As an ode to Iyerâ€™s tasteful impact, sample these books that have shaped the perception of Indian food in America.
Indian American chef Raghavan Iyer breathed his last on March 31 at the age of 61 after fighting cancer for five years. Iyer, who arrived in America in 1982 to study at the Southwest Minnesota State University, has contributed more towards the awareness of Indian cuisine in the United States than any other food expert in recent times.
A prolific author, Iyer wrote more than half a dozen books on Indian cuisine. In many ways, his books published during the early 2000s were the first informed introduction to Indian cooking for many Americans.
Remembering Iyer and the tasteful impact he has left on the history of immigrant food in the West, here are some recommendations for his works that have in many ways shaped the perception of Indian food in America.
Whether you are a foodie or not, his rare insights into Indian flavors and ingredients is bound to leave you more well-informed about ethnic food and how it plays an important role in shaping migrant identities. Order the books online or scour your local libraries, because there can be no other more delicious way to spend the upcoming long weekend!
Betty Crockerâ€™s Indian Home Cooking
This was Iyerâ€™s first book published back in 2001. Betty Crocker collaborated with Iyer to bring a book that featured some of the simplest yet rich in historical context dishes from Indian cuisine.
The book is like a pilgrimage to India where the spices and the style that form regional Indian cooking come together to give a kaleidoscopic view of this land bursting with flavors and ingredients.
Every dish has layers of history, culture and tradition that are waiting to be unfolded to give a glimpse on how the world until then hadnâ€™t even begun scratching the surface of this mammoth gourmet journey laying within India.
Iyer does not hold back and shares anecdotes from his years of growing up while soaking in the sights, smells and stories behind Indian food.
The Turmeric Trail: Recipes and Memories from an Indian Childhood
Long before Turmeric gummies became the â€˜itâ€™ thing for health savvy Americans who discovered its anti-inflammatory and cancer-fighting properties, Iyer shone the spotlight on this golden spice.
A staple in Indian cuisine, the book offers a rare collection of some of the iconic South Indian dishes explained in such a simple way that even a kitchen newbie can cook.
The book is interspersed with stories, valuable insights and simpleton food like â€“ ginger tea, an unassuming but potent Indian drink that is as classic as it gets. Read it for nostalgia and a love of food.
660 Curries: The Gateway to Indian Cooking
Published in 2008, the book as its title suggests literally opened a new gateway of information towards how the west viewed curry.
The initial waves of migration in America did bring along with it the quintessential ethnic cuisine but in absence of a learned exchange of real Indian cooking, the curry gained its recognition as a spicy, cheap take-away food.
Iyerâ€™s book effectively demystifies the versatility of curry in Indian cuisine. It was perhaps the first time ever that western food aficionados discovered the limitless possibilities of curry â€” from grilled chicken curry to asparagus and tomato crumbled paneer curry to tamarind Shrimp and coconut milk curry.
The book serves as a delicious eye-opener into the world of curries, which was up until then relegated to imperfectly prepared tomato-laden, greasy butter chicken curry that was being passed off as Indian food.