Greetings, and welcome to my healthy spices blog, Spices for Life MDTM! Let me share some information about me. I was born and raised in Toronto, Canada (a fascinating melting pot of cultures and cuisines, and my favorite city in the world!). I come from a long line of doctors — cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents — so the fascination with medicine started at a fairly young age (specifically at 11 years of age, when I developed malaria, but that’s another story…)
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My Education and Clinical Experiences
I completed my training in internal medicine at Duke University Medical Center. Prior to residency, I obtained dual degrees in medicine and public health at Tulane University in New Orleans–a truly unique city full of people who love life, music and food! Evacuating from Hurricane Katrina was a life-altering experience, and one of many reasons why NOLA will always have a special place in my heart.
I have always been interested in preventive medicine — focusing on primary care, nutrition and exercise — and global health. Thus far, I have performed clinical and public health work in New Orleans, Nicaragua, India* and Haiti, where I provided medical relief to earthquake victims.
From 2011 to 2016, I was a primary care physician at the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program where I helped provide comprehensive care to an often overlooked and underserved population. I saw patients at our medical respite facility (Barbara McInnis House), homeless shelter clinics (Pine Street Inn, St. Francis House) and at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). I also served as an attending on the inpatient wards of MGH and taught a few courses at Harvard Medical School. As part of an interdisciplinary team which included doctors, dentists, nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nurses and case managers, we collectively provided primary care, dental health, psychiatric care and much-needed social services to the city’s most vulnerable men and women. While my job was at times challenging, it was also deeply rewarding. I dearly miss my patients, and to this day, consider it a privilege to provide care to people who genuinely need it.
The leading cause of death among my homeless patients was drug overdose. I developed a strong interest in substance use disorders, becoming board certified in Addiction Medicine. In October 2016, I joined New York City Health + Hospitals to be the new Chief of Addiction Medicine in the Division of Correctional Health. Substance use is a serious problem among NYC’s incarcerated population. In fact, addiction is a growing health concern nationwide, prompting Dr. Vivek Murthy to publish the historic Surgeon General’s 2016 Report on the state of the science behind substance use, addiction and health.
My Childhood and Culinary Influence!
My parents emigrated from India and raised my younger brother and me in an environment blended with cultural traditions and values from the East and West. This included an emphasis on education, a disciplined work ethic and respect for others. Cultural influences included classical Indian singing and dancing, plays, and of course plenty of Indian cooking!
Growing up, our home was always filled with exotic aromas emanating from our kitchen. My super-talented mother created – and still creates – delectable dishes for our family, and often for other friends and relatives, wowing dinner guests with 10-15 dishes, elegantly displayed over our dining room table. Over time, I observed my mother in the kitchen, closely watching her dice and chop scallions, ‘jackfruit’ and broccoli, as well as chicken and fish. She would sprinkle them with carefully chosen spices, ranging from turmeric, coriander, cumin, paprika, ginger, garlic and several others. Her culinary range also included various lentils, fried rice, ‘biryani’, and of course, tasty desserts. In addition to Indian food, my mother can make excellent lasagna, roast chicken, burgers, mashed potatoes, and other delectable dishes!
Food for You, Me and Everybody!
Like any good student, I asked many questions and took careful notes. Fast forward 10 years, and I have hosted countless dinner parties, and to my pleasant surprise, I have always received very positive feedback on my dishes. Naturally, I always gave credit to my mother (who in turn – and in her modest and motherly way – returns the credit back to me…thank you, Ma :))
Now, I would like to share these wonderful recipes with YOU! In addition to the recipes, I have researched the history and health benefits of many spices. My aim is to not only share these tasty dishes with the public, but to decrease the severity and incidence of chronic illnesses such as high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, congestive heart failure and many others. The ultimate goal is to improve your overall physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health. Enjoy!
*Another one of my many passions is photography and web design. If you are interested in learning about my journey to India, as well as viewing beautiful photographs, please visit www.LipiInIndia.com!