As a gay immigrant of color, Nik Sharma is in many ways the ultimate outsider. But with his infectious passion for food and his sheer inventiveness at the stove, he creates recipes that appeal to everyone. Growing up in Bombay, India, with a Hindu father and a Christian mother, Nik was introduced as a child to the blending of culinary traditions and flavors. When he later spent time cooking with his husband’s mother in the American South, he came to know yet another style of cooking. “I started to play with ingredients that were new to me,” he says, “and transformed them with the techniques I learned in India. My two distinct worlds were coming together through aroma and taste.”
Throughout the summer and into the fall, when eggplants are abundant, inexpensive, and at their peak of flavor, I cook them at least once a week. My favorite approach is to turn the flesh into a salad that I keep in the fridge ready to be used as a light lunch, a healthy snack, or a no-fuss dinner side dish.