Meredith Williams

Meredith Williams (Vikalp Women’s Group): Meredith worked for seven years in human resources at the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). She then joined the PBS Foundation to work on fundraising. Meredith was in her final year at Georgetown University Law Center when she undertook her fellowship at Vikalp and visited Vikalp in the spring of 2011 with a team of students from Georgetown Law’s Community Justice Project clinic. After her fellowship Meredith wrote: “There is no question that the best part of my fellowship was the people that I worked with. Maya and Indira, and the work that they do, are inspiring, but also the people that Parma serves were 100% gracious and welcoming to us.”

Adventures in Cooking

29 Jun

At home in the US, I pride myself on being a fairly good cook and I generally enjoy doing it, from the grocery shopping to the prep work, to trying new vegetables, to re-imagining recipes based on my personal tastes, to sharing my cooking with friends and family. As far as the kitchen appliances go, I think I have made excellent investments. The Air Fryers, Food processor, Slicer/Chopper and all other appliances make the whole process of cooking quite easy. Not surprisingly, the cleanup is my least favorite part, but even that I don’t mind so much. However, I realized even before I came to India that I am really only comfortable cooking in my kitchen, where I have everything set up just the way I like it (provided my roommates haven’t moved things around on me). You can check out this site for more about the appliance repair service.

When we visited in April, and since returning, I have been both intrigued and intimidated by cooking in India. The food that we eat here is amazing, especially the meals prepared by Maya, Indira, and their friends, and I would love to be able to replicate some of those recipes. But I am also intimidated by how labor intensive the cooking is and how much they seem to be able to accomplish with appliances and utensils that I need a lesson to use. For instance, we have a hot plate with gas burners in our kitchen, which is actually pretty standard in India, but when I tried to light a burner with the “igniter-thingie” (that’s a technical term) to make tea, I couldn’t seem to get it to work and had to have Indira show me the next day. Even now, a week later, it usually takes me 5-6 tries to get a burner lit, while Maya and Indira seem to do it effortlessly in one try.

Then there is the intimidation of the Indian produce. In the Indian equivalent to 7-11, Reliance Fresh, which is the closest grocery store to our office, I have probably heard of/used half of the produce there. The other half, while usually coming from similar food families (such as squash) is still completely new. Meanwhile, I’ve watched Indira buy a sack of produce from the vegetable lolly man near her house, open it, and instantly know how to prep and cook everything inside. It’ll take me more than a summer to be that comfortable. Without Indira by my side during the shopping and cooking, I’m sure pick the wrong vegetable for the dish or prep it incorrectly, but I’ve always been an experimenter when it comes to cooking.

This past Monday, Sam and I decided to face our fears head-on and give cooking a try. While the food that Maya and Indira serve us for lunch and most evenings is amazing, we feel badly for always relying on them for our sustenance. So, we queried Indira on how to prepare some Indian vegetables that we had eaten, gathered our courage, and headed to Reliance Fresh. What happened next is best summed up by this little video on YouTube, with photo credits going to Sam.

[youtube j45BfgztYSU Adventures in Indian Cooking, Episode 1]

Posted By Meredith Williams

Posted Jun 29th, 2011


  • Julia Dowling

    June 30, 2011


    Hey Meredith and Sam,

    This was amazing because it reminded me and Quinn of our own cooking in Bosnia! We didn’t actually know there was a full kitchen for us to use in our BOSFAM house. We’ve been cutting things on plates, using large spoons to spread butter, and all the other oddities of living in a pre-furnished flat. Hope you’re both well!

    Julia and Quinn

    • Meredith Williams

      June 30, 2011


      Ha! Glad to hear that we aren’t the only ones trying to find our way around foreign kitchens. As you could probably see, we also used plates as cutting boards and spoons as a substitute for almost every other utensil. I have to say though, the adventure of it all made it that much more of an enjoyable experience. I’ve been keeping up with you both via your blogs and it sounds like you are meeting some amazing women! We should definitely find a way when we get back to get together and recount our adventures.


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