less bitter to eat. The cucumbers were served as a salad with tomato, sprinkled with lemon juice and salt, and made a truly delicious and refreshing and water replenishing side for lunch later in the day, the main meal.

Peas, showing up in the ever-popular Punjabi dish, mattar paneer, needed shelling. You see they arrived to the concrete aangan, the doorstep, still sitting in their pods. To me, an American kid, pea pods had only ever been associated with Chinese food. The best stir fries had those fresh pea pods and baby corns and water chestnuts, the last two coming out of a La Choy can. But for mattar paneer, with its rich tomato broth that would drip down the sides of our buttered potato parathas, Dadi needed them shelled. So, she and I sat with our legs crossed on the ground in the front of the kitchen, in the courtyard, where we could catch a bit of breeze in the waning heat of the afternoon as dusk came on. Periodically, Dadi would separate the peas from the pods by tilting her stainless-steel tray so that the peas rolled downhill towards one place and then transport them to a bowl. Between Dadi and I, because her main language was Punjabi, and because my seven-year old language skills were not yet that advanced, this was a pretty awesome way to hang out.

Brussel sprouts were a specialty with my mother in law, a Southerner. The kitchen was her domain, and she insisted on no help other than entertainment and conversation while she cooked. We’d sit, as two adult women, getting to know one another, and discuss the best places to buy things, and the finer points of whether to buy vegetables at Aldi or Trader Joe’s or Sam’s Club or Patel Brothers and which were fresher and better all around. Now the brussel sprouts she made were not the sort that I ate growing up in the Midwest, frozen then boiled, that even lemon couldn’t mask the smell of. These were fresh and crunchy. Her recipe, which she kept on recipe cards in the pantry, included craisins and mustard and salt, and they came out on the table, served crunchy, roasted, salty and sweet.

Eggplant has become a signature dish for my own mother, bharwan baingan, or stuffed baingan. Now the sort of eggplant we ate growing up was the typical Indian kind, baingan bharta, which is a roasted, mashed eggplant with tomato. But then the new stove arrived and she wanted to use its roasting feature, and there were new varieties of eggplants showing up at the store, now that my mom had ventured past the American grocery stores to the Mexican grocery store, where the real veggies are sold. So, my mom decided to experiment and what she ended up with was a series of small eggplants, filled with a spice concoction that I will never fully intuit, sewn shut and roasted. They held up so well, that even when my mother visits me now, in New York, she carries them wrapped in wax paper packets, frozen, on the plane, and they still come out soft and spicy and oily, a true flavor explosion you have to try.

Butternut squash, after some trial and error, will be the vegetable that perhaps my daughter will associate with me. I simply love orange vegetables – squash, but also pumpkin and sweet potatoes. They are easy to cook, healthy, taste good, and have just a little sweetness. We figured out early on that our toddler too, really likes the sweet texture of butternut squash, and so boiling it, mashing it, instapotting it, and really doing anything with it, has become her favorite. I, unlike my grandmothers before me, buy it pre-cut, and packaged up in plastic, from the store downstairs, and still I complain it is hard to find the time to cook!

So why do we do it? Why shell the peas, salt those cucumbers, will brussel sprouts into a well-tasting vegetable, devise spice concoctions, and search for the perfect vegetable for our toddlers? For the enjoyment of it, obviously. Happy mothers’ day.

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