Exclusive: Krish Ashok On Debunking Food Myths & Misinformation in His ‘Masala Lab’

Not being able to replicate his mother's cooking led Chennai-based Krish Ashok to explore the science behind Indian cooking, culminating in his book ‘Masala Lab’. He also debunks food myths and advocates for using modern technology in the kitchen.


When my mother used to travel, she would jot down simple recipes like , , basic , , and curries. Despite our earnest efforts to replicate them exactly as written, my father and I could never quite match the taste of ’s cooking. Take, for instance, the humble — it seems straightforward but proves deceptively tricky to perfect.

At its core, this tangy, comforting dish requires minimal ingredients: tamarind, tomatoes, and crucially, the right powder (which can make or break the dish!), all seasoned with spices and a generous dollop of . So, then why does my never measure up to those made by the stalwarts of the household? Some might attribute it to ‘ ’ (mother’s love), and while that sentiment holds true, there’s also a scientific aspect to it. Krish Ashok embarked on a mission to unravel this science and share it with the world.

When he moved to the US for work, he discovered that his grandmother’s potato fry far outshone his own. How does one achieve that elusive perfect crispness? Why do you add some spices after others and roast them for lesser times? It’s not just because the recipe book says so. It’s due to chemical reactions that occur.

The search behind these reasons led to Ashok’s journey towards becoming a kitchen alchemist! The global head for AI Cloud Advisory and Consulting at TCS (Tata Consultancy Services), Ashok applies his training as an engineer to decode the science behind . Starting with a humour blog in the nineties, he wrote a book calle.