Read this cookbook: “My Two Souths: Blending the Flavors of India into a Southern Kitchen” By Asha Gomez with Martha Hall Foose (Running Press, $35)
By Wendell Brock
Sometimes it takes two loves to get your creative juices really flowing.
Born in southern India, brought to the American South by a twist (or two) of fate, Atlanta chef Asha Gomez has whipped up a style of cooking that’s very much the happy lovechild of her two homes. While Southern food derives its singular depth of flavor and history from a rich marriage of African and European influences, it is now enjoying a revolution of the senses, thanks to the arrival of cooks from foreign shores.
A few of them, like the preternaturally gifted, self-taught Gomez, are artists.
If you have ever tasted her famous Kerala Fried Chicken and Low Country Rice Waffles with Spicy Syrup, you know of what I speak.
With her debut collection of recipes, Gomez, who found her way with a series of supper clubs in her home and earned her professional credentials with the late, great Cardamom Hill restaurant (2012-2014), adds considerable luster to her repertoire.
Black Cardamom Smothered Pork Chop. Curry Leaf and Bacon Hopping John. Banana Leaf Grilled Catfish with Watermelon Rind Chow Chow. Apple Pie with Jaggery Cumin Drizzle. Warm Sorghum Toddy. Such are the genius-sounding dishes in this accessible and inviting volume, written with the great Mississippi food writer Martha Hall Foose.
Like many good Southerners, Gomez, who now runs Spice to Table and The Third Space at Studioplex in the Old Fourth Ward, adores grits and gravy, bourbon and pecans, cornbread and greens. She also knows a thing of two about curry and coconut, papaya and mango, cloves and coriander. Her two cuisines may be 9,000 miles apart, but when she throws them together, the results are magic: food that remaps the geography of home and heart.
Ain’t it about time the rest of the world got a taste of this Atlanta original?