Raji Cuisine: Indian Flavors, French Passionby 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 behaviorsince Indian ladies did not cook. With a career in the kitchen unthinkable, Raji immersed herself in a career in microbiology. Years later,
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 behaviorsince 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 influencesher Indian upbringing, scientific background, and love of French cuisineinform 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 cuisinenot 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 circlesall combine to make Raji Cuisine a welcome and remarkable debut from an extraordinary talent.
The New York Times
- HarperCollins Publishers
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- Product dimensions:
- 7.37(w) x 9.25(h) x 0.25(d)
Read an Excerpt
Savory Spinach Gratin
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.
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
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.
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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