Kishi Arora was surrounded by plants in her home throughout her childhood. Her mother’s love for greens made her a plant enthusiast, and when she came back to India after becoming a successful pastry chef, she started her own food consultancy, became a Chefprenuer, and decided to take care of her terrace garden.
With over 1,000 plants in her Delhi home, Kishi Arora says she literally grew up around greenery. Her old home in Ghaziabad had every possible vegetable, and her mother would always plant something in bottles. “My home was always green, but I think my passion for plants increased when I was in San Diego. I was staying in a rented house and the rent was way too much for me. But I stayed there, because it was just so beautiful and green. It was owned by a horticulturist and a grafter, and one day he saw me taking care of the plants and asked a few questions. I told him I know about plants and would love to take care of this green patch, and so he said he would half my rent”, she said.
After this incident, Kishi stayed in the US and worked as a pastry chef for Four Seasons, a renowned global hotel chain. After a while, during her holidays she visited India, and that’s when she realized that she should stay with her parents and do something here. “I got convinced by my friends that at the end of the day, Four Seasons is not going anywhere, and I should stay and do something here”, Kishi mentioned. That’s how her food consultancy, Foodaholics was born. She worked for brands like Mad Over Donuts, Cake Wala Bakery and meanwhile started taking extra care of plants around her.
“It was always there. But I think, I paid more attention to the terrace garden when I moved back to India. I still don’t know the scientific names of all the plants but yes, I know how to grow everything. I have been collecting seeds from all over the world. In fact, I have a box that has seeds from Arizona, London, Mexico, and more”, she further added.
Kishi’s passion for plants made her even more experimental in the things she grows. She has planted Broccoli, five types of radishes, lettuce, edible flowers, arbi, grapevine, carrot, brinjal, sweet potato, peas, strawberries, banana, capsicum, chillies, chives, fig, lemons, and herbs like rosemary, sage, basil, thyme, and oregano. “There are plants that are now huge and decades old. One of the plants on my terrace is over 30 years old. And if you visit my place in 10 days, it’ll be filled with flowers”, she added enthusiastically.
Becoming a Pastry Chef
Kishi is in the culinary industry for the last 17 years and has been cooking since she was in school. Her passion lead her to an International Culinary School in America, and it was something she did on her own. “My father wanted me to do MBA and said there’s no way you are becoming a bawarchi. So, I took it as a challenge and applied for a loan and went to this school in America”, she said.
But this journey was a task as Kishi is a pure vegetarian. So when during her training she had to butcher a chicken and later was asked to taste it, she switched to pastry and became a pastry chef. “It’s not in the lifestyle of a middle-class family to eat bakery items. It would be the basic pastry like strawberry and vanilla cakes from Wenger’s we would buy and not more than that. But, since I had no choice, I had to do pastry and glad it worked out for me”, she mentioned.
Mama K Teats
After a while, Kishi started her second venture, ‘Mama K Treats’, to sell her mother’s homecooked food. It happened when her brother-in-law suggested she should sell her mother’s food as it was just delicious. “My mother is a great cook and has always been very innovative when it comes to cooking. Also, when my father was ill and was on his deathbed, we saw her dip into loneliness and so it was our way to cope up from the grief”, said Kishi.
Today, Kishi has thousands of followers on Instagram and is making a green noise with her terrace garden. She has a separate Instagram highlight where you can watch her planting, working in her gorgeous terrace garden, and talking about the progress she’s making. “There are over 1000 plants and they are everywhere, on my terrace garden, in front of my house, balconies, and behind my verandah. I have an urban jungle, but an organized one”, she concluded with a burst of pretty laughter.
Quick Bites with Kishi Arora:
Any food photography tips: Add colour to your plate and click in the natural light. I don’t fix my pictures and my food is always sunkissed. The plants are always in the background. So try adding colours in your thali with colourful veggies.
One thing you love about Delhi’s food: It’s inclusive of every culture and allows to flourish everybody.
One thing you love the most about the culinary culture of India: It’s diverse. You’ll get a different type of daal, chapatti, and sabzi after every few kilometers. I love the number of choices we have.
Must-have accessories for a terrace garden: A water can, A khurpi, Scissors, and cutter.
Any advice for someone who’s planning to have a terrace garden: You must put your pots on stands. It helps keep the space organized and clean.