Padma Lakshmi has found a travel partner in her daughter Krishna, who accompanies her on her quest to the most delicious food destinations in the world. She gives us a peek into her travel diaries. By Shikha Pushpan
A former supermodel, actress, TV host, author, and endometriosis awareness activist, Padma Lakshmi has done it all. The Top Chef host and judge is travelling to Kentucky next to film the Emmy award-winning show’s 16th season. However, not many know that the New York-based author’s foray into the world of cooking was a mere ‘accident’.
“I had to gain nine kilos for my first acting role. When I returned to modelling, I wanted to lose all those extra kilos in a healthy way. So, I started to cook low-fat meals, the recipes of which were compiled for my debut cookbook, Easy Exotic: A Model’s Low-Fat Recipes From Around The World. During my book tour, I appeared on Food Network a couple of times, following which they offered me a developmental deal. The rest, as they say, is history.”
Associated with the TV show since its second season, Lakshmi admits to consuming 7,000-8,000 calories while on shoot. “I gain about seven kilos during filming. But I do a combination of boxing and gym workouts to stay in shape. I also highly recommend Pilates; it has completely transformed my body.” Not the one to follow culinary trends, Lakshmi says, “I think good food made with expertise, care, passion, and creativity is always in fashion. Though I eat everything on the show, I try to follow a plant-based diet and khichdi is my comfort food.” Her current kitchen obsession? “Black garlic! It’s become a perennial ingredient in my soup stock. It gives a depth of flavour and a super savoury umami note.” Lakshmi confesses to having been a lifelong gypsy and now travels with her daughter, Krishna. “There is so much to be learned by being a wanderer—it broadens your horizons, helps you be empathetic towards another’s experience. But no matter how far you travel, it’s also important to know what home is.”
Here’s Padma Lakshmi in her own words:
1. “I’ve been hunting and gathering spices all my life. This photograph is from Goa while I was working on The Encyclopedia of Spices and Herbs. At the moment, my go-to spices are Aleppo pepper, Urfa chilli, za’atar, and sumac.”
2 “I love visiting culturally diverse neighbourhoods, such as Jackson Heights in Queens. Here, we are making rotis for a local Indian restaurant.”
3 “During my trip to Bhutan last year, I visited the Weekend Market and fell in love with the raw aroma and colours of different types of chillies.”
4 Kuensel Phodrang or Buddha Point overlooks the main town of Thimphu. The statue of Buddha here is the largest in the country and houses about 100,000 smaller statues. “Put it on your bucket list for magical night views.”
5 “My daughter is the real passion of my life. This is from our trip to Turks and Caicos Island where we went on a seafood exploration.”
6 “Every time I travel, one of my favourite things to do is to discover a new local farmers’ market. The Pike Place Market in Seattle (in pic) and the fruit markets in Marrakech are my favourite.”
7 “My travels are laced with exploring local culinary secrets. During my visit to Tulum, Mexico, I learnt the recipes for sopas traditional chicken or turkey soup, which has healing properties.