Host of Emmy Winning Documentary Asian Flavors

2004 IACP President 2014-2015

2005 James Beard Journalism Awards Finalist

2004 IACP Teacher of the Year Winner

2003 James Beard Finalist For Best International Cookbook - The Turmeric Trail

Professional Member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals

RAGHAVAN IYER: The Curator of Spice Blends

The spice blends are named to represent different regions of India, followed by masala which means blend and is synonymous with Indian cooking in the Western world. Each cook weaves in his or her personal cooking style and regional ingredients, resulting in thousands of signature blends. We hope you enjoy our Turmeric Trail Regional Roasts:


Chai Masala
Chai is Hindi for “tea” so adding the word tea after chai is redundant. Chai is the ubiquitous beverage that forms the basis of every social gathering in India. Chai is always brewed in milk, giving it that rich creamy flavor. Often, chai is sweetened with cane sugar, making it an ideal partner to many an Indian dessert. Chai is never served during a meal, but when brewed with spices like cardamom, ginger and cinnamon, it presents a digestive relief. When served with spicy savories, chai offers soothing relief. Sprinkle the blend in your favorite cookie dough, bread pudding or cake batter for something unique.

Raghavan Iyer The Spice Curator Garam Masala
Garam means warm, as in the internal warmth generated by the body when it imbibes certain spices like cloves, cinnamon, peppercorns and bay leaves. In India, garam masala is known as a warming blend of spices that is prepared throughout the regions of the country. This version toasts whole spices and when they are ground, the blend is amazingly complex. Use it as a rub for meats and poultry or sprinkle on stir-fries and soups. For an unusual dessert option, toss with fresh fruit and grill.

Madras Masala
Named after the famed city, (now called Chennai), along the southern coast, this combination of roasted spices and legumes (yellow split peas) is used to flavor a thin, stewlike dish called Sambhar, often considered southern India’s signature dish. The legumes are roasted and ground with traditional spices to create a complex blend of aromas, flavors and texture. This blend is sensuous when sprinkled over stir-fries, folded into ghee-infused smashed potatoes or even tossed with fresh-cooked pasta and seasonal vegetables.

Mumbai Masala
Much like the boisterous metropolis on the west coast of India, this blend embodies flavors derived from red chiles, coconut and sesame seeds in one smooth, harmonious mélange. Anything goes with this vibrant mixture, so sprinkle away onto any fish, chicken, vegetable and legume curry. Sprinkle on hot buttered popcorn for a fun snack option.


Squash Sweet Potato Soup with Turmeric Trail’s Madras Masala
Everything about this soup screams Fall but the flavors will take you to the sultry south – in India that is. Redolent with a spice blend that balances robust chiles, nutty yellow peas, and perfumed but slightly bitter fenugreek seeds, this masala creates manna in every spoonful. There are so many varieties of squashes out there – use whichever is readily available.

Yogurt “Cheesecake” with Turmeric Trail’s Chai Masala
Many moons ago when I was visiting Calcutta in eastern India, home to India’s confections, I happened to stick a spoon in a small clay pot filled with something creamy called bhapadoi at a well-known sweetshop. It was love at first bite. Decadent, velvet-smooth, devoid of any spice, it appeased my cheesecake urges instantly. Imagine my surprise when I found out there was neither any eggs nor any cream cheese in it. Just sweetened house made condensed milk and plain yogurt baked until set. So here’s my rendition, equally simple with my signature chai masala.

Raghavan Iyer The Spice Curator Mac and Cheese with Turmeric Trail’s Madras Masala
Everyone’s comfort food in America, this bowl of bubbly, cheesy addiction elevates mac and cheese to appease even the sophisticated adult at the table. The haunting aromas from the blend are enough to draw your household to that table before you can say, “dinner is served.”

Spiced Lamb Chops with Turmeric Trail’s Mumbai Masala
This elegant, blow-your-socks-off-delicious offering sets the bar for an alternative approach to your holiday table. Fortunately nowadays one can purchase racks of lamb at most supermarkets. If you do not want the hassle of cutting your own chops from the rib rack, have the butcher do it for you. This is a great dish to serve even as an appetizer at the buffet table because it requires no silverware — your guests can hold the convenient rib bone and munch away on the tender, succulent, full-flavored meat. Licking your fingers is perfectly acceptable – in fact, it’s the best way to relish every bit of lingering flavor. 

Smashed Potatoes with Turmeric Trail’s Madras Masala
When I was growing up in a vegetarian family, this curry was our hands-on favorite. It was a perfect accompaniment to puffy fried breads (pooris) on long train journeys or on daylong picnics to one of the beaches that dot Mumbai’s coast. Pleasantly hot, potent, and highly addictive, these smashed potatoes make you see red in more ways than one. 

Spinach Greens with Garlic and Raisins with Turmeric Trail’s Garam Masala
Green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, mustard greens and collard greens are called saag in Hindi, India’s national language. You can use any of these greens in this recipe. When tossed with golden raisins, an extremely simple stir-fry of fresh greens becomes sweetly intriguing.

Avocado and Pomegranate Guacamole with Turmeric Trail’s Mumbai Masala
I served this at our Thanksgiving table and all my friends uttered “sexy!” It was, I agreed, with that light green background of buttery avocado perked up with plump, juicy, and succulent teardrops of ruby red pomegranate seeds. All it needed was a kettle-cooked potato chip for bliss and I was all too happy to provide that – a whole bagful that disappeared in eight minutes. I’m not one to keep track of time, really.

Chai: Darjeeling Tea with Turmeric Trail’s Chai Masala
There is no escaping this ubiquitous beverage that forms the basis of every social gathering in India. Chai is Hindi for “tea,” so adding the word tea after chai, as is so often seen in coffee and tea houses in this country, is redundant. Chai is always brewed in milk, giving it that rich creamy flavor. Oftentimes, chai is sweetened with cane sugar or jaggery, a raw form of sugar, making it an ideal marriage partner to many an Indian dessert. Chai is never served during a meal, but when brewed with spices presents digestive relief after. When served with spicy savories, chai offers soothing relief.