I had a blast on this shoot with Smita Chutke of Smita's Cookery - and it left my studio smelling absolutely delicious.
Smita is a food educator, private chef, and now the driving force behind Smita's Cookery — a line of spice blends that meld incredible Indian flavors for use in both savory and sweet dishes. The line is currently made up of a meat spice, veggie spice, and two different dessert spices that make use of some wonderful floral flavors.
Smita has experienced many of India's diverse regions through growing up in the country and spent many years exploring its unique culinary offerings.
"I grew up all across India as my dad was in the Airforce which means I got to experience the diversity of regional food and culture. Every year in summer for vacation we would visit my maternal grandmother’s home in Maharashtra (West) and paternal grandmother in Hyderabad (South). Both these regions are part of the Deccan plateau and influenced my style of cooking that uses a lot of peanuts, poppy seeds, sesame seeds and coconut. When I moved to USA in 2002, I saw the misrepresentation and cultural appropriation around Indian cuisine and spices with words like “Curry” and “Curry Powder” This lead my journey to starting Smita's Cookery"
Smita brought a literal crate of fresh and dried spices to use as props for this shoot. There was such a variety of colors, textures, and scents. Some of these spices I was familiar with, and some were new to me. Even as we were taking photographs, Smita quickly slipped into the role of educator - describing the purpose and flavors of many of the spices, lichens, and dried flowers she uses in her products — often punctuated by tossing some ground spices into the air or inviting us to smell the various ingredients up close.