Ten Questions With Rupen Rao

Mumbai-born Chef Rupen Rao, author of the cookbook Indian Cooking From My Mom, also blogs, conducts cooking classes in and around Washington, D.C., and has his own line of spice blends. He is currently putting together a series of cooking videos and is working on his second cookbook, which will be released later this year. I recently caught up with him for a quick Q&A:

Q: How did you get your start in your culinary career?

A: I always cooked for myself, friends, and family. In 2003, I had a major car accident and I was unable to cook for 12 weeks. When I was in the hospital, I used to often think about food. I believe that was my "ah-ha!" moment. That gave birth to my culinary career.

Q: What's your favorite local product?

A: Milk products from the mountain creameries in and around D.C. (Editor's note: South Mountain Creamery and Trickling Springs Creamery are among many rural Maryland and Virginia dairy farms that deliver their products in D.C.)

Q: What D.C. restaurant would you recommend to friends, and why?

A: Agora in Dupont Circle. It's simple and clean, has great quality food and is reasonably priced. They also have outdoor seating.

Q: What's your favorite food city?

A: New York City.

Q: What are the most important tools in your kitchen?

A: My knives, blender, and pressure cooker.

Q: Favorite cookbook (other than yours)?

A: Indian Essence: The Fresh Tastes of India's New Cuisine by Atul Kochchar.

Q: What's your favorite junk food and/or guilty pleasure?

A: Ha, there are so many, but I'd have to say cheese pizza and Coke!

Q: What's the weirdest thing you've ever eaten?

A: Alligator.

Q: We amateur cooks would like to know: What brand of knives do you use at home?

A: Wushtof.

Q: Do you have a cooking tip for us?

A: Salt your food well. Salt is the key ingredient.

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