Kalpana Waikar

Founder & CEO | Inspired INdian Cooking

Born in India, raised in Cincinnati, daughter of immigrants, wife of 25+ years, Gen X mom of two Gen Z's, obsessed with 80's music, proud to offer traditional Indian cooking without compromise!


The Inspired Indian Story

I never would have predicted I’d start a business like Inspired Indian Cooking. Here’s how it came to be.

Growing up, I loved eating my mom’s home-cooked Indian food - samosas, dal, chicken curry, and other dishes. But I had little incentive to cook it myself. After all, Mom’s food was readily available, and her instructions such as “Cook dish as long as needed” were, well, cryptic.

I found myself increasingly drawn to cooking after moving to Los Angeles in the mid-1990s, poring over my first cookbook The Joy of Cooking and bingeing early Food Network shows like “Two Hot Tamales.”

But I still didn’t make Indian food.

That changed when I bought my first Indian cookbook and began attempting and modifying the recipes. As my confidence grew, so did my Indian-cookbook collection which now numbers 100+! I also realized I’d picked up some things from Mom after all; now I know how to cook dishes “as long as needed.”

I also observed something important: so many friends, including Indo-Americans like me, were very interested in cooking Indian food but reluctant to try.

Why? Low confidence, overly complex recipes, difficult-to-find spices going unused or stale.

That insight, coupled with my cooking knowledge and entrepreneurial spirit, motivated me to launch Inspired Indian Cooking, to empower anyone to cook Indian food without compromising on spices, flavor, or tradition. It started as a monthly subscription box for a rotating menu of regional Indian dishes in late 2019, and quickly gained popularity nationwide.

Soon I was shipping to hundreds of customers in more than 30 states!

As Inspired Indian grew, I decided to switch from subscription boxes to spice kits for iconic dishes, so customers could make their favorite dishes whenever they felt like it. The business has continued to grow and enabled me to open a retail store in Evanston, Illinois, along with selling online nationwide. The best feeling is when customers tell me they’ve cooked better Indian food than they ever thought they could and are eager to make more Inspired Indian dishes.

Thanks for your interest in my story, and I hope Inspired Indian helps inspire the home chef in you!


Founder & Owner | Inspired Indian Cooking