Food

LOVE LETTER TO GUJARATI FOOD

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You can imagine my delight at finding authentic homestyle Gujarati food in Chennai when all my life Ive been penning love letters to it.And whats more  Geetha Mehta, is also well-known for rolling out and neatly packing 1,000 Roti’s & Pickles & Parathas (theplas) for students going abroad. These  have a shelf life for a year, are  cholesterol-free and yummy too.As though all this wasn’t enough to endear her to me, she also conducts cooking classes.

LOVE LETTER

But first, heres an example of my open love letter to Gujarati food:

“Hu tane prem karu chhu.” I love you for your  pristine vegetarian-ness, for your sheer balance of sweet and sour, tangy and bitter, in fact your  sophistication and variety of flavors leave me kind of week-kneed. One look at that silver thali beckoning  with a myriad dishes, from crunchy farsans to luscious sweets like the curd based shrikhand seduce.The melt-in-the-mouth, slim and silken rolls of besan (khandvi) the steamed, spongy wedges of besan (dhokla) and your winter special “undhio” are irresistible. Especially, the undhio with it’s broad beans, yams, eggplant and more baked in earthenware pots. And that “paunk” (fresh kernels of wheat or millet, eaten with sugar balls) is just poetry in itself. As for that famed Gujarati dahi “kadhi”, I love it most when it is sweetened, like the Surtis like it.

Using only the finest ingredients and “plenty of love” Saurashtra-born Geetha makes the most delightful of authentic Gujarati food (also South and North Indian). Its her unique pumpkin khatta dhokla that I taste at our “Whats hot tasting session”. And dry fruit shrikhand (she makes more than ten flavors, including Cadbury chocolate for kids). Looking for diet options ? Bread Rabri, variety of Shrikhand, Aam Ras and so on
Even her true blue Gujarati pickles unerringly spiced are worth trying. Call and check about her classes, tiffin dabbas and ofcourse the longlasting theplas for taking abroad.

Geeta Mehta

1605, J Block, 9th Street, 15 th Main Road

Chennai

Tamilnadu – 600 040

26164841 and 98400 66263

 


 

Recipe

Gujarati Dal

The story is that when a new Gujarati bride is being checked out, the very first and most important test that she must pass is that of making the perfect dal , with just that perfect balance of sweet and tangl. So I requested Geetha for her authentic recipe. Here it is

 

Ingredients:

  • Thoor dhal                       1 cup
  • Green Chilli                     1
  • Ginger                         1 small piece
  • Ground nut                      1 spoon
  • Salt                           to taste
  • Haldi powder                   ¼ teaspoon
  • Chilli Powder                  ¼ teaspoon
  • Jaggery                        small piece
  • Kokum / Tamarind          to taste

 

Seasoning:

  • Oil                            1 table spoon
  • Mustard seeds                  ¼ teaspoon
  • Methi Dhana                    ¼ teaspoon
  • Asafoetida                     1 pinch
  • Curry leaves                    4 – 5
  • Coriander leaves              1 table spoon
  • Tomato                         1

 

Method

Boil the dhal and separately ground nut. Then, mash nicely, mix the ground nut and keep aside. For seasoning, heat oil and put mustard seeds. Then add asafetida and cut tomatoes. Cut chilli and ginger and add all the remaining ingredients. After frying nicely, add to dhal. Add water as required and boil for 5 to 7 min. Then add coriander leaves.

 

RECIPE

Khandvi

The perfect snack, silken rolls of khandvi are my favorite and delightful to taste. Light. And healthy roo.

 

Ingredients:

  • Sour Butter milk              3 cups
  • Gram dhal                        1 cup
  • Asafoetida                     1 pinch
  • Ginger chilli paste           1 teaspoon
  • Salt                           to taste
  • Haldi powder                   ¼ teaspoon

 

Seasoning:

  • Oil                            1 table spoon
  • Mustard seeds                  1 teaspoon
  • Til                            1 teaspoon
  • Curry leaves                    10 – 15
  • Coriander leaves              1 table spoon

Method

Add all ingredients to butter milk and mix well and keep stir on slow flame till it thickens. Pour on individual plates and spread well and let it cool down. Heat oil and mustard seeds, til and curry leaves. Make the poured batter into rolls and cut to smaller pieces. Spread the seasoning on the rolls and sprinkle coriander leaves.

 

Review: The Irish House

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American, European

 

AMRITA AND RICHARD KOSZAREK CHEER THE IRISH HOUSE
AMRITA AND RICHARD KOSZAREK CHEER THE IRISH HOUSE

“Ireland se aaya mere dost, dost ko salaam karo”.  A couple of months ago, our very own rocking Irish House (the largest one yet) set up in Andheri. More than a year ago, the first of these Irish triplets was born in  Phoenix Mills, followed by Kala Ghoda. Ive eaten and  “happy houred” at all, also given a thumbs up verdict  as we did in our latest Andheri checkout.  Richard Koszarek is famous for  his steaks, pork chops and beans, while Amrita’s  mutton pickle is legendary.

The well-traveled foodie couple Amrita and Richard Koszarek not only spend a lot of time in London but Richard particularly enjoys the pubs there. They say Yes!  to The  Irish House.

DÉCOR

Everything in this predictably themed, wooden-decored space is larger than life; from the expansive,  high-ceilinged hall to the TV screens. Brick walls with trademark Irish house posters (take time to read them Beer Ladder, the Whisky Wall, Beer Kegsand thePost Box, Community tables…you name it.

FOOD & DRINK

Large (that word again) portions of deep fried fare (be it the blistering chilli poppers oozing cheese, or the fleshy mushrooms crunchy with pine nuts) is tasty. On recommendations from (@mihirsagar @dina_bshah @harpr iya_kohli

@abbas_974@thebombayfoodie) I try the  Chicken tacosBeer Can Chicken cordon bleu and Grande nachos, pail of Popcorn et al . Chicken tenders are better in Kala Ghoda but otherwise all the rest of the fare satisfies.Well-stocked bar, with 42 types of beer from across the globe (draught beer is served in Kegs & Towers) Richard recommends the Erdinger wheat beer and Stella Artois. Try the  innovative cocktails (Irish Trash Can, Irish Car Bomb)

MINUS POINTS

The oven was not working the night we were there so Richard couldn’t get his Steak ‘n Kidney Pie. Too many deepfried, overdone starters. The large wedge of oversweet  Irish Chocolate Torte and the Kahlua Mousse were avoidable.

 

 

MY POINT

Packed, bustling and vibrant…Ive checked out all three Irish Houses at different times of day and night.Each time, I found that  when the high-ceilinged space is  sufficiently crowded, it has a lived-in, age-softened feel.

And when most of the generously portioned dishes appealingly complement the atmosphere, it hits the sweet spot. No gourmet flashes, it’s mostly a mix of pub stalwarts comfort foods at comforting prices. Happy hours ( 5 to 8pm   ) add to the happiness. Want a cheery, beery, noisy time ? (age no bar) this way please !
The Irish House, 1st floor,  Fun Republic, Opp. new link Road, Andheri (West) 61046161

Open,  12 noon – 1am

RATING FOOD 3.5 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 4

Meal for 2: Rs 2000


ROCKING HOLLYWOOD...TONY NUNCIO AND TANYA
ROCKING HOLLYWOOD…TONY NUNCIO AND TANYA

A TASTE OF EMMYCITEMENT

I’m eating and drinking Emmycitement…er excitement. Here, in Hollywood,  this glamorous land of eternal sunshine,  the air is so thick with  excitement over the high-voltage Emmy awards  that I could slice it and pop it into my cocktail glass (which I do too). And its evident through all my eatingsbout (from the Voltaggio brother’s “Ink” Nobu’s first ever restaurant “Matsuhisa” to the king of chefs Wolfgang Puck’s “Spago). But it’s in the iconic rockstar “Sunset Marquis” where for over 50 years not only have Emmy, Grammy, Oscar winners, legends (including our very own Bachchan family) stayed but their bar manager and actor Tony Nuncio  has been making waves in Hollywood with his latest creation of the cognac based cocktail “Breaking Dad”. Not only does it  celebrate the Emmy winner of 2013 of the same name but also George Rosenthal’s love for cars and his son. Bacon and seasalt popcorn compliment the drink and Im excited to be in Los Angeles  on the night of the Emmy awards!

P.S. Ive been overwhelmed  and overjoyed by your  response via instagram posts to my request to #dinewithrashmi. Im so sorry that Ive been away so long and unable to keep my promise. Will surely do so as soon as Im back.

ROCKSTAR FOOD at Sunset Marquis

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ROCKING FARE: ROD GRUENDYKE AND CHEF ROGER EGGLESTON
ROCKING FARE: ROD GRUENDYKE AND CHEF ROGER EGGLESTON

ROCKSTAR FOOD

It is here in this sundrenched glamorous city that I get my first taste of Rockstar food (literally too).

For the past 50 years, Sunset Marquis has been the secret hideaway for actors, writers, artists, filmmakers,  supermodels, restaurateurs, billionaire entrepreneurs and rock stars.

Interestingly, the stories of the Sunset Marquis and the history of rock ’n’ roll are inextricably intertwined. Several bands debuted in the bar here,  The Doors to Led Zeppelin. Neil Diamond ( used to perform by the pool to pay his tab) to  Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, George Clooney, Jennifer Aniston and many other regulars here.

BOLLYWOOD TO HOLLYWOOD

Amitabh Bachchan, Abhishek and Aishwarya Bachchan have stayed here and enjoyed not only the place but also the food. Moreover, it is the worlds only hotel which has a state of the art recording studio where many Grammy-winning songs have been recorded. Madonna has recorded here so has Elton John (to name a few). It is here that the winners of “American Idol” stay for months and even as I eat the most unique “cauliflower steak” Michael Bolton strolls past in the  3.5 acres of Mediterranean oasis tucked away on  a hill just off The Sunset Strip.

Guarding these superstar’s  “peace and privacy” for over 23 years is the dapper and dynamic Rod Gruendyke who is so passionate about his work that he started working as a manager of travel lodge, when he was 15 years old. Since then he has not only launched several prestigious hotels but continues to redefine hospitality. He recounts how actor  Kevin Costner bumped into the Bachchans and concluded a deal without having to go to India. Interestingly Rod is also a believer in Amma, the hugging saint and has a long-standing affinity for India.

TASTY AND HEALTHY

Taking care of the beautiful people’s  tastebuds and balancing it with their health and fitness needs is

the brilliant Chef Roger Eggleston. He believes in appreciating what the earth gives us, to never stop learning and using the braising technique, of searing and then cooking in a liquid. The trick is to keep the temperature

“low and slow” he points out. To intensify the flavor, he uses vegetable stock but adds apple to it. He shares his recipe…

Cauliflower Steak

  • 4 Cauliflower steaks cut 1 inch thick.  Make sure to leave some as the stem to hold it together
  • Vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Sprig of thyme
  • 4 cloves of garlic

Season the cauliflower with salt.  Heat a heavy pan with some vegetable oil just until smoking.  Add the steaks and sear them until a nice color forms.  Flip them over; add just enough vegetable stock just to come up ½ way on the steaks.  Add the garlic and thyme and bring up to a simmer.  Place the pan in the oven and lightly braise just until tender:  about 15 minutes.  When done, remove from the liquid.

Garnish·     Corn grilled on the cobb and then cut off·     Cleaned morel mushrooms, lightly braised just as the cauliflower steaks·     1 tsp butter·     Sliced chives·     Baby fennel shave thin and placed in ice water·     Raw purple cauliflower·     Garlic blossoms

Heat the morel mushrooms up with some of their braising liquid, add the charred corn and finish with a little butter to glaze the vegetables.  Season with salt and finish with the sliced chives

You can make a Truffled Yogurt by

Whisking 4 egg yolks into yoghurt.  mustard, wine, canola oil,

squeezed lemon juice

To Plate

  • Spoon about 2 tbsp of the truffle yogurt onto the center of each plate· Place one cauliflower steak on top of the yogurt
  • Spoon the vegetable mix over the cauliflower steaks· Using a micro plane, grate the purple cauliflower all over the plate·     Garnish with the shaved fennel and garlic blossoms

Enjoy! keep rocking!

Review: Francesco’s Pizzeria

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Pizza and pasta

 

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Happy surprises: I am sure you love them too. I serve up one today. It’s a Value for money, cheery new pizzeria which shot into fame after it started drone delivery services. But that’s hardly why I commend Francesco, especially since I write this from the pizza capital of the world, NYC.

DÉCOR

It’s tucked into the ever evolving urban theme park of Phoenix mills. This seriously small, wooden-floored, white-walled, brightly lit eatery with oval mirrors on the  walls (which  make the café look bigger) has simple, functional  white wooden tables.

FOOD

Fifteen varieries of pizza (we love the  thin and crisp yet fold-able when you crack it,  crust.). You can choose the size of pizza…

7inch (Rs 220) 10inch (Rs 13inch) and 13inch (Rs 475) and your toppings too. For me, pizza has to be in erotic union with pepperoni (thumbs up to Francesco s). The passionate young Mikhael Rajani ensures   plenty of vegetarian options .

The truffle pizza delights but could do with more of my musky favorite.

Try the robustly spiced Peri Peri Pizza, ( paneer and chicken options).

Tasty  ravioli stuffed with beet ( Rs 325)  but too expensive for the small the portion. Aldente  Spaghetti aglio olio. Broffle (brownie waffle),   the tiny, tenderfirm  Cheesecake and the plain looking bambolino buns stuffed with chocolate  come out tops.

MINUS POINTS

Francesco  has stabs of ill-advised innovation, like the

the dryish Bianca Salmone with too little salmon, the ggplanty parmigiano pizza and the red velvet waffle which is just a waffle gone red. Noisy when packed (which it is most of the time). No beer (a must with a pizza) or wine.

 

MY POINT

I welcome this open through the day, cheery, small, well-priced  pizzeria. It is clearly driven by the  mission of feeding you well, as opposed to giving you food for thought or gourmet fare. Of playing to your tummy instead of your imagination. And with it’s  comforting pizzas and pasta it executes that mission more dependably than many other pizzerias with similarly modest but noble ambitions.  Mama Mia (please note my Indian accent when I say that)

Shop 9-11, Next to L’vista Furnitures, Skyzone, High Street Phoenix, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel, Open 11 am to 11.30 pm

64

ph 67437000

Meal for two: Rs.1000|

RATING FOOD 3.5 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 3


 

GOD IN NYC

Pardon the blasphemy! I’m convinced that God lives in this adrenalin-fuelled dagger-shaped New York City. How else do I explain the  most divine of palate-pleasures on the street to my transcendental experiences in the greatest cathedrals of cuisine? I’ve been in NYC less than 30 hours and am already getting blown away by

dish after dish’s   visual and gustatory starbursts. I write on my laptop from this sublime heaven of haute cuisine (also a shimmering

Parthenon of pleasure ) – Daniel Boulud’s  Daniel, which has been crowned with 3 Michelin stars for the past 21 years and continues to reign supreme.

The ever smiling spectacularly brilliant Daniel’s   creative French 15 course menu dazzles, and pairing these with wines is NYC’s best sommelier, our very own Raj Vaidya (originally from Mumbai). My dinner companion Rahul Nair, NYC based foodie and screenwriter  obviously has food and films in his genes as his father Sameer Nair now heads up a leading mumbai film and TV production company.Last night’s Jean George’s champagne shrimp salad seduced at The Mark, and I had an exciting Lebanese lunch at Ilili thanks to the king of hospitality design Adam Tihany and his lovely wife Marnie.

Within the next five days I will have sniffed out NYCs  cheap and cheerful and worshipped at  many a haute temple. Please email Rashmiudaysingh@gmail.comtwitter instagram @rashmiudaysingh and I will share the good word with you. Amen!

AMMA JAI HO!

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Amma and kalpana

I’m rejoicing! I’m getting a taste of centuries of family recipes lovingly passed down generations. Sure! There is plenty to be said about restaurants, about masterchefs, about modern and fusion cuisines too. But, give me original, authentic and traditional recipes anyday. They brim over with love, they preserve a flavor of history, tradition and culture. They  are created by home makers who keep in mind economy, speed, efficiency and health. These are steadily not only getting lost over time but also diluted and corrupted.

So when I come in contract with Gold medalist in  M.Sc maths, ex-  Scientist in Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre Kalpana Venkatesh a brilliant cook herself who continues to be inspired by her mother in law Muthulakshmi Gopalan, I am overjoyed.

“Amma” as she is affectionately called by her family is a  feisty and multi-talented native of Papanasam (Tirunelveli district). The seventy year old grand dame is extremely erudite, loves reading, is involved in family finance and family management and ofcourse her cooking is unmatched. Amma continues to have a very close  and affectionate relationship with her family, especially Appa.
MUTHULAKSHMI’S MUTHUS (PEARLS)

Muthulashmi (Amma)  learnt cooking from her mother Chellammal and with great precision and meticulousness has preserved each recipe. Traditional and authentic, these pure vegetarian recipes also inspire her daughter Viji.
Today, even their fourth generation of   Nethra , Nikhil and Raji love these dishes.

Harmonious flavors are coaxed out of Jaggery, nutmeg, urad dhall, rice, milk, ghee and more. Some are served as parsadam, some celebrate special occasions.

On my request Amma shares some of these recipes. Here’s my second request to them…that they preserve them in a book so that  the whole world can partake of Ammas recipes and love.


 

Pori Vilangai (Porulangai) Urundai

Ingredients

Moong dhal                                         = 4 cups

Jaggery                                                = 6 cups

Fresh coconut (cut into small pieces) = ½ cup

Cardamom powder                             = 1 tsp

(Optional) Dry ginger powder            = ½ tsp

 

Method:

 

Take a thick bottomed pan and dry fry the moong dhal, till it is golden brown and a nice aroma starts emanating.  Take care not to over brown it. Cool and grind it into a fine powder in a blender. Transfer the contents to a wide thali or plate. Add cardamom powder, dry ginger powder and mix well. Spread it out on the plate.

 

Take a thick bottomed vessel. Boil the jaggery in 150 ml water over medium flame, till it dissolves completely.  Strain for impurities. Reboil the jaggery water along with the coconut pieces till it comes to a consistency as follows: If you put a drop of the jaggery syrup in a cup of normal water, it should stay like a globule. Switch off the stove.

 

Add 2 laddles of jaggery syrup to a portion of the powdered dhal mix on the plate, just enough to be able to make into small laddu balls. Mix and make small laddus. Repeat this procedure, till the jaggery syrup and dhal mix get exhausted. Speed is very important here since otherwise the jaggery syrup tends to harden. These laddus have a shelf life of about 10 days

 

 

Variants:

 

Instead of 4 cups of moong dhall; we can use 3 cups of moong dhall and 1 cup of channa dhall.

 

  1. S:  This is an important traditional Tirunelveli (Tamil Nadu) sweet dish, served during Deepavali day.

 

Ukkarai ( Deepavali Sweet dish)

Ingredients

Channa dhal (Bengal gram)    = 400 grams

Jaggery                                    = 500 grams

Ghee                                        = 150 ml

Grated fresh coconut              = ½ cup

Cardamom powder                 = 1 tsp

Cashews                                  = 100 grams

Salt                                          = ¼ tsp

 

Method:

 

Soak Channa dhal in water for one hour with ¼ tsp salt.  Strain the channa dhal and grind to a thick paste in a blender without adding water. Spread the mixture in an idli plate and steam cook for 7 minutes (As similar to idli making).  Remove it from the idli plate and let it cool off for about 10 minutes. Put the cooled cakes in a blender and grind to a powder.  Transfer the contents into a bowl and keep it aside.

 

Take a pan; add ghee and fry the cashews till golden brown.  Similarly fry the grated coconut in ghee till golden brown.  Keep it aside.

 

In another thick-bottomed vessel, boil the jaggery in 100 ml water until it dissolves completely.  Now strain this for impurities and re-boil the jaggery water on medium flame, till froth comes fully, along with good aroma.  At this stage, add the powdered dhal mixture and mix well.  Keep stirring for 5-7 minutes till bread-crumb like texture is achieved.  Add the fried cashews, grated coconut & cardamom powder and mix well.

 

Spread in a flat bottomed dish, garnish with fried cashews. Dish is ready to be served.

 

Variants:

 

1. Instead of channa dhal, a combination of Channa dhal 200 gms + Moong dhall 100                 grams + Tur dhal 100 grams can be used.

 

2. Replace jaggery with sugar.  To prepare sugar syrup, boil 500 grams of sugar in 100 ml of water and bring to 2-string consistency (when you take the syrup between thumb and index finger and release it, you can see two strings).  For additional flavor, along with cardamom, a pinch of edible camphor can be added.

 

  1. S:  This is an important traditional Tirunelveli (Tamil Nadu) Iyengar dish, served during Deepavali day.

Review: Spice Klub

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North Indian. Molecular Gastronomy.

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Taaza Khabar: A month old pure vegetarian Indian restaurant goes the Molecular gastronomy way. I was lucky enough to have dined at Ferran Adria, Spanish wizard’s El Bulli (it is now shut) and also at the  London’s Fat Duck, Spain’s “El Celler de can Roca”,  Stockholm’s Oaxen where I was blown by each one’s amazing creations using cutting edge scientific techniques, ingredients and methods to make the familiar look unfamiliar and vice versa. The question always remains: does this unlikely transmogrification of ingredients and other cerebral shenanigans taste good or not?

DÉCOR

This Lower Parel 100 seater restaurant seems to have been kept deliberately non descript ( semi-industrial fit-out with exposed brick walls) to keep the focus on food.

FOOD

Ever had a vada pao which has a mousse aerated by infusing nitrogen in it?chutney in edible plastic pouches ? Quivering explosive orbs of papdi chat with coriander chutney foam? Happily, they also taste good. As does the pao bhaji fondue.    The passionately dedicated owner Aditya Gupta studied up and ensures the use of liguid nitrogen, dry ice, dehydrator  a( for  dahi bada and dhokla. Siphon for chilli palak soup, alginate bath and more. Rose caviar partners The chocolate flower pot is filled with rasmalai and saffron mousse and sprinkled with pista chocolate soil. Regular North indian fare marks the mains, be it Paneer Kadai, Veg Kohlapuri, Amritsari vadi aloo or the must try dahi pakodi. Gluten free & multigrain Rotis too.

MINUS POINTS

Some dishes are just gimmicks—and lackluster to taste too. The Pani Puri served in test tubes and syringes, being a case in point. Slushy with masala, Rajma in the mains. The Bubbling kulfi ( liquid nitrogen et al) is all show and no go, with over sweet, synthetic sauces. I just couldn’t get myself to try the soap cake with it’s Dairy foam.  No alcohol.

MY POINT

I commend this pure vegetarian eatery’s efforts ( starters and desserts) at Molecular gastronomy  ensuring  measured eccentricity. These dishes validate the  experimentation and they reflect a thoughtful,  equilibrium between what’s merely edgy and what’s tasty.Not always cutting edge, some dishes tip over into gimmickry. The North Indian mains are predictably comforting and so provide the much needed balance. Jaded vegetarians looking for newness this way please!

SpiceKlub, 8A Janata Industrial Estate, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel (W)

Ph 24925544

Open 12 to 4pm 6.30 to midnight.

Meal for two Rs 2000

RATING FOOD 3.5 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 3

DUBAI’S CULINARY MECCA

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Found. Atlast. Is it tangy? Is it sweet? Is it a salad? Is it a complete meal? Is it squishy? Is it crunchy? Here it is, the authentic recipe of my most favorite refreshing sweet, tangy, juicy, crispy, healthy, refreshing “Rojak”. I taste it in the most unique of circumstance and venues. I marvel at how the world is shrinking into an amazing and delicious small space. So,I bring for you, this recipe of the Indonesian/Malaysian/Singaporean “Rojak”. It is made by a brilliant German chef. And it is on one of my trips to Dubai that I come across this refreshing delight. To make the global gourmetization even more exciting, I taste this dish in a legendary Thai hotel in Dubai, which turns out to be a culinary mecca.

1

CULINARY JOYRIDES AROUND THE WORLD 


“Culinary joyrides around the world” those are the brilliant Chef Joachim Textor’s words. This is the joyride that he takes me through his amazing cooking. He has travelled and lived in  the remote corners of the world. From along the Great Wall of China to Irkutsk (the Paris of the East in the 19th century) to the Omul salmon recipe from the largest fresh water lake in the world: From the southernmost tip of South America, steamed Alaskan crab to Traditional Tasmanian recipes…………he has them all. 
Chef  Textor having completed his culinary education and masters in Germany has worked in 11countries and has to his credit the opening of four hotels and dozens of restaurants. His passions are cooking and travel and exploring new culinary horizons. In pursuit of this he has been to 486 cities and 90 countries from the North to South  pole,
As we sit and chat, in the stunning and picturesque Anantara, I am more and more delighted. Set amidst lush landscaping, with the private beach just behind us, beachfront lagoon pools around us, it is difficult to believe I am in Dubai.

I don’t have the time to dine in all six of the restaurants and bars of Anantara, the culinary mecca, but the  specialty Asian, Mediterranean flavors and the Middle Eastern cuisine, the Thai cuisine seduce my tastebuds and my eyes.

Named after the Arabic word for ‘water’, the Mai Bar (which I love) has a terrace shaded by palm trees and a swim-up bar in the pool. There are  Australian-inspired flame grilled delights too but I don’t have the time to try these.

It is in the terrace of the Beachhouse with it’s fabulous views of the Dubai shoreline that I enjoy the Mediterranean cuisine, including pizzas, tapas and seafood. It is here that I taste the Rojak along with the charming and well informed Hayley Burgess.

 

ROJAK REIGNS

I first tasted the Rojak on the street side in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. It was a delightful mix of bean curd, boiled potatoes, prawn fritters, hard boiled eggs, bean sprouts, cuttlefish and cucumber mixed with a sweet thick, spicy peanut sauce. Then in Singapore I tasted their version of Rojak with a sweet and spicy chili sauce. I was told that in Penang, where it is a local favourite, it is always called pasembor, but in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore it is called Rojak.

Ofcourse, there are all different kinds of fruits and fritters which are added and mixed into this. From raw mango to green apple to pineapple, benkoang (jicama), bean sprouts, Chinese-style fritters). And many more.  But here is Chef Textor’s amazing recipe, which is a must try…

ROJAK RECIPE

Ingredients

Serves: 6

  1 medium cucumber

  2 small young green mangoes, peeled

  1/2 medium pineapple, skinned

  50 g Papaya

  20 gr carrot julienne

  45 gr pear

  40 g bean sprouts

  35 fried tofu

  1 large yam bean (sengkuang/jicama), peeled

  1 tsp lime juice

  ½ tsp lemon juice

  20 gr dried shrimps

  30g roasted peanuts, chopped coarsely

  35 g fried Chinese bread stick, thin sliced

  ½ tsp sesame oil

  1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

  For the rojak sauce

  15 dried chillies, soaked and deseeded

  2.5 cl Tamarind sauce

  1/2 cup (125 ml) tamarind juice

  20 g caster sugar

  1 teaspoon (5 ml) dark soya sauce

Directions

1.        Pound the chillies in mortar and pestle until it becomes a fine paste. Put that paste and tamarind juice in a saucepan and cook over low heat for 10 minutes. Add the sugar and dark soya sauce and cook until the sugar dissolves and sauce is thick. Set aside and let cool.

2.        Cut the vegetables and fruits into small wedges and put into a large mixing bowl. Add the rojak sauce and mix well.

3.        To serve, garnish the top of the rojak with dried shrimps, chopped peanuts,and all remaining ingredients and sesame seeds.

 

Chef Textor explains that “Rojak” actually translates to mixing and mingling and denotes  multi-ethnicity. Through this conversation, I urge the brilliant, well traveled chef to compile all these recipes into a book.

I request him to distil all the excitement of discovery and travel in his first of its kind cookbook. It will be so exciting, so
useful and usable and divided cuisine wise as well as through ingredients and courses… and should he have the time and the inclination to put together this global cookbook what would he like to call it?  “Culinary joyride around the world with Joachim Textor” ofcourse!