So Evan Kleiman's interview last week with Raghavan Iyer was right up our alley! Iyer has been teaching Indian cooking to folks like us for years and is the author of a new cookbook, 660 Curries: The Gateway to Indian Cooking.
Iyer first clarifies that the term "curry" doesn't mean any particular dish or blend of spices, and actually isn't a word from any of the languages spoken in India. There are a lot of phonetically similar words, all of which refer to any dish with a sauce.
He goes on to explain that a good curry will hit the seven Asian taste elements: hot, sweet, sour, salty, bitter, astringent, and umami. The astringent flavor is most typified in Indian cooking by turmeric, which Iyer says gives curry a "nasaly, chalky flavor" or, as Kleiman adds, "an earthy bottom."
There's a curry for every level of time, interest, an ability. Iyer describes a type of East Indian "bottle masala" that can have upwards of 75 different spices, but then goes on to give a recipe for a simple curry with eggplant that calls for just a few ingredients available at any American supermarket.
If Iyer's book is anything like his personality during the interview, this is one we need to put on our reading list. Iyer was warm, welcoming, and encouraging of anyone who wants to learn.
What's your favorite kind of curry?!
To hear the entire interview, visit the Good Food website.
Raghavan Iyer's book, 660 Curries: The Gateway to Indian Cooking, is available for $15.61 on Amazon.com.
Related: How to Make Curry
(Image via Amazon.com)