I Am From Here: Stories and Recipes from a Southern Chef (Hardcover)
One of Bon Appetit’s Best Cookbooks of 2022
One of the South’s best chefs invites you to grill, stew, and fry your own way to a more expansive and delicious dinner.
A Vishwesh Bhatt dish conjures an evolving American South. Peanut Masala–Stuffed Baby Eggplant alongside fried okra, tossed in tangy chaat masala. Collard-Wrapped Catfish with a spicy Peanut Pesto. These much-loved dishes are stars on the menu at Snackbar in Oxford, Mississippi, where Bhatt has been the executive chef since 2009, earning him Best Chef: South (2019 James Beard Awards) and induction into the Fellowship of Southern Farmers, Artisans, and Chefs in 2022. His food draws from his Indian heritage and is unpretentious, inventive, and incredibly delicious.
I Am From Here organizes 130 recipes by ingredient, emphasizing staples, spices, and vegetables that are as beloved on the Indian subcontinent as they are in the American South. Summer means okra, tomatoes, corn, and peas. Winter brings sweet potatoes and greens: mustards, collards, kale, and spinach. Rice is a constant throughout.
Bhatt vividly recounts the special meals cooked by his mother and grandmothers—vegetarian comfort food such as Khichadi, custardy rice pudding, and Stewed Gujarati-Style Black-Eyed Peas—and presents them alongside dishes he’s shared with friends, colleagues, and family across the decades. Recipes run the gamut from uncomplicated roast chicken and Citrus-Herb Rice Salad to dinner party–worthy Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Tandoori Spices.
Writing for the home cook, Bhatt includes recipes for making your own spice mixes, including a versatile chaat masala. A mix-and-match meal-planning guide will help you pair dishes for different occasions. And every ingredient is within reach even if you’re cooking far away from the warmth of Mississippi. This cookbook thoughtfully, and persuasively, expands notions of what it means to be, and cook like, a Southerner today.
— Michael Solomonov, chef and co-owner, Zahav
A devotional to his origins and a brilliant testimony to Vishwesh Bhatt’s peerless approach to integrating the cultures and foods of the region that gratefully adopted him. Vish’s stories beautifully depict the inspirations and thought processes that define his elevated, very personal cooking style.
— Ben Barker, chef, Magnolia Grill
To know Vish is to be in the presence of a chef who is at once thoughtful and kind, confident and humble, vibrant and comforting. I am proud to call him a friend, and I am prouder still of this debut cookbook that portrays not only the complexity of his wildly delicious cuisine, but also the stories of his origins, his identity, and his place in the diverse history of American cuisine.
— Edward Lee, author of Smoke & Pickles
I met the town of Oxford, MS through the warm and inspiring table of Vish Bhatt. His food and his hospitality strike a beautiful balance between familiar ingredients and traditions, and ideas and flavors beyond my experience and imagination. To cook beside Vish always opens my eyes and my heart to a new way of thinking about the plate, and these pages graciously invite the whole world in on the adventure. From Stewed Gujarati-style Black-eyed Peas to Mr. Bunzendahl’s Green Tomato Pie…This book will be a fixture in my kitchen.
— Ashley Christensen, Chef and author of Poole’s: Recipes and Stories from a Modern Diner
A noted Southern chef delivers a palate-pleasing blend of memoir and recipes... Bhatt makes a convincing case for a Southern cuisine based on both tradition and innovation.