Marion Grasby is the creator of Marion's Kitchen Asian food range. She is also a TV presenter, cookbook author and food producer who has an insatiable appetite for Asian cuisines!
We caught up with the always delightful chef to chat about her new Indian & Sri Lankan range, her inspiration, travel tips and her favourite spices!
What would be your top tip for those cooking Indian food for the first time?
My biggest tip for cooking Indian food, particularly curries, is very simple – be patient. Most curries start with a base of sautéed onions and you really need to take the time to get those onions soft and sweet. The same goes for adding fresh tomatoes to a curry base. Cook the tomatoes until they collapse and become part of the sauce. And keep your heat medium to low when adding spices so they don’t burn.
What are your favourite spices to use in your dishes?
I always keep ground cumin and coriander in my spice collection because they instantly add an Indian flavour to any dish. A spice blend like garam masala (a mixture of ground turmeric, pepper, cloves, cinnamon, cumin seeds and cardamom) is also great to keep on hand rather than having a bunch of separate spices.
What differences are there between North Indian and South Indian food?
I adore the fact that each different region in India has such a vast array of specialities. It can be hard to generalise but I find the Indian dishes in the north are generally richer and make use of dairy products like yoghurt, paneer and cream. Meat curries and wheat breads tend to be more prevalent in the north whereas southern dishes tend to use more coconut and are more often served with rice. Vegetarian and seafood-based dishes are also more common in the south.
How does Sri Lankan cuisine differ to Indian?
Sri Lankan cuisine is similar to the food in the southern Indian states of Goa and Kerala in regards to the common use of coconut and rice. Sri Lanka is also a mecca for spice lovers and spices are more often than not roasted to a deep, toasty colour before being ground and used in dishes.
What inspired you to explore Indian and Sri Lankan food?
I just love the heady mix of fragrant spices and the enormous variety of dishes that form part of these cuisines. There are so many different spices, ingredients, regional cuisines and thousands of dishes to discover when it comes to Indian and Sri Lankan food.
What food destination tops your bucket list?
Oh so many places! I would love to travel through more of India…every time I go back I find a new dish, ingredient or place that I love. I also want to spend some time cooking and eating in the Sichuan province of China. And I would love to do more exploring in Japan.
Marion’s Kitchen new Indian & Sri Lankan range is available now in supermarkets nationally for only $7.15. For more information, visit marionskitchen.com.au
Interview by Francisco Torres