Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Harry Singh’s Caribbean food at the State Fair is filled with Asian flavors and island spices  

by Phyllis Louise Harris

Among the corndogs, miniature donuts and things on a stick at the Minnesota State Fair you will find the wonderful food of Trinidad and Tobago at Harry Singh’s Caribbean Restaurant in the Food Building.

Now in his fifth year at the fair, Harry Singh offers the food of his homeland filled with Asian flavors developed since the mid-1800s when the British occupied the island and brought in workers from China and India. Combined with the island’s hot and spicy cuisine, the melding of these three cuisines has created the Caribbean dishes we have come to enjoy today.

At the fair Harry will be serving roti dhalpourie, jerk chicken, curry chicken, Jamaican jerk fries, Caribbean punch and ginger beer: all tastes of the island in the middle of America’s breadbasket.

They are just a few of the dishes Harry features year ‘round in his East Street restaurant at 2653 Nicollet Avenue South in Minneapolis. One of the favorites there is Harry’s version of chow mein with island flavors and a variety of vegetables depending on the season. Also Caribbean style Creole rice dishes, jerk pork or lamb and goat curry.

For a taste of the Caribbean plan to stop at Harry Singh’s in the Food Building at the fair or visit his restaurant on East Street after the fair.

Bring Asian cooking into your own kitchen through the more than 150 recipes in Asian Flavors: Changing the Tastes of Minnesota since 1875, now in bookstores and on 

Buy online:  Asian Flavors: Changing the Tastes of Minnesota since 1875 

Also watch the “Asian Flavors” television show based on the book on tptMN. Check local TV listings for broadcast times or view the show streaming online at: 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Raghavan Iyer’s “Indian Cooking Unfolded” takes the mystery out of this complex cuisine

By Phyllis Louise Harris
August 2013

More than a billion people call the food of India “Mom’s home cooking.” But, to anyone who grew up with the comfort food of most other countries, India’s distinctive cooking is a mystery.

To Raghavan Iyer it was both: Mother’s home cooking and a mystery! The youngest of seven children growing up in Mumbai (Bombay), Raghavan was not allowed in the kitchen when his mother and sisters prepared the family meals. Traditionally, cooking was “women’s work.” So when he came to Minnesota to pursue a culinary career, he had no idea how to cook the food of his homeland. Even worse, he could not find the ingredients to create the flavors from his childhood.

A lot has changed in the 31 years Raghavan has lived and worked in the U.S. Starting with a steady stream of letters to and from his mother and sisters with recipes and cooking instructions, to the four cookbooks he has written, to teaching more than 25,000 culinary students nationwide about Indian food, Raghavan has become a nationally recognized authority on the cooking of India.

With his “long-distance” cooking lessons he taught himself how to cook and then begin teaching others the mysteries of Indian food. Next, he wrote “Betty Crocker’s Indian Home Cooking” in 2001. That was followed by “The Turmeric Trail” a year later and in 2008 “660 Curries.” In 2012 he contributed four chapters to my book, “Asian Flavors: Changing the Tastes of Minnesota since 1875” and served as narrator on the television show based on “Asian Flavors” by Twin Cities Public Television (tpt).

And now he has written a book that takes us back to the beginning: Mom’s home cooking. “Indian Cooking Unfolded” is filled with 100 recipes using 10 ingredients or less. It is the perfect home schooling for the cook who wants to see each step clearly explained and seven recipes illustrated in foldout pages. It is a collection of traditional and original recipes that Raghavan likes to call his own home cooking.

The cooking of India is based on layering flavors at the right time and temperature throughout the cooking process. Adding a particular spice at the wrong time or in the wrong form will change the flavor of the finished dish. So for those cooks who like to toss in things at will, be prepared to change old habits. Following Raghavan’s step-by-step instructions ensures a tasty result. It takes patience and practice, but “Indian Cooking Unfolded” almost makes it fun. A little like a treasure hunt with the prize being perfectly balanced flavors, Indian cooking can become a favorite of cooks everywhere. And just as easy to make as apple pie!

“Indian Cooking Unfolded” was published this month by Workman Publishing, has a cover price of $19.95 and is available in bookstores and on

Here are a few places to meet Raghavan, learn more about Indian cooking and get a signed copy of “Indian Cooking Unfolded:”

August 8, Byerly’s
St. Louis Park, MN – cooking class 6:00 – 7:30 pm

August 10, Minnesota Garlic Festival,
McLeod County Fairgrounds, Hutchinson, MN 11:30am-12: 30pm

September 17 – 18, Cooks Warehouse,
Atlanta, GA – master classes 6:30 – 9:30 pm

September 20, Kitchen in the Market at Global Market,
Minneapolis, MN – tasting and signing 6 – 9 pm

September 24 - 25, A Southern Season,
Chapel Hill and Charleston, NC – classes 6:00 pm

October 27, Barbara Jo’s Books to Cooks,
Vancouver, BC – tasting and signing 5:00 – 7:00 pm

For additional events go to

Read more about Asian food in Minnesota and try some of Raghavan’s recipes in Asian Flavors: Changing the Tastes of Minnesota since 1875, now in bookstores and on
Buy online:  Asian Flavors: Changing the Tastes of Minnesota since 1875

Also watch the “Asian Flavors” television show based on the book on tptMN. Check local TV listings for broadcast times or view the show streaming online at: