Monica Bhide Shares Her Life of Spice

Monica Bhide is anything but an ordinary writer. A fairly small percentage of writers can achieve notoriety and turn a profit from their work, but Bhide has managed to do both—beating not only the odds but also the expectations of her parents, who did not think it would be practical for her to earn a living as a writer.


Her career began in a rather unusual way with two Master’s degrees in engineering as she followed the desires of her parents and pursued a career in a lucrative industry. But she always had a passion for writing, and life has a funny way of bringing us back to what we’re passionate for, in one way or another. She carved out a niche for herself in not only Indian food but also fiction, showcasing her eclectic writing style and demonstrating a talent for multiple types of writing.

Monica Bhide grew up in Bahrain but moved to the United States after graduating from college to pursue her engineering career, finding success in corporate America for a decade. But when a friend passed away, she began to re-examine her life. She never forgot her dream, and the death of a friend reminded her of what she really wanted to do and how life can come to an end suddenly. The clock is ticking on all of us, and we have a limited and unknown amount of time to achieve all of the things we want to do. When she took time off from corporate America to care for her two sons, she finally found the time to explore her love of food and of writing.

Her short stories are complex and moving, challenging the way we see the world, and she demonstrates a unique ability to blend multiple cultures, having lived in India before moving to the U.S. Her second short story collection can be described as “magic realism” and is unusual and complex in that all of the short stories build upon each other, with the characters appearing in multiple stories, becoming the protagonist in one story after appearing in a previous story as a supporting character. The characters are so intertwined that the entire picture isn’t clear until the very end of the collection. The book straddles the line between short story collection and chapter book in much the same way Bhide herself blends the Indian culture and language with American culture and the English language.

She never forgot her roots and has received numerous accolades for her India- and Middle East-focused literature, cookbooks and food essays. The unique way she blends cultures and writing styles is undoubtedly the reason readers all over the world are sitting up and taking notice. Her short story collection The Devil in Us landed on Amazon’s Top 40 Bestseller list for short stories and the Top 100 overall list and earned her the cover of Asian Fortune magazine in November 2014.

Bhide has landed on the Chicago Tribune‘s short list of seven writers to watch in 2012 and was selected by as one of 2012’s top ten food writers. She also has frequent speaking engagements, addressing prominent groups like the Association of Food Journalists and the Smithsonian Institution. She was also a guest of the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival in 2014.

Her work has been published in many well-known magazines and newspapers, including The Washington Post, Food & Wine, The New York Times, Bon Appetit, the Ladies Home Journal and others. Monica Bhide’s latest short story collection came out in March, and she released a book of food essays called A Life of Spice in December.