Get to know the winner of Food Network's most recent Tournament of Champions.
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Credit: Lindsey Grace

Chopped judge Maneet Chauhan was an executive chef at several big city restaurants in the United States before settling in Nashville, opening several equally unique dining experiences that mix Southern comfort food with her distinct, Indian flair. Now as the winner of Food Network's 2021 Tournament of Champions, Maneet joins Homemade host Martie Duncan this week to discuss her journey, her latest book, why Indian cooking shouldn't intimidate home cooks, and her crusade to show that her culture's recipes go well beyond curry. Listen to this episode of Homemade on Apple PodcastsSpotifyPlayerFM, and everywhere podcasts are available beginning June 30.

About Maneet Chauhan

Born in the Indian state of Punjab, Chef Maneet Chauhan earned a bachelor's degree in hospitality before immigrating to the United States to pursue a degree from the Culinary Institute of America in New York. Chauhan worked in restaurants in New Jersey, Chicago, and New York City before moving to Nashville, Tenn., where she opened her first restaurant in 2014. She went on to open an additional three restaurants and three breweries in the Nashville area under Morph Hospitality Group, which she founded with her husband, Vivek Deora.

Before judging "Chopped," Chauhan competed on "Iron Chef America" and "The Next Iron Chef." She has also appeared as a judge on "Guy's Grocery Games" and "Worst Cooks in America." Most recently, she won Food Network's 2021 "Tournament of Champions." Chauhan has authored two cookbooks: Flavors of My World: A Culinary Tour Through 25 Countries and Chaat: Recipes from the Kitchens, Markets, and Railways of India. She currently resides in Nashville with Deora and their two children.

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Episode Transcript

MARTIE DUNCAN: Welcome to Homemade, I'm Martie Duncan. Today I'm welcoming a true champion in every sense of the word. I mean she just won the biggest culinary championship on TV. She's always had a fascination with cooking and exploring different regional dishes. And after moving from India to the United States to pursue a culinary career she graduated from the CIA, the Culinary Institute of America, in 2000. Since then, she's been the executive chef at several restaurants in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago before she and her husband Vivek settled in Nashville. They launched their own hospitality group with four unique restaurants that bring their own Indian flair to Southern comfort food. You know her as a judge on Chopped and for winning the illustrious Guy Fieri Tournament of Champions 2, beating out some of the best chefs in the world to take this year's top prize!

MARTIE: Her mission is to change the perception that Indian food is some all-you-can-eat, buffet style meal that only involves curry. She wants us all to know that there are similarities between her roots and those of the American South, and there really are. I'm thrilled to get into that today and to welcome the beautiful and inspirational Maneet Chauhan to Homemade. Welcome, Maneet!

MANEET CHAUHAN: Oh, my God, you're so kind. You're doing wonders for my ego. Yeah. Continue. Continue. We don't have to talk.

MARTIE: Listen, I don't need to do one thing for your ego because I want to go ahead and just get this out of the way right off the bat. Congratulations on your Tournament of Champions win.

MANEET: Thank you.

MARTIE: Oh, my goodness gracious. That has to be the toughest culinary competition on record ever. Harder than Iron Chef, because on Iron Chef, you know what you're going to cook. You have three options, you know? So they knew what they were going to cook and they could practice those things. Not only do you not know what you're going to cook on Tournament of Champions, you don't know what that dastardly Guy Fieri is going to throw in your way to make it all the harder for you. So for those of you who don't know, just last night, we're taping this in advance — but just last night Maneet slaughtered the competition to win the second Tournament of Champions show. And everybody, but everybody who's a food competitor says this is the one to win. So congratulations.

MANEET: Oh my God. Thank you so much. Yeah, I'm still reeling even though we had shot it way in advance. I think reliving it yesterday and especially with Vivek and the kids was just so special. It was incredible.

MARTIE: You know, I've been in that situation once and I remember watching it afterwards, even though I knew what the outcome was, and it is surreal to watch yourself up there, isn't it?

MANEET: Absolutely. Absolutely. And, and of course, the entire team made me look very flattering, which, which I was like, OK, I can live with that.

MARTIE: I want to talk about Tournament Champions and competing on food TV, which has become like the new sports. Competition cooking is now sports for those people who don't like sports. So I want to talk about that. But before we do, I want to set the background for you just a little bit. So you're in Nashville now. You have four restaurants?

MANEET: Yes.

MARTIE: We met just as the pandemic was happening and we were talking about your plans for your restaurants and then the pandemic happened. I want you to tell us about how you survived the lockdown. I know you did a few things that sort of surprised you and then how things are going now.

MANEET: When the pandemic really started, I think it was rough for all of us because everything was changing if not on a daily basis, on an hourly basis. Right? We would make a plan and then we had to completely stop it, scrap the whole plan and start all over again. So it was definitely a very challenging time for us, given the fact that, Vivek and I, we built this group, each and every team member is special to us. To let go of all of them was heartbreaking.

MANEET: But I think it was also very inspirational for us in the sense that we are like, 'OK, we're going to work harder, we're going to work smarter to make sure that we get everybody back and take care of everybody.' I think the most incredible part about Vivek and me is that we're very scrappy. Like, you know what? This is a problem. The problem is not going to faze us. We have to come up with a solution and we come up with a solution and just take it from there. And I think that is the most important thing.

MANEET: So we closed for a little bit. Then we opened for just like curbside pickup. Then slowly, based on how many people or when we were allowed to seat people, we slowly started opening the restaurants. Right now, given what the circumstances are, we are very grateful for what we are doing. People are coming to the restaurant. We are reasonably busy. And, grateful that we survived last year, which was our goal. It wasn't like, usually — we got into 2020 we're excited that, oh my God, this is going to be our best year ever and we are going to grow. So right now I think we had to kind of change our expectations to survival and I think we are hitting that goal.

MARTIE: So you're in Nashville, you have four restaurants there. Tell me a little bit about each one, just briefly, and then, I want to know how you manage to navigate the Southern and the Indian thing. 

MANEET: I think one of the one of the biggest reasons of me falling in love with Nashville was that there was a lot of commonality between the South and India, be it like the soul of the people or the fact that, the food has soul down to, you know, even ingredients, like Black-Eyed Peas or okra. Like I mean, these are things that we've grown up with as a part of our daily diet. The amazing part, like especially Nashville, Nashville the hot chicken is a religion over here. Right? So people are used to flavor. They're used to spices. And, and that's what Indian cuisine is about. It is, the foundation is spices. It was easy for us to find that balance and the fact that people were looking for something different and they really embraced us with open arms, that also helped.

MARTIE: Tell me a little bit about what it was like growing up in your home. Was your mom a good cook? Did you have a lot of wonderful cooks or was that something that you just did on your own?

MANEET: So, I grew up in this really small town in India. It was a professional community and our neighbors were people from all over the country. With Indian cuisine, each and every state has a very distinct cuisine of its own. So I literally would finish dinner at home, go over to my neighbor's houses and tell them that my parents hadn't fed me so can I, you know, eat with you? And that gave me a great insight into different ingredients, different techniques. And I would just walk into the kitchen and cook along with the aunties and learn something new. So that to me was incredible. And of course, like, you know, cooking with mom or with, you know, whenever we used to go and visit our grandparents, you know, I would be in the kitchen or my aunts and, you know, uncles. So it was just. That's what I always loved to do. So I concentrated on that.

MARTIE: So after you fell in love with cooking and food you decided to take on food as a career. You went to a hospitality school, and then you came to America and went to the CIA, where you blew away the competition and won all the awards, which are quite difficult, I might add. How in the world do you get the courage to just pack up and leave and come to America?

MANEET: When I decided to be a chef, I was really fortunate that I got a lot of support from the family. They were like, 'do whatever you want, just make sure that you're the best at it.' And that's what I did. So I realized that to be the best at what I do or who I am, I need to be educated at the best places. And that was it. It was the faith and the courage that was placed in me by my parents, by my family. And that's what gave me the courage to pack my bags and move here. I mean, my sister was already here and she had just graduated from IU Bloomington. So I had a little bit of a support system when I came here. 

MARTIE: What was the one recipe that was sort of the foundation for you, the one thing that you could pack up and take with you from home, that sort of was a foundational recipe and maybe something that you still cook to this day.

MANEET: I would, like easily say aloo paratha, which are spiced potatoes, stuffed flatbreads with homemade butter and yogurt, raita, sauce on the side and some Indian pickles. The story is that apparently when, even before I had started solids, my sister had tried to feed me aloo parathas. So I joke with her that she is the person responsible for me, you know, tasting the aloo paratha for the first time.

MARTIE: So that's your biggest food craving? 

MANEET: Oh, yes. I mean, I make it for the family and the kids on Sundays very often.

MARTIE: So can you walk me through that, Maneet? How do you make that? 

MANEET: Absolutely. Boiled potatoes. I add, some chopped cilantro, some chopped onions, some chopped ginger. There is some carom seeds which go in, some amchoor, which is dried raw mango powder, roasted cumin seeds, salt, red chili, and then I just go ahead and mix it — like make it almost like mashed potatoes. And then I make the dough with a whole wheat flour and a little bit of water till it's a nice pliable dough and then roll it out to a really thin, like, almost like a tortilla.

MARTIE: Right. 

MANEET: And take some of the filling, put it right in the center and then make it almost like a beggar's pouch... 

MARTIE: Like a little dumpling? 

MANEET: Like a little dumpling. And then you roll it out, and then just, toast it on a griddle with some ghee or oil and that's it. And you serve it with some melting homemade butter on top of it.

MARTIE: Melting homemade butter?

MANEET: Oh, yeah.

MARTIE: Maneet now that we're talking about recipes, let's talk about your cookbooks. You've got several cookbooks. 

MANEET: Yes.

MARTIE: Flavors of My World, I think that was your first one. I love that book, I have it. And then Chaat: Recipes From the Kitchens, Markets, and Railways of India. That's your latest book. I'm so fascinated with that. Can you tell me what prompted you to write a book from the soul of India? And are there recipes in there for the novice cook like people who just want to explore Indian food maybe for the first time?

MANEET: So the book Chaat, Chaat translated from Hindi means 'to lick.' And Indian street foods are called chaats. What I love about the book is that we did go to India to shoot for the book and it is divided into north, south, east, west because Indian cuisine is so vast that we might spend our entire life trying to figure out Indian cuisine, and it's been influenced by all over the world. We might just be scratching the surface. So, what I love about this book is that it is a combination of everything around India. It has a range of recipes. So for people who are beginners, there are some easy, you know, 'welcome to Indian cooking' recipes. And then for the more advanced cooks, who want to try something a little bit more adventurous, those are recipes also in the book. So it's very approachable. And the fun part is that not only is it a cookbook with incredible recipes, but it also takes you on a journey through India.

MARTIE: What would be the one recipe that you would suggest that people start with if they just want an introduction to Indian food? Would it be something like a simple curry?

MANEET: I would say maybe a pineapple chaat or a sweet potato and a star fruit chaat. I mean, these are ingredients which are very easily, you can very easily find it in the regular grocery stores or even online and just a few steps. And just make this beautiful chaat or salad, which is a great entry into Indian food. Curries are actually more complex than chaats. 

MARTIE: Well, I love the book, I love the opportunity to jump into India and explore through food. I think that's what you're all about, isn't it?

MANEET: Absolutely. I think food is such a fun medium to explore the entire world with and that's what I love.

MARTIE: Well, I know that your food is described as global cuisine with Indian roots. So you still have your roots in those kitchens of India from when you were a kid but you've expanded that to include all the different global flavors. Do you think that those spices and those techniques and things that you have learned globally are what helps you to win these competition shows?

MANEET: Absolutely. I think it's very important as a chef, you need to be learning every day. Every day should be a learning experience for you. And that's how I learn. I learn by traveling the world, trying different dishes, looking at different ingredients. I mean, with TOC, with the Tournament of Champions, it's not one of those tests or exams that you can prepare overnight for it. It's a culmination of your entire life's learning. And you never know what you pull out at what time that is needed, like based on what the randomizer spits out. 

MARTIE: Speaking of the randomizer, that is just the most wicked invention. And, of course, leave it to Guy Fieri to come up with something like that. For those of you who have not watched Tournament of Champions, cooking on these competition shows is hard enough without the unknown. When they give you your challenge and you start to cook you have something in your mind typically, right, Maneet? 

MANEET: Yes.

MARTIE: You kind of know which direction you're going. But then Guy throws in these crazy whammies where unexpectedly you'll have to use a secret ingredient or some sort of a piece of equipment. And with the randomizer before you even start cooking, it gives you what, like a protein, a piece of equipment, like you might get a waffle iron. Yeah.

MANEET: A cuisine, a technique. It's crazy. Yes.

MARTIE: How do you start? Sometimes I look at those things, especially on Chopped, and I know that our listeners probably know you have been a judge on Chopped for a long time, but I don't know how you even start because you have such a limited amount of time. You have to start. You can't stand there and think about what you're going to cook. So what do you do first?

MANEET: You've got to move and plan simultaneously. And the thing is that you don't have the luxury of time. This is a timed competition. So, what I do is as soon as the randomizer starts spitting out all of these, my mind starts working in what direction I'm going to go in and then basically just go in that direction.

MARTIE: So a lot of chefs I speak to say, 'I don't want to do competition cooking shows.' Do you think it's true that some chefs are just naturally better at competition cooking because they have that competitive spirit? Or do you think anybody can do it? 

MANEET: Uh, no, I don't think that anybody can do it. You have to have a mindset. I mean, this is like any sports, right? Whatever you're doing, you have to have your mindset ready for it. Competing on cooking shows is beyond being a chef.

MARTIE: Yes.

MANEET: It is about everything else that goes. It's about being creative. It's about thinking on your toes all the time. It's about coming up with new ideas. It's about time management and it's about selling yourself, also. That also is very important.

MARTIE: Sometimes the story that you put with the dish is just as important as the dish itself, right?

MANEET: Absolutely. I mean, that's what you're doing at the restaurant. you're selling beyond the dish. You're also selling the story. 

MARTIE: You're listening to Homemade. When we come back, Maneet shares her least favorite ingredient to use, and the spice trinity she swears by for all Indian cooking. We'll be right back, after the break.

MARTIE: I'm Martie Duncan and my guest today is the winner of Food Network's Tournament of Champions 2, Maneet Chauhan.

MARTIE: What was the one dish of all the shows you've competed in that you were most proud of? When you put it down for the judges, you thought I have done it, I'm so proud of this. 

MANEET: Actually I think the one which I really was happy about was the one which I made in the semis with a sturgeon and the kitchari and the persimmons. And basically what I loved was the fact that I gave a plate which was very global, I still used my ingredients, my techniques, and spices, but it did not scream of that.

MARTIE: Right.

MANEET: It was very — like even the way I confited the sturgeon, and it looked beautiful. So I was excited about that. 

MARTIE: I know for me, I would have been a bit intimidated when I saw that come across. Sturgeon, I'm like, I'm not sure I've ever eaten it, much less cooked it.

MANEET: Yeah. 

MARTIE: It's not like salmon. You don't have it every day. You know? It's a very different type of ingredient. So I felt like every dish you presented was really beautiful, too. That, that's a big part of it when you're doing the competition shows not just to be able to plate quickly, but to plate beautifully. That's tough.

MANEET: That's so true.

MARTIE: All right. So Tournament of Champions the grand champion winner. That's just I mean, let's just face it. You competed against some of the biggest names in food on that one. But if there was one person, if Guy said, I want to do a Tournament of Champions Maneet you go as the reigning queen. You pick three people you have never competed against, but you will want to compete against. Who would those three people be?

MANEET: Nobody.

MARTIE: Nobody.

MANEET: Absolutely nobody. 

MARTIE: I want to see you battle Morimoto. There you go. How about that? 

MANEET: So my first Iron Chef that I ever did, which was around 12 or 13 years back, I competed against Chef Morimoto.

MARTIE: Oh, you did? 

MANEET: Yeah. 

MARTIE: So that's already been done.

MANEET: It's already been done. Yes, I came a respectable second among two people. So, so that's that's the story. And that's what I'm sticking to.

MARTIE: OK. 

MANEET: So, yeah. To me I think the biggest competition is me competing with myself. That to me is the biggest competition. 

MARTIE: One hundred percent. 

MANEET: Yeah. How I conduct myself, how I approach the entire conversation. I think that is what's the most important thing for me. 

MARTIE: So you mentioned your kids. What is the one thing they beg you to make? Their favorite thing and the thing that you hope that maybe they'll take away from their time in your home to share with their own families down the road? 

MANEET: The truth of the matter is that they prefer Vivek's food as compared to mine.

MARTIE: Really? Your husband's food? 

MANEET: Yes, because I am, like, constantly like, 'OK, OK, move, move, move.' I go ahead and make stuff. But Vivek, he makes it with so much love, like even, even me. Right? Don't tell him. But even I am, like, obsessed with his food and like at times I'm like, OK, how about the chicken curry? Or the egg curry. So yeah, they do love his cooking, as do I.

MARTIE: What's the secret to good curry? I want you to help me with mine. So what's your secret to good curry.

MANEET: Making sure that everything is cooked out. You can't have raw onions, you can't have raw tomato taste, you can't have raw spice taste, you can't have raw ginger taste, you can't have raw garlic taste. So it has to be cooked out to get the best flavors. 

MARTIE: And you can put just about anything in a curry can't you? 

MANEET: Oh, yeah. Absolutely. 

MARTIE: But are there some foundational building blocks to a curry that we should know? 

MANEET: Well, it really depends there are so many different curries. There's spinach, there is, like, onion, there is tomato, there is butter. But I think onions, ginger, garlic are pretty much the foundation of building, you know...

MARTIE: Right.

MANEET: ...Any sauce.

MARTIE: So like the Trinity is for Southern cooking.

MANEET: Yes, exactly. 

MARTIE: OK.

MARTIE: There's no celery in Indian cooking, so, yeah. 

MARTIE: But it's similar. So you use onion, ginger, and garlic.

MANEET: Yes. 

MARTIE: That's your Trinity.

MANEET: That's my Trinity. 

MARTIE: OK, now, what is your favorite of all the spices? Like, if you could only just have one.

MANEET: Chaat masala. 

MARTIE: OK. 

MANEET: Chaat masala is a blend of different spices with amchoor, which is dried raw mango powder being the predominant spice. And that gives it a little bit of tartness. So it's an amazing savory spice which doesn't have to be cooked because everything is already roasted. And I use it as the finishing salt, like even when I'm making fries, etc. That's my finishing salt to my fries. Salads, I don't use vinaigrette, I just add some chaat masala, mix it together. So, I would go with chaat masala. 

MARTIE: What's the difference between like a garam masala and a chaat masala? 

MANEET: A completely different spice blend because garam means 'warming spices.'

MARTIE: OK.

MANEET: So garam masala has warming spices like cinnamon, star anise, peppercorn. Like think of Christmas spices and that's pretty much what goes into garam masala, like coriander, cumin, etc.

MARTIE: I saw that movie, The Hundred Foot Journey. 

MANEET: Yeah, beautiful. 

MARTIE: Oh my gosh. I love it. I got it. And I watch it from time to time. But I love this spice box. This...

MANEET: Masala dabba. 

MARTIE: Is that how it is with Indian households? You have these spices that are like revered like...

MANEET: Absolutely. 

MARTIE: ...Part of the heritage. 

MANEET: Yeah, absolutely. Like we've got a masala dabba in our house. And it also depends on which region you come from. Different regions have different spice blends that they use. And a lot of these, like even with garam masala, each and every household takes pride in — because they make their own blends.

MARTIE: Oh wow. 

MANEET: So garam masala from one household to the other household would be different because it's based on which region they are from or what they've learned or what their preferences are. 

MARTIE: When are you going to make your spice blend so we can have access to that? That's what I want to know. 

MANEET: Working on it. 

MARTIE: OK, girl, good. So do we have examples of all of this in the book? 

MANEET: Absolutely. There are recipes. I've tried to keep it very approachable. 

MARTIE: OK. 

MANEET: The different spices, the different recipes. There are chutneys, there are desserts, there are drinks. It's actually a really approachable book for Indian cooking.

MARTIE: And for me, there are two or three signature Indian things that, that I love, of course, Daal and naan. Who doesn't love that? So you've got recipes for those that are easy and approachable. Like the flatbreads, for example, or the naan. Is that something that we can easily make at home?

MANEET: Absolutely. I think one of the biggest tricks of cooking Indian food is getting over the fear that this is very difficult and complex. It actually isn't. I hate to break the secret, but it's actually very easy to make. You just have to follow the steps and make sure that the spices are cooked out. That is the trick of making good Indian food. 

MARTIE: All right, so, your favorite things. I've seen where you've talked a little bit about this, but I want to do kind of a little quick fire thing, Your favorite destination? You love to travel. I've watched you on your Instagram. You love to travel. Favorite destination? 

MANEET: At the present moment, we absolutely fell in love with Peru.

MARTIE: Oh, really?

MARTIE: Machu Picchu. Absolutely incredible. 

MARTIE: All right, and your guilty pleasure, I think I know what this one is, but your favorite guilty pleasure, your little go to indulgence? 

MANEET: Other than wine, you mean?

MARTIE: Yes. 

MANEET: I love, I love a good chocolate. 

MARTIE: OK. 

MANEET: Yeah. 

MARTIE: What is your quirkiest trait? Like your family knows, but maybe the rest of us don't know. 

MANEET: Oh, yeah, I like really get under my family's nerves by sayinging 'this thing' a lot. So if I, if I need something to be passed to me, I'm like, 'can you pass me this thing?' And they're like, 'what is this thing?' So, I think that is the one thing which really bugs the entire family. I'm sure there are other things which they are too kind to tell me. But this is one thing that I am aware of.

MARTIE: What is your least favorite ingredient?

MANEET: Balut. 

MARTIE: What is that? 

MANEET: Balut is a fertilized, aged duck egg. 

MARTIE: OK, I'm with you on that. I don't want to see that either. Don't bring me that. 

MANEET: Yeah, it's a delicacy in Southeast Asia. So I still haven't gotten my head around liking it. 

MARTIE: No, I'm not going to like that one either. OK, I hope I never get that in a competition. If I do, I might cry. All right. So do you wear a signature perfume? And if you do, what is it?

MANEET: I love changing perfumes, so no, I do not have a signature. 

MARTIE: OK. 

MANEET: And usually I love mixing perfumes.

MARTIE: Really? 

MANEET: Yeah. So I just do like four or five different, uh — I mean, this is like the inherent chef in me that, that one's the best outcome. So I'm like, OK, I'll do a couple of different layers and and then I, I'm like, oh my God, this smells so good. And then I can never recreate it because I've like literally thrown stuff on myself.

MARTIE: You know, that's so interesting. And I ask about that because chefs are so intuitive about scent.

MANEET: Yeah.

MARTIE: You know, and so a lot of chefs will say, 'oh, I don't like any kind of scent because I have so many flavors and smells around me all day long.' But I think that's the best answer I ever heard. Like, I like to mix it and create my own recipe. That's wonderful. OK, everybody knows you for your lipstick and loves that bright lip that you bring on the camera. What's your favorite color like? What...Do you know?

MANEET: You know what? When I'm on camera there is this incredible hair and makeup team who's creating the magic that people get to see. So I do not have a set color. I tell people that I'm a blank canvas, do whatever you want and they do that. And they always come up with the best colors. I don't ask them to tell me what color it is because I'm like 'you guys like you will not tell me how to make a chicken tikka. I will not tell you how to do your work.' So that's it. I can't take any credit for it. It's the entire team who creates the magic.

MARTIE: Right. OK, so tell us how to make a chicken tikka then. 

MANEET: Oh, my God. The easiest way is to get something tandoori masala and you just marinate chicken with yogurt, fresh ginger, garlic paste, some tandoori masala, salt, turmeric, fenugreek, and of course salt. Leave it for a couple of hours. And what I like to do is cook it in an oven on the highest broil setting. So what happens is that the outside of the chicken gets a char, which is what we are trying to recreate when it's cooked in tandoor. And usually once it's done, I take it out, toss it with some butter or some lime juice or lemon juice and some chaat masala and you're good to go.

MARTIE: Oh, it sounds wonderful. I want to come and get that right now. What is your favorite Indian celebration or Indian holiday that you celebrate and what is the one dish that has to be on the table?

MANEET: I like both Holi and Diwali. Holi is the Festival of Colors, so we really love it because you can throw colors at people and it's just so much fun. And Diwali is the Festival of Lights. Again like both beautiful, beautiful festivals. For either one, I always like any Indian desserts because that's considered auspicious. So any Indian desserts I like to make. Gulab jamun, ras malai, Rasgulla, Ghadeer halwa, barfis like any of those.

MARTIE: Can I get any of those at your restaurants in Nashville? 

MANEET: Yes, we make the gulab jamun which are these Indian donuts soaked in sugar cardamom syrup. And then we make that and then put it in a cheesecake and bake that in a cheesecake. 

MARTIE: Oh, yum

MANEET: Chaatable has gulab jamun, Rasgullas, Ghadeer halwas. It has everything.

MARTIE: All right. So walk us through a day in Nashville. If we're going to hit up all your restaurants, what are we going to eat? Where? 

MANEET: Well, I think start at Chauhan, maybe appetizers, some poutine, maybe something from the chili cheese naan, something from the tandoor that, that would be fantastic. Head over to Tánsuŏ, which is our Chinese concept, you know, some incredible noodles and General Tso's or cumin lamb. There's nothing that you can go wrong with. Mockingbird has not only incredible food, but the drinks. They have a Punchin' Bag, which is incredible. And the desserts over there are fantastic. And Chaatable has more of Indian street food. 

MARTIE: So you can hit them all in one day and get a little bit of the whole experience. I'm going to be driving up really soon. I cannot wait.

MANEET: Awesome.

MARTIE: I want to experience the whole thing. Maneet, I just want to tell you thank you.

MANEET: Oh, thank you so much. 

MARTIE: For being so generous with your time and I'm just so proud of you as a female chef and competitor. What you managed to do on Tournament of Champions is just unbelievable. 

MANEET: Thank you. 

MARTIE: I know how hard it is. And I also know the mental stress it puts on you to do one of those big competition shows. So I am just so proud of you for winning that whole thing.

MANEET: Yay!

MARTIE: You're special. And, I'm so pleased to have gotten an opportunity to get to know you a little bit better. And I know our listeners will not want to walk, but run to Nashville to get some of these wonderful things that we've talked about today. And for those who are inspired to cook, tell us both the cookbooks and where do we find them.

MANEET: So, the cookbook, which has just come right now, is called Chaat. And the first cookbook is Flavors of My World. And you can get them in any place which sells books. I mean, you can get it on Amazon. Or if you want a personalized copy, just shoot an email to info@chauhannashville.com, and we can send it across to you. 

MARTIE: Yeah, I'll be doing that. I'm going to get my personalized copy. Thank you again, Maneet, for being with us here on Homemade and sharing a little bit about your life and all your experiences with us. The flavors just take us and transport us to a place that I know all of us want to visit, even if it's just in our home kitchen. So thank you again. 

MANEET: You're so kind. Thank you. 

MARTIE: If you missed Maneet's big win on Tournament of Champions, you can catch up on the whole season on Discovery Plus. Be sure to follow Maneet on Instagram, and go to MorphHospitalityGroup.com for more information about her Nashville restaurants.

Next week, I'm so excited to welcome actress, cookbook author, and TV personality Ayesha Curry to Homemade. 

AYESHA: Any moment that is a lasting moment in my memory, there's always a meal involved. There's always something I can pinpoint that I tasted that takes me back to that moment. And then on top of that, when it comes to cooking with my kids and leaving that impression with them, there are so many studies that show that if you cook with your children, they're going to be better humans. Like when it comes to education, social skills, communication, it's very cyclical. And so something as simple as preparing a meal with your child and making it a habit is a game changer. 

MARTIE: Ayesha has a fascinating Asian and Jamaican background that influences her cooking style so you don't wanna miss it. Be sure to follow Homemade on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or however you listen. And please, I'd love your feedback. If you would rate this podcast and leave a review, I'd really appreciate it.

Don't forget, you can find thousands of recipes, meal ideas, and cooking how-to's from the world's largest community of cooks at Allrecipes.com.

This podcast was recorded in Birmingham, edited in Atlanta, and produced by AllRecipes with Digital Content Director Jason Burnett. Thanks to our Pod People production team: Rachael King, Matt Sav, Danielle Roth, Jim Hanke, Maya Kroth and Erica Wong.

I'm Martie Duncan … and this is Homemade.