Jona Pradhan was born in 1963 in Bombay, India. When she was seven, she and her family moved to the United States, mainly because her mother wanted a better life for her daughters. They moved to the San Francisco bay area (her dad had a good friend there and her mother always dreamed of living there), and although Jona was fluent in English, she spoke the “Queen’s English,” which is very different than American English. It only took her about two weeks to learn how to speak “American,” and she tells us that those were probably the only two weeks in her life that she was ever quiet.
Because she had a hard time adapting to American cuisine (which she felt was too heavy), Jona’s mother insisted on cooking authentic Indian food for her family every single day. She made everything fresh daily – even the breads. Jona’s favorite food memory is her family’s Saturday night dinners when her mother would make extra special dishes and breads, especially her mother’s crab curry. Jona learned how to cook when her mother went back to work as a mechanical engineer, not because her mother stopped cooking, but because she and her sister were impatient to eat, so they’d have to help in order to get dinner on the table faster.
Jona moved to Portland to go to optometry school and has lived in Oregon ever since. She graduated with a doctorate in Optometry in 1988 and met her husband, Scott, one year later. They have four children – 6,8,10, and 12. Like her mother, even though Jona works full-time, she cooks for her family daily. Her children love to be in the kitchen while she cooks – her girls prefer to help with the entrees while her boys like to help with desserts. Her husband is obviously a very lucky guy and he knows it – he even made a deal with Jona – if ever anything should happen to their relationship, he can still come over for dinner.
Pattis with Carrot Kachumbar Salad
golden potato cakes filled with ground beef, peas & spices, served with a shredded carrot salad
saffron-scented basmati rice with cashews, almonds & raisins layered with aromatic chicken, served in a casserole with a side of cauliflower & peas
prawns sautéed with onions, garlic & spices served with basmati rice
a slightly different take on a traditional Indian dessert – a creamy custard made with saffron, yogurt and mandarin oranges