If there’s one thing we’ve done a whole lot more of in the past year, it’s cooking. (Remember when everyone was baking bread?) So it should come as no surprise that some of us may have run out of ideas by now. That’s why the re-release of Padma Lakshmi‘s cookbook, Tangy Tart Hot & Sweet: A World of Recipes for Every Day, is timed perfectly. The book, which originally came out in 2007 and was reissued this month, is a celebration of and love letter to Lakshmi’s travels, her family, and the foods she adores—the dishes she’s seen bring people together at tables across the globe.
Lakshmi is, of course, not only an author and recipe developer—she’s an Emmy-nominated food expert, a television producer and host, and a human rights advocate. She’s the creator of the Hulu docuseries Taste the Nation, and host and executive producer of Bravo’s Top Chef. In Tangy Tart Hot & Sweet, Lakshmi offers 121 delightful savory dishes and sweet treats—everything from green chicken enchiladas to chilled papaya mousse with Cointreau—each with her own signature spin.
“My identity can be very accurately traced through my fork,” Lakshmi writes in her introduction to the book. “I grew up first in South India, and the roots of many of my recipes are there. Starting out with a few chiles, some mustard seeds, and ginger, I was able to learn the secrets of my grandmother’s kitchen. Most of my fondest early memories are of being with my mother, my aunts, and my grandmother in the kitchen. I came to equate cooking with celebration, and food with love.”
Here, Lakshmi shares two recipes from her book for you to try at home: a smashed potato masala you can pair with rice or dosa and a homemade masala chai to sip on afterward. We hope they bring you love.
Smashed Potato Masala
“This is another old South Indian recipe for a dish called podi mas. My mother always made it when my Uncle Vichu visited us. (I knew who was coming to dinner because of the foods that were prepared.) It’s a quick and easy recipe with a taste that’s out of this world. The turmeric gives a nice yellow hue to the potatoes, and the white gram lentils give the dish a little crunch, which contrasts nicely with the soft, pillowy texture of the potatoes. If you don’t have gram lentils on hand, it’s fine to substitute dry-roasted peanuts or raw cashew pieces; even sunflower seeds will work. If you don’t want any of these, the dish is still fantastic and is very worth making. Just ask my Uncle Vichu.”
- 1 1⁄2 pounds boiling potatoes
- 3 tablespoons canola oil
- 2 1⁄2 tablespoons white gram lentils
- 11⁄2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
- 2 medium-size onions, diced
- 3 to 4 fresh serrano or jalapeño peppers, cut in rings with seeds
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger Salt
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
- Boil the potatoes for 35 to 40 minutes. Drain them and let them cool. Then peel and quarter them.
- In a large pan over medium heat, add the oil and then the gram lentils and mustard seeds. After the seeds start to pop and crackle, add the onions, peppers, and ginger. Stir for 5 minutes. The lentils should be toasted golden brown, and the onions should be glassy. Add potatoes, salt to taste, and turmeric. Smash the potato mixture with a wooden spoon, and mix well so the turmeric gives as even a yellow hue as possible. Remove from heat. Stir in cilantro and lemon juice. Serve hot. Serves 4
Homemade Masala Chai
“A few years ago, I started to notice that my friends suddenly started using the word chai for tea and not because they had recently taken a trip to India or Russia. By now we are all familiar with Starbucks’s chai lattes. But wouldn’t it be nice to make homemade, ginger-steeped chai in your own kitchen once in a while? This is a gorgeous way to finish a meal, and it’s lovely to have a pot of it simmering on your kitchen stove for teatime. Make sure to buy a good variety of black tea, like Assam or Darjeeling. If you happen to be in an Indian grocery, ask them for Brook Bond or Red Label.”
- 1 teaspoon finely diced fresh ginger
- 1⁄4 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1⁄4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 3 teaspoons loose Darjeeling tea or other strong black tea
- 3 teaspoons brown sugar
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2 teaspoons honey
In a saucepan, bring the ginger, cardamom, and cloves to a boil with 4 cups of water. Reduce the heat to a simmer and add the tea, sugar, milk, and honey. Simmer 2 to 3 minutes while stirring to dissolve the sugar. Strain the tea into cups and serve hot. Serves 4
Excerpted from Tangy Tart Hot and Sweet: A World of Recipes for Every Day by Padma Lakshmi. Copyright © 2021. Available from Hachette Go, an imprint of Hachette Book Group, Inc.