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REFLECTIONS ON THE RECENT FOODIE MOVIE - THE HUNDRED -FOOT JOURNEY
The Hundred - Foot Journey
Producers: Juliet Blake, Oprah Winfrey and Steven Spielberg Director: Lasse Hallstrom” Based on story : Richard Morais Starring: Helen Mirren, Om Puri, Manish Dayal, Charlotte Le Bon Music : AR Rahman
Photo : juliet Blake/facebook
Amazing cast and producers of the movie
Photo :Juliet Blake/facebook
Music director AR Rahman and producer Juliet Blake
I was honored to be invited by the Washington Post for the advanced prescreening of the movie - The Hundred - Foot Journey. In my opinion, this is an outstanding movie. Very entertaining, well researched and the food shots make your mouth salvitate. Having personally worked in both French and Indian kitchens, I felt it was a very good representation of both.
With Actor Om Puri at the National Geographic reception and advanced screening.
with the Producer Juliet Blake at the National Geogrpahic, Washington DC
This movie took me back to my days in New Delhi, as a fresh graduate of Hotel Management I joined the Ashok Hotel as chef trainee; I had an opportunity to work under the Master French Chef Roger Moncourt, who introduced French cuisine to India. In the year 1983, I had the proud privilege of opening a French Restaurant called Burgundy under the tutelage of Chef Moncourt .There are so many scenes in the movie that bring back fond memories; However, I do not want to go on to describe each one of them as many of you have not seen the movie yet.
With my mentor (late) Chef Roger Moncourt at Burgundy Restaurant, New Delhi
One classic test for a new cook in a French kitchen was to see how good of an omelette one could make. In this movie, the omelette looked delectable with the addition of green chilies and cilantro, making it a "masala omelette". I still can remember the emphasis given on making the omelette at the right temperature, right shape (half moon shape etc), how to beat the eggs with a fork in a circular motion and so on and so forth.... I think the movie has depicted these scenes very well. I understand that my friend Chef Floyd Cardoz played a big role ... Kudos to him.
Chef Floyd Cardoz at Indique in Cleveland Park, Washington DC
1985 - Festival of India - Smithsonian Institution - Washington DC
The Indian kitchen in the movie was also well shown with the 'Tandoors', 'Thalis' and display of the old spice boxes passed on from generations. This reminded me of my 7479 mile culinary journey from New Delhi to Washington DC in 1985 along with the 'Tandoors' (drum tandoors) that I brought with me to the Smithsonian Institution to organize the Festival of India.
In the movie actress Helen Mirren plays a fabuluos role as the proprietor of a michelin star french restaurant. One of the scenes that took me back many years was the making of the five basic mother sauces; particulary the making the mayonnaise from scratch. Believe it or not, we used to make it by hand - No kitchen aids or mixers, just bare hands. Yes you read it right - just bare hands. These were made in fairly large quantities, and needless to say - going to the gym was not required, as this was a very vigorous task.
Above: With the former First Lady of France, Madame Pompidou, when she visited India.
Now comparing the two cuisines - The French and Indian - French have their cooking techniques, standardized recipes, subtle sauces etc while Indian cooking is diverse, not standardized, and influenced by other cultures, regions, traditions that have swept across India over the centuries. I feel no clash or competition between these two great culinary traditions! Rather,I feel that knowledge of both cuisines enhances the talent base of the Chef and presents a richer more diverse offering to the foodie.Indeed at Indique we have offered variety of traditional indian dishes that are influenced by French techniques.
Flambéd 'Gulab Jamun' at Indique in Cleveland Park.
I would highly recommend that you see this movie! Bring back your movie stub to Indique and enjoy a Gulab Jamun Flambé on us with your dinner.Try a "Masala Omelette" at recently introduced "Bottomless Sunday Brunch at Indique. BOTTOMLESS BRUNCH - EVERY SUNDAY - 11 AM TO 3 PM - $ 24.00
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"Puttu" - A specialty of Kerala - Photo of the Week
A simple dish made with rice flour, cumin and coconut and salt. Coarsely ground rice flour is sprinkled with water and mixed with freshly grated coconut ,cumin and salt : to resemble breadcrumbs. This mixture is steamed in a "putti kutti" - a cylinderical piece of bamboo as shown in the picture above. Alternatively they are also steamed in coconut shells.(the eyes of the coconut are pierced so that the steam can pass through). Traditionally seerved with black chickpea curry or with ripe plantains and papadam. This picture was taken on a recent trip to India at a toddy shop about 12 kms from Kochi called - "Mulla Pandhal", which serves some amazing food....
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The Washington Post food editor Joe Yonan has turned a Vegetarian. So here is a recipe dedicated to Joe and to all my vegetarian friends. This is a very simple recipe which can be made quickly and easily.
Ingredients Serves - 4 - 6
1.5 lbs of Paneer - cut into 1" cubes* 1 large onion 1 large tomato or 12 whole grape tomatoes 1 green pepper 21/2 Tbsp lemon juice 3 Tbsp Veg. Oil 2 Tbsp Ginger/Garlic paste or ginger and garlic powder 1/4 tsp - Red Chili powder 1/4 tsp.Cumin powder 1/4 tsp Amchur powder* 1/4 tsp Turmeric powder 4 Tbsp plain hung yogurt * 1 Tbsp - Kasoori Methi 1 tsp - Salt
1. Cut Paneer into 1" cubes
2. Cut green pepper, onions and whole tomatoes into 1" squares. Alternatively you can substitute whole grape tomato or cherry tomato instead of cutting whole tomatoes.
3. In a medium size mixing bowl, make a marinade with all the ingredients from lemon juice to salt.
4. Soak the cut cubes of Paneer, pepper,onions and tomatoes in the marinade for about half an hour.
4. Soak bamboo skewers in water for a few minutes. Then, thread the cubes of paneer, onions, tomatoes and green pepper on to bamboo skewer.
5. Cook on a flat top grill for a few minutes on each side till it gets a nice golden brown color
6. Serve with chutney of your choice.
* Hung yogurt - Plain yogurt which is hung in a muslin cloth so as to remove some excess whey from the yogurt. Alternatively some sour cream can be incorporated to the plain yogurt to make it thick.
* "Paneer"- is home made cheese. It is readily available in Indian grocery stores. How to make Paneer at home will be a future post.
* Amchur Powder - available in Indian grocery stores - Usually made from dried unripe green mangoes.
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Heartiest Congratulations Mr. President on your re-election!
Thank you for your invitation to the Presidential Inauguration.
Above : with Mrs. Nisha Vinod at the Inaugural Ball.
I had the privelege and honor to visit the White House during your first term. It was Easter day and I missed you Mr. President. I look forward to meeting you and serving you some delicious Indian food during your second term.
Above : With Celebrated Chefs Sanjeev Kapoor and Bill Yosses at the White House.
The dining landscape in Washington DC has changed tremendously in the last few years! You think of any cuisine of the world and we have them in Washington DC. By now you must have already received various recommendations for your dining in the second term. My humble suggestion is for you to start with the Cleveland Park neightborhood of Washington DC
The historic Cleveland Park in North West Washington DC
awaits your arrival Mr. President. Just to familiarize you with this Washington neighborhood, -
Cleveland Park, named after the former President Grover Cleveland, is a
historic neighborhood with an old theater – UPTOWN, and in my opinion has some
of the best restaurants in town.
'President Cleveland and Mrs. Cleveland' at the Cleveland Park day in front of Indique. (The President of the Cleveland Park Association dressed as President Cleveland)
When the economy was going south a few years back, this
thriving neighborhood took a severe beating; the whole area began to
deteriorate. A 100 year old grocery store – Magruders and smal businesses/restaurants like Yenching Palace and
Yannis shut their doors; there were ‘To rent signs ‘ all over the place and businesses began to notice a large drop in their sales.Corporate
entertaining was reduced, office/holiday parties disappeared or were downsized
and clearly the recession had set
in.To confirm that further the ‘groupons’
and ‘living socials had come in a
big way and everybody was looking for deals, deals and only deals.
Now hopefully with the worst behind us,and with the economy
slowly improving, the empty stores are filling up and some new and exciting
changes have come up. Palena restaurant, run by a former White House chef
Frank Ruta, has taken over the Magruders, a new steak place
- Medium Rare,has opened up. Veteran restaurateur Ashok Bajaj combined his two restaurants( Ardeo + Bardeo) making it larger. In anticipation of uptick in business, Restaurants like Dino and indique added a lot of new dishes to their menus.
Cleveland Park today offers almost every cuisine that you can think of Italian, Indian,Thai,
Vietnamese, Modern American, Asian, Tapas, Steaks, French, Pizzas, you name it.
In my opinion, Palena, run by a former White House Chef Frank Ruta is one of the best restaurants
in the area. It serves modern American. Palena has both a fine
dining restaurant and a café. Here you can try Frank’s amazing three or four course menu or a burger next door.
If you are in
a mood for Indian – then there is no doubt that you have to try Indique, Mr.
(Full disclosure – Indique is
co-owned by my business partner Surfy Rahman and me)
I am not recommending Indique, just because
I co-own it Mr. President. I am recommending this because I feel it is one of
the most beautiful restaurants in Cleveland Park in terms of its ambiance,
quality and variety of food it has to offer.Indique showcases modern Indian cuisine.The name Indique is derived from India and Unique.
Below : The main dining hall located in the second level has two sections with beautiful marble railings from India.
Your family can explore modern Indian Cuisine. We offer small plates;It will be a chance for Sasha and
Malia to be exposed to a variety of foods. First lady Michelle
Obama would probably appreciate – simple,
nutritious options as well as some healthy desserts.
Your choice of Indique has already been endorsed by your cabinet. Ms. Hillary Clinton, Ms. Janet
Napolitano, Mr. Lawrence Summers, Mr. David Plouffe, and other dignitaries like
the former President of India, the Ambassador of India have
all eaten here.
Let us take a few examples of the dishes mentioned. Our Salmon Slider is a very popular. It is both tasty and healthy. The salmon cake is sandwiched between "oothapam" - a savory lentil and rice pancake,"yogurt tartare" and grilled onions.
Above : Salmon slider
Above : Crab Papad Cones
CRAB PAPAD CONES - are served in a cone made of baked lentils. Mr. President, you get the crunch from the papad, the heat from the spices, and little sweetness from the coconut.
Last but not the least we also have a healthy dessert Mr. President - Shreekandh brûlée
You find Creme brûlée at every other restaurant. Here is our version with yogurt..
Mr. Presdient again I invite you and your family to visit Cleveland Park and try unique Indian cuisine at Indique. Given your very busy schedule, I will be happy to bring the cuisine of Indique to you.
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