Remembering Raghavan Iyer and his final book

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Mumbai-born Raghavan Iyer looks at the diaspora of curries and curry powders through the eyes of the colonials. Photo courtesy of Raghavan Iyer.

Curry, with all its contradictions and complexity, is celebrated around the globes. In India, the spice blend dates back to 4,000 years B.C.The black peppercorn catapulted curry to global popularity and became a coveted item among traders. 

Born in Mumbai, Raghavan Iyer moved at age 21 to Minnesota, where he spent the last few decades exploring and sharing the cuisine of his homeland. His brilliant career features six critically acclaimed cookbooks and a James Beard award. He joined Good Food last fall in anticipation of his newest book, "On the Curry Trail: Chasing the Flavor That Seduced the World," which he wrote between chemotherapy and surgeries.

Iyer passed away in San Francisco on March 31, leaving behind a legacy of lessons in Indian cooking. With his erudition and gentle wit, he was one of our favorite guests. We were lucky to speak with him about what turned out to be his final book.

"Embarrassingly simple," is what author and teacher Raghavan Iyer called a madras blend made with grocery store spices. Illustration by Neethi.

Excerpted from "On the Curry Trail: Chasing the Flavor That Seduced the World" by Raghavan Iyer. Workman Publishing © 2023.

Raghavan Iyer wrote his latest book, "On the Curry Trail," during a diversion during the pandemic when he was undergoing chemotherapy. He passed away on March 31. Photo courtesy of Workman Publishing.