What can we look forward to with your new show Aarti Party?
It’s on Sundays at 12pm. It is perfect Sunday morning TV. You can look forward to a lot of Indian flavors woven into American classics. For example, I make a Shrimp Po Boy. I shallow-fry the shrimp and make a pineapple relish with lots of garlic, ginger, peppers and a few spices. I mix that with mayo and shower that all over the Po Boy. Once you bite into that some of those flavors are going to explode into your mouth and you’ll see it’s not your everyday Po Boy. This show is my opportunity to do what I always wanted to do.
What’s the secret to making Indian food easier to infuse into everyday foods?
It was born out of necessity. I was brought up eating a lot of Indian food because I was in the kitchen eating it with my mom. I didn’t really start cooking for myself until college. So, when I started making the curries and such they weren’t turning out right because it takes practice. I was craving those flavors so much still though that I just started pumping them into roast chicken or bread pudding. I needed a taste of home and this was the only way I knew how to do it.
You really knew what you were doing on the Iron Chef episode. How did it feel to receive such amazing praise from the Iron Chefs?
It was really incredible. I was so scared walking in there when I saw those knives on the wall and Morimoto standing there in the flesh. I thought to myself, “I’m not going to be scared. I’m going to talk to my fear; I’m going to talk it down and just go.” Because you don’t have a lot of time you have to just trust your instincts and just get it done. I was just happy to have finished and put three dishes down on the table. But then to have them say it was so good—I couldn’t believe it! They all loved it. It was just amazing.
Who was it most exciting for you to cook for through the course of the competition?
Paula Dean because I just love her persona on camera. It’s very relatable to me. I love that when she cooks, its no big deal if she makes a mistake. She’s so bubbly, lovely and cute. Though I think I hurt the roof of her mouth with my taco. Sorry, Paula!
Who terrified you the most?
Bobby Flay. He’s tough as nails that guy. From the first day he said, “It’s all about the food. If the food’s not good you’re going home.” And I was like, “Oh no! I’m going home!”
Aarti not only didn’t go home, she won. Her new show Aarti Party premieres August 22 on the Food Network.
Sarah Polonsky is a senior editor at BettyConfidential.