Niyati + Abhi of Baking It dish on family cooking and Licious Lens
We spent the holiday season of 2021 immersed in Baking It on Peacock. The humor of Maya Rudolph and Andy Samberg mixed with sassy grandmothers and an excellent cast of home cooks created the perfect sweet escape. Niyati Nakra and Abhi Chhabra quickly stood out from the crowd thanks to their dedication to gluten free bakes, supportive and playful approach to cooking and fearless use of flavors. After the show aired, Niyati and Abhi reached out to SKORDO. We're thrilled to share a recipe from their home kitchen and an interview with the accomplished home cooks. Enjoy!
Tell us a bit about yourselves. How did you join forces and find your way to Baking It?
Hello there! We are Niyati and Abhinav. We've known each other for 12 years now, have been married for 8 years and live in Denver, Colorado. We are foodies who like to cook and bake together. We started documenting our journey together through our food blog, Licious Lens, on Instagram. A producer from Baking It stumbled upon our profile and we went through the audition process. One thing led to another and we found ourselves on the show.
What advice do you have for couples cooking together?
I think our first advice would be to have fun! If you enjoy each other’s company then it definitely reflects in what you cook, so never stop having fun. Baking is therapeutic for both of us and we often rely on it as a stress buster.
Abhinav has one piece of advice: At the end of it, wife is always right. So hang in there! :) :)
The scents and flavors of childhood foods have the power to transport us back to favorite memories. What are your core memory dishes?
Niyati - As a child growing up in India, a major source of inspiration for me was my mom. My most clear food memory is my mom’s homemade gulab-jamuns (milk/dough balls dipped in sugar syrup). They felt like little drops of heaven! At any Indian festival, gulab jamuns were everyone’s favorite. I pay homage to them in Baking It, so please watch Baking It streaming on Peacock :)
What herbs + spices do you recommend for a home cook learning to cook authentic Indian meals?
Indian cooking is all about flavors and its important to know which spice goes into each preparation. The most commonly used Indian spices are cumin seeds, ground coriander, ground turmeric, red chili powder, mustard seeds, dry fenugreek leaves. Sometimes we make our own fresh garam masala using whole spices and make fresh ginger garlic paste. Fresh ingredients make all the difference.
Head to the SKORDO Recipe Box to try Niyati and Abhi's Chicken Tikka Masala Pie!
You are known for your gluten free recipes. Any tips and tricks for gluten free baking?
Niyati - Gluten free recipes work pretty differently than conventional ones. You need to figure out what to replace the gluten with and how the specific replacements will behave. Once you have figured out those unique rules, it becomes easy. Some of my tricks are: Measuring is always key, rest your batters, and always stick to the recipe!
What was the highlight of your Baking It experience? And an unexpected challenge?
Baking It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and something we will never forget. The highlight is the little family we created on set. It was such a humbling experience sharing the stage with amazing home bakers. We had a blast being in their company and they are our chosen family for life. Secondly, working with Andy and Maya in the cabin was awesome.
Winning the reveal bake challenge was great since Niyati got to create something close to her heart coming from her mom. There were a few surprises for sure, but the gingerbread challenge was totally unexpected and was definitely the most challenging since we had never made anything out of gingerbread ever, not even from a kit. We were really nervous before that challenge!