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December 2010

My Birthday at Estadio, Washington DC

Estadio - Spanish Tapas - Washington DC

A few days ago I celebrated my birthday at the relatively new Estadio in Washington DC. 


I was lucky that my birthday fell on a Monday as it was easier for me to get away from my restaurants. It was delightful to have both my children home for winter break so they could join my wife, Nisha, and I for dinner. A dear friend of mine was kind enough to make a reservation for us at 8 PM and the moment we walked in it brought back nostalgic memories of our trip to Madrid and Barcelona last Spring.

Here is a collage of pictures from our trip:

Picnik collage spain1

Estadio was live and kicking and a charming hostess seated us to a nice window table. The menu here is Tapas inspired and is divided into various sections like Starters, Cheeses, Cured Meats, Eggs and Fried Dishes, Vegetables, Open - Faced, Sandwiches, Desserts, etc. I left the ordering to my children, Rahul and Rathi, and as usual had not told them where I was taking them out. They enjoyed the surprise and did not waste any time ordering dinner.

I ordered a glass of cabernet blend from Catalunya, Spain – Casa Gran del Siurana Priorat GR-174 $9/-  and my wife had Sangria ($6/-) and the kids stuck to cold water.

Sangria1_lzn-1                                  Above : Sangria 
1. Foie gras mousse, smoked duck breast and caramelized onions–open face sandwich - $9.00


2. Escalivada - grilled vegetables, black olive puree and aioli - $8.00 This was one of Nisha's favorite dishes of the evening.IMG_0279_lzn
3. Croquets de Jamon with pickled cucumbers - $6.00. Four Croquettes, which were very easy to share.

4. Deviled Egg stuffed with ensaladilla rusa - $2.50. This took me back about 25 years when we used to make stuffed eggs in the shape of a bird and make a Russian salad at the Ashok Hotel in New Delhi, India. IMG_0272_lzn
5. Grilled Scallops  - $14.00 This was served with roasted cauliflower and and salbitxada sauce, which really complemented the scallops.

6. Sautéed Shrimp, garlic, parsley, lemon - $10.00 - six decent size luscious shrimps! IMG_0289
7. Grilled Octopus, potato-caper salad pimento - $11.00 - I have always been intrigued and enthralled by Octopus. Therefore, I have been ordering octopus at every other restaurant where I see it on the menu. I have heard about all the tales of the right way to cook octopus so that it does not get tough and leathery. Growing up in India, I did not cook octopus or did not even eat it till I came to the US. I have always been very curious to know what is the right way to cook octopus; whenever I run into conundrums like this, I always look for Harold McGee, the Guru on the science of food. I distinctly remember that Harold McGee wrote an article in the New York times about cooking Octopus a few years ago (Download To Cook an Octopus Forget the Cork, Add Science - New York Times). Here at Estadio, the octopus was very flavorful, delectable, and tender. For some reason, I can't help it when my mind starts to imagine the octopus cooked with Indian spices... I keep visualizing the octopus with different permutations and combinations of Indian spices and sauces..Octopus_lzn
8. Tortilla Espanola, $8.00 - This is basically a Spanish omelet with sweet hot peppers and aioli (garlic plus olive oil) piped on top. There was not one coffee shop in any five star hotel in India which did not have a Spanish omelet on its menu. (Here again, I am talking about the 80's) - so this too brought back nostalgic memories of my Hotel days in India.  Omelette_lzn
9. Porkbelly, chorizo,morcilla and gigante beans - $12.00. Pork Belly is a trendy item seen very often in menus these days. This was soft, tender, and bursting with flavor; the contrast with the beans was delightful. At the back of mind, I was thinking again of Indian spices, chili-tamarind glaze etc..


10. Spice Grilled Chicken - $12.00 .This was served on top of a coleslaw and a sauce called: salsa loco.The Chicken was very moist and the sauce was fingerlicking good! Chicken_lzn

11. Mixto - $16.00 AssortedWe ordered this only to reminisce our trip to Barcelona and Madrid. Jamon Serrano, Fuet, Chorizo, Salchichon de Vic, Lomo Embuchado, House Made Terrina

12. House Made Bread - $2.00 IMG_0281

13. Banana Mousse - $8.00 Dessert1
14. Pumpkin Bread with Cinnamon Ice cream - $8.00 IMG_0336_lzn



Overall we had a wonderful evening at Estadio - excellent food, admirable service, refreshing ambiance and great company - and yet another year has passed in my life.... 

Shreekandh brûlée

A Healthy Contemporary take on a Classic

Almost every other restaurant in town serves a Creme brûlée on its menu, which essentially consists of egg yoks, cream, and sugar. At Indique Heights  in Chevy Chase, MD, we have been serving a much healthier version called shreekandh brûlée, which is made of low fat yogurt, sugar, cardamom, saffron and nuts. I have been getting constant requests for this recipe. So as promised here is the recipe... Make this during the holiday season. Happy Holidays!   



     Photo above: Greg Powers Photography

Cardamom (2)


                                                                  Shreekandh  brûlée

                         Low fat yogurt - 2 lbs (32 ounces)

                         Sugar – 3 tablespoons

                        Cardamom powder – a pinch

                        Saffron – a pinch

                        Pistachio (chopped) 1 tablespoon

                        Almonds (chopped) 1 tablespoon

                        Raw brown sugar – 4 oz. (for torching)


1.      Strain yogurt in a colander over a muslin cloth. When some of the water has been drained out, tie it and hang inside the refrigerator overnight. Remember to have several layers of muslin cloth or else all the yogurt is going to pass through the muslin :-)


2.      Transfer the strained yogurt into a mixing bowl and add sugar,

Cardamom powder, a pinch of saffron, chopped pistachio and almonds.


3.      Mix well. Divide it into about four portions and spread evenly on to a crème brûlée dish / ramekin.

4.      Sprinkle with raw brown sugar evenly on top of each of these dishes and with a blow torch evenly caramelize the sugar and get a golden brown crust. Keep the flame to a medium high and rotate the dish evenly.



                 Photo : Andrew Harnik


                 P.S: I personally prefer to grind whole cardamom in a spice grinder.                                     

           (a coffee grinder kept exclusively for spices). I throw in whole pods of cardamom with the skin and grind to a fine powder.                                               

            If you do not have a torch - you can serve them in a Martini glass or any ice cream cup piping them on top of diced fruits - any seasonal fruits - mango, pears,honeydew, cantaloupes - can be used. You get the point....      

   Shreekandhc        Photo : K.N.Vinod

      Variations :

You can add mango puree or diced mango and make it into a mango shreekandh, omit the cardamom, add some orange rinds and a few drops of any orange liqueur and serve it as an orange shreekandh; go a step further and serve it in an orange shell. There are no hard and fast rules, so go ahead and use your imagination and have fun.

       I look forward to hearing from you about your innovations and ideas.

        Cheers! Happy Holidays.