Baptism by Biryani

Joshua Marthand reduces chopped tomatoes in preparation for a shrimp curry. His father, John, slices chili peppers. Photos by Barry Yeoman.

If you want to see the American future, visit Greater Houston, the nation’s most diverse major metropolitan area and home to the South’s biggest city. Since the 1982 collapse of the oil boom, the city’s sprawling and overbuilt subdivisions have attracted newcomers, and their food traditions, from around the world.

Joshua Marthand, 14, has been helping his father in the kitchen since he was 7.

Reporter Barry Yeoman spent time with one of those families—and particularly with John Marthand, an immigrant from Hyderabad, India, and his 14-year-old, U.S.-born son, Joshua. The Marthand men bond in the kitchen, often while cooking biryani, a rice dish with origins as international as John’s adopted home.

The Marthand family in their suburban Houston home.

Learn more:
Houston Public Media interviews on the city’s Indian-American population

Los Angeles Times report on Houston’s diversity

Eater guide to Houston’s Mahatma Gandhi district

Research on the medicinal qualities of saffron and turmeric

Special thanks:

John Biewen – production

Richard Ziglar – narration recording

Leah Binkovitz – tape sync

Music for this episode is by Lee Rosevere, Blue Dot Sessions, and James Beaudreau