In a world of uncertainty, many people have picked up hobbies, including cooking. But after a year of lockdown, it's time to expand your culinary horizons even further. Which is why the rerelease of “Tangy Tart Hot & Sweet: A World of Recipes for Every Day” by "Top Chef" host Padma Lakshmi couldn’t have come at a better time. Her cookbook — originally published in 2007 — is a collection of everyday recipes from around the world and is scheduled to be republished by Hatchette in paperback on March 16, 2021.
“I was feeling a bit shy about how it may read as outdated, but when I went to rewrite the introduction I sincerely couldn’t find anything I’d change,” Lakshmi told us via email. "So I left it. Everything I said then, I still firmly believe today, if not more so.”
Lakshmi rose to culinary fame as the co-host of cooking reality show “Top Chef,” now in its 18th season. Her new adventurous docuseries, “Taste the Nation,” puts Lakshmi in the driver's seat and offers viewers an unvarnished look at the South India-born food-loving celeb. But before all that, Lakshmi was busy traveling the world as a model and developing her palate. Over the years, she has recreated foods from places she has traveled to, from strolling the streets of Paris to camping on the plains of the Serengeti.
This is the cookbook for those who may have ordered too many takeout meals this year and are looking to create exquisite dishes from a global viewpoint. But don’t just “pack your knives and go” because you think you don’t have the expertise to make certain cuisines. Lakshmi’s recipes are suitable for a home cook of any skill level and include ingredients that you can easily find in your local grocery store or international markets.
If you’re eager to try a recipe from “Tangy Tart Hot & Sweet,” Lakshmi gave us a preview with her take on classic Southern fried chicken.
She shares two secrets to getting that juicy, tender meat on the inside while having a flavorful, crunchy exterior. The first is to brine your chicken in salted water or milk — or even both. Here Lakshmi opts for an overnight soak in salted buttermilk because she says the milk makes the meat taste sweeter.
Lakshmi’s second secret — and what makes this recipe really special — is to use Rice Krispies and crushed saltines to help create the extra layer of crunch, plus dried mango powder and cayenne for a flavor boost. She proves that you don’t have to be from the American South to make delicious fried chicken.
“My cooking has been following the same ethos since day one,” says Lakshmi. “My table is a global one...My hope is that a whole new generation will enjoy these recipes.”
There’s a meal in this cookbook for everyone and every day of the week, from sushi to schnitzel. While you’re experimenting with recipes from around the world, these simple Indian dinner recipes may pique your interest.
Excerpted with permission from "Tangy Tart Hot & Sweet: A World of Recipes by Every Day" by Padma Lakshmi. Copyright © 2021. Available from Hatchette Go, an imprint of Hachette Book Group, Inc.
2 1/2 cups buttermilk
5 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1 (3- to 4-pound) chicken, cut into 10 pieces (breasts quartered)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Rice Krispies, or other puffed rice cereal, smashed coarsely
12 saltine crackers, crushed
1 teaspoon cayenne
2 cups canola or peanut oil
2 eggs beaten in a shallow bowl
Step 1: Mix the 2 ½ cups buttermilk and 4 teaspoons of salt in a large bowl. Add the cut-up chicken and marinate in the refrigerator for 8 to 10 hours. Remove from fridge, drain the buttermilk, and allow the chicken to come up to room temperature, about 90 minutes.
Step 2: Combine 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup Rice Krispies, crushed saltines, remaining teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon mango powder and 1 teaspoon cayenne in a bowl.
Step 3: Dredge each chicken piece in the flour mixture and then in the beaten egg. Now dredge each piece in the flour mixture again, and transfer to a baking sheet lined with wax paper, taking care to leave room between each piece. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Step 4: Meanwhile, in a deep, heavy pan, heat the oil on medium-low heat. Fry chicken in the oil, for 6 to 9 minutes on each side (6 minutes for wings and drumsticks, 7 to 9 minutes for thighs and breasts). Do not let the oil get too hot, as the crust can darken before the meat inside is cooked thoroughly. Poultry should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160F. Don't crowd the pan; cook just enough pieces at a time so that each piece is bathed in oil. Drain on paper towels. Serve hot, with lots of napkins on standby!