One Perfect Meal
For Padma Lakshmi, the host of Top Chef and a best-selling food writer and cookbook author, the humble dish that kept her going when she was young and broke still feeds her soul.
Top Chef’s Padma Lakshmi turns to this beloved dish often
The meal I really love is one that connects the different influences in my life—the blending of East and West. It’s Pondicherry Lentil Salad, made with small black lentils, apples, and peppers and garnished with fresh ginger and coconut. I came up with it when I was living in France after college. At the time, I had student loans to pay off and no money. I was modeling and living in an apartment with five other women. The dish was an easy way to eat healthfully and deliciously but inexpensively. I was very far from home, and it gave me solace and sustenance. If you look at the recipe, the parsley, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar don’t really go with the sesame oil, ginger, and coconut. But in my mind they do because they’re part of who I am. This humble bowl of lentils has always meant the world to me. Though I no longer have to watch my pennies, I still return to the recipes I am emotionally anchored to. I think we all eat this way. At the end of the day, we are just looking for the connection of soul to tummy.
MAKE THIS DISH To get the recipe for Padma’s Pondicherry Lentil Salad, go to shape.com/pondicherry.