Welcome to SpiceboxTravels.com! On this site, you’ll see recipes inspired by my travels, as well as recipes for delicious, healthy food. (These are not always mutually exclusive.) How did this come about? In my day job as a physician, I talk about food as an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. I also lead healthy cooking classes at sites around the San Francisco Bay Area.* But I believe that food isn’t just about nutrition, it can be inspiration. I devote my leisure time to reading voraciously, eating with gusto, traveling, and cooking meals inspired by my travels.
I believe that the best way to get to know a culture is to sit down and break bread (or roti, or a bowl of rice or noodles) with the locals. My stories are about some great meals, but also about the people I’ve shared them with and the places I’ve eaten them, all around the globe. The second thing I do on a trip (after unpacking my belongings into my new temporary home) is to head to the local market to see what people are buying, eating, and gossiping about. Aside from some animal parts and insects in general, I am almost always willing and interested in trying local flavors. I will also often pack an “emergency kit” of few simple spices– a sea salt grinder, a pepper grinder, and a well-sealed bag of Trinidadian curry powder. My spice emergency kit ensures that no matter where I am, I can cook a meal that will satisfy our tastebuds and also introduce a part of my family’s culture to new friends.
That’s why– in case you’re wondering what the “Spicebox” is all about– I’ve named this site after the spice box found in the kitchens of Indian homes, called a masala dabba. A masala dabba consists of a large, flat-bottomed, round steel container in which nest several smaller steel bowls that can be filled with spices, all covered with a lid.
How did I get here? My culinary education began long before I became a doctor, when I learned to make quiche in an early French class when I was seven. That sparked a lifetime of curiosity of the people and cultures behind different cuisines. Since that first class, I’ve tried to learn cooking from the locals whenever I’ve traveled abroad. Highlights of the formal cooking classes I’ve taken (so far) have included: a Nonya cooking class in Singapore; learning to make authentic Oaxacan mole from chef Iliana de la Vega at the former el Naranjo restaurant in Oaxaca city (now in Austin, TX); making pico de gallo in a seaside class in Puerto Vallarta; learning to cook the créole food of the Indian Ocean in Seychelles; mastering the art of baking macarons at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris; making homemade pasta at an agriturismo in Tuscany; learning to cook adobo and also lesser known Filipino classics in Manila; and being schooled in dim sum from a master in Hong Kong. In 2016 I graduated from the professional culinary certificate program at San Francisco Cooking School and externed at the spice-filled, Michelin-starred kitchen at Mourad. Informally, I have learned traditional Taiwanese family recipes by cooking with my mother and have been taught Trinidadian cooking by my husband’s family. I am always eager to try new recipes from the kitchens of friends and family.
I’ll share with you the stories behind some memorable meals, and the recipes they inspired. I’ll also take you on virtual tours of some truly wonderful markets I have had a chance to visit around the world. I hope you’ll enjoy hearing about my journeys and culinary adventures and hope to pique your interest in recreating my recipes in your own kitchen. After all, the best way to improve your health is to cook, and a great way to spread happiness is to cook for others. Thank you so much for visiting. Bon appétit!
Cookbook coming March 2021! Spicebox Kitchen, Da Capo Press.
Please contact me at spiceboxtravels [at] gmail [dot] com.
*For information about my healthy cooking classes, please visit (and Like!) my Facebook page: www.Facebook.com/TheDoctorsSpicebox.
Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @spiceboxtravels.
For healthy recipes on this site, you can search the tag “healthy“.
Disclaimer: Recipes and nutrition information are not intended as medical advice.