INDIA ABROAD March 3, 2017 38 CUISINE
were 7, it’s going to be hard,”
said Anu Lakhan, a food writer
Making roti is as much about
eyeballing as measuring, tradition as instruction. Trinidadians
see it as an art form. It’s time
consuming, and challenging,
“because it was never documented in a manner in which
people can duplicate it easily,”
said Chris De La Rosa, the
founder of CaribbeanPot.com.
Those new to roti-making are
often surprised by how difficult
it is, as cookbook instructions
are straightforward and ingredients are few: flour, water, salt,
baking powder and oil as its
base, with seasonings and additions, depending on the style.
Mr. De La Rosa’s cooking website supplements recipes with
videos to help illustrate what the
prose cannot. A native of
Trinidad, Mr. De La Rosa now
lives in Hamilton, Ontario. His
site started as a way to teach his
daughters how to prepare some
of his favorite Caribbean dishes.
Portioning ingredients cor-
rectly is an important first step
in achieving the right roti tex-
ture. The slightest ratio imbal-
ance could throw off the roti.
What you want is a very soft
dough, Kaleem Amin said, but
not so soft that it breaks apart.
His father, Pope Amin, said that
when mixing the dough, you
know it is ready when you can
stick your finger in it and your
finger comes out clean.
With dhal puri, the well-sea-
soned split-pea filling, which
provides the flavor, is just as
important as supple dough.
The split peas must be boiled
to the correct texture, not too
mushy and not too hard, Pope
Amin said. When pinched with
the fingers, a perfectly boiled
split pea will crumble into a
chalky paste. The peas are then
ground into a fine powder with
culantro (an intense, cilantro-
like seasoning called chadon
beni here), cumin, turmeric, gar-
lic and salt.
Stuffing the dhal puri requires
dexterity. A handful of the split-pea powder is piled onto a
slightly flattened ball of dough.
One hand packs the filling, while
the other squeezes the dough, as
if wrapping a baby in a blanket.
It is important that the dough is
pinched and sealed so that the
filling does not spill out when it
is flattened into a large, thin circle with a rolling pin.
From there, the dough is
plopped onto a tawa, a large
cast-iron griddle. The dough is
oiled, flipped and oiled again. It
should take only about 30 seconds to cook, turning it a light
brown on both sides. When air
bubbles inflate the dough as it
heats on the griddle, that’s a sign
it is ready.
For home cooks, a nonstick
frying pan could be used in place
of a tawa, Mr. De La Rosa said.
Then comes the easy part:
wrapping the roti around generous portions of curry to eat like a
burrito, or tearing off pieces of
roti and using them to scoop
curry into your mouth.
– The New York Times
Roti, a Recipe
from Kashmir, goat was cooked
on the bones in a rich and
intensely aromatic yogurt sauce.
Nothing I had at Sahib was noisily spicy, but the Kashmiri chiles
in this korma made themselves
From the city of Mangalore on
the Arabian Sea comes kori gassi,
a very mild and irresistible
chicken stew; coriander, asafetida and curry leaves season the
The recipe for Mr. Natarajan’s
chicken biryani comes from
Lucknow. Made with both
yogurt and milk, cooked in a pot
sealed with a leaf of pastry, it’s
his favorite version of this rice
dish, he says. It may be mine,
Kolkata is the source of the
batter-fried cauliflower coated in
red chile sauce, called lasoni
gobi. An example of what happened to Chinese food after it
spent a few years in India, lasoni
gobi is fun when it’s spicy, and
dreary when it’s not. I’ve had it
both ways at Sahib. The “chicken
65,” a dish that is much loved on
the streets of Chennai, was a little dull here, too.
Basic staples, though, were
unusually good: fragrant lemon
rice; thair pachadi, a South
Indian raita with mustard seeds
and okra; and the dal of black
lentils with an uncommonly
fresh taste (from ginger, green
chiles and cilantro) under the
cream and butter.
Mr. Mathur is both the chef
and the owner. He is probably
best known for Tulsi, in
Midtown, although some New
Yorkers still fall into twitchy
daydreams at the memory of his
menu at Devi.
Like those places, and like the
restaurants Mr. Natarajan sold to
Mr. Mathur, Sahib walks a middle ground between high-gloss
operations like Junoon or Indian
Accent and the places in the East
Village that spent their entire
decorating budget on Christmas
Sahib’s appearance is
restrained, with a lot of whitewashed and weathered planks of
wood; it looks like some of the
nicer beach rentals on VRBO.
Service, while overeager at
times, avoids both the harried
anxiety of cheaper Indian restaurants and the ceremonious pretension of more expensive ones.
There is no wine or beer yet, but
the waiters always offered to
open any bottles we had
brought. I stuck with tea or the
fine mango lassi, a little tart and
very slightly salty.
More than once when I tried
to skip dessert, the servers
talked me into gulab jamun,
warm globes of cheese and milk
dripping with a rose-scented
syrup. I’d always protest and I’d
always surrender, and I was
always glad I did.
Sahib, in Curry Hill, Lets You Eat All Over India
Continued from page 36
Continued from page 37
Brie Passano for The New York Times
Above, Sahib’s appearance is restrained,
with a lot of whitewashed and weathered
planks of wood; it looks like some of the
nicer beach rentals on VRBO. Left, the
menu darts around India. Here, the
baighan bhaji, eggplant fritters.