My publisher in Delhi, HarperCollins India, is publishing a rather moody and stylish cover for BUDDHALAND BROOKLYN. Rather cool, I think.
It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of Chef Floyd Cardoz, executive chef at Danny Meyer’s Tabla in New York. I have blogged about him many times before. I marvel at Chef Cardoz’s restrained creativity, his ability to sensitively meld the best of Western and Indian cuisines into dishes that are stunningly original and tasty and down-to-earth. He’s my kind of chef in short, and, of course, the living incarnation of my fictional Chef Hassan Haji.
What many of you perhaps don’t know, however, is that Chef Cardoz is as kind and decent as he is talented. He is far from the pot-throwing tyrants of culinary lore. At my request, for example, Chef Cardoz not only made two dishes from The Hundred-Foot Journey – which book clubs can easily make alongside any discussion of my novel from his recipes here and here – but also let me make a video of us cooking at Tabla while he explained his deep and mysterious connection to my book. To see the whole package of video and recipes and copy together, please go to my Huffington Post column, At The feet Of The Master. And then book a table at Tabla. You wont be disappointed.
Chef Cardoz’s recipe for Trotters Soup, a key dish in The Hundred-Foot Journey.
-Three pounds of sheep’s ankles (USDA doesn’t allow sheep’s trotters to be sold) or veal trotters (USDA does allow).
-Two roughly diced tomatoes
-Two diced green chilies
-Two inches of peeled and Julienne-cut ginger
-Two large diced onions
-Six diced garlic cloves
-½ cup of lentils (pigeon peas), washed and soaked for 40 minutes
-Four/five bay leaves
-Half dozen cloves and half-teaspoon of powdered clove
-Half dozen each of black and green cardamom
-Half dozen whole black peppercorns
-Three cinnamon barks
-1 teaspoon of paprika
-¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper
-½ teaspoon of ground black pepper
-1 teaspoon of ground thyme
-½ teaspoon of turmeric
-½ teaspoon of marjoram
-½ teaspoon of mace
-A dozen stalks of fresh cilantro, stalk trimmed and roughly diced
-Juice from half a lime
Boil/simmer the trotters or ankles in water for three to four hours, until left with a half gallon of broth. (If pressed for time, a pressure cook can make the bone broth in about an hour.) Separately, coat and heat the bottom of a deep pot with a bit of canola oil, and add in the whole spices (cloves, cardamom, black peppercorns, cinnamon), until they spit slightly, flavoring the oil. (Do not add in any powders yet, as they will burn.) A few minutes later, add in the garlic, onions, bay leaf and stir. Add in the powdered spices: clove, paprika, cayenne pepper, black pepper, thyme, tumeric, marjoram, mace, two generous pinches of salt. When they start to brown, add in the green chilies and tomatoes, stirring again. Stir until you have a sofrito-like mixture at the bottom of the pot. Pour in the lentils, stir, and then the bones and broth. Add a generous pinch or two of sugar, and more salt, to taste. Let simmer for another hour. Add in diced cilantro and limejuice and stir, shortly before serving. Suck on the bones, marrow and all, while eating the soup. Serves 8 to 10 people.
Chef Cardoz’s recipe for onion bhajis (or bhajais) mentioned in The Hundred-Foot Journey.
-Three red onions, Julienne cut
-1.5 cups of gram flour (besan chickpea flour)
-One green, finely diced chili pepper
-Ten stalks of cilantro, the hard stalk ends removed and the rest diced
-Pinch of crushed awajain seeds (substitute: thyme)
-1/2 teaspoon turmeric
Julienne the red onions vertically, producing a pile of crescent-shaped onion slivers. Place the onions into a mixing bowl, and add the finely diced chili and cilantro, plus crushed awajain seeds (or thyme), turmeric, and salt. Mix onions and spices with your hands. In a separate small bowl, add the chickpea flour and a bit of water, little at a time, constantly kneading the mixture with your fingers until you have created a thick paste. (The onions provide more liquid, so do not make it too watery.) Add the thickened paste to the bowl of onions, and toss with your hands, until the onions are well coated in batter. Heat a pot of canola oil on the stove. Test the hot oil, by using your right hand to pinch together a clump of onions and lowering it just above the oil before the final drop (so it doesn’t splash.) Oil is the right temperature if the battered onion clump immediately bobs to the surface. Cook for a few minutes, until the bhajis are golden brown, then lift and drain on paper towels. They should look a bit like Medusa heads; the outside should be crunchy, the inside soft and gooey and fresh-tasting. If you want to make the bhajis before guests arrive, then cook the bhajis only until lightly golden before setting them aside and draining them on paper. When the guests arrive, quickly cook the bhajis in hot oil again for a couple of minutes, until golden-brown. Drain, blot, and serve. Serve bhajis with a sweet-tart tamarind chutney or garlic chutney found in any Asian food store. Recipe makes 12-15 bhajis.