This year, I hope to bring you with me a little more often into the world of South Asian cooking. Having traveled in India, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Indonesia, I've been fortunate to experience many of these flavors in their countries of origin, but my real culinary knowledge of them I owe to Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid, authors of two seminal—and well-thumbed—volumes: Hot Sour Salty Sweet
and Mangoes & Curry Leaves
. They track their recipes to the source, often cooking in humble homes alongside matriarchs of the region, and they really believe in simple authentic dishes. Mangoes & Curry Leaves
features the cuisine of the Subcontinent—Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Maldives—so you can imagine the rich variety. I'm sharing a recipe for dhokla
, a Gujarati specialty that's essentially a steamed bread. The recipe looks long, but it's really a very simple process, and the result is light and delicious (and gluten-free). So you don't become discouraged about trying these recipes, please find a source for South Asian ingredients. A market in Little India? An online resource
? It's exciting to try something new, and a great way to vary both your diet and your repertoire.