I kicked off my visit to UCLA with breakfast at Plateia, the restaurant at the Luskin Conference Center. The Luskin center is pretty new and conveniently located in the center of campus. Everything about my breakfast---the veggie omelet, the potatoes, the seven-grain bread---was expertly prepared. The service was gracious and unobtrusive enough to allow us to talk. And the coffee kept coming.
During our Bengali breakfast session, Milu showed me her spice tray. All the spices here are whole and unground, allowing them to stay fresh for longer. She explained that this type of tray is standard issue in Indian kitchens. But the tray only her first line of defense in her never-ending war against boring food. This is her pantry. You can see the vast array of spices and flavorings that make up the core of her stock. I can't think of a better illustration of the palate of flavors that make up Indian cuisine.