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Gita Kshatriya is a Scottsdale, Arizona-based passionate home cook who decided she wanted to share her recipes with the world. She started her blog, Warrior in The Kitchen, with the goal of sharing the healthy, plant-based and vegetarian dishes she grew up with at home with her Indian parents. Every recipe she shares is filled with family folklore and her cultural heritage. While her cooking classes were beginning to pick up speed, the pandemic quickly put an end to those in-person classes and Kshatriya had to pivot her business model. In the months since Covid-19 hit, she has been working on the SEO for her site, putting YouTube videos together and working to drive traffic towards her blog.

Kshatriya’s story, as told to The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project:

Warrior In The Kitchen started as an online journal of our family recipes and the stories and traditions that go along with them. It has transformed into a space where I can share my passion for cooking healthy vegetarian and plant-based recipes inspired by cultures from around the world.

Preserving family history, our traditions, our culture and of course food are all very important to me and I wanted a way to pass that along to my kids. I personally struggled with the process of cooking, the names of spices, etc but my mom had a way of getting me involved in cooking with her by asking me to do simple tasks like chopping veggies and rinsing rice. While we were in the kitchen, she would share so many stories of our family with me like how she was arranged to marry my dad, stories about her grandparents, their family hardware business, when my dad emigrated from India and settled in the US one year before she emigrated with me and my brother. I really started developing a passion for cooking when I started cooking for my own family, adapting recipes to our busy, go-go-go lifestyles while staying true to our family recipes.

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To me, success is gauged by the positive impact you have on society. Through both my online blog as well as my in-person private and corporate cooking experiences, I have inspired many to lead a healthy plant-forward lifestyle as well as to enjoy the process of cooking. Regardless of whether you eat meat or you are fully vegan/vegetarian, it is always a good idea to incorporate plant-based meals into your diet. If you can do that while also incorporating some home-cooked meals, cooking with family and friends, it can only have a positive impact on your body and your mind. I love hearing stories and seeing pictures of meals that have been inspired by my own recipes and my own stories.

My biggest success came after I recently revamped my blog.  I began to focus on content creation and driving traffic to my website.  To help drive traffic and increase exposure, I decided to enter a recipe contest hosted by Food52 called “Your Favorite WFH Lunch.” My recipe, which was inspired by my late mother-in-law, embodied her bold yet practical spirit.  As I strive to do for my own family, she was able to keep with her Indian heritage and adapt it to her new home in the US.  Thus, the Indian Fusion Chana Masala Tacos Recipe was born.  Adding my own minor tweaks, I submitted the recipe to the Food52 contest.  After multiple rounds of test kitchen approval and voting, the Indian Fusion Chana Masala Tacos Recipe won 1st place!

My primary goal with Warrior In The Kitchen has always been to share my passion for vegetarian and plant-based cooking and inspire others to create their own meals in the kitchen. Over time, Warrior In The Kitchen transformed from a personal online recipe journal to a space where I offered in-person vegetarian and plant-based cooking classes. The in-person classes were gaining traction with respect to private small groups as well as corporate team-building cooking experiences. However, with the start of the pandemic in early 2020 and the shut-downs shortly thereafter, the momentum I had gained came to a screeching halt. I found myself in a position where I had to pivot my business model to continue achieving my primary goals of sharing my vegetarian and plant-based recipes and inspiring others to cook more homemade meals. I decided to refocus my business model from in-person cooking experiences to an online blog where I could still share recipes and inspire others in the kitchen. I implemented a philosophy that I try to follow, which is to become even just 0.1% better each day. I learned the ins and outs of SEO (search engine optimization) best practices, strategies to drive traffic to my blog, produce solid relevant content and how to create and edit YouTube videos.

[Related: Virtual Parties, ‘Slackolades,’ Company PPE: How Women-Owned Businesses Are Boosting Morale]

My role models consists of my “Sister Circle”, which includes my mother, grandmother, mother-in-law, grandmother-in-law, my two daughters, sisters-in-law and girlfriends. They have, each in their own way, given me the space to dream and grow.

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