Made for Entertaining: Inside A Colorful and Eclectic Home in Makati
Exotic flavors crown a feast for the senses in the home of Sharmila Hiranand. In the dramatic
Sharmila inherited the full-flavored culinary traditions of her Indian and Filipino ancestry. Her father is half-Punjabi, half-Filipino; her mother, Kamla Singh, is Sindhi and a founder of the famed Indian restaurant, Kashmir. Born in the Philippines and raised in her mother’s kitchen, Sharmila traverses between the spicy and the savory, embracing curry and
Light gently filters in through large framed windows.
Cooking is an all-day affair in the Hiranand household, and the kitchen holds up to the demands. The pantry is well-stocked with all the spices needed for Indian food, and the requisite
Food takes center stage in all family interactions, particularly in travels abroad. “The first thing we think about is what restaurants to go to,” Sharmila says. “We always argue over where we’re going to eat.” Travel itineraries are in fact arranged around the good food that the family enjoys. India is tops among their favorite culinary haunts, quickly followed by Dubai and New York for their international offerings.
The Hiranand home’s sitting room features a chandelier which Sharmila designed herself. Rich fabrics and carpets add to the lushness of the cozy living space.
Sharmila is quick to learn international cuisine and take some recipes home. “I love making dishes from different countries,” she says. “We cook Jordanian food, and I love Turkish food, especially meatballs—that’s one of our favorites from our trip to Istanbul this summer. I bought so many spices at the spice market there and I make my own kebabs using those spices.” When she isn’t traveling with her family for creative inspiration, Sharmila turns to her favorite food magazines. “I’m always searching for new recipes; in fact, my favorite pastime is going through cooking magazines.”
An instinctual hostess, she entertains very casually. “Entertaining doesn’t make me nervous; I don’t need to plan things. I can just cook up a pasta, grill prawns or some lamb. It’s just so easy for me to come up with something, perhaps because I grew up seeing that with my mom.”
The dining room is awash in colors, patterns
and textures, highlighted by a multi-hued crystal chandelier from Venice.
Kashmir makes it even easier for the family to entertain, with its tried-and-tested favorites: eggplant casserole, kebabs, vegetarian shawarmas,
These friends include Lizzie Zobel, Kit Zobel, Lizette Cojuangco, Marit Yuchengco, Mandy Taboada, Marianne Po, Ina Ayala, and Anne Marie Saguil—eight of her closest friends with whom she produced the book Martinis and Aprons: A Lifestyle Cookbook for Those Who Like to Entertain.
“A friend of mine had given me an idea on how to raise funds for charity. In our case, proceeds from the books benefit a foundation called Holy Family Home,” Sharmila explains. Holy Family Home provides care for abandoned and neglected young girls in a warm and nurturing spiritual environment led by Sr. Luz Maria. It helps young girls at risk to fulfill their potential as productive citizens of society.
For over two years, the women held meetings in Sharmila’s home. “They would come for lunch, and when my husband came home at night, they would all still be here!” Sharmila says. “We’d open a bottle of wine after meetings, and we’d talk and learn so much about cooking. Half the girls in our group who didn’t like cooking ended up liking cooking because of the book.”
A well-stocked bar always means plenty of happy guests.
Sharmila’s love for food intersects with her family’s love for entertaining. She recalls that when they lived in the United States, all their friends would eat at their house. “We had a Filipino cook who lived with us and our friends would come over one day for adobo, another day for chicken curry,” she recalls fondly. “It was always Filipino food mixed with Indian.”
In the family’s permanent home in the Philippines, she entertains even more than ever—and with enviable ease.
“My husband can come home at lunch and say, ‘Let’s invite people for dinner tonight,’ and I can easily whip up a meal an hour before—not a problem at all,” Sharmila says proudly. “We love having friends and my kids’ friends over. This is the ‘friendly house’ that everyone likes.”
An Indian inspired napkin ring
Flowers in bloom contrast the black and white pattern of the table cloth
A closer look at the chandelier
A beautifully etched silver goblet
Martinis and Aprons
Her passion for all things artistic finds her deeply engaged in decorating the home, especially for the holidays. She always buys everything she needs locally, a practice she learned from her husband. “It’s very rare that we order things from abroad,” she says. “If I need something, I’ll get it locally. We figured that if it’s available here, why look elsewhere? It’s practical and it’s nice to support your own country.”
A feast fit for a
maharaja: the spice-laden spread from Kashmir includes the vegetarian dish fukna, hummus with pita bread and samosas. The silver tea service is from Istanbul.
She continues, “There’s nothing like the Philippines. It really is a beautiful country—we even love its imperfections! The Filipinos are to
Sharmila with daughter Sam.
Most evenings Sharmila’s home is abuzz with family and friends who enjoy beautifully dressed interiors, gourmet feasts, and wonderful conversation. “I decorate my home with entertaining in mind,” she muses. “I want it really cozy and friendly for our friends to hang out in. I’m happiest when I see my friends relaxed, dancing, and having a good time in our company.”
In her hearth and home, Sharmila Hiranand creates traditions that keep her family and friends laughing, dining and enjoying the best of all worlds—be they Indian, Filipino, American, or even Jordanian. As the old adage goes, “East, West, home is best.”
This story was originally published in the December 2009 issue of Town & Country Philippines.