On Monday evening, celebrity chef and cookbook author Maneet Chauhan visits Denver on her book tour. Chauhan (who is a James Beard Award recipient and a judge on the Food Network’s hit show Chopped) will cook at TAG Restaurant alongside chef-owner Troy Guard and pastry chef Noah French.
Chauhan’s new cookbook Flavors of My World takes diners around the world with recipes from 25 different countries. What’s more, each dish and cocktail is infused with flavors from Chauhan’s native India.
5280 caught up with chef Chauhan to talk about the book, her must-have spices, and her favorite dish.
5280: How did you select which countries to include in Flavors of My World? How long did the idea of a globally-inspired cookbook percolate?
MC: I love global cuisine. [Chauhan is from the Punjab region of India and served as the executive chef of Latin-Indian fusion restaurant Vermillion in Chicago and New York City.] The idea has been in my mind for a really long time and it finally reached the moment of Eureka when I talked about it with my [now] co-author Doug Singer. I send him the stories and he adds the history behind the dishes. Either I visited [these countries] or visited vicariously through someone else. For example, when my husband was in Indonesia, I would talk to him on the phone as he was coming home from work, stopping at the late-night street vendors who sold traditional Indonesian fried rice. I tried to replicate that for him at home, [and then included that dish in the book].
5280: Indian flavors are common threads throughout the book…
MC: I think this is something that everyone does—puts their own twist on [their food]. Whether they are making a pizza or a pasta, they infuse it with the flavors that they grew up with.
5280: Are there specific spices that you consider must-haves?
MC: As I was talking with non-Indians about cooking Indian food, they felt like they had to go out and get 10 to 15 spices just to make one recipe. I wanted to make it less daunting; something where they could walk into Whole Foods—not a specialty market—and walk out with. A great starter kit is: cumin seeds, turmeric, red chile powder, chaat masala (a spice blend with dried mango), and garam masala [savory spice blend]. Indian food also stresses fresh ingredients like mint, coriander [cilantro], ginger, and jalapeños.
5280: Do you have a favorite dish in Flavors of My World?
MC: It changes, but right now I am feeling extra love for the Singapore tilwiala chile crab. I first had it after an event in Singapore at this small place with aquariums from floor to ceiling. I told [the cooks] whatever you want to do—and this blew my socks off! The best part: it’s so easy to make. Put stuff in a blender and boom, boom, boom, you’re good to go.
Details: At Monday’s dinner, Chauhan will visit individual tables and chat with guests. She’ll also answer questions and sign books (copies of Flavors of My World are included in the dinner price of $95). E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to make a reservation for the three-course, wine-paired dinner.
1441 Larimer St., 303-996-9985
—Photo courtesy of Maneet Chauhan