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Aarti Sequeira of 'Aarti Party' talks new series & Indian inspired recipes

Aarti Sequeira, winner of Food Network Star Season 6, makes easy, Indian-inspired meals with a modern twist on Aarti Party
Food Network

Aarti Sequeira, lifelong foodie and celebrity chef, continues to influence consumers through her passion and knowledge for cooking.

In August 2010, her career as a chef took off when she won Season 6 of Food Network's No. 1 series, “Food Network Star” prompting her landing her very own Food Network show “Aarti Party” and online variety show “Aarti Paarti.” She surprises viewers every week with bold flavors and unexpected techniques to help grow their culinary range by bringing her beloved Indian cuisine to everyday dishes.

In addition, she shares her worldly culinary expertise on Cooking Channel’s “Tastes in Translation” as she discovers the planet’s most popular and mouthwatering food. Examiner.com had the opportunity to chat with the chef as she discussed ways people can expand their cooking repertoire with easy approaches to ‘intimidating’ recipes and ingredients.

It is no secret that international flavors are only becoming more in-demand in 2014. Chef Aarti shares how to cook with bold international flavors and ways to spice up everyday meals with trendy ingredients, or how to add sophistication to beverages with fresh herbs. She has fresh tips and recipes to help people experiment in the kitchen using ingredients like grapefruit, fennel, Halloumi cheese and Tandoori powder.

Chef Aarti is partnering with Florida Grapefruit to encourage Americans to expand their culinary horizons. Check out the Florida Grapefruit Facebook page for the complete recipes and to access the Grapefruit Yogurt Smoothie recipe that Chef Aarti loves by clicking here.

Read the full interview below and be sure to get exclusive recipes from Aarti by clicking here.

Examiner: How are you?

Aarti Sequeira: “I am doing well.”

Examiner: How has your life changed since winning the “The Next Food Network Star” and what was your initial reaction?

Aarti Sequeira: “It was so surreal…I was sad, but I really wasn’t. It was a surreal experience, because it had always been a dream of mine, and if you were going to have a cooking show, of course you would want it to be on the Food Network. It was a huge blessing, and the feeling is still hard to describe. It is so incredibly gratifying to have this opportunity to do this thing that I’ve been doing before I could even put a sentence together.”

Examiner: What was your favorite moment from “The Next Food Network Star?”

Aarti Sequeira: “I have a couple; one was probably the Food Truck Challenge. The cool thing about it was that it was held on Venice Beach, and since a lot of homeless people lived there, we had the chance to feed them and I wish that would have been shown on the show. My other favorite moment, was doing the Iron Chef competition, and I loved watching that show in college, so when I had the opportunity y to have them taste my food, it was incredible, and to also win that round, was unbelievable!”

Examiner: Congratulations on your daytime series “Aarti Party” what makes your series unique?

Aarti Sequeira: “I think the thing that I treasure so much about my show, is that I am taking something unknown and foreign, which is Indian cuisine, and trying to make it accessible to everyone. I encourage people who may shop at their local Indian stores to prepare something with an ingredient that may not know, and have them put it into their everyday American food.”

Examiner: How has it been to work with the Food Network and how would you describe your experience?

Aarti Sequeira: “It has been great and they have been very supportive! My cookbook is coming out in the fall of this year, and they completely had my back throughout the entire process.”

Examiner: Is there a difference in your food when you cook on a competition challenge as opposed to your own show?

Aarti Sequeira: “It’s definitely a difference (laughs). On my show it is much more laid back and you can see some of the recipes, and some things take 30-45 minutes to prepare, as opposed to when you only have 20 minutes to prepare something, so it forces you to change your cooking style. There were times that I struggled a little bit, because some Indian cooking takes a while to prepare, you can’t rush that. It forced me to try to get those same flavors in less time or cook it on high heat and not walk away.”

Examiner: What other chef do you absolutely admire and look up to?

Aarti Sequeira: “I really admire Jamie Oliver, I love his energy and I wish I had an ounce of his energy! I love the way that he cooks, it’s very rough around the edges and it’s very accessible. I also love that he found a cause and is really involved in it.”

Examiner: What is the perfect starter dish for someone to attempt who may never prepared an Indian dish?

Aarti Sequeira: “It is easy to start with flavors; I would pick a spice and see what it goes with that you like. An example can be using fennel seeds, I use them when I make a grapefruit yogurt smoothie, in regards to a meal, I would recommend my Bombay Sloppy Joes, because it doesn’t require a lot of work.”

Examiner: What are some of your personal favorite ingredients to cook with?

Aarti Sequeira: “It changes by season (laughs). I love citrus, but I also love finding new condiments and adding them to dishes that I make all the time. For example, my favorite at the moment is mango pickle, it’s an Indian ingredient, and it’s spicy and tart. The key is to use a little bit on the side…I love trying out new condiments.”

Examiner: Lastly, what can your viewers expect as this season continues?

Aarti Sequeira: “More of the same, the show is an unfolding food adventure of my life…I was born in India, and had Indian food every day of my life until I was 18…Now I live in California, and they have their own style of cooking; very seasonal and light. I am just excited to see how all of those things show up in my food.”