Nirmala’s roots stem from a tribe of master rice growers and Ayurvedic scholars, from Northern India all the way to Guyana, a small South American nation with strong Caribbean roots. This is where she grew up with her extended family, her great-great-grandparents having emigrated from India in the 18th century as British indentured servants.
At the age of five, she learned to cook with no running water or electricity, as well as to build soils, curate seed, and spice libraries, and build berms to create rice paddies. She began her studies of Ayurveda under the tutelage of her grandfather, an Ayurvedic scholar and Hindu pandit (priest). It was a childhood that carried the deep markings of staunch Brahmin background and taught Nirmala the bare basics of how to survive on what you could grow, how to make food your medicine and more flavorful through spices. Little did Nirmala know, back then, that she was seeding her own future.
When she was 10, her life changed radically. Her uncle had signed up to serve in the U.S. military in exchange for citizenship. He fought in Vietnam for two tours, became an American citizen, and sponsored Nirmala’s grandmother, who promptly moved the entire family to New York City. This is how she came to grow up in the culinary melting pot of the Queens.
After living a corporate life for some years, Nirmala wondered if she was passively living the epilogue of her life—so she chose to break that mold.
"The Spice Rack that has everything..."
“2007 Woman Entrepreneur of Year” -Country Living Magazine
"The Mistress of Spices ..."
Nirmala at her farm in New York's Hudson Valley
In 2003, she began a spice company, fusing cultures through food that has today become a global lifestyle organization. Nirmala has traveled the world, visiting more than 167 countries, connecting with cultures and procuring spices from small farmers and educating and empowering abused orphans, and envisioning a global enterprise.
Nirmala was the first Asian woman to sit on the Board of the Fancy Food Show (Specialty Food Assoc.) and served as chairwoman for the SFA’s Diversity Council.
She has been invited to speak about global cultures, history, and future of foods, sustainable agriculture, Ayurveda and Vastu Shastra for Bard, Harvard University, Smithsonian and American Museum of Natural History.
Nirmala is a sought after speaker and global trends expert for Fortune-500 companies.
" The Indiana Jones of Spices..."
-Eric Ripert, Le Bernardin
Nirmala teaching orphans on agriculture in Cambodia
Her television show "Nirmala's Spice World" (ZLiving- ZEE Network) is globally syndicated in eight languages and she uses it as a platform to share her genuine and authentic message of positive change through mindful Ayurvedic living. In the shows, Nirmala opens her spice library connecting East meets West through food, culture, tradition, and beauty with our environment, family, and friends for optimum and mindful living in our modern world.
Nirmala has been featured in The New York Times, Bon Appetit, O: The Oprah Magazine, Better Homes and Gardens, Food & Wine and numerous other publications. She has appeared on Martha Stewart, The Today Show, CNN, and The CBS Early Show.
A social entrepreneur, Nirmala procure spices from small farmers- here doing some quality control in the Banda Islands.
“Entrepreneur of year—
Gourmet’s 20 under 40”
Nirmala is the author of several travel memoir cookbooks with in-depth historic and cultural culinary influences on over 65 countries, fun anecdotes of her Global Escapades and menu style recipes for home-cooks and busy moms to enjoy in the comforts of home.
Her latest novel Ellishiva Cinnamon, is the exciting first volume in a lush historical-climate-change fiction "Cli-Fi" series about environmental stewardship, featuring a strong and empowered young heroine and providing readers with a unique escape into New York City back during the time when it was still an untamed jungle.
Nirmala currently lives on an organic farm in New York’s Hudson Valley, where she is warden to her hens, keeper of honey bees and is home to the Nirmala's Farmstead Foundation, empowering future agriculture leaders.