The Clever Cookstr talks with Chitra Agrawal, blogger at ABCD's of Cooking, founder of condiment line Brooklyn Delhi, and author of an upcoming cookbook. about using Indian-inspired spices and techniques in your everyday meals.
CC: Where did the idea for Brooklyn Delhi come from? How do you hope that will help people bring Indian food into their kitchens more easily?
CA: The condiment line also came out of my CSA! I was getting certain vegetables and fruits, and was trying to be creative and figure out how to use them. One of them was rhubarb. I don't love sweets, really, so I made an Indian pickle, or achaar, out of it, instead. That's what the Brooklyn Delhi line is really all about--in the recipe, usually you'd use a green mango or a thin-skinned lemon, but I use the rhubarb in its place for that sour, tart taste. But I stay true to the ingredients and the spices traditionally used in that pickle. That was the inspiration.
I hope that through the line, people get more introduced to Indian spices and cooking, and use the products not only as condiments, but also to flavor a dish that they're making. I put a lot of recipes on our site for how people can use the achaars in a daily way, whether that's putting it in a sandwich or cooking a stir-fry with it.
CC: I'd love to have you talk through one of your favorite recipes for summer, something that's really good for all the produce we're starting to see at the farmers' markets, and that also takes advantage of all the Indian spices you've been talking about.
CA: One of my favorite recipes that my mom used to make in the summer is a corn stir-fry, or in India, corn palya.
- Take fresh corn and shave the corn kernels off
- Fry the kernels in ghee, or clarified butter, with black pepper and cumin
- Finish the dish with a squeeze of lemon and fresh cilantro
- You can substitute basil for the cilantro, and add leeks as a base
CC: Can you tell us about the cookbook you're working on?
CA: That's going to be focused on South Indian home cooking recipes from Bangalore, where my mom is from. To make it interesting, we're using a lot of the same traditional techniques, but I'm going to be using seasonal, local ingredients. I want these recipes to be accessible and also flexible, in that people are learning the traditional techniques but are also able to apply them to the produce they have on hand.
Thanks for joining us on the Clever Cookstr, Chitra!
Photo of Chitra at Smorgasburg by Liz Clayman. Photo of corn palya by Chitra Agrawal. Brooklyn Delhi package design by Ben Garthus.