Skimm Her Life: How 'Top Chef's' Padma Lakshmi Spends Her Downtime

Padma Lakshmi
Getty Images
May 13, 2021

Skimm Her Life is a series in our weekly newsletter, Skimm Your Life, where awesome women share how they spend their downtime. Sign up here to get more celebrity recs, as well as our favorite products, books, life hacks and more.

This week: Padma Lakshmi, who we know and love from “Top Chef” and “Taste the Nation.” Plus her cookbook “Tangy Tart Hot & Sweet,” which is now out in paperback. She’s giving us the deets on allll her recs — including all things cooking-related, of course. Please pack your knives and take it away, Padma...

Smartest purchase I’ve made recently...While not a “purchase,” the smartest thing I’ve done recently is adopt our 5-year-old Chihuahua from Animal Haven in NYC. I never thought I would have a dog, and now I can’t imagine my life without her and her little underbite.  

Best book I’ve read recently…“Caste” by Isabel Wilkerson. It gives you all the education you need on the origins of racism and inequality in our country. It should be required reading in every high school. 

The cookbook I go back to again and again…“Plenty” never stops to inspire me. While I don’t always follow the recipes exactly, just looking through the book gives me a lot of ideas about what to cook when I’m feeling “blah” and out of imagination. 

The movie that never gets old to me…“A Fish Called Wanda” consistently cracks me up. We watch it at least once a month in our house. 

Self-care product I swear by...Essential oils. I love neroli and geranium. I mix them with jojoba oil for massages and in baths and even make my own perfume with them. 

The kitchen tool I can't live without...Small wooden tasting spoons with long handles. They are so handy to have when cooking. And they’re pretty. I got them at SOS Chefs years ago. 

My favorite kitchen item to gift...When I can’t think of a good present I make a homemade blend of custom spices. I think of what foods they like, mix it to order, and put it in a little bottle. I even have a label maker. It’s the perfect gift that keeps on giving. 

The go-to recipe when I’m in a pinch...Dal is a comforting lentil dish that we serve in India. It’s a staple of the Indian diet. I have a recipe for it in “Tangy Tart Hot & Sweet. It’s very nostalgic for me, and it’s good for you.

The one ingredient that makes every meal better...Serrano chiles.

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