Sunitha Samuel, who will start dental school in the fall, lives in Roslyn Heights with her parents, who were born in Kerala, India.
How did you get interested in cooking Indian food?
I’ve always cooked fried rice and noodles and made chicken lettuce wraps. But when I came back from college last year, I thought, why not use this time [before starting dental school] to learn to cook Indian food and to appreciate this time with family at home.
Who’s been teaching you?
My mom is the big cook around the house. I learned everything from her. She always cooks food from Kerala. I grew up watching her cook fish, chicken curries and sambar, a traditional sauce with mixed vegetables and spices. I keep telling my mom to write them down, but I’m writing down the directions she gives me.
What have you been making?
I’ve been practicing chicken biryani, chicken curry and beef cutlets. I like to learn family recipes with my mom and help fundraise with my dad for his charity, Life and Limb (which donates prosthetic limbs to those in need in India).
What else do you enjoy making?
I love to bake banana bread, pumpkin muffins and Oreo truffles, and would bake them a lot more if I wasn’t worried about giving everyone in my house diabetes.
Have you had any flops?
I made a chicken biryani and didn’t cook the rice properly — it was too sticky.
How are the beef cutlets typically served?
We eat them as a snack. If I’m in a rush, I’ll just eat one or two. You can add some chopped, raw onions on top.
Any tips for cooking Indian food?
It takes practice. My first beef cutlets fell apart. I won’t say I’m as perfect as my mom, but I’m getting there.