Indian cuisine is more than just curry and naan. The cuisine is varied and different, especially in the south. Kerala has recipes that surprisingly echo the American South.One chef is letting America know that - and also rediscovering her past.
Kin Severson wrote about Chef Asha Gomez in today's New York Time's Food section. Chef Gomez not only is returning to her roots but also highlighting a cuisine not well known here in the States. Many think it's just cheap eats - good only for buffets - laden with rice. American chefs have ruined biryani and dosa, not to mention curries. There are also the food snobs who dismiss it because there it doesn't command the respect of European or American cuisine. They also feel that eating cheap food doesn't deserve a second glance. However charge too much of it as Chef Gomez did at her former restaurant , Cardamon Hill, and diners will complain.It was for a $32 for a complex fish curry spiked with smoked tamarind while the Southern cuisine restaurant in the area charged the same for a fish dsh.it is insulting and maybe spurred a PBS sponsored show inspired by her YouTube series, "Curry and Cornbread".
What is the food of Kerala.It's inspired by the Portuguese traders that visited the region for spices (and how Chef Gomez 's family acquired their last name and do not shun meat eating ). They brought with them a love of pork and chiles that would define the region's food. In some ways it's reminiscent of the American South . There is fried chicken, braised pork, and vegetables like okra and field peas. There is also a thriving street vendor culture called thattukadas where Chef Gomez used to head for chunks of chicken with crunchy fried shallots,garlic and curry leaves crisped in coconut oil.It was eaten with flaky wheat parathas, or flatbreads. There is a recipe for this called Kerala Roadside Chicken that combines a variety of different spices, from the traditional garam masala to the particular Kashmiri chile powder. The chicken is fried in coconut oil and then garnished with the highly flavored fried shallots, dried chiles and curry.Serve with any kind of flatbread.
Indian food is much more than just curry and rice. There are so many dishes, from each of the various states. They all reflect the diversity of an interesting culture and cuisine.