FOOD TRAIL M4 THE MAGAZINE
that we were going to adopt an African-American
boy. We were just adopting a glorious child.”
It was important the couple that the baby should
meet his Indian grandmother Geetha Iyer who was
living in Mumbai.
Robert was three when he met her for the first
time, she was about 80. Iyer and Erickson taught
him to call her patti, grandmother in Tamil. They
visited her again after three years. She died six
“I was her youngest child, out of seven children,”
Iyer says. “And Robert was her 10th and youngest
grandchild. So there was a special bond between
them. I think my mother fully accepted who I was
when she knew there would be a grandchild. She
had been worried that her youngest son was not
going to have any children.”
Erickson was raised a Methodist Christian and
Iyer grew up in an orthodox family in India. “But I
am not religious and both Terry and I believe what
is important is that we give our son the right values
and ethics,” he adds. “We were never concerned as
to what religion he should have, but we are all the
time hoping that he will continue to be a compas-
sionate and a very good human being.”
Robert is used to having two fathers. He calls
Erickson Daddy and Iyer Papa. And he enjoys a
variety of food, including his father’s Indian
— Arthur J Pais
years and shows how you can make Indian dishes
by using about 10 ingredients you can find
today in any supermarket. You don’t have to
go to Asian stores looking for them.
When I started creating dishes I
thought I was cheating by not going
to an Indian grocery store but not
any more. It was one of those liberating experiences and I found it exciting to keep the recipes within 10
During my many travels across
America and Canada, I visited supermarkets, making notes of ingredients and spices
I also made a list of the top five spices one could
find anywhere: Chillies, turmeric, coriander seeds,
mustard seeds and cumin.
Now, when I cook at home and make Indian food
What are your plans for the International
I stick to the simplicity of 10 ingredients.
Association of Culinary Professionals?
It has been around for 35 years and has veteran
as well new chefs, and food professionals. Over the
years, I’ve done a lot of workshops and seminars at
their conferences and learned a lot.
Now, I want to give back. When I was asked to
consider joining the board, I did. It’s an elected
In recent years, there have been so many changes
in the publishing industry and now, there are so
many good bloggers. I want our members to
understand the new reality and make best use of
What do you like to cook the most?
Daal. I love Daal and rice. I also like Rasam Vada,
and that is what I order mostly when I go to a
South Indian restaurant. And if that dish fails me,
I lose my appetite. But my ultimate comfort food is
Rasam Saadam. ;
With a desi
‘I did not run down the street proclaiming it,
but if people asked I would say I was gay’
‘INDIAN FOOD HAS BEEN FUSION
FOOD FOR CENTURIES’
2 racks of lamb
(about 3 pounds total)
2 tsp black or yellow mustard seeds
1 tsp cardamom seeds (removed from the green or white cardamom
3 to 4 dried red chillies, stems discarded
½ cup almond slices or slivers
1½ tsp coarse kosher or sea salt
2 to 3 tbsp canola oil
6 medium-size cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 pound pre-washed baby spinach leaves, finely shredded
Cut the racks of lamb into individual chops by slicing in between each
rib bone. You should have at least 16 chops. Place the mustard seeds,
cardamom seeds, and chilies in a spice grinder (you can also use a coffee grinder) and grind the blend to the consistency of finely ground
Tap the spice blend into a small bowl. Working in batches, grind the
almonds in the same spice grinder to the same consistency as the spice
blend and transfer them to a separate medium-size bowl.
Combine ¾ tsp of the salt with the spice blend and the remaining ¾
tsp of salt with the ground almonds.
Place the lamb chops on a tray and sprinkle half of the spice blend on
the tops of the chops (the meat part, not the bone).
Press the spice blend into the meat of the chops to make sure it
adheres. Turn the chops over and repeat with the remaining spice blend.
Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once
the oil appears to shimmer, arrange half of the chops in a single layer in
the hot oil. The instant sizzle and sear will cook the spices without burning them, thanks to the meaty chops.
Cook the chops about 1 minute, then turn them over and repeat
Reduce the heat to medium, add the garlic to the skillet, and stir-fry it
until light brown, about 30 seconds. Sprinkle the ground almonds over
the garlic and quickly stir it to make sure there are no lumps.
The nuts will foam up and bubble, turning light brown quickly, about
30 seconds. Stir in handfuls of the spinach; the heat will be just right to
quickly wilt the shreds. Repeat until all of the spinach has been added.
Pour the half-and-half into the skillet and scrape the bottom to release
all of the bits of almond, spinach, and garlic, effectively deglazing the
pan and releasing those flavors back into the sauce.
Return all of the lamb chops to the pan, making sure that they are
blanketed with the festive-looking sauce, lush green against a white
backdrop. If the skillet is too small to accommodate all of the chops,
place half of the chops and sauce in a separate skillet. Cover the skillet(s)
and let the chops cook a bit more and absorb some of those lush favors,
about 5 minutes.
The chops will be medium-rare. If you want the meat to be less rare,
simmer the chops, covered, an additional 3 to 5 minutes.
Serve the lamb chops right away, making sure you spoon all of that
satiny spinach sauce around them. ;
Excerpted from Raghavan Iyer’s Indian Cooking Unfolded with the author’s
Raghavan Iyer, left, and his
partner Terry Erickson, right,
with their adopted son Robert.