We love Aziz Ansari. And we love that he cast his real-life mom, Fatima Ansari, as the mom of his character, Dev, on his show Master of None. (If you haven’t seen it, stream the entire season on Netflix. I double this endorsement if you’re a thirty-something who feels occasionally—or often—adrift, and triple it if you’re a child of immigrants.)
And though Dev seems uninterested when his mom says, “Let me make some korma,” in episode two, it turns out that in real life Aziz loves Fatima’s cooking, and loves her korma especially. So here’s Aziz and Fatima Ansari on their family’s chicken korma, along with Fatima’s recipe. —Rachel Khong
Aziz Ansari: I grew up in Bennettsville, South Carolina. I had a strange blend of Indian food cooked by my mom and Southern food cooked by our nanny/housekeeper, Mrs. Beaulah. I remember Mrs. Beaulah making fried chicken drummies, and me getting in trouble for eating them all as soon as they left the fryer. The Southern food I loved was fried chicken, biscuits, mac and cheese, and chicken and dumplings. As for Indian food, I loved chicken korma, rice, yogurt, and spinach, all kind of mixed up together. I still eat this at home—it’s dope. I also loved tandoori chicken, this fried shrimp dish, and just mixing up all the curries with rice and yogurt and going in.
My mom makes amazing food. Her chicken korma is so good, and tastes so different from Indian curries you find at restaurants. Indian food at restaurants taste nothing like what I’ve had at home. There are subtle and tasty differences. My mom’s the nicest, most caring person I have ever met. Also she’s very strong and brave—a personal hero.
Fatima Ansari: I was born and brought up in India. I came to U.S. after my marriage in 1981. I mainly like to eat all different vegetables, rice, and fish. When I was growing up, our mom made sure we get involved in cooking even though we had cooks who prepared the meals. I am glad she did.
For family meal we cooked chicken and rice together—we call it biryani. My favorite food is when we have so many vegetable dishes, rice, yogurt, and pickles, which is called thali.
Even though I knew the basics of cooking, I learned to do it well after coming here. I love and enjoy cooking and trying out new recipes. I think anyone should have a passion for cooking.
I learned a lot from my mom. Without her guidance and love, I wouldn’t be here like I am now. I think Aziz has lot of my qualities (I hope). I know he loves to cook and entertain friends. I am so happy both our boys enjoy what they do and find some time to cook and enjoy what they make. We are so very proud.