Food Traveler Magazine Winter 2016 - Page 101

FT: How were you inspired by your parents and the Bangladeshi culture? What were some of your favorite foods as a child? Have those foods influenced your cooking style and cuisine preferences? AK: Food was literally hardwired into my DNA. My parents emigrated from then East Bengal (now Bangladesh) and eating was the cornerstone of social get-togethers. Food is literally the vice of my people. My dad loved going out to eat, especially at those oh so fancy and expensive restaurants. I certainly followed suit. Out of the gate I was an adventurous eater. When I was 6 I demanded to order off an adult menu. At one of our favorite white tablecloth Italian restaurants in the suburbs of St. Louis, the line cooks knew when I walked in the door to prep a filet mignon, medium rare. A foodie rite of passage occurred when I was 8 years old. I remember practically getting into trouble for ordering a 5 course meal at a French restaurant. I was only in 3rd grade, and it was a school night!! I had kept my family at the table a solid 40 minutes after they were done eating, because I ordered a chocolate soufflé as my final course. Like a lot of first generation Americans from non-Western European countries, I would say my palate was exposed early to a broad range of flavors. For kids like us, “exotic” was our home cooking. That being said, and I’m not sure if it was a generational thing, but when I was a kid, I preferred “American” food over Bengali cooking. When I got to college I found myself craving a curry here and there and started to test the waters of regional Indian fare. As controversial as this might sound, I actually prefer the biriyanis of Hyderabad and the haleems of Pakistan to the funky freshwater fish curries of Bengal. But I do do do love my dal, and the yellow split pea version of my mother’s is the recipe I strive to recreate. I learned to cook mostly in my late college/ post college years, recreating the dishes I experienced in restaurants, often the high end ones my parents would take me to. Though I was reared wit FBVBBFFW2֖GvW7@6V6&ƗG2vVW2v27G'VVFrRFPfBGVFRFB&Vr7BvVW&FW&6vV@F7G&FFRƖW2b&VFvBW'2bFRvB'&frFR7BfW&VFVB6&&vRBG&VBf6F6W2FRRbFRw&BVFrWW&V6R6VFW'2ג6VƗfRFfRWrVFrWW&V6W2FVǒfP&V6R&Rv&RbגVB6VG&2GW&Rv&VƖWfP'&GV7Bbג&VvƒB֖GvW7FW&&G2BЦrFfBWrff&FW2F6VvRFB&BࠤeCrFBFR66WBb6VVG06R&WCfR&VVw&Fr&WB6VVG2f&W2f&0f"V'26W'fVB26V"VFF"f"&6&v^( 0FrBvFƖfRwVFRF2vVW2vFf7W2fG06WF2vVW2BFR6fW&FfWGv&V0vW&R6VVG2F&fR6v&VBfBFVWf6vW&Pv2F6VBFfB6VVG2fW"FR6VG'ג&r&rf"W"'W&vW"'V67F'FVB6'FǒgFW"&V6W6RfV@FRFVbf7W6rfFr'Wv'FV2FBFF( @'&VFR&6֖"&w2fvVBFW"7V626Gv67GFrBD46FR6r6V6W&W26VVG22ƗFW&ǒ&VV6VVFVBFג&W7VRN( 2 FVRגv&N( 2v2&VVגGFFBw&VBf@6W2BVFR&6RG2FR7GV6r6R&W@vV&6VBFR&GV7F6vFFRFV`FrfB6rBvRv&VBvFFRWV72B6p6VVf7W2W"FVF6VVG2ࠤeCvB2FFRƖfRbf֖rW6FRb6VVG2ƖSW7Vǒ'&fRBFRf'7B&W7FW&BbFRF&VBvFR7&Wr2&VVv&rf"W"&VG6WGFrW@&Wr( 6V6vFFRF&V7F"FVgFW"ג6V6B6ffVP( 6V6vFFR6VbbFR6FvR&RfVGW&rfRFW7F&Ɨ6FRVW&wvVW&wwWBvBF7&V@FRfR&VB6WFW2FRWW&V6R6&RfW'vV֖pBvBFRfƷ2fVV6f'F&RFW&RFR&V6vvR&RW&RBFWfR&VVF6FrF2Ff"vVV26vBBF&R2rf"FV2B2f"RFVvR6BFPf'7B&W7FW&B2W7Vǒw&VB'֖FFFV&ǒgFW&vR'&Vf"V6rB6VG27&W6rFVBgFW 6FrfB6r'WBWfW'RV6R2vF6rRVB6N( 0ǒf"FBFR7&Wr2FRgVW7VǒV6W&vRFP7&WrFG'vBfrBb^( fRvF6VB6VVG2PrFB2BFVv6VFVvRFBfW"vB6V6@6FvRW7VǒVBWf6r'V&ǒWfRBFVFBfW"vFRWBFFRF2&RrBfƷ2v&7WW fEG&fVW"vFW"#`