Padma Lakshmi Wants You to Get Out of Your Own Way in the Kitchen – ‘Start Experimenting’

If there’s anything that Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi is familiar with, it’s experimenting with and trying new cuisines and flavor profiles. It’s part and parcel of her job.

But it’s also clearly an intrinsic part of her own curiosity and love for food.

The Taste the Nation host wants you to broaden your culinary horizons as well.

Padma Lakshmi
Padma Lakshmi | Nicole Weingart/Bravo

Lakshmi recommends discovering new spices

If you’re not sure where to start in your kitchen, the former model suggests starting simple: try a new spice. From curry to cumin to ginger, the world is your spice pod!

“I like to tell people to pick a spice that is very indicative of a certain region and start experimenting with it in dishes you are used to,” she told Health in August.

“For example, add a little curry powder to your scalloped potatoes or add a little chipotle to the mayonnaise in your potato salad. When you take a spice from another culture and add it to something you’re used to, it becomes more accessible.”

‘Taste the Nation’ goes deeper than what’s on the plate for Lakshmi

RELATED: What Padma Lakshmi’s Young Daughter Said That Scared The ‘Top Chef’ Host

The television personality, as an immigrant to US, was unhappy with the present administration’s handling of immigration policy. Instead of just complaining about it, she began working with the American Civil Liberties Union. She explained to Eater in 2020 that her new program, Taste the Nation, which has been renewed for a second season by Hulu, has its roots in her work there.

“[Taste the Nation is] basically a direct result of my work with the American Civil Liberties Union. I started working with them shortly after the election in early 2017,” Lakshmi said.

“At that time, there were a lot of things being said in the media and out of Washington that were really vilifying to immigrants. And as an immigrant myself, I took great offense to that.”

‘Taste the Nation’ allowed Padma Lakshmi the privilege of literally tasting her way through the US

If you haven’t yet watched Lakshmi’s Taste the Nation, you should be forewarned: it’s nothing like Top Chef. Where the cooking competition features aspiring chefs from around the country vying for the coveted title of Top Chef, Taste the Nation introduces viewers to the foods and people that have shaped American food as we know it. From kebabs to hot dogs to burritos, she’s enjoyed every bite.

“I wanted to get to know these people,” she told Eater. “And given the choice between going to a white tablecloth tasting menu at the best restaurant in any city or having a food truck crawl, I would choose the latter, because that’s what my tastes run naturally toward.”

The mother of one enjoyed filming the reality show that introduced her to what she sees as real food.

“I have great respect for Michelin-starred chefs. I know the skill and tactical execution involved in that kind of dining. I respect it. I value it. I just, on my own time, I’m not interested in it anymore, or as much. Nearly as much. I’m interested in how most people in the world eat.”