‘Spice up your life’ with Pittsburgh food blogger Chand’s Kitchen

Meet Chandni Patel, the Shadyside-based blogger serving up inspired vegetarian eats over at Chand’s Kitchen. Her site shares recipes for everything from Roasted Red Pepper Ravioli and Tandoori Paneer Puffs to Rose Barfi and Mango Kulfi.

Chandni is a data analyst by day, but as soon as the sun goes down, she applies her math skills toward measuring ingredients in the kitchen. Chandni’s tagline on her blog, “spice up your life,” refers to the rich Indian flavors she grew up eating, as well as her boundless desire to experience new food, places, and activities.

We chatted with Chandni about her blog, background, and what it’s like living (and eating) in the ‘Burgh.

Food blogger Chandni Patel (📸: @chandskitchen)

The Incline: Thanks so much for joining us, Chandni! First, tell us where your love of cooking comes from.

Chandni Patel: My love of cooking comes from my mom. Growing up, I used to bake more at home, but it wasn’t until I graduated college and entered the real world that I started cooking more creative dishes. With my new 9-5 schedule, I was able to take the time to experiment with ingredients and learn new recipes. This eventually led to the start of Chand’s Kitchen, and I began sharing pictures of my creations on social media.

What do you like to cook with your mom?

We cook a lot of Indian food together. A lot of the dishes are recipes she grew up eating. During the pandemic, I would FaceTime her and she would walk me through some recipes, usually traditional Indian food that you don’t see in restaurants that we would eat on a day to day basis. More recently, she taught me how to make snacks and desserts [Editor’s note: This includes Methi Shakarpara (fenugreek crackers) and Rose Barfi as seen on her Instagram].

Chandni’s Rose Barfi (📸: @chandskitchen)

Do you have any food requests when you go home?

There’s a dish called malai kofta. It’s a potato paneer — a cheese ball — that sits in a tomato gravy. Also Gujarati Ravaiya, which is a stuffed eggplant with a peanut spice mixture.

What are some go-to recipes from your blog that are a perfect fit for summer?

The Mango Habanero Jam is one of my favorites for summertime. The jam is naturally sweet with some heat to it, and is perfect for toast, pancakes, or even a cheese plate!

Another one of my favorite summer recipes is fresh salsa. You only need a few ingredients, a few minutes, and the blender will do almost all the work! The fresh salsa is perfect for a midday snack or a backyard picnic.

Chandni’s Mango Habanero Jam (📸: @chandskitchen)

You’ve been vegetarian all your life. What do you like about it?

I like how clean it is and how good you feel when you’re eating plants. It’s so nice to see how restaurants have evolved since I was younger to include more vegetarian options.

I also love to play with colors. The colors of the produce really draws my eyes. You can really be creative with endless combinations of vegetables and fruits you can put together… and always be trying something new.

Do you have any favorite Indian restaurants in Pittsburgh? 

I really like Taste of India; they have really good North Indian food. And Udipi Cafe in Monroeville has great vegetarian South Indian food.

Other favorite spots to grab a bite?

Bae Bae’s Kitchen, El Burro, and B52 Cafe.

What do you love about living in Pittsburgh? 

I love how there is always something new going on in Pittsburgh. Even though the city is small, each neighborhood has its own charm and there are a ton of public parks to escape to nature.

What local business do you think deserves a shout out and why?

Adda Coffee & Tea House! Not only are their drinks super tasty, but they are always supporting the community by partnering with small businesses and nonprofits. Be sure to check out all of the unique global pantry items at Adda Bazar.

What’s a project you’re working on (big or small) and how can The Incline readers help you with it?

I am currently developing fun recipes with summer produce!  Readers can subscribe to my blog and give me a follow on Instagram to stay up to date with upcoming recipes.

By Francesca Dabecco