When one Tabla closes, another warmly lit palace devoted to upscale Indian cuisine opens (across the park, in fact). If you’re unable to get to Junoon, James Beard award-winning chef Vikas Khanna and owner Rajesh Bhardwaj have a few pointers for spicing up your own cooking.
1. To transform a dish of plain rice, add one tablespoon of tamarind chutney and a half teaspoon of ground cumin (per one cup of cooked rice) before serving.
2. Frying spices allows an even amount of flavor throughout the dish. Sear chicken in a pan with a tablespoon of olive oil, and then place whole spices (such as turmeric, cinnamon stick, and a bay leaf) into the pan with a little butter. Cook over medium heat and remove spices before serving.
3. Dry-roast coriander seeds, cumin, and cardamom to release oils and intensify flavor. Put the whole spices on a sheet pan and roast in the oven on the lowest rack at 200º. Let sit for ten to twelve minutes (tossing at least once). Remove and add them to a stew of root vegetables and garlic. Let simmer and remove before serving.
4. For a sweet and easy dessert, roast peppercorns in the oven (as stated above), then grind. Crust slices of pineapple with the roasted peppercorns, a little sugar, and a pinch of sea salt. Place them on a grill or griddle and sear until caramelized.
5. Use a coffee grinder for cardamom seeds (one teaspoon is ten cardamom buds), and add the freshly ground powder to a traditional mashed potato recipe. Just one teaspoon will be enough flavor for eight to ten servings. Extra tip: Don’t clean your grinder before using the next morning. That little touch of leftover spice will add a wonderful flavor to your cup of joe.
Photo: Janelle Jones