Supermodel, television host, producer, author and actor Padma Lakshmi, who embarked on a glamorous journey from the narrow lanes of Chennai to the broad avenues of Hollywood, said that despite its "complicated" image in the West, India continues to enamour the world with its mysterious charm, delectable cuisine and awe-inspiring craft.
"I don't think India has a bad or a good image. I think India has a very complicated image in the West. There are extraordinary things - both good and bad - about our country," she told IANS.
Padma Lakshmi, who hosts Top Chef, said that it is the taste and the aroma of Indian cuisine, handicrafts and bewitching folklore, which provides the pull. "I think most Americans are dismayed about how women are treated, but it is not a phenomenon peculiar to India only. That's a problem which exists all over the world. I think India is a source of fascination and mystery to people. Everybody wants to go to India. They love Indian food, they love the handicraft, which comes from here and the old traditions," she said.
Many Indian flavours have an international 'tadka', but for Padma Lakshmi there is still a lot to be discovered from the kitchens of India.
"I love north Indian food. I was married to somebody who was from Kashmir. So for me, Indian food is very regional and all of it is quite interesting and delicious. I love Gujarati food because it is a cuisine, which most westerners don't know about," said the 45-year-old actress-model. (Also Read: Here's The Secret To Padma Lakshmi's Fab Body)
Even her daughter, Krishna Thea Lakshmi-Dell, is also well-acquainted with Indian culture. "We feel at home in India. I don't have any hang-ups about it and neither does my daughter. She has been to India four times in the five years of her life. India doesn't hold any mystery for her. It is a place where most of her mother's relatives are. So she is very fond of India. She is very proud of the fact that she is Indian," said Padma Lakshmi, who began her career as a model working in Europe and US.
Her book of achievements is filling up fast with an Emmy nomination for Top Chef, an award-winning cookbook (Easy Exotic), a home décor line and a memoir, Love, Loss, and What We Ate, to her credit.
She also does her bit for society by creating awareness about women's health. She is content being immersed in her upcoming books and Top Chef. The next season of the show will soon be aired in India. "I have a new memoir coming out in the spring of next year, a book coming out in fall and I'm very proud of Top Chef," she concluded.