I'm going to scream this from the mountain top, there's no such thing as 'a curry.' There's six kazillion different kinds of curry. When someone asks how to make chicken curry, I have to ask 'Which one?'
It was improv that really helped me start coming up with recipes and just believe in my instincts. That's why the first recipe I made up was 'I Ain't Chicken Chicken' because I finally felt bold and fearless in the kitchen, which was an entirely new feeling for me.
I started cooking seven years ago for real, and I started with pasta, and lasagna and roast chicken. Very normal American dishes. When I turned on Food Network, or any sort of cooking channel, that's what people were making. So that's where your education comes from.
The food in south India is the food that I really love because it reminds me of home.
I simplify the spices. I'm the same way as everybody else: if I look at a recipe and there's ten spices in it, I'm going to have to think long and hard about when I'm going to be able to make that... so I try to simplify the spices to three or four.