Tuesday 19 September 2017

Recipes: Nisheeth Tak reveals some of the secrets to cooking Rasam’s authentic Indian recipes at home

Rasam has won Best Ethnic Restaurant in the RAI/LIFE magazine Irish Restaurant awards for the past two years. This week, owner Nisheeth Tak reveals some of the secrets to cooking Rasam’s authentic Indian recipes at home

At the end of 2010, the day Ireland's IMF deal was signed, it was snowing and we were thinking of closing the restaurant early, when we got a booking for 12 guests in the name of Ajai Chopra, the head of the IMF mission in Ireland.

I thought it was a fake booking, partly because the weather was bad and I did not expect that his team would travel the long distance to Sandycove, but we were delighted when they arrived and stayed late.



I have been living in Dublin for the past 22 years and have seen Indian cuisine slowly but steadily become authentic. When I first arrived, a one-pot sauce did the trick for every dish and chefs would buy 5kg bags of ready-made spice powders. It has now refined to a point where spices are roasted, mixed and ground only minutes before the preparation.



At Rasam, we are all about regional flavours, with black salt, pure asafoetida, sandalwood powder and tukmaria, to name just a few of the special ingredients. We do not use any ready-made pastes or off-the-shelf lemon juice and we took the deliberate decision to stay faithful to authenticity.



JHINGA KALI MIRCH

Serves 4.

You will need:

20 king prawns

1 tablespoon vegetable cooking oil

4 green chillies, chopped

1 curry leaf

1 large onion, finely chopped

1½ tablespoons ginger and garlic, chopped

2 teaspoons red chilli powder

2 teaspoons turmeric powder

2 teaspoons coriander powder

2 teaspoons fresh lime juice

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Fresh coriander, chopped, to garnish

Clean and de-vein the prawns, and remove the shells. Put some vegetable oil in a non-stick pan, heat it and add the chopped green chillies, the curry leaf, and the finely chopped onion. Fry until golden brown, then add the chopped ginger and garlic and fry for a short while until you can smell the aromas.



Add the red chilli, the turmeric powder and the coriander powder and cook for a while, without letting anything stick. Add the prawns and stir-fry until they are cooked. Finish with the lime juice and the freshly ground black pepper.



Finally, garnish the dish with the fresh coriander.



PORK CHATPATA



To make julienne strips for this dish, cut the pork and the peppers into long, thin strips like matchsticks. Serves 4.



You will need:

750-800g julienne of pork

1 tablespoon ginger paste

1 tablespoon garlic paste

Salt, to taste

1 teaspoon red chilli powder

1 teaspoon coriander powder

Juice of 1 lime or lemon

3 tablespoons vegetable cooking oil

2 green chillies, chopped

2 medium-sized onions, sliced

150g julienne of bell peppers

5 tomatoes, pureed

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons fresh coriander, chopped,

to garnish



Put the julienne of pork, the ginger paste, the garlic paste, the salt, the red chilli powder, the coriander powder and some of the lime or lemon juice, whichever you are using, in a bowl and mix together well. Leave for 25 minutes and then deep fry the pork strips until they are crispy.



Meanwhile, heat some vegetable oil in a pan, add the chopped green chillies, the sliced onions and the julienne of bell peppers. Add the pureed tomatoes and cook everything until the mixture becomes semi-dry. Add the crispy pork strips and toss together. Finish with more lime or lemon juice, and the freshly ground black pepper. Garnish with chopped fresh coriander



BEETROOT CHICKEN

Serves 4.

You will need:

1 tablespoon cooking oil or mustard oil

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

3 onions, chopped

2 tablespoons ginger paste and garlic paste

4 green chillies, chopped

2 teaspoons red chilli powder

2 teaspoons coriander powder

½kg beetroot, finely chopped

4 tomatoes, chopped

850g boneless chicken, diced

Salt, to taste

50g fresh coriander, chopped , to garnish

Heat the cooking oil or mustard oil, whichever you are using, in a saucepan, temper with the cumin seeds, then add the chopped onions and fry them until they turn light brown. Add the ginger paste and garlic paste and stir for a while.



Add the chopped green chillies, the red chilli powder and the coriander powder and cook for a minute. Next, add the finely chopped beetroot and the chopped tomatoes at the same time, and cook for a while.



Add the diced chicken to the mixture, then season with salt and cook until the chicken is done.



Garnish with chopped fresh coriander



LAMB BIRYANI

Serves 4

You will need:

½ teaspoon saffron

25ml boiling milk

75g ghee or unsalted butter

1-5cm cinnamon stick

8 green cardamom pods

8 cloves

8-10 black peppercorns

3 bay leaves

1 large onion, finely sliced

1 tablespoon fresh garlic paste

1 tablespoon fresh ginger paste

1 tablespoon ground cumin powder

1 tablespoon ground coriander powder

1½ teaspoons red chilli powder, optional

Salt, to taste

125g natural yoghurt

1kg boneless leg of lamb, diced

450g basmati rice, washed and drained

Soak the saffron in the boiling milk and set aside.



In a heavy-based saucepan — one large enough to hold the meat and rice together — melt the ghee or unsalted butter, whichever you are using, over a low heat and sizzle the cinnamon stick, the cardamom pods, the cloves, the black peppercorns and the bay leaves for 15-20 seconds.



Add the finely sliced onion, then increase the heat to medium and stir-fry for 4-5 minutes.



Add the garlic paste and the ginger paste, stir and cook for a further 2-3 minutes, then add the cumin powder and the coriander powder and the red chilli powder, if you are using it. Stir and cook for 12 minutes. Add the salt, the natural yoghurt, the diced lamb and half the saffron milk. Stir to distribute everything well.



Put the washed and drained basmati rice in a pan with plenty of hot water and salt. Bring to the boil for one minute. Drain the rice and layer it over the meat. Drizzle the remaining saffron milk on the rice. Soak a clean tea towel, squeeze out the excess water and spread it on top of the biryani. Put the lid on the pan.



Now seal the top of the saucepan with a large piece of kitchen foil so that no steam can escape. Place the saucepan over a very low heat and cook for an hour. When the dish is cooked, stir gently with a fork to mix the meat and the rice and serve immediately.



Rasam was awarded Best Ethnic Restaurant 2010 and 2011 in the Santa Rita/LIFE Magazine Irish Restaurant Awards. Rasam, 18 Glasthule Rd, Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin, tel: (01) 230-0600, or see www.rasam.ie L



The Santa Rita/LIFE Magazine Irish Restaurant Awards are the biggest, brightest and most coveted awards in the Irish restaurant industry.



This year's event will recognise and reward excellence in the hospitality and food business the length and breadth of Ireland and across 23 categories, celebrating everything from chefs, restaurants and local heroes, to cafes, cocktail shakers and cookery schools. This year's awards will be presented at a glittering black-tie event in the Burlington Hotel, Dublin, on Monday, May 14, 2012.



For further details, see www.irishrestaurantawards.com Turn to page 8 for your Dine Out Voucher, which entitles you to 20 per cent off food and selected wines in top restaurants all over the country







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