The Milestone List

Posted by Aarti on February 25th, 2013 . Filed under: Uncategorized .

As you guys may or may not know, I’m nose-deep in writing my very first cookbook (aaaaaaggghhh!) at the moment. It should be available sometime in 2014. Which sounds like a long way off but since the deadline to hand in my manuscript is this May, I’m chugging along like a little tank engine. Toot toot!

So many people ask me what my cookbook is about. Frankly, I’m never sure how to answer.

“Well, um, it’s just about the way I cook, which is a hodgepodge of cooking traditions,” is the best I can muster.

How would YOU describe the way I cook? That would actually be pretty helpful to me!!

Anyway, I am writing lots of stories in this book. I’m sort of telling my story through the food — how food rescued me when I felt like I was worthless, direction-less, hopeless… in the hopes that somehow that story would be a comfort to someone, encourage someone who might be feeling the same way.

In planning out some of the stories I want to tell, I wrote down some milestones in my life, starting with my ancestors and ending with where I am now. As I looked over the list, I marveled at how almost everything in my life has fed into my position now… every skill, every weakness, every strength, every upset, every heartbreak, every victory. It was almost poetic, a work of art.

There’s always been a little resistance in my spirit when people told me everything happens for a reason — sure, it’s true but it always seemed like a hollow platitude, a limp blanket to place around one’s shivering shoulders, especially when they’re shivering from feeling like they’re outside the warmth of God’s orbit.

And yet, as I look over those milestones, I cannot help but see His hand at work. It is startling, humbling and the perfect antidote to that cynical side of me that wanted to eschew that blanket.

What a comfort, what a joy! Even when my life seemed to be in shambles, when I felt like I was drifting aimlessly away from any sense of order or orbit… He didn’t let me out of His grasp. Even when I had no idea who He was, or perhaps more truthfully, when I knew who He was but wanted nothing to do with Him… He stayed close. What patience. What grace!

And now, when I cannot see the horizon for all the fog and clouds in my way, what comfort it is to look back, to remember how I got here… and realise that it doesn’t matter that I can’t see the road before me. It’s not FOR me to see! It’s just for me to reach out for His hand, look up into His marvelous face and step forward knowing that no matter what is ahead of me, I am still in His orbit. And there is no safer place in all creation than that. Thank You Lord.

If you haven’t written out a milestone list for your own life, I encourage you to do so. Even if your past is darkened by pain and sadness, you are not out of God’s grasp. Reach out your hand, dear heart. I promise you, He’s right next to you.


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20 Responses to The Milestone List

  1. Chelsea

    I’ve often thought about how to answer the question you ask with relation to my blog: “well, it’s me in the kitchen kind of figuring things out,” which doesn’t sound very authoritative or like the kind of thing that would bring people running to read it! But I think there is totally merit in the idea of bringing together traditions – that’s you, and so your cookbook ends up being your voice on a page! You and your cooking are – to me, at least – about a beautiful blending of traditions (and cultures, and locations, and methods), so that seems like an honest and useful way of describing what you are setting out to do. Did that make any sense? Good luck with the writing. I’m excited about your news and can’t wait to see the final product!

  2. David

    This will be an awesome book and I will happily buy this book not just for myself but for friends. I have always loved your point of view with food and how you enjoy friends, family and life. Take it one day at a time and as the guide says “Don’t Panic”.

    And LOTS of pictures of you holding the food. :)

  3. Donald

    You cook with love, with passion, with humor and you inspire me to be adventurous with my food. I miss Aarti Paarti on food for the inspiration to include Indian flavors and techniques in my cooking. Your presentations are so based on humor and ease that make it easy for me to try new things. I can hardly wait for the new book!

  4. Karen

    Aarti, I always seem to find your words just when I need them most. I was having a very sad day and there you were. Thank you for that.
    I can’t wait to see/buy/read you new cookbook. You bring a wonderful light to all that you do, and I’m sure it will jump off the pages of your new book.


  5. Riverfaerie

    2 things — the optimistic way you chose to reinvent the phrase bucket list to become milestone list is incredibly inventive, and I love it. It is nice to know how you got to be who you are, rather than making a list of stuff to do while you wait to die. I love that fresh perspective!

    Your cooking — describes the old Americanism idea of melting pot in a great many ways. You are inventive with blending old traditions/ideas into that of more familiar American or European dishes. For myself and many others, that encouraged outreach and experimentation into areas that I would never have delved previously.”Fearless” is another good word, because you encourage your viewers to fearlessly reach into new areas, explore new foods and spices, and explore a culture that is new to most as well. Also, I love that you are willing to bend and change things when necessary — like when you did the old Aarti Paarti videos ad someone wrote in to tell you to use cast iron, and you did, or when you say, and if you can’t get this stuff, use that instead. The way you always told the story of the food you were cooking and how it had a special relationship to you was wonderful, encourages people to experiment. I have not personally had your food, but I have tried recipes of yours as well as other Indian dishes now…that I never would have, prior to having seen you. I think the words I associate with your cooking and you is that you are sincere and genuine, in that you don’t appear to throw in a recipe you don’t care for, or that you don’t really want to share.

    Lastly, although your religious beliefs are not mine, I do love that you don’t bow to pressure to suppress your beliefs publicly. As a person whom many could wrongly marginalize in many ways, minority, woman, Christian, etc, (or even before you won NFNS and were economically challenged) you seem entirely unafraid to be who you are, and exactly that. Even when others disagree with you (the mean spice man post on FB) you are not afraid to challenge yourself, and view things differently, or stick up for yourself when need be.

    Sorry, wrote you an essay…

  6. Chelsea

    I love Isaiah 43 because it reminds me not that bad things won’t happen to me as a believer, but that God will always be there by my side when they do. As you said, he will never let us out of his grasp.
    “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
    2 When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
    and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
    When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.
    3 For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…”

    Looking forward to your book and hearing more of your story!

  7. Heidi

    Let me start by answering your question, “How would YOU describe the way I cook?” Aarti, you have the perfect balance of unique food knowledge with the voice to express it, and beautiful personality with the voice for us to receive it. Regarding the unique knowledge, you know the food culture for places I want to now more about, but it’s tempered by the places I already know too, so your blend makes the exotic familiar enough for me to reach it. As an example, I bought the cookbook “660 curries”, and while I love flipping through it and appreciate Raghavan Iyer vast knowledge, and the book’s beautiful pictures, the amount of knowledge is overwhelming to me, and I have yet to even cook a simple dahl out of this great book. Yet when you make hot cocoa with some curry added all of the sudden the India food culture is attainable and easy for me to integrate into my own regular life. Now regarding the second part, Aarti, you have that spark like all the foodies I love to watch. People like Jamie Oliver, Nigella, Giada, Rachel and now you. Your smile is contagious and makes me smile. Your eyes sparkle with delight when you’re making your food for your friends and family, and it makes me want to be your friend too. You’re beautiful, knowledgeable, yet incredibly real, and down to earth, and I’ve loved watching you from the first moment on NFNS to now. I’m very excited for your new cookbook! Peace to you in your journey getting your stories and recipes documented.
    Thanks for the great idea for a list of milestones. This is a huge encouragement because it is easy to want to gloss over or bury the hard stuff, and yet the hard stuff is one of the flavors of our own complex recipe in life. I’m always looking for the depth of flavor a slight bitterness brings to a recipe, or just the complexity the layers of flavors have as they meld together. It just dawned on me, this is how it is in life too. We can’t always see the symphony our Creator is whipping up for us, but if we hold on the banquet is laid out with the feast of our lives. I struggle with thinking no one is interested in what I have to offer, but there is a huge comfort in knowing God is at work, and is bringing it all together and incorporating the flavors that will make our life perfectly seasoned.
    Thanks for this post. You spoke to me and gave me encouragement. I hope I have given you a little piece back. Chelsea brought tears to my eyes with Isaiah 43, so I thought I’d share a few verses from one my favorite passages of scripture, Psalm 139:
    1 You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
    2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
    3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
    4 Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
    5 You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
    6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.
    7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
    8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
    9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
    10 even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
    11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
    12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.
    13 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
    14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
    15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
    16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
    (Psalm 139:1-16, NIV)
    Thanks again for sharing. Looking forward to seeing more great things coming from your kitchen and your life. The world needs more of your smile and laughter!

  8. Deepa R.

    Your story of how food saved you is an inspiration to me. I am also a journalist of Indian origin at a place in my career where I don’t know why I’m here and where else my skills can take me. However, seeing your success in food, which has become my obsession in recent years, is like seeing that I can be successful too … in whatever else is out there for me.

    And by the way, you can’t give food all the credit. You’re pretty amazing, too, Aarti. A lot of us don’t even recognize our call when we hear it. You answered yours and ran away with it, all while capturing so many hearts.

    Thanks for doing what you’re doing, and I CAN’T WAIT for the cookbook! My husband and I will be trying everything!

  9. Carrie

    Just….simply beautiful.

  10. Karen

    Brava, Diva!

    Can’t wait to see your cookbook! It will be wonderful, as is everything else you’ve done and created!


  11. patty knox

    Indian-infused American cuisine!

  12. Dana

    Wow! I am so excited about the cookbook! I came here looking to see if you have one yet! I love your show and recipes and can’t wait. I would pre-order it now if I could.

  13. drbob

    msic iscrwallybdistractijg. love your show but hard to follow with the music level

  14. Francesca

    I think Riverfaerie has done a really great job articulating your style, and I have a little something to add!
    Not only are you blending modern & heirloom recipes, you’re making them accessible to everyone, and really, its all about comfort! The recipes are forgiving and super comforting. No frills ingredients, no ridiculous technique and presentation, its all accessible and comforting.
    A big congrats to you and your success!

  15. stacy harris

    Aarti, I am so happy that God has seen fit to prosper you in the way that He has purposed. I feel a kindred Spirit with you and pray for you as you are in the world sharing Christ’s love. Take hope as you write your cookbook. I finished my 3rd cookbook and a DVD this past summer and they are coming out in June. I have 7 children and it seemed that there was no way that I could finish in time. God is over time and I pray that you be able to focus and have the energy and ability to word the thoughts that come to mind. God has HUGE plans for you and I cannot wait to see what they are. Just show up everyday to the task and do the next thing. Don’t look too far ahead while writing; just do the next thing! I am so happy for your success and will pray for you as you continue!

  16. Joy

    This is so encouraging, Aarti! Just what I need to hear now. I’ve put it off so long; yes I need to make that milestone list. It is never too late to begin. I’ve been watching your show from way back in the early ukulele days.Your cooking brings in the tastes and traditions of your heritage and also embraces the heart of the world. You cook with courage and flair, not afraid to be bold with the spices. Yet your style is accessible. You put at ease with your humor. You sparkle with exuberance with your food and stories, and touch each one of us with your faith. Take it one step at a time. No need to over-think or plan, just be you. Your cookbook will be glorious! You are precious, girl!

  17. RJ

    Cannot wait for the cookbok!! Mang yourbaked beans from the FN Magazine as we speak!!

  18. Mrs. Parikh

    Praise God you are writing a cookbook! I pray you are filled with His JOY as you continue the work of pulling it all together. Let His joy be your strength :) Thank you for the reminder that there is NO better way to start the day than in His word and in His joy. “it doesnt matter that i cant see the road before me…it’s just for me to reach out for His hand” (Yes! and Amen!). So, I’m relatively new to the Aarti Party–saw you for the first time on FN last year when i was home on maternity leave. But I fell in love w/ your delightful approach to food and yummy recipes (that i could actually make)! I think your food resonates with so many of us in the ‘melting pot’ out here. I’m a NovaScotian-Oklahoman married to a Gujarati-Virginian: my husband and I were both born and raised in Houston (a wonderful place of culinary diversity!) and are now raising our toddler son in Washington DC. I love the effortless blending of cultures in your food–I think you’ve succesfully transferred that fusion concept from restuarants to the home cook. I know I’ve never seen Bombay Sloppy Joes anywhere else, and those are KILLER. So so so good. As my son says, “More please!” Bring it on: Madras Meatballs, Pondicherry Pie, Kerala Kebabs, Delhi Donuts, Jaipur Jambalaya. Ok, now I’m just cross referencing my India Lonely Planet guide with Joy of Cooking’s index–but the point is, YOU have the talent, creativity, and heart to make any of those things (and much more) into delectable and accessible recipes!! Be blessed!

    “Grace at Meals”, Book of Common Prayer:
    Blessed are you, O Lord God, King of the Universe, for you give us food to sustain our lives and make our hearts glad, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

    Praying that your cookbook will bring gladness to many hearts, and that He will continue to encourage yours as you write it.

    Rock it sister!

  19. Kathryn

    My husband just said, when is Aarti coming up with a cookbook. Now I can tell him! We can’t wait. Good luck with all the writing, testing, and editing!
    Thanks for the great recipes on food network. Also, you cook great vegan dishes without even mentioning they are vegan (pea-lafel anyone = super yum).


  20. Stephanie Abraham

    Aarti! First off, congratulations on your bun in the oven- I haven’t been on your blog in a few months and am excited for you! Secondly, I cannot WAIT for your cookbook to be released… I will be the first in line to buy it. You have no idea how much I rooted for you on TNFNS. Best wishes to you and your family (:

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