It’s hard not to fall in love with Neha Kapur, the former model turned luxury fashion designer (her brand, Hensely is our new obsession) who’s married to one of the funniest men on television, Big Bang Theory’s Kunal Nayyar. Immediately upon meeting Kapur, we were eager to find out everything she was wearing, applying, and doing. Turns out she’s a yogi with an affinity for authentic homemade Indian food and snacking…
From start to finish, what would be your ideal food day?
Sushi for breakfast, sushi for lunch and sushi for dinner.
How do you always start your day? What’s your go-to breakfast?
My day usually begins with lighting incense and conducting prayers at the two shrines I have in the house, then making a pot of English Breakfast Tea with shortbread cookies from Fortnum and Mason (which I am obsessed with) and talking with my parents in India. This is a 6:30am ritual – followed by yoga – and then at 10:30am, it is granola and yogurt for breakfast.
What are your morning and nightly beauty routines?
The Perricone MD products have been my skin’s best friend for the last few years. I love the Perricone Cold Plasma, the Vitamin C Ester 15, and the Nourishing Moisturizer, followed by a Kiehl’s Sunscreen. For the eyes, I use La Mer Eye Balm Intense.
What’s the inspiration behind your Hensely collection?
Hensely comes from a very honest place. It is timeless and season-less. I wanted to narrate a story through my clothes; a story about the modern woman with real responsibilities, who is curious and patient, and who is always looking to learn with every turn in her life. A woman willing to reinvent herself, without changing her inherent style. She is the real inspiration behind my collection.
How do you practice beauty from the inside out?
I practice yoga four times a week, and every two hours I get hungry. I spend a lot of my day behind my desk, so I always keep almonds and cranberries handy. I love to munch and this is great to keep you focused. I am a creature of habit, so I love the Chicken Arugula Salad with Avocado from Food Lab, which is very close to my studio. And if it were up to me, I would end every day with sushi.
Who’s your style icon and why?
My Mother! You will always find her in the most beautiful Sarees. Even today she takes extra care in dressing up. She always has a flower in her hair, and she always matches the color of her Bindi to her Saree. She knows all the various different textiles and embroideries from all different states in India and she is always on the hunt for something that reflects her self-assured personality.
Do you and your husband cook together? What’s a go-to weeknight recipe?
Being that we are so far from our families, we crave home-cooked Indian food. I love making simple yellow lentils with Basmati white steamed rice, and old school dry Indian potatoes (unlike new potatoes… get it?). Kunal makes the meanest Lamb Keema (minced lamb curry) and kebobs. I always overeat when he cooks.
Any annual traditions you do together? What are they?
The annual tradition in the Nayyar household is the celebration of the festival of lights, called Diwali. This is the one time in the year that our friends who attended our wedding in India, wear the same Indian clothes they wore four years ago at our wedding. It is a big Indian extravaganza.
Best advice you’ve given him and visa versa…
“Listen to your wife” is my advice to Kunal. His advice to me is to “always see the good in people.”
Is there an easy 3-6 step Indian recipe we can master quickly? What is it?
Whisk together eggs, onions, cilantro, tomato, salt, red chili powder, and a little bit of Garam Masala. Put some olive oil in a pan, and make yourself a mean omelet. Oh, and I love cheese. Throw some in – it always tastes good.
Your best memory from competing and winning Miss India…
Miss India was special. Much against my will, my godmother (who was also my agent) made me participate, and it changed my life forever. The best memory from that day was winning in front of my parents, my godmother, and all of my closest friends. I will never forget that moment because of the love I felt in the room.
What’s special about fashion week in India?
I have some of the fondest memories from India Fashion Week. This is where my love for fashion grew, and I made some of the closest friends I have today. It is such a creative space, full of young designers, and veterans. It was a great platform to launch into the world of fashion for me, and it continues to grow even today for young talent.
If we’ve never been to India before, where should our first trip be? Any must-do things?
It would be unfair to call out one city that you should see first, as India is so vast and it gives a different experience depending on which part you see first.
You have to make a couple of trips, which would be just enough to give you a glimpse of this country. I am biased to New Delhi as I grew up there, so you could start there. Just to name a few must-do things in India: See the Taj Mahal; go to the Red Fort; see the sand dunes in Jaisalmer; visit the back waters in Kerala; see the highest desert in the world in Ladakh; ski in Gulmarg; eat in Old Delhi; go to the Golden Temple in Amritsar, and visit the Dalai Lama. I could go on, but let’s at least start here.
What do you always put out at a dinner party? What do you always bring to one as a guest?
My must-have at a dinner party is an assorted cheese and charcuterie plate. It is always well-presented with truffle mustard paste, and cranberry chutney, some green grapes and Granny Smith apples. Gluten-free rice crackers go along with it. There is always a slightly chilled bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon in the decanter to wash it all down with.
If you could host a dinner party with any five people living or dead, who would be there? What would you cook?
It would definitely be a mixture of those who left me and those who are present. I would like to invite my paternal Grandfather who loved to write and was a philosopher, and my maternal Grandfather who was the first Lt.Governor of Delhi, both of whom I never met. I would invite my husband Kunal (who I admire, love and respect immensely), Shekhar Kapur who is an esteemed director and a dear friend (and has made films like the Elizabeth and Mr. India), and LeBron James, who is the best athlete to have ever lived, in my opinion. I would definitely cook up a storm of Indian delicacies, or just order in, so I get to spend more time with all of them.