I Am from Here: Stories and Recipes from a Southern Chef
A Vishwesh Bhatt dish conjures an evolving American South. Peanut Masala-Stuffed Baby Eggplant alongside fried okra, tossed in tangy chaat masala. Collard-Wrapped Catfish with a spicy Peanut Pesto. These much-loved dishes are stars on the menu at Snackbar in Oxford, Mississippi, where Bhatt has been the executive chef since 2009, earning him Best Chef: South (2019 James Beard Awards) and induction into the Fellowship of Southern Farmers, Artisans, and Chefs in 2022. His food draws from his Indian heritage and is unpretentious, inventive, and incredibly delicious.
I Am From Here organizes 130 recipes by ingredient, emphasizing staples, spices, and vegetables that are as beloved on the Indian subcontinent as they are in the American South. Summer means okra, tomatoes, corn, and peas. Winter brings sweet potatoes and greens: mustards, collards, kale, and spinach. Rice is a constant throughout.
Bhatt vividly recounts the special meals cooked by his mother and grandmothers--vegetarian comfort food such as Khichadi, custardy rice pudding, and Stewed Gujarati-Style Black-Eyed Peas--and presents them alongside dishes he's shared with friends, colleagues, and family across the decades. Recipes run the gamut from uncomplicated roast chicken and Citrus-Herb Rice Salad to dinner party-worthy Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Tandoori Spices.
Writing for the home cook, Bhatt includes recipes for making your own spice mixes, including a versatile chaat masala. A mix-and-match meal-planning guide will help you pair dishes for different occasions. And every ingredient is within reach even if you're cooking far away from the warmth of Mississippi. This cookbook thoughtfully, and persuasively, expands notions of what it means to be, and cook like, a Southerner today.
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