A killer curry by a sexy survivor

by Marlies Dekkers
Yes, Indian Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi is ridiculously sexy, but it’s her sass that makes me love her. That, and her awesome recipe for a vegetarian curry.

You may know her as the Indian Nigella Lawson who drives the world crazy with her Instagram bikini pictures, but what I admire most about Padma Lakshmi (44) is her ability to bounce back after life’s misfortunes. Born in Chennai, India, into a Brahmin family, Padma’s parents divorced when she was one and she grew up shuttling between her grandparents in India and her mother in New York, ignored by her father.

At 14, Padma was in a car accident that left her with a fractured hip and a shattered upper right arm. It didn’t stop her from becoming a model; I remember seeing her in campaigns for Roberto Cavalli and Versus, and being excited that an Indian model had broken through internationally. I also loved how she never tried to hide the large scar on her right arm and would even flaunt it. Photographer Helmut Newton was so fascinated by it that he used to highlight it in his stunning pictures of her.

She married and divorced writer Salman Rushdie, who mentioned her “majestic narcissism” in one of his books –which only made me like her even more!- and after years of struggling with endometriosis, she had a baby girl in 2010 whom she currently raises as a single parent: Krishna Thea Lakshmi.

In the mean time, Padma founded The Endometriosis Foundation of America, reinvented herself as a cook book author, became a host on the US television show Top Chef and still found time to date and dump Richard Gere. My kind of woman!

Here’s Padma’s vegetarian curry, adapted from a dish her mother used to make. It’s perfect: healthy and delicious. Live dangerously and use some extra red pepper flakes. I’m sure Padma would appreciate it.

Padma’s killer curry:

Total Time:
35 min
10 min
25 min

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup minced onions
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 firm, ripe tomatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 teaspoons minced gingerroot, or 1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon Garam Masala
1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, or to taste (optional)
2 cups drained kidney beans (19-ounce can)
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/2 lemon, juiced, or to taste
3 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro

In a large saucepan set over moderate heat, warm the oil until hot, add the onions and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, tomatoes, gingerroot, cumin seeds, Garam Masala, lemon pepper, and dried red pepper flakes, if desired, and simmer the mixture, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Add the beans and salt and pepper to taste, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes more. Stir in the lemon juice and cilantro.

Recipe courtesy Padma Lakshmi

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