Cloud kitchens seem to be the name of the culinary game for both young restaurateurs and established delivery platforms in the UAE. Tavish Bhasin became the latest chef to launch one, when he opened Curry Castle in Dubai in August.
Having worked across three continents, including at Michelin-starred kitchens, and run the kitchen at FIVE Jumeirah Village Hotel, Bhasin still opted to go down the route of cloud kitchens, also known as ghost kitchens, as he believes they are order of the day in a delivery-dependent city like Dubai.
The menu at Curry Castle offers heritage Indian dishes with a twist. “We take a modern and calculated approach to Indian food, in that we weigh and measure every single ingredient,” says Bhasin. The resultant dishes are healthy but decadent, and make good on Bhasin’s observation of the masalas and slow-cooking techniques favoured by his mum and grandmother.
Here, he shares three recipes encapsulating the richness that Indian food is known for, yet with a light and contemporary touch.
Each recipe serves three.
Green mango ginger chutney
“In India, everyone eagerly looks forward to getting their hands on prized mangoes come season time. This is a recipe handed down by my grandmother, who would make a batch of chutney towards the end of the season to extend the joy of having mangoes at home,” says Bhasin. “The consistency is almost jam-like, given the raw and semi-raw mangoes are preserved with sugar, salt and spices. It makes for a delicious mouth-watering condiment that complements pretty much any other dish. The chutney keeps well in the refrigerator for two weeks or can be frozen for up to a month.”
2 medium-sized mangoes, unripe or partially ripe
1 tsp ginger, grated
¼ tsp turmeric
½ tsp salt
1½ cups of water
5 tbsp crushed jaggery or palm sugar (reduce a spoon or two according to taste if using partially ripe mangoes)
Peel and dice the mangoes in a deep pan. Add ginger, turmeric and salt along with one-and-a-half cups of water.
Cover and bring to a boil, then simmer until the mangoes turn mushy.
Add the jaggery or palm sugar, and stir for five to 10 minutes more until it melts and the chutney starts sticking to the pan.
Let the chutney cool, then transfer to a jar and store in the refrigerator.
Floyd’s fish curry
“When I was a young aspiring chef, Floyd Cardoz was a huge inspiration. He put Indian cooking on the map back in the 1990s, via his restaurant Tabla in New York, when it wasn’t even being appreciated in India, in that every ‘good restaurant’ in India was cooking European cuisine,” he says.
“I was impressed with his recipe for fish curry for its flavour profile and ingredients. The blend of tirphal, dry Kashmiri chillies, coconut milk and whole amchur gives the bright orange dish a spicy, tangy, numbing flavour that is unique, utterly delicious and packed with umami.”
500g fillet of fresh Nile perch
¼ cup grated coconut
½ cup onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves
8 medium-sized Kashmiri red chillies
½ tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp turmeric powder
400ml coconut milk
3 pieces dried raw mango, whole
1 tbsp tamarind paste
Salt to taste
5 green chillies, slit
Cut the fish into bite sized pieces and pat dry. Reserve for later.
With some water and salt, grind together the grated coconut, onions, garlic, red chillies, cumin seeds and turmeric powder until you get a smooth paste.
Take a wide pot and add the paste with 500 millilitres of water. Simmer the liquid on low heat until it is reduced by half. Stir occasionally.
Strain into a small saucepan. Add the coconut milk and bring to a simmer on medium heat.
Toss in the raw mango and tamarind paste, and season with salt. Cook for 10 minutes.
Tip in the green chillies and tirphal, and let it steep and infuse overnight. This will allow the flavours to develop.
When ready to serve the next day, reheat the curry in a medium saucepan on low heat, making sure not to scorch the pan. The curry should be smooth.
Ranju’s shahi paneer
“Food is an integral part of growing up in a Punjabi household. Even though my mum didn’t cook often, she had a few recipes up her sleeve that were absolute fire,” he says. “This one has lit up many a Diwali dinner.
“The recipe is not nearly as rich as other restaurant versions, and is made with a lighter tomato sauce tempered with asafoetida and green chilli, and balanced with the tang of sun-dried tomato, cloud-like paneer cubes, dried fenugreek and toasted cashews. At Curry Castle we do a slightly refined version of it, where the flavour is reminiscent of the original. It is best served with a side of flaky parathas on the side to mop up the curry.”
1 tbsp pure ghee
½ tsp asafoetida
2 whole green chillies, slit in half
300g peeled tomato, blended till smooth
100g cooking cream
Salt to taste
½ tsp cardamom seeds, powdered
½ inch ginger, fine brunoise
2 tsp dried kasturi methi (fenugreek leaves)
1 tsp sugar
200g paneer, diced into medium-size cubes
Ingredients for the garnish
½ green pepper, julienned
Sun-dried tomatoes, to taste
Toasted cashews, to taste (toast at 130ºC for 25 minutes in the oven, season with salt, chop roughly and store in an airtight container)
Heat the ghee in a pan. Add the asafoetida and green chillies, then pour in tomato puree. Next add the cream, salt, crushed cardamom and ginger.
Reduce by 25 per cent and reserve.
Add the kasturi methi and sugar, and check the seasoning, adding more salt if required.
The trick is to add the paneer to the hot gravy and turn off the heat. Don’t overcook the paneer.
Put some oil on a plancha or flat grill. Add salt and julienned green peppers, and char them on high heat. Add the paneer gravy, some cashews and chopped sun-dried tomato alongside a bit more kasturi methi.
Finish with a drizzle of fresh cream on top.