Thank you for buying the Spice Me Up cookbook! I am so excited to share my favorite recipes with you. Before we start cooking, though, I’d like to tell you what I believe about food, and why.

I believe in the purity of what we put in our mouths.

I believe our food is our medicine.

I believe in the healing properties of pure, authentic Indian spices.

Quite literally, spices saved my life!

At age 38, having just given birth to my second precious daughter, my world came crashing down. Doctors discovered that my post-partem sinus infection was, in fact, an oligodendroglioma. In layman’s terms, I had brain cancer. I was a mother of two; my girls were 6 years of age, and 6 months. The initial prognosis was bright; the tumor seemed manageable, an easy surgery. But that changed in a heartbeat on February 17, 2012 when, at a subsequent visit to the doctor, she told me I had just two months to live.

Imagine my surprise! I had not a manageable tumor but an aggressive one. My doctors exhausted their resources, and I strengthened my resolve: I would not leave my family. When one doctor gave up, I went to another. I saw oncologists, specialists, naturopaths. I underwent chemotherapy, and when that failed, my community rallied together and helped me turn to an expensive alternative treatment not covered by our medical system.

As a follow-up to the alternative therapy, one doctor suggested I take turmeric pills. Why would I do that? I eat turmeric all the time. As it turned out, my cupboards were already full of Indian spices with cancer-fighting qualities: turmeric, fennel, cumin, cinnamon. Turmeric, in particular, contains curcumin, a clinically proven cancer combatant that slows the progression of various types of cancer cell. Imagine again my surprise!

This wonderful discovery led me back to the small village in India where I grew up. There, we incorporated a mixture of Indian spices – masala – into everyday eating. I returned to the village not just for my mother’s and grandmother’s recipes but for the chance to talk and listen at length, and truly understand the treasures of the cooking goldmine that was my legacy.

How do I know that I struck gold? Well, the tumor has significantly shrunk, I am officially and clinically in remission, I have lived to tell you the story, and my beautiful daughters now number three!

Join me, won’t you, in celebrating life, the spices of life! I believe I was healed by them. I can’t promise a magical cure for what ails you but I can say that the spices around which the following recipes are organized are good for you.

To your health! May you laugh often, love well and live long. Raj.