At 28 and 32 years old respectively, it’s hard to believe that Saikripa and Vardhaman Choksi have been together for almost 14 years. The couple met as teenagers at a public speaking workshop, just before she moved to Turkey with her family and he moved to New York for university.
They would meet every year while on vacation in India and stay in touch through emails and phone calls. They moved often, studying and working all over the world, but never managing to live in one country at the same time. “We realised that the only way we could be together and in the same country was if we got married so I finished my studies a semester early and we got married just after I turned 21,” says Saikripa.
ENTRÉE: The couple love Thai and Chinese food – Oriental Wok, the Chinese restaurant at The Club in Andheri is the first restaurant that Vardhaman recalls taking Saikripa and her parents to. Incidentally, Vardhaman also learnt to cook from the chef there, while preparing to move to New York, as he was concerned about dining options as a vegetarian. Saikripa nominates him as the better cook – she only learned after getting married and Vardhaman pulls her leg by telling her that her last few attempts were tolerable.
They eat at home at least five days a week, frequenting Yauatcha, Royal China and Tamnak Thai on the weekends. Home-cooked food is heavy on Punjabi-style dishes from Saikripa’s side of the family and Gujarati and Marwari cuisine that is a nod to Vardhaman’s roots. The conversation flows with barely any need to slip in a question. “Gujarati food at home is so light and easy to digest that we’re ready to eat again in a couple of hours,” he says. Saikripa chimes in to agree and talks about actually making lists of food she had to eat on her annual vacation to India. Vardhaman adds, “I never thought I’d find someone else who is as big a foodie as I am!” Their love of pizza is reflected in the menu at Escobar. “The thin crust pizza was developed by Vardhaman and my brother-in-law and the garlic oil served with it is also something they created,” says Saikripa.
SOMETHING SWEET: Vardhaman once visited Saikripa’s family in Brussels and decided to impress them by making Schezwan sauce from scratch. After blending chillies with water and sieving the mixture, Saikripa’s mother suggested saving the water for a broth, so it was poured into a glass and placed in the fridge. “At this point, we were ready to get married but our parents didn’t know that. Her father walked in after work, went straight to the fridge and chugged down the glass of hot mirchi juice,” says Vardhaman. “So much for the brownie points,” adds Saikripa. Not only does Vardhaman cook well and own a bar, but he was also trained as a jeweller and designed Saikripa’s engagement ring – the girl is living the dream.