In August 2020, I was watching an episode from season twelve of “MasterChef Australia.” Enjoying the show in my Guwahati home during mealtime had become a daily routine for my companion and me. This episode was an elimination episode with two rounds. Round One’s challenge was to cook a classical dish, selected from a list provided by the show’s producers, in a constrained amount of time. MasterChef contestants often must cook dishes from global recipes, but this episode triggered childhood memories for me because on the list was a Goan dish—Beef Vindaloo paired with naan and rice.

Naan is not a traditional pairing for anything Goan, and thankfully no one chose to cook it. But what got me reflecting on my cultural cuisine was a judge’s instructions to contestants to “cook one of them and cook it perfectly. Do not stray from the path of being classic. Do not trick...

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