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Recipe for Success: Padma Lakshmi

The Top Chef host dishes on food, fame, and her struggles with endometriosis -- plus she shares two delectable recipes.

Getting to an Endometriosis Diagnosis continued...

"Endometriosis is the single most delayed diagnosis in reproductive health today, taking an average of a decade," explains Seckin. "And it is the most misdiagnosed, mishandled disease."

Lakshmi knew she wanted to help prevent others from going through what she experienced. So when Seckin asked her to serve as co-founder of the Endometriosis Foundation of America, a nonprofit group focused on increasing awareness, education, research, and advocacy, signing on was a no-brainer, she says.  "Dr. Seckin literally changed my life," Lakshmi says. The respect is mutual, says Seckin. Lakshmi "needs to be given great credit for her sense of social responsibility." (For more information about the foundation, visit www.endofound.org.)

Her work doesn't stop there. In addition to helping raise awareness about this painful condition, Lakshmi volunteers with Keep a Child Alive, which helps children with AIDS in Africa and India.

The meal over, Lakshmi orders a finely filtered coffee -- Americano style -- then bids a warm goodbye as she heads back out to the New York City streets. Ahead of her are dozens more memorable meals. A new season's worth of designed-to-dazzle Top Chef fare will be served by contestants for Lakshmi and her fellow judges -- as millions of hungry viewers join in vicariously tasting every morsel.

 

Padma's Recipes for Home Cooking

Braised Beef or Lamb With Tomato and Cumin

As with most stews, the longer this cooks,  the better it gets. A traditional North Indian recipe, this dish is the perfect comfort food for fall and winter. The stew contains some fiery red chilies, but the heat also comes from such hallmark Indian spices as cloves, black cardamom, and cumin. If you don't particularly like highly spiced food, just cut back a bit on the chilies. Makes 4 servings.

Ingredients

•                 2 teaspoons canola oil

•                 1 teaspoon cumin seeds

•                 2 cups chopped yellow onions

•                 4 large dried whole red chilies

•                 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

•                 2 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

•                 3 large bay leaves

•                 2 black cardamom pods

•                 4 cloves

•                 1½ lbs beef stew meat or boneless lamb shoulder, cut in large chunks

•                 2½ lbs plum tomatoes, quartered

•                 1½ teaspoons garam masala

•                 several cups of boiling water

•                 salt to taste

•                 sugar (optional)

Directions

In a large pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add cumin seeds, and after 2 minutes sauté onions, chilies, garlic, and ginger. Stir-fry for 5 minutes. Stir in bay leaves, cardamom, and cloves.

Add meat and stir-fry for 5 more minutes, searing meat on all sides. Add tomatoes and garam masala.

When the tomatoes start to loosen from their skins (about 4 to 5 minutes), lower the heat and add enough boiling water to cover the whole mixture.

Once it comes to a gentle boil, add a pinch of salt and reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 1½ hours, stirring every 7 minutes or so, making sure the mixture doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot. You may add additional water, if needed.

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