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Raji Cuisine: Indian Flavors, French Passion
     

Raji Cuisine: Indian Flavors, French Passion

by Raji Jallepalli, Judith Choate
 

When Raji Jallepalli was a child growing up in India, she loved to sneak into the kitchen to carefully observe the cook and ask questions about whatever happened to be on the stove. Her parents discouraged such behavior—since Indian ladies did not cook. With a career in the kitchen unthinkable, Raji immersed herself in a career in microbiology. Years later,

Overview

When Raji Jallepalli was a child growing up in India, she loved to sneak into the kitchen to carefully observe the cook and ask questions about whatever happened to be on the stove. Her parents discouraged such behavior—since Indian ladies did not cook. With a career in the kitchen unthinkable, Raji immersed herself in a career in microbiology. Years later, she visited France and fell in love with French food and wine. On first tasting the food she thought, "This is nice, but it could use some of the assertive flavors of my homeland as well as some lightening up."

Three important influences—her Indian upbringing, scientific background, and love of French cuisine—inform Raji's cooking and account for her incredible success as a chef, and a self-taught one at that. Her eponymous restaurant, Restaurant Raji in Memphis, Tennessee, was nominated for a James Beard Award in 1996 and 1997 and helped establish Raji as one of this country's hottest culinary stars. She has been called "a major player" by the New York Times, and her restaurant was dubbed "one of the most exciting in America" by Food & Wine. Raji defines her brand of fusion as "a rather quiet combining of vastly different cultures, philosophies, and cooking techniques." In her kitchen she retains the basic principles and balance of French cuisine while introducing the profound bouquets of Indian cooking. As star chef and Raji fan Charlie Trotter writes in the foreword, "Hers becomes one cuisine—not a melding of two. It is completely natural, there is nothing contrived about it."

All the recipes in Raji Cuisine come from Raji's restaurant but are adapted for the home kitchen. A full glossary of Indian spices appears, along with a primer on techniques and notes on choosing wine to accompany Raji's uniquely flavored fare.

Outstanding, easy-to-follow recipes, gorgeous four-color photographs, and Raj'i's own reflections on her incredible journey to stardom in America's foremost culinary circles—all combine to make Raji Cuisine a welcome and remarkable debut from an extraordinary talent.

Editorial Reviews

New York Magazine
As far as we're concerned, there are two compelling reasons to visit Memphis- and only one if you're not a loyal subject of the King. Indian-food fanatics make pilgramages to sample the fusion fare of Raji Jallepalli, whose first career as a microbiologist undoubtedly laid the groundwork for her signature merging of French techniques with ingredients like garam masala and ghee... Save on airfare by trying one of the recipes in her first book, Raji Cuisine, in which she adapts dishes like lamb stew with vindaloo psices, tomatoes stuffed with potato korma, and caradmon creme brulee for the home cook. Plus, a very welcome wine suggestion accompanies each recipe.
Washington Post
Jallepalli is no ordinary Indian chef. Brought up in an aristocratic South Indian home, where her family had two cooks, entertained regularly and made frequent trips to Europe, Jallepalli arrived in the United States in 1971 with a highly sophisticated palate. French haute cuisine in particular impressed her. The much-praised food fusion food she serves at Restaurant Raji in Memphis taps into that personal history. There, and in this book, she combines robust Indian flavors with French principles and techniques, and what emerges is an internationally admired personal cuisine.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
HA native of Hyderabad, India, and chef/owner of Restaurant Raji in Memphis, Jallepalli fuses Indian flavors and French technique with well-seasoned verve. A succinct introduction covers essential pantry ingredients, spices, oils and fats, and techniques. Jallepalli assures dubious gastronomes that Indian-French fusion is not a hapless combination of foie gras and curry, emphasizing instead a spice-accented symmetry of complementary flavors. Sundry spices--cilantro, tamarind, turmeric, ginger, cumin, cardamom, among others--lend an exotic sensibility to such French classics as Tamarind Consomm or Baby Lamb Racks with Curry Leaf-Black Pepper Crust and Curried Blackberry Sauce, both less complicated to make than they sound. There are easy-to-make dishes (Fettuccine with White Truffles and Curry Leaves) as well as creative hybrids (Antelope Chop with Blackberry-Ginger Chutney and Anise-Flavored Chocolate Meringues). Recipe instruction is clear and straightforward, often incorporating traditional Indian cooking techniques, such as toasting spices, blending sauces and marinating meats. Oenophiles will appreciate Jallepalli's wine recommendations for most dishes. A thinking-cook's chef, Jallepalli in his first effort delivers an admirable range of innovative and vibrantly full-flavored dishes, accessible to inspired home cooks. (Mar.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
A. Hesser
Jallepalli accomplishes something rare with her cooking. As she puts it, she "retains the basic principles and balance of French cuisine while introducing the profound bouquets of Indian cooking." She may no longer be a home cook, but she is a good cook who should connect with any sensible one, home or professional.
The New York Times

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780060192228
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
03/28/2000
Edition description:
1ST
Pages:
232
Product dimensions:
7.37(w) x 9.25(h) x 0.25(d)

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Read an Excerpt

Savory Spinach Gratin

Serves 6

1 teaspoon olive oil
2 pounds fresh spinach, well washed, dried, and stemmed
1 teaspoon minced fresh dill
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon Curry Spice Blendor curry powder
1/4 teaspoon toasted ground cumin
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs
1/4 cup ghee

This simple gratin, based on a traditional French recipe, makes a wonderful side dish for pork or chicken. If fresh spinach is unavailable, Use 2 packages frozen chopped spinach. Just make sure that you thaw and drain it very well before proceeding with the recipe. Curry powder embraces and softens the sometime mineral taste of spinach.

1. Preheat the oven to 400 F.

2. Lightly grease a 9-inch gratin dish with the olive oil.

3. Coarsely chop the spinach, and in a large bowl, toss it with the dill, garlic, curry powder, cumin, salt, and pepper. When well combined, firmly pack the mixture into the prepared gratin dish. Sprinkle the bread crumbs generously on top. Drizzle the ghee over the crumbs, making sure they are well coated.

4. Bake the gratin for about 45 minutes, or until the spinach liquid has evaporated and the top has browned. Remove from the oven and serve immediately.

Wine Suggestions:
Château Ste.-Michèle Gewürztraminer
Zaca Mesa Roussann
These delicate white wines enhance the slightly spiced leafiness of the spinach gratin.


Chicken with Coconut Milk, Lemongrass, and Ginger

Serves 6

1/4 cup peanut oil
1/4 cup finely chopped onions
4 dried cayennechiles
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
2 tablespoons minced fresh lemongrass
2 cups diced peeled cooked potatoes
1 tablespoon toasted black cumin seeds, ground
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
6 ounces coconut milk
6 ounces half-and-half
Coarse salt, to taste
Two 2 1/2 pound whole chickens, cut into serving pieces

This is a trip down memory lane for me as the aromas coming from the oven take me straight back to Mrs. Ayyer's kitchen. It is an easy-to-make family-style dish. Any left over will make a marvelous salad. Use the stewing liquid as a dressing.

1. Heat the oil in a large Sauté pan over medium heat. Add theonions and chiles and lower the heat. Cook, stirring frequently,for about 10 minutes, or until the onions are golden brown andwell caramelized.

2. Stir in the ginger and lemongrass and Sauté for 2 Minutes. Addthe potatoes and stir to combine. Stir in the black cumin andturmeric. When the spices are well incorporated, stir in thecoconut milk and the half-and-half. Add salt and remove fromthe heat.

3. Preheat the oven to 300 F.

4. Place the chicken in a Dutch oven or another large heavyovenproof casserole. Pour the coconut mixture over the top ofthe chicken. Cover and bake for about 1 hour, or until thechicken is very tender.

5. Serve, family style, with basmati rice, a green salad, andwarm Indian breads.

Note: in India, the chiles would be left in the finished dish, but if you are concerned about them being eaten, remove them before serving.

Wine Suggestions:
Qupé Syrah
Louis M. Martini Red Zinfandel

Meet the Author

Raji Jallepalli is the chef/owner of Restaurant Raji in Memphis,Tennessee, twice nominated for a James Beard Award. Trained as a microbiologist before becoming a chef, Raji has been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Joumal, Food & Wine, Food Arts, and other newspapers and food magazines.

Judith Choate is an award-winning writer, chef, and pioneer in the promotion of American food. A member of Women Chefs & Restaurateurs, she is the author of sixteen cookbooks and the coauthor of many more.

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