Maneet Chauhan's Advice For Anyone Who Wants To Cook Indian Food At Home - Exclusive

Since she's a "Tournament of Champions" winner, a judge on the iconic Food Network program "Chopped," and an operator of three restaurants in the country-music capital of the U.S., Nashville, Tennessee, it's safe to say that Indian American chef Maneet Chauhan is an expert at what she does. Chauhan graduated with high honors from the Culinary Institute of America and since then has put many hours of practice into her craft.

Chauhan believes that success in the TV competition world banks on your preparation. "One of my favorite things I say is that for 'Tournament of Champions,' you need a lifetime of preparation," Maneet Chauhan said to Tasting Table in an exclusive interview just before the South Beach Wine & Food Festival. "It's not one of those things that you can cram for the test overnight. You have to be doing your skill, perfecting your skill all your life because you never know what [will come] in front of you, so your knowledge has to be a lifetime of knowledge to do what you're doing."

Even though most of us at home aren't hoping to compete on the Food Network, Chauhan's sentiment still applies to cooking in general — after all, practice does make perfect. But for those of us with little to no experience cooking Indian food who want to make it in the comfort of our own homes, figuring out where to start can be tough. The allure of the complex and delicious flavors associated with Indian cuisine has more and more people interested in learning to make it, so we asked Chauhan what she thinks. Her advice: Start with the basics.

Chauhan recommends starting with a masala omelet as your first Indian dish

Maneet Chauhan is not only an icon in the culinary world but also a pioneer and idol in the world of female Indian American chefs. She shared with Tasting Table that her advice to people who are new to cooking Indian food is to start with the basics. Beginning with more simple dishes and working your way up to more complex recipes will help you gain an understanding and appreciation for all components involved. "With Indian cooking, use building blocks," Chauhan said. "Start with simple, and then work your way up."

Chauhan means that aspiring chefs who want to make Indian dishes in the comfort of their own homes should do their homework and get to know the spices involved in cooking these dishes. "Learn, understand your spices," Chauhan shared, "and then you can go ahead and create any different combinations of flavor." Once an aspiring chef is familiar with these key components and spices, they can begin to make more complex dishes with more complex flavors, which will allow for even more delicious kitchen concoctions.

So, if starting with the basics is Chauhan's most important advice for people trying to cook Indian food, what dishes does she recommend trying first? "I always joke with people that maybe start with something as basic as a masala Indian omelet," Chauhan said. "It has turmeric and cumin and garam masala in it."

Learn more about the South Beach Wine & Food Festival on its website.