The Connection Between Chef Floyd Cardoz And Padma Lakshmi's Stepfather

Padma Lakshmi is a name that's recognized by many, both inside of the culinary world and out, but what about her stepfather? As a third-generation farmer, Anand Prasad came to Los Angeles to continue his family's tradition: trimming, washing, shade drying, and grinding curry tree leaves at the Prasad Curry Leaf farm. Run by Anand and Vijaya, Padma's mother, a video shared on Padma Lakshmi's Instagram highlights how the couple manages and runs their family-owned farm of 1,000 curry trees.

Located just outside of Los Angeles in La Puente, the soil was very different than what Anand was used to in Fiji, but that didn't stop him from making a home for himself and his trees. As Prasad tells LA-based journalist and producer Nathalie Basha "Anytime people come, they say, 'This is [like] back home; You're not in America.' I say, 'Well, it took me 20 years to grow this.'" Since then, Anand has been reigned the "curry leaf king of California" by The Los Angeles Times through his production of single-origin curry leaves — which Burlap & Barrel, the company that manages the bottling and distribution of Anand's leaves, regards as one of the best that can be had in the country.

But one connection set Anand on his path to greatness, one that brought together the "curry leaf king" and the king of New York City's Indian-American cuisine scene: the late Floyd Cardoz (via The New York Times).

Anand Prasad and Floyd Cardoz

According to The Los Angeles Times, it was Padma who connected her stepfather with Floyd Cardoz. At the time, Floyd was known internationally for his famous NYC-based Indian restaurants: Tabla and Paowalla. While both have since closed, The New York Times explains how his successful culinary career was closely tied to his Indian roots. Born in Mumbai, India, Cardoz emigrated to the U.S. in the late '80s and went on to win Top Chef in 2011 with his variation of the South Indian breakfast dish, upma — instantly becoming an inspiration for other Indian-American Chefs.

The dish for which Cardoz became most known, however, was his Green Tikka Masala from Tabla (per Los Angeles Times) — a dish that Burlap & Barrel discovered owed its bright, umami, and earthy flavor to a curry leaf farmer in Los Angeles, who ended up being none other than Padma's stepfather, Anand. And, according to Floyd's wife, Barkha, nothing brings tikka masala together like quality curry leaves. As Anand says on Padma's Instagram post, all savory Indian dishes include curry leaves, and with Cardoz's taste and experience, it's no surprise that he chose to use the best of the best.

Since Cardoz's tragic 2020 death, Burlap & Barrel has teamed up with his wife, Barkha Cordoz, to create the Floyd Cardoz Masala collection — a line of single-origin spices which, of course, includes Prasad's Curry Leaf.