Manish Tyagi Shares Tips For Cooking The Best Indian Food - Exclusive

For chef Manish Tyagi, the head of the kitchen at the Los Altos restaurant Aurum and a winner of "Beat Bobby Flay," cooking great Indian food means a perfect blending. And not just of spices and ingredients, but of classic techniques, such as he learned while working in the kitchen beside his mother in his native India, along with modern and original innovations.

During an exclusive interview with Mashed, Manish Tyagi shared his advice for home chefs who want to try to cook Indian food. Just as he approaches cooking in his celebrated restaurant, he advised a mix of your own experience with classic techniques. 

"Use your own cooking skills and background of your cuisine when you're cooking Indian food. The only difference in Indian food and non-Indian food is the number of steps. Otherwise, you'll see the methods of cooking are very similar. There are sautéing methods. There are stirring methods. There are frying methods. There are poaching or broiling methods, so the methods are the same. The only difference is a number of steps kind of get added in Indian cuisine," Tyagi explained.

Tyagi also explained while in other cuisines, chefs usually utilize either dried or fresh herbs, Indian cuisine has an important distinction. "In Indian cuisine, we use fresh herbs as well as dry herbs in the same thing," he said. "And use of spices definitely. We make things complicated, you can say in other words! That creation [of] complexity, the overall flavor bomb, it can kind of [be] generated because of that amalgam of different spices and different herbs in each dish."

Why now is a good time to experiment, according to Manish Tyagi

As for Manish Tyagi's favorite spices to utilize in his cooking? While he points to "basic stuff" like fenugreek leaves, ginger, garlic, and green chilies as essential ingredients, he said he prefers a fresh approach over complicated spice blends. "Mostly my approach is to keep my food simple, like you can feel what you are eating," he said. "You can kind of connect with it and understand what spice has been used in this."

And once you're comfortable following a recipe with many steps, the chef hopes people will have the tools to go off-script some. 

"My advice is to ... experiment with it," Manish Tyagi said. "Now actually there is a lot of literature available on YouTube and other platforms. They can go through it. They can take a look of two or three different variations of the same thing available on YouTube nowadays and judge for themselves if [what] they're finding is more close to their likings and then trying it in their own fashion, rather than making things complicated."

If you happen to be in the Los Altos, California area and want to try Manish Tyagi's cooking, be sure and drop by his restaurant Aurum.