Monday, January 08, 2007

My Experience.......

Lets start from the very beginning......I got married to Abhishek in December 2004 and came to US. I always had this passion for cooking, so I used to make a lot of traditional Indian dishes for both of us. Abhi use to enjoy them a lot, as before getting married either he use to eat frozen food or he used to cook himself...infact he is also a great cook, but at the time we got married he didn't liked sweets at all and I am a sweets person, specially Bengali Sweets.

One day I thought of making Rasgullas at home and called my mom in India to ask how to start with it. "You have to make fresh paneer for making rasgullas and than boil paneer balls in a simple sugar syrup", she said. The same day I started of by making paneer and than boiled the paneer balls in than syrup, but it was a complete disaster and I was very upset. Abhi tried to console me a lot but in my head only one thing was going on, and that was if I cannot even make a simple dish like rasgulla than how will I move forward in this field.... :O(

One day we called one of Abhi friends on dinner and she got some homemade rasgullas for us and they were awesome. Without letting a minute go, I asked her (Rashmi), how do you make it and she said I can teach you right now if you have whole milk and a big pressure cooker at home. I started to think in my head, that how can you make rasgullas in a pressure cooker. Anyways, I asked Abhi to bring milk at the same time from a nearby grocery store and we started by making Paneer and than rasgullas from it.....and thats how it all began or I can say thats how I started making paneer for all Bengali sweets.

I kept on experimenting with Paneer and making myself efficient in making these sweets at home, unaware of anything like FOOD NETWORK or any person named Emeril Lagasse. Actually, we didn't used to have additional channels at first, we just had those basic channels. So, I used to watch a lot of TLC shows and slowly it became my favourite channel.

Then one day, in the end of August 2005, someone knocked at our door and Abhi answered. A person from Time Warner Cable was there and he said there is an offer going on for free subscription of additional channels for the whole month of September and if you like them you can get them for an additional payment of just $10 per month, but this offer is for now only. Abhi immediately said yes for it and than we thought, lets see it for a month and than we'll extend it, if we'll like it.

As usual, I used to watch TLC and TLC only, but one day while flipping the channels I saw someone cooking and suddenly I stopped. That someone was Paula Deen...didn't knew at that time though and I got HOOKED on it. It was a whole new world for me. Day and night FOOD NETWORK and FOOD NETWORK only. Thats how I came to know about EMERIL Live, what a nice show.....OK lets watch it.

As far As I remember, in October, Emeril announced this contest called "Emeril Live Scratch Contest" and said they wanted something from stratch which should not be a complete dish, but can be put use for making some other dish and than Emeril will create one of his own dishes from it. Now I got something to think about and I kept on thinking that, what can I send that should just be a basic ingredient for making the dish and not a complete dish in itself. Nothing was coming to my mind and I was not even exposed to American Food that much. Never used to like Pasta or any type of cheese. But knew one thing and that was 'Americans Love Cheese'.

Abhi was in the office that day and was very busy in meetings....I called him and asked if I can send the recipe of Paneer in Emeril Live's contest, he was in a rush, so he said OK..OK, send it and I got a green signal. I wrote a small introduction about India and about my family along with the recipe of Paneer and sent it.

On 11th of February 2006, one of our very close friends Ila and Diwakar, met with an accident on their vacation and it was a big shock for us. Diwakar (Abhi's college friend) got hurt very badly but with the grace of God nothing was life threatening and all the injuries were curable. We went to see him and he was recovering fast. Everybody was trying to make him laugh and make him feel comfortable, as if nothing has happend and he was also enjoying it. Next day we were taking him out for a change and suddenly my phone rang. At first I thought of not picking it as the number was not familiar, but than I don't know what happend and I took the call.

"Hi, this is Alan Madison calling from Emeril Live, may I speak to Nidhi Gupta please", he said....I said, what??? He repeated that same thing and I said "OK, yes, this is Nidhi here"... "Congratulations Ms Gupta, your recipe has been selected as one of the 100 semi-finalists, can you tell me something about yourself, your husband and your family back in India." I immediately said, which recipe, I didn't send any recipe....actually, I totally forgot about it. Then he reminded me of sending the recipe of Paneer and I said, "Oh! yes, I remember." Everybody was waiting outside for me in the car, but Ila was there and as soon as she heard that its a call from FOOD NETWORK, she started telling everyone...."celebrity ban gayee" and I was still taking to Alen. After keeping the phone done, I thought I am a semi-finalist with 99 others...whatever.., I again forgot about it.

In May 2006, I was packing for our vacation to NY and again a call from a somewhat familiar number. "Hi Nidhi, this is Alan Madison"...he said and I said, (my heart was pounding out of my chest), "Oh! ya, tell me how are you doing?" He said, "I am good and just wanted to say Congratulations, you are one of the Four lucky winners of 'Emeril Live Scratch Contest' from 1600 entries. I'll be coming to your home along with my crew on 30th Of June 2006 to Shoot the recipe of Paneer." I was so happy....I thanked him a lot and immediately after it, I called Abhi.

At 30th of June 2006 at 8:00 am, they came for shooting of the recipe and stayed till 4:00 pm. They were amazed to see all the different Indian Spices and how Indian dishes like Palak Paneer, Matar Paneer, Rasgulla, Rasmalai etc.etc. are made from scratch in India. They were even more surprised to know that this type of cooking is a day-to-day part of Indian lifestyle. Alan asked me to speak in Hindi as well as in English and he specifically liked the word "NAMASTE". That day I prepared a lot of Indian dishes featuring paneer in them like Palak Paneer, Paneer Tikka, Matar Paneer, Rasgulla, Rasmalai, Paneer Cheese cake and some other dishes like Dal Makhani, Fruit Skewers, Jeera Rice, Naan, Chivda etc.

After the shooting of making Paneer was over, we all enjoyed all the dishes that I prepared. One of my close friends Jeene was also there with us during the shooting. Then they interviewed me for almost 45minutes, asked me all types of questions related to India. Alan said, he wanted to take some of my shots at the nearby Indian store. So, from there we went to the Indian store and did a little bit shooting there as well.

Alan and the crew had there flight back to New York at 4:45 pm, the same day, so they had to rush to the airport now. They said good bye to us and appreciated my food a lot. We both thanked them and came back home discussing each and every moment of the day that we spent with them.

On August 21st 2006, I recived a call from the same area code, different number though....again a surprise for me. I thought it was over, but no...there was something more for me in store... "Hi this is Patricia LaMorte from FOOD NETWORK, may I speak to Nidhi Gupta please", she said. I said, "yes this is Nidhi here"..."Hi Nidhi, this Patricia and I have called to say Congratulations to you and to set up your flight and hotel reservations for 21st of September 2006 (which is my birthday), you are invited on the show and the shooting will take place on 22nd September 2006 at 4:00pm. You can also bring 5 other people with you to the show".

Abhi (was sitting next to me during the show) and Two of my favourite Uncles and Aunts, my father's youngest brother and his cousin brother along with their wives, went with me to the show and we all enjoyed a lot. Rest you have already seen on the Television. In the end, I would like to say..........

..It was an awesome and one-of-a-kind experince....I will never forget it in my life.


FH said...

WOW!! Nidhi,I am so thrilled for you.I have recorded the program yesterday and I waiting for Arvind to come back so we can watch it together!It was so great to see all these pics and what a wonderful honor for your skills!Thank you for sharing this with us and I am proud to know you.Aap to ab pakka celebrity ho!:))

Anonymous said...

Hi Nidhi,

This is my first visit to ur blog and what a suprise cos I saw u on television last night girl!I was so proud that u choose paneer.Infact I came to catch a glimpse of ur bell pepper rings recipe and vote for ur entry.It was so nice of u to share ur experiences with us.Both u and ur husband make a lovely pair.Congratualtions to you!!!And I hope u win the chefs contest also.I loved all the recipes on ur blog.Shall henceforth visit ur blog to learn more recipes.


Hyderabadi's said...

So happy about you Nidhi.
Can you some photos with emeril..

Anonymous said...

Hi Nidhi,

I cam to ur blog by chance from mahanandi. I saw you on TV yesterday and was so proud to see an Indian on emerill live. Congratulations. All through the show i was 100% sure that a person who has come on such a famous show wld have a food blog of sure. I am very happy for you. but to be frank, i didnt like the bread sandwich emerill made with panner to go with butternut squash soup. He shld have used paneer in a bettr way. may be paneer as the main ingredient. Anyways congratulations to you.

Anonymous said...

Can you please post recipe for panneer that made you famous? and also all the sweets that can be made with paneer?

Anonymous said...

Hey Nidhi,
Was that you on TV ? I chanced to switch on the TV yesterday and was telling my girl, 'see an Indian dish in Food TV'! BTW, my net was down for soooo many days, I missed all the posts. Thanks God, I didn't miss your show. Congrats girl and happy new year !

Anonymous said...

Congratulations. What I enjoyed the most about your little story is your simplicity and humbleness. More than anything you don't sound like a lot of other food bloggers that have an I-know-it-all attitude concerning cooking just because they take pictures of food and have a blog. That's why you are successful in what you do.

Mrs. K said...

Nidhi, I am so overjoyed to read this. Beautiful post. I missed your other missed the show too. :( Do you know when it is airing again? I will go to foodnetwork and try to find it myself but if you know it, please let me know. Congratulations to you. You made us all proud.

Unknown said...

Hey Nidhi...
Congrats ..we just saw your program today.I had put it on record yesterday.So happy for you and made us all proud.On your honor , will be putting a paneer recipe soon.But not from the scratch though ...:)

Vcuisine said...

Nidhi, Was so happy to read your write up. Very natural and sweet memories to share. Nice to see you also. Congrats. Viji

Anonymous said...

Congrats on appearing in a TV show..Would really like to know the paneer making and also the recipe for Rasgulla and RasMalai..searched your blog but just found pics of the sweets(from your first post)...

Anonymous said...

You are a famous person!!!!!! People are already recognising you!!!! This is great!!!! Congratulations girl!!!! This is indeed awesome!!!!! :)

Sia said...

awesome nidhi... congrats girl... glad to know u enjoyed:) now dont forget to post all paneer recipes for us...:)

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, Nidhi! Way to go, girl..:)

Shah cooks said...

Hi Nidhi, We saw the show yesterday and it was great!Congrats on making it to the show and I thoroughly enjoyed reading ur experience on it.

Sumitha said...

Awwwww....My God!A celebrity within us bloggers!Wonderful!Nidhi lots of hugs to you from me.I dont get food network here,but know it would have been so special!oh well done!


Vow. Great news. Food blogger on T.V channel. Congrats. It must have been very tough competition.

I must appriciate Shri Abhishek also.( I am sure he must have consumed Rasgulla when you made it for the first time while trying to console you, as I do the same thing)

Can we see the clip here back in India on blog or somewhere?

Anonymous said...

Congrats Nidhi, you must be so thrilled and excited, aren't you? Lovely write-up.

swapna susarla said...

wow nidhi
it was really so great..i watched ur praogram too..congrats to u..we are all proud of u..all the best for ur future....

TNL said...

bravo!!! *clapping* You have made all of us VERY proud! Great going,Nidhi!

Seema Bhat said...

Nidhi, wooo hooo finally I am able to comment on your blog. I did leave a comment for you in my blog answering your concerns lady. Hugs. Let me know if i can help you in any other way. And I loved you on the show and as somebody else commented Emril could have used panner in a better way. But who cares you are the winner and I was so happy to see you on TV. I liked your post too. So well written and you seem to be a very down to earth girl which is why we all love you.

Anonymous said...

Congrats Nidhi,Here's wishing you many more successes in the future. Waiting for the paneer recipes!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations Nidhi!
Very proud of it. If you have the recorded show could you pls upload it to your blog. So somebody like me who missed the show can get a chance to see it. Eager to see your show. Thnks.

jayakarthik said...

nidhi i watched the program along with my husband, wow girl it was wonderful, but he didnt use the paneer as a main dish, anyway they dont no abt our wonderful recipes thought ;)
i was telling my mom, dad n relatives too abt this
one of my cousin too watched it,
u made us all proud nidhi
wonderful wonderful

Chandrika said...

Congratulations Nidhi! And wish you and your family a very Happy New Year!

archana said...

Congratulations Nidhi, we are all so proud of you. I missed it, wish i could see it somewhere. Wish you all the best.

Bong Mom said...

Wow Nidhi. Didn't know about this, this is so so great that I just called my husband and made him read this post
Shall read it again tomorrow more in detail. You are awesome. Alas I don't have FOOD NETWORK :(

sra said...

nice post, nidhi, enjoyable reading. i don't have food network here so i missed all the excitement

Vini K said...

Hi Nidhi,wow!I am speechless!you ARE a celebrity now,aren't you?You lucky girl,you..

Well dear,I could not watch Emeril Live as I live in England,but it was a treat to read your post and see all the photographs..You look so happy and when can I expect a new cookbook being launched in the market by Ms.Nidhi Gupta?:)

I am soo happy for you,dear.Go Bless you!:)

Anonymous said...


Great thought that you sent the recipe of Paneer.

Krithika said...

Congratulations !! Nidhi sach-much celebrity ban gayi... I too missed the show. Would love to catch the re-run.

Mythreyee said...

That was sure a wonderful experience. Now, we have a celebrity among food bloggers. Congratulations. We love your sweet smile.

Mandira said...

Wow Nidhi, this is too cool. Congratulations dear, this calls for a celebration. Way to go girl!

Anonymous said...

Hey Nidhi! This made for such an interesting read. Must have been so exciting! I got goosebumps when I read about your call asking u to go for the taping. :)
Has the NBC interview been aired yet? I don't think people elsewhere can see it. I wonder if there's a way to post a video on the blog?

Dr. Soumya Bhat said...

hey nidhi great yaar.You look awesome.Congrates again on your sucess

Anonymous said...

Congratulations Nidhi ! I was so excited when u said u won the emeril scratch and win contest. I called few of my friends and told them to watch and finally I missed the show, had to go for a friends bday party. Can u post the video if possible ??

Nidhi said...

Thanks Asha, you have me proud too by writing such a nice comment.

Thanks Anusha, glad to know that voted for me and I hope I'll make you all proud once again... :)How did you came to know about my blog???

Thanks Priya, but they didn't allowed us to take pictures with Emeril. So...Sorry about that! :(

Thanks Sowmya, I think you have the same opinion as so many others have about doing justice to paneer and I talked about it to some of my American friends as well, they say Cheese sandwich is very famous here so may be that's why he made it :)

Hey Anonymous, I will soon post my recipes for Paneer, rasgullas and rasmalai. Thanks..

Thanks Lakshmi, I glad that you watched the show, even though it was by chance...:)

Thanks Anonymous, Thanks once again for such kind words and Keep visiting...

Thanks RP, I will definitely post it on my blog if it airs again. I am checking it everyday cos so many of my blogger friends have missed it..

Thanks Maheswari, thanks for giving me so much of Honor, I am very happy to read your comment.

Thanks Viji, I am glad you liked it. Keep visiting :)

Thanks Anonymous, will soon post my recipes for paneer, rasgulla and rasmalai. Keep coming...

Thanks Coffee, thanks a lot...I really wanna do something big in this field and I will be trying for it, till I get it.

Thanks Sia, will sure post the recipes of paneer. :)

Thanks Sailaja, Keep visiting.

Thanks Mallugirl, I happy to know that u enjoyed it. Keep visiting :)

Thanks Sumitha, Hugs to you as well, and I am glad to know that you liked my post. :)

Thanks Harekrishnaji, It was indeed a tough competition but as you must have read in my post, I was not much aware of Emeril or anything. I only came to know after I won, that 1600 entries were there and from that 4 are selected :)

You are also right that Abhishek has eaten a lot of rasgullas when I first made them and they were not at all good, but he never complained about it and he only encouraged me for making them better next time. It is his support only that I am here today and I am very proud to say that he is my Husband :)

I am thinking of contacting Times Of India for giving some new about it there, but sorry I cannot put it on my blog or anywhere else because of Copyright of Food Network :(

Thanks Meena, Good to know that you like it. Keep visiting :)

Thanks Swapna, I need your good wishes and support for making big in Future as well.

Thanks Trupti, Good to hear that you all are proud of me :)

Thanks Seema, hugs to you too... Thanks once again for such wonderful words...oh! I am so happy. And thanks for your help as well. I read your comment for me on your blog :)

Thanks Nalini, will surely post some of the paneer dishes for you.

Thanks Just For Fun,I am glad you liked it, but I cannot put it on my blog or anywhere else because of Copyright of Food Network :( I will definitely post it on my blog if it airs again.

Thanks Jaya, thanks for telling it to your parents as well. Do they live here or in India? You are also right that he didn't do much with paneer but...Thats OK :) What else should I say...

Thanks Chandrika, Keep visiting :)

Thanks Archana, Your words made me very happy. I will definitely post it on my blog if it airs again.

Thanks Sandeepa, I am glad you liked my post and how about your Husband, did he enjoyed it or not?? Just kidding.. ;)

Thanks Sra, glad you liked it. Keep visiting for more :)

Thanks Vini, Good to know that you liked my post...I don't know when is my cookbook coming, but since you said it, I am giving it a thought now.. :)

Thanks Anonymous, Keep Visiting..

Thanks Krithika, I will definitely post it on my blog if it airs again. Enjoy..

Thanks Mythreyee, I am glad you liked it and also thanks for giving me such a wonderful compliment. :)

Thanks Mandira, indeed it calls for a celebration and we did it as well, on the day it aired. All my friends were here and we had a nice time together.

Thanks Vani, I glad you enjoyed it so much, but I cannot put it on my blog or anywhere else because of Copyright of Food Network :( and that NBC channel was local for Columbus OH. So...

Thanks Dr Soumya, I am happy to know that you liked it. :)

Thanks Priya, for your wishes and for telling it to your friends as well, but I cannot put it on my blog or anywhere else because of Copyright of Food Network :( I will definitely post it on my blog if it airs again.

Bong Mom said...

Hi Nidhi
My husband was awed !!! I would love to see the video, I tried Food and though they have the recipe EMeril did using your paneer, I could not find a video on their site
If you think it's online please let us know
Also tell us all about yoyr experience meeting EMeril
Best wishes to you for your next cooking venture

Anonymous said...

Nidhi, are you a local celebrity now?
Seems like you enjoyed it every bit. Is there a link to the video anywhere?

Annita said...

wow..Nidhi..Congrats..Soo sad ,I too missed the we don't have Food Network here.Anyway i'm really happy for u dear.As all others said,u made all Indians proud..Way to go..And waiting to hear more such happy news from u.BTW,It was very sweet of u to share the pics and ur experience.

USHA said...

Hi Nidhi,

Congrats!my girl.....You post was interesting and photos added additional beauty to the post...

All the best....

Nidhi said...

Thanks Sandeepa, good to know that your husband also enjoyed it and as far as I know, the has some general videos but it doesn't have show videos online. So...I don't think so, that you will be able to find it there, but if it airs again than I will definilety let you know.

Thanks Gini, to some extent you are right cos people have started recognizing me a little :) . About the link, no there is no link to the video. Sorry... :(

Thanks Annita, for your wonderful wishes and I hope to make Indians proud once again. Also, Good to know that you enjoyed reading about my experience. :)

Thanks Usha, I am glad to know that you liked and enjoyed it so much.. :)

Lisa Johnson said...

Congratulations! What an amazing experience! You done good girl! : )

Nidhi said...

Thanks Anali, It was indeed an experience of a lifetime...I enjoyed it to the fullest and I am still enjoying it!


BuddingCook said...

thanks for visiting my site. :) oh woo hoo. you are a celebrity! :D

Suma Gandlur said...

Visiting your site for the first time,thru your comment left on my blog. Bamm... Emeril's style. That's what I thought when i read that you were on Emeril's show. You go girl!
Very happy to see a fellow Indian on Emeril's show.
By the way, Thanks for visiting my blog and continue to do that.

Sonia said...

Hi Nidhi,
I am new in food blog world.
I read ur personal experience in ur blog. it was just fantastic. What a lucky girl...!!! and very belated Congratulations from Australia.
Sonu. :-)