28 Nov 2013

Dinner with Rishi Desai, Pondicherry Café & His Signature Recipe

Last week was a bit of a blur for me and maybe thats why its taken me a while to recover and post this follow-up to my Interview with Rishi Desai of MasterChef Australia fame!

Rishi was in India all of last week and after a couple of days in Delhi, he arrived in Mumbai. And I got a chance to accompany him on his culinary exploration! Since he wanted to eat seafood, we headed to Highway Gomantak in Bandra for a sumptuous meal of tisrya (clams) masala, surmai (king fish) curry and bangda (mackerel) fry. This was of course accompanied by chapatis and rice and we washed down the meal with couple of glasses of sol kadi. We decided to head to California Pizza Kitchen for dessert and wolfed down their scrumptious red velvet cake :)

During dinner, Rishi regaled me with stories of his experience on the show. Since the auditions were not aired on the show, I asked him about what he made to impress the judges. In Rishis words - The audition was two-part. We had to first bring in a cold dish and I made the Maharashtrian classic snack suralichya wadya, which the judges loved. In the second round we had to make a hot dish; I made a Karwari fish curry, which earned me my place in the competition. Rishi made a modern variation of this dish on the show recently, to highlight how much he has learned during his stay in the competition. 

Image courtesy Sofitel
Rishi was staying at the Sofitel in Bandra Kurla Complex and I was invited for a special dinner that the hotel had organised at their Indo-French restaurant Pondicherry CaféThe restaurant does a buffet dinner and Rishi had developed 4 recipes especially for that nights service. On the menu were three fusion dishes and one modern Indian dish, which is Rishis cooking style. 
  • Curried Mussel Soup with Baguette
  • Indian inspired Lamb Burgundy
  • Moroccan Tagine with Couscous
  • Karnataka Risotto
Image courtesy Sofitel
The lamb burgundy was a very hearty dish with perfectly cooked lamb. The tagine and couscous made a perfect combination and the unusual flavours of the Karnataka risotto were quite interesting a Frenched up version of the humble bisibele bhaat. But as they say on MasterChef Australia, the dish of the day was the mussel soup. Rich and coconutty, the warm soup absolutely hit the spot. The mussel soup is my kind of modern Indian cooking and you will find the recipe in my upcoming cookbook said Rishi. The book is out next year, so stay tuned!

As I mentioned in my earlier post, Rishi has quite generously shared the recipe of his signature dish. So here goes

Slow-cooked Goat with Cauliflower Puree and Pappadum

This dish serves 4 people.

Preparation time: 20 mins
Cooking time: 30 minutes (pressure cooking) OR 2 hr 30 minutes (slow cooking)

You’ll need:
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp natural unsweetened yoghurt
  • 500 gms diced goat
  • 2 tsp salt
For the Curry Paste
  • 1 brown onion
  • Handful of fresh coriander
  • ½ tsp coriander seeds
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 cm piece of ginger
  • 1 tsp tomato paste
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
For the Cauliflower Puree
  • 1 tsp butter
  • ¼ cauliflower coarsely chopped
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • 150 ml thickened cream
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • ½ tsp cumin powder
  • ½ tsp coriander powder
How to:
For the Goat
  • Saute the onion until golden brown. Use a blender to blitz all of the curry paste ingredients to a fine paste.
  • Heat the vegetable oil in an oven-proof casserole dish. Add the spice paste and saute on medium heat for five minutes until the oil starts separating.
  • Add the yoghurt and saute for another minute.
  • Add the lamb and saute for two minutes.
  • Add the salt and a cup of water and place in the oven, covered, at about 160C to 170C for at least two hours, until the lamb is tender and shreds easily. Check every half hour and, if necessary, add more water.
  • Alternatively, you can pressure-cook the curry for at least 20 minutes, then remove the lid and cook until the sauce thickens.
  • Shred the lamb in the sauce and mix thoroughly.
For the Cauliflower Puree
  • Melt butter in a saucepan; add cauliflower, turmeric, coriander & cumin powders and sauté for 2 minutes.
  • Add cream and cook while occasionally stirring for 10 minutes until cauliflower is tender and until the mixture thickens.
  • Add salt and lemon juice and let it cool down.
  • Blend the mixture until fine purée forms.
To serve, smear the cauliflower puree on a plate. Add the shredded lamb and put roasted pappadums on the side. Garnish with pea sprouts.

Image courtesy Rishi Desai

Disclosure: I was invited by Sofitel to experience this offering. 

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  1. Wow...you met Rishi...Awesome!!
    I was soo disheartened when he was eliminated on MasterChef..

    1. Yes, it was super fun meeting him! I too was so bummed, I stopped watching after he was eliminated - in protest ;)