Chef Anahita Dhondy got her start at age 10 by helping her mother, herself a chef and caterer, in the family kitchen. She was learning the basics of traditional Parsi food, the rich cuisine of India’s Zoroastrian community to which she belongs.
Later, in culinary school, she noticed that Zoroastrian cuisine was underrepresented in the recipes and techniques they were learning – and she decided to do something about it. In 2013, she opened her first restaurant, SodaBottleOpenerWala, a casual and trendy café dedicated to bringing Parsi cuisine to new audiences. It soon grew into a popular chain, with 9 locations in 4 cities across India.
Today, Dhondy is internationally recognized for her advocacy work regarding Parsi culinary heritage, especially her efforts to revive lost recipes and champion traditional ingredients, like millets, that are sustainable, low-cost, and highly nutritious.
Dhondy’s work has also brought her numerous awards. She was featured in Forbes’s 30 Under 30 Asia 2019 list, and in 2018, she represented SodaBottleOpenerWala at the EAT Forum and was honoured as a Condé Nast Traveler’s Innovator of the Year. In 2017, she was awarded “Indian of the Year” in the hospitality sector.
Closer to home, she’s also active on social media, where she uses her influence to advocate for sustainable food practices and using local and seasonal ingredients. She’s also appeared on nationally televised cooking competitions.
Most recently, she published her first book, Parsi Kitchen: A Memoir of Food and Family(HarperCollins India, 2021). She’s currently working on another book, as well as a new restaurant called The Glasshouse, set to open soon in Gurgaon, India.