Settling down in Houston, Texas, so her husband could continue his education in engineering, Kiran found herself extremely homesick with plenty of time on her hands. Having spent most of her childhood in the kitchen, she tried to fend off her longing for her home and family by cooking authentic Indian cuisine for family, friends, and neighbors. Soon she graduated from basic home cooking to experimenting with different flavors, looking for ways she could infuse traditional Indian flavors into different cuisines. This talent would eventually earn her the title the “godmother of Indian cuisine.”
“I literally got into creating unique Indian flavors, and that’s how I got very passionate about Indian cooking, mixing flavors, and mixing cultures [in food],” Kiran says. “But my philosophy was always to cook lighter foods, as people in this country were very afraid of Indian flavors and curry spices. I felt like they weren’t really exposed to real authentic Indian food. So I tried to keep the flavors very authentic. Then I decided to form my passion into my career.”
Rather than go to work for another chef, Kiran made the plunge and opened her own barbeque restaurant in the mid-1970s, closing it after three years of operation to be a stay-at-home mom. She returned to the restaurant industry again in the mid-1990s, once her children were out of the house, and opened Ashiana’s Indian restaurant. After assembling a loyal client base, she decided to open her eponymous restaurant, Kiran’s, in West Houston. In addition to a full-service lunch and dinner menu, the restaurant has become renowned for its luxurious and unique afternoon-tea presentation.