Thursday, October 9, 2014

Indian Cooking Unfolded TV series underway by author, chef and culinary expert Raghavan Iyer

By Phyllis Louise Harris
October 2014

Based on his most recent cookbook, “Indian Cooking Unfolded” published last year by Workman Publishing, Raghavan Iyer is currently working on a 13-part TV series designed for airing on public television stations around the country in 2015.

“I want to bring the memories of my childhood in India along with its fabulous home cooking into kitchens everywhere,” Iyer said. “We will visit some of the places and taste some of the food I grew up with,” he added. Then the shows will come back to Minnesota where Iyer will demonstrate how easy it is to create the wonderful flavors of India at home.

“Many people think Indian cooking is difficult with long lists of ingredients,” Iyer commented. “We will use recipes with three to ten ingredients and show how layering the seasonings creates those special Indian flavors.” Each show will feature different Indian locations where Iyer will talk with local food suppliers, home cooks and top chefs. Then he will demonstrate three to four recipes in his Minnesota kitchen showing how anyone can bring the culinary traditions of India into their kitchens as well.

“It’s all in the planning and knowing just how to combine the right flavors for the most delicious results,” offered Iyer. And, he should know. He has been teaching and writing about Indian cooking for more than thirty years reaching more than 30,000 students throughout the United States and in Canada. In 2004, The International Association of Culinary Professionals presented him with the Teacher of the Year Award of Excellence. His four cookbooks are in more than 100,000 kitchens. He has been a consultant on the food of India to dozens of top food producers and continues to help train culinary staffs across the country in India’s unique flavors. His leadership in the industry is evident in his election to the office of president of the IACP where he currently serves until mid-2015. He is the first American from India to be president of the IACP in its 36-year history. Raghavan is also a certified culinary professional and was host of the EMMY® winning TV show, Asian Flavors.

I met Raghavan more than twenty years ago when I covered one of his Byerly’s cooking classes for Asian Pages newspaper. I was intrigued with his style of teaching and even more impressed with the flavors of his cooking. One of the dishes he taught that day was Saag, an onion and spinach stir-fry with raisins and garam masala. It was so easy and tasty I cooked it at home quite often to the delight of my husband, who ordinarily would not eat spinach. Here it is –

Raghavan Iyer’s Saag

2 tbsp. peanut oil or ghee*                               ½ cup golden raisins
1 large red onion, peeled and sliced                12 oz. fresh spinach, washed and chopped
1 tsp. chopped garlic                                        salt to taste
                                                                        1 tsp. garam masala**

Heat oil in wok or sauté pan large enough to hold the spinach. Add the onions and garlic and stir-fry until partially browned, but not burnt. Add the raisins and sauté a few minutes. Add the spinach and cook until the spinach goes limp stirring occasionally to cook the raw leaves. Sprinkle with salt and garam masala; stir the spices throughout the mixture and serve hot.

*ghee is clarified butter so often used by Indian cooks in frying.
**garam masala is one of the most popular spice combinations used in recreating Indian dishes. It is a blend of at least six to eight spices and varies from cook to cook. It is available bottled in most supermarkets or make your own from a recipe in Indian Cooking Unfolded. It literally means “warm blend” since it contains dried chili.

This is just one example of how easy Raghavan makes Indian cooking for TV viewers everywhere. Raghavan Iyer’s Indian Cooking Unfolded TV series will be filled with many more easy, flavorful dishes. Sponsors interested in being part of this unique series should contact Gene Kinsella at Sponsoring Partnerships,



Read more about Asian food in Minnesota and try more than 160 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  

Watch the EMMY® award winning “Asian Flavors” television show based on the book on tpt MN. Check local TV listings for broadcast times or view the show streaming online at: