Often times we’ve been invited to travel to India. Unfortunately, there was always seemed to be situations that prevented us from taking the time to enjoy this beautiful country and its fabulous cuisines. Fortunately, we recently spent time with Ravi, the owner of Taj Indian Palace, who educated us on Indian cuisine.
Tumeric, one of the best spices, has the most health benefits and has an earthy fragrance to it. One of the most popular spices is Mustard seeds, which are yellow, black , and brown. Their flavor is released when they are crushed or cooked in oil. They are especially used in curries in the North of India.
Nutmeg and Mace, another popular spice used in preparing Indian cuisine, is used by removing the pulpy outside and sliding off the Mace. Mace provides the golden orange to the color of the food and adds herbs of warm flavor. Other spices used in Indian cuisine are Coriander seeds, the oldest brown spice characterized by its golden yellow color, having an aromatic with citrus notes. Saffron, red in color, is the most expensive spice, more valuable by weight than gold. Saffron is the most labor intensive spice to produce.
Last but not least is Fenugreek seeds, which give madras curry powder an earthy musky “curry” flavor fragrance. Cassia bark is known as Chinese cinnamon made from a bark that has a wild flavor and Cumin adds the smoky note to India’s dishes used in red kidney bean curry, with rice.
Having the knowledge of spices and herbs in preparing India’s cuisine will make one’s dining experience more pleasant. My guest, Sy Richardson, known for such films as “Repo Man,” “Straight to Hell,” and “Sid and Nancy,” has traveled around the United States and abroad with his lovely wife Teresa, a former model. They love good food. Both were joined by Ravi, the owner of Taj Indian Palace who was most gracious in presenting us with the popular items of northern Indian cuisine.
We started with Mango Lassi juice, imported from India. Mango fruit is the popular item used in the traditional sense with homemade yogurt, milk, and sugar or salt, with crushed ice. We then ordered Vegetable Samosa and Keenan Samosa. The vegetable samosa is prepared in a turnover, stuffed with spices, boiled peas, potatoes, then deep fried and served with hot mint sauce and sweet tamarind. The Keenan Samosa is stuffed with ground lamb, boiled peas, deep fried and served with hot mint sauce and tamarind. Both are excellent appetizers.
Our main entrees served were Chicken Tikka Masala, prepared with saag, mushrooms, lamb, dopiaza and Karma samosas. This was served family style with Raita, fresh homemade yogurt with shredded cucumbers, fresh tomatoes, and selected spices. I ordered the Lamb Tikka and Masala, which is prepared with a boneless piece of lamb, cooked in a tandoori oven and prepared with yogurt and a creamy curry sauce.
“The aromatic flavor of the Lamb Tikka is something I never experienced before,” Richardson said. Of course, Pea Pilaf, basmati rice cooked with peas, raisins, and cashew nuts, accompanies the main entrees. You can also order Basmati Boiled Rice, with cloves, cardamon, and cinnamon.
Needless to say, it was a very enriching evening with the Maestro of Indian cuisine, Ravi. We ended our journey with Mango ice cream and Kheer, Basmati rice cooked in whole milk, shredded coconut, raisins, cashew nuts and sugar. Ravi takes great pride in preparing fresh cuisine in the tradition of northern India.
Celebrity Scene News awards five stars to Taj Indian Palace.
They’re located at 8320 Lincoln Boulevard in Westchester. Hours of operation are 11:00 am- 10:30pm daily. Call (310) 337-1423.