An Indian-Fusion Thanksgiving

November 14th, 2007
Spices in Bags

Having recently published a review of American Masala by Suvir Saran, we were pleased to learn that Mr. Saran would be featured in the Celebrity Chef program at Apron’s Cooking School here in Sarasota. Lately, we’ve been writing about fusion food, and his Indian-fusion dishes in particular, but what really got our attention is that he’s doing some exciting things in American public schools.

So we thought we’d have a chance to chat with him between his book signing and demonstration dinner here at Apron’s. However, we arrived to find him and two Publix sous-chefs already well into food prep, patter, and pouring of wine because copies of his new book had not yet arrived from the publisher.

So, sometime after Thanksgiving, Chef Saran says he’ll be happy to have a long phone chat with us about his school programs. We look forward to that, because both in print and in person, we find Chef Saran a charismatic spokesperson for the civilizing effects of good food shared with family and friends. Like Alice Waters, whose Green Schoolyard program has addressed the spiritual and nutritional benefits of educating children about food, Mr. Saran is stepping into a realm where the rewards are not another Michelin star or effusive food magazine accolade. We’ll plan a future post about his activities.

Interview postponed, last evening, we stayed to share the demonstration meal with his audience—a slightly Indian-influenced Thanksgiving dinner: Sweet Pepper, Onion, and Chevre Bruschetta, Tamarind-Glazed Turkey with Corn Bread-Jalapeno Stuffing, Sweet Potato Chaat, Brussels Sprouts with Apples and Almonds, Sweet-Tart Cranberry Chutney, and Fig Flan. (All the recipes and the stories behind them appear in American Masala).

Mr. Saran fielded questions, discussed his background, suggested applications of Indian cooking techniques to non-Indian dishes, and voiced strong passions about food (and his fellow food celebrities). The two dozen class participants appeared to be thoroughly engaged and as nourished by Chef Saran’s own masala of personal history, gossip, and nutritional and political opinion as they were by his delightful meal.

For further information about Indian food and Chef Suvir Saran, see his Web site.

For information on Publix culinary programs, see the Apron’s Web site

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