Flavors First: An Indian Chef’s Culinary Journey

I love living and eating on the East End of Long Island. It’s a unique, foodie-friendly place. The tip of New York State’s most agriculturally productive county, surrounded by seafood. Throw in the summer-in-the-Hamptons scene and you get a rich mix of top restaurants – so we have it all – almost. There are no proper Indian restaurants out here! One cannot live by Hamptons Chutney Co. alone. When I can’t get to the city, I fill up at the Curry Club in Stony Brook. Getting back home from there is a long trip when you have a belly full of curry, yogurt and, oh, yum, those breads! Thanks to Chef Vikas Khanna, now we can get the goods where we live.

Khanna’s new cookbook, Flavors First: An Indian Chef’s Culinary Journey (Lake Isle Press) was just released last month. It explains EVERYTHING you need to know to cook great Indian food at home! In fact, he has taken the time to explain the origins and ins and outs of individual ingredients. I’d never thought of dill as being “similar to a combination of anise and celery.”   The glossary of essential Indian spices and ingredients provides a solid foundation from which the at-home cook can craft his or her own Indian-inspired meals. One hundred twenty-five recipes, 90 photos and Khanna is not hard on the eyes. Khanna’s earlier books include Ayurveda: The Science of Food & Life and Mango Mia: Celebrating the Tropical World of Mangoes.

Khanna’s recipes are well-organized and simple to replicate. I made his Carom Seeds Poori in a flash (it only takes 30 minutes to rise). I substituted cumin seeds for carom. It was a brave choice but it worked. I’m going to try his Potato Cakes next. Come on over!


Vikas Khanna, Flavors First: An Indian Chef’s Culinary Journey (Lake Isle Press: 2011),  $24.95. Available locally at Books & Books in Westhampton and online.

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