An Italian nonna using jarred pasta sauce. A Southerner serving boxed cornbread. A Pakistani cook using a premade spice mix in her korma. Does using shortcuts compromise the authenticity of a recipe?
In Cooking, Does Authenticity Matter?
When writer and podcast host Ahmed Ali Akbar was a child, he wasn’t just a picky eater, he was a skeptic—especially when it came to the staple Pakistani food his mother prepared on most weeknights. But when his friend tried his mother’s special pullao and loved it, it made Akbar realize what he’d been missing. And it changed his life.
In the latest episode of our Webby Award-winning podcast Proof, Akbar—now a well-known food enthusiast and sought-after authority on Pakistani cooking—shares how that meal and a discovery about his beloved mother’s cooking changed his understanding of tradition and authenticity.
He introduces the concept of eaters, feeders, and neithers (every family has a mix of all of them) and interviews Madhur Jaffrey, the Indian-born chef and writer credited with teaching the West how to cook Indian food.
Check out every episode of Proof here (including a two-part series from season three where Akbar goes deep into the underground aams trade in the United States). And start a free trial to access all of America's Test Kitchen's rigorously tested, reliable recipes and product reviews.