This blog was born out of necessity to document my own culinary journey since moving to the UK. If you’ve lived away from India you’d know how difficult it is to find authentic Indian food. And what a disappointment that was for a girl who grew up eating the most flavourful food in India to have to settle for the heavily-customised-to-the-British-palate curry, cooked in Bangladeshi style, served in so-called ‘Indian’ restaurants here. It was about as authentic as a £2 note. Needless to say, the first couple of years finding my feet (and food!) in the UK were a struggle for me. This, however, led me to dig deeper into my Indian roots to replicate those culinary flavours that were almost impossible to find anywhere but my own kitchen.
And that’s when I started preparing those rustic curries, regional thalis, festive and seasonal delicacies, street-foods, pickles and chutneys to satiate my cravings. Zanzaneet blog was first launched in 2010, designed and hand-coded by my beloved husband Steve, to document our own recipes and learn a bit of tech along the way. Zanzaneet Kitchen is the new face of Zanzaneet and reflects my passion for the simple regional Indian food that I grew up with along with some rustic European dishes that I’ve newly discovered. It unashamedly celebrates some of the heritage regional recipes from my ancestral home in India as well. This blog is also a window into my Anglo-Indian lifestyle and journey towards sustainability and intersectionality, topics I feel strongly about.
A bit about me
Hi, I am Rieethaa (pronounced Reeta) and I live in rural Oxfordshire in the UK with my English husband and our beautiful little girl, Aarya. Food is a big deal to me. I grew up in India where food is a massive part of the culture and coming from a family of farmers, I am used to being very much connected to the land. Over the years I have come to appreciate the simple things in life. The food I cook, the time I get to spend with my family, the plants I grow, the sheer beauty of the English countryside, and the privilege of running in open fields to stay fit, is what I am forever grateful for.
What does ‘zanzaneet’ mean?
I get asked this question a lot. ‘Zanzaneet’ in Marathi, my mother-tongue means sizzlingly spicy and vibrant food that makes your ears and nose blow. I wish there was a literal English translation for this Maharashtrian colloquialism; it’s something that native Marathi speakers blurt out whenever they taste something truly flavourful and spicy.
So why did I choose this word to brand my blog? Well, for me the word ‘zanzaneet’ neatly summarises the kind of rustic, flavourful, and spicy food that I grew up with in Pune and at my ancestral village in Maharashtra. For me, this word evokes treasured memories and emotions. It’s also the food I sorely missed when I first moved to the UK but has now become a part of our diet here. Yes, my family loves spicy food. Even my four-year-old daughter doesn’t mind a bit of spice in her pasta or curry every now and then 😉
My cooking style
Whether I am cooking British or Indian, I like to source ingredients as sustainably as possible. It’s a real struggle to find all the produce I need locally, that is seasonal and plastic-free. Due to the kind of weather we get in the UK, not everything is grown locally. I source my seasonal fruit and vegetables from a local farm shop plastic-free. In summer I grow some of the produce I cook with. I like food cooked with minimal ingredients that lift (rather than mask) the inherent flavours of the produce used in the dish. I have seen my grandmothers cook this way and I embrace their style of cooking in my kitchen. I regularly talk about my cooking ethos and sustainability on Instagram.
What motivates me to create content for this blog?
Passing on my culinary traditions to our daughter, so that she fully benefits from her mixed heritage, is a big motivator for this blog. She absolutely loves cooking and jumps at the chance to get her hands mucky in the kitchen with me. I hope that by documenting these recipes, someday she’ll be able to replicate the food she’s growing up with.
All images and content on zanzaneet.com are copyright. Please do not hotlink to any of the images you see on this site or upload them to your own servers. If you see a photo that you really like please contact me directly to enquire about licensing it.
All the recipes published here are my own, tried and tested in my kitchen and are written in my own words. Please do not reproduce any of the content here without giving credit as that would be highly unethical (not to mention illegal).
If you want to use my recipes on your own blog then please reword the instructions and ingredients, credit me and provide a link back to the original recipe page on this blog. It’s not OK to republish my work verbatim.