Padma Lakshmi's Last Meal

Currying favor

In some unexplainable way, Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi is pretty even over the phone. She's like the good-looking girl at school who you want to hate, but then it turns out she's really friendly and laid-back, and you almost hate her more for that.

At first, she thought we were asking about the last meal she ate, which was at Vermilion, in Chicago (where the Top Chef winner will be crowned tonight). Lakshmi says Vermilion is one of the best Indian restaurants in the country. For her very last meal, though, she'd do the cooking herself, all from her new cookbook, Tangy, Tart, Hot, and Sweet.

You could have anything, anywhere, cooked by anyone . . . I would probably have, um, the veal ragu with fresh linguine from Cipriani, which I have a weakness for. Or my own coconut-milk beef curry, with fresh curry leaves. And then I'd have cardamom créme anglaise with candied ginger.

Courtesy of Weinstein Books

Yum, where is that from? I would take the cardamom créme anglaise recipe in my new book, and drop in candied ginger in the ice cream machine. You know what else? The mushroom flautas from the appetizer section of the book.

What would you drink? I would just drink a nice dolcetto with that, I guess. No, wait—if I can have anything in the world, I'd have a 1982 Château Margaux.

Yeah, you should go for it for a last meal. Would you want to be anywhere special? I always wanted to go to Egypt, so maybe I'd go there . . . But maybe that's weird, to go to Egypt to eat noodles and drink Château Margaux.

Maybe—but, hey, you can do whatever you want. You know, all these dishes are in my book—there's even a version of the veal ragu, so if this is my last meal, maybe what I'd want to do is go through and pick the dishes that are the favorites for my friends and family, and cook for all of them—hopefully in my big, new, beautiful apartment in New York that I'm going to find soon! Because for my last meal, I'd want to be with people I love.

Is this book more personal than your others? Oh, yes, it's really personal. There are family recipes, and it encompasses sort of the greatest hits of the last few years.

 
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