Profiles of Innovation
Anita Jaisinghani finds her entrepreneurial niche with innovative Indian food
In the United States, immigrant entrepreneurs have often turned to the restaurant business as way to realize the American dream. In many older cities, European specialties were favored; in Houston the array is much more global, reflecting the city's incredible diversity.
South Asian cuisine is one the many ethnic foods that has attracted a following in the Bayou City. Anita Jaisinghani has led the way by infusing the cuisine of her home country of India with local ingredients.
"Being an entrepreneur is taking an opportunity to do something interesting and new. For me that's what it is. It's not about just filling a gap somewhere."
In the second of a continuing CultureMap series, Profiles of Innovation, Jaisinghani tells videographers Douglas Newman and John Carrithers how when she left India at age 20 with her new husband more than two decades ago, she began cooking within a week after arrival in the West as a way to keep memories of her homeland fresh in her mind.
"The ingredients were not there, so I had to come up with my own version in everything," she explains. "That's when I realized I could do a lot with what I found locally."
A decade ago, she opened Indika, an Indian fusion restaurant on lower Westheimer that has won raves from such national publications as Gourmet and The New York Times. A few months ago, she added Pondicheri, a more casual Indian eatery in West Ave. She hasn't taken a day off since the new restaurant opened, but she has no regrets about the entrepreneurial life.
"The reward is seeing people enjoy what I do....The biggest reward is seeing the same people come in every day," she says.
As she explains in this video, "Being an entrepreneur is taking an opportunity to do something interesting and new. For me that's what it is. It's not about just filling a gap somewhere."