Suvir Sarans "american Masala" and the Return of Devi

By: NirvanaStyle Editor

Suvir Saran's
Author: Nirvana Style Editor Sun Dec 30, 2007
Suvir Saran's "American Masala" and the return of Devi

"There are no second acts in American lives," goes the much-disproved F. Scott Fitzgerald observation, and it's been disproved yet again. This time by an Indian-born chef in New York City.

Suvir Saran has pulled off a couple of amazing feats in Manhattan's cut-throat world of high-end restaurants. First, he and fellow chef Hemant Mathur created Devi in 2004, a restaurant that would become the only Indian restaurant to earn a star in the Michelin Guide New York City 2007. The restaurant was owned by Rakesh Aggarwal, and not the chefs, and that came to, well, bite them. In August of this year, Devi was closed in response to a lawsuit against Aggarwal by workers.

"Devi opened in late 2004 and earned admiring reviews, it intended to be - and arguably was - the most ambitious and refined Indian restaurant in New York, where Indian restaurants haven't taken root or soared to glory to the extent they have in London."

Then on October 22, Saran and Mathur returned as owners of Devi, reopening the restaurant at the samelocation and with most of the original staff. Many of its signature dishes returned, too, but so did a range of "new classics," such as Masala Fried Chicken and Spicy Mushroom Toasts. Those "new classics" are from Saran's new book, "American Masala: 125 New Classics from My Home Kitchen" (written with Raquel Pelzel).

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Masala is a catchall phrase that means spice mixture - not just the actual seasonings - but also the spice that enlivens our lives. This is the concept that Suvir Saran explores in his brilliant new cookbook, AMERICAN MASALA (Clarkson Potter/ Publishers, October 11, 2007), a delicious blend of Indian and American cooking that combines the best the two have to offer, yielding dishes that are both and new.

"I have cooked Suvir's recipes probably fifty times, never without delightful, fresh, inspiring results. When it comes to contemporary and traditional food, I trust him implicitly. American Masala is a gem." - Mark Bittman, Author, How to Cook Everything and The Best Recipes in the World (and "The Minimalist" columnist in the New York Times)
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