Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Cuisine from the East

We came to learn more about Chef Samaira's food for the first time at a pop-up event last year, and since then, have seen this home chef turned professional bloomed with a few more popular cooking events under her belt. Recently I was invited to try her food again, at her latest gig at Tatler Dining Kitchen, where she presented a refined East Indian menu with champagne pairing by Perrier-Jouet. 

And the champagne house managed to turn this already elegant venue into a summer garden, with beautiful green backdrop, table decorations and artwork specially installed for this event. The 6-course menu was also designed to match with the few bottles presented throughout the evening, with some a repeat from our last dinner and some new ones too. 

Our first course of Prawn Bhel looked nothing like the "typical" Indian dishes we were used to (sorry for being stereotypical), served like a ceviche with a tangy marinate, with onions, cucumber and avocado served with a prawn cracker on the side. Worked great in this weather, and worked equally great with the NV Blanc de Blancs poured as pairing. "The Humble Batata" was next. We had the same in our last outing but it's clear this is a much refined version, beautifully plated with all the colors - golden brown from the potato "cake", green chutney sauce, and the colorful salad as garnishes - and with great, complex flavor to show forth. 

The third course was a take on "tomato and burrata", something more commonly seen in a trattoria than an Indian kitchen, but chef put on her East Indian touch by the special house-made chatpata chutney for the lovely spicy taste to go with the slices of heirloom tomatoes and creamy cheese. 

Don't know who started this trend but now bread is served as a separate course, and for this one, deservedly so with the warm Parker House roll with the crispy crust served with whipped masala butter on the side. So good we asked for refills as soon as we finished the batch. 

We were served a pair of mains. The pan-fried salmon was well-executed with masala spice smother on top before grilling on a pan, but the star was the dal served alongside, with the creamiest texture like a soft espuma, and I am sure that wasn't done with any special tool to give this the airy, soft texture. The Chicken Khuddi was equally good, served with Arroz Fugath rice on the side topped with cashew and spices. I love the sauce on the chicken with just the right spicy kick. 

With the mains a pair of champagnes were served, first the NV Blason Rose and then the vintage 2012 Belle Epoque. The latter was the clear winner, more forward on the chardonnay with lots of citrus and some marzipan in a pleasant floral bouquet, working nicely with the complex spices presented in the dishes. Just a slight notch above the everyday high street bottle. 

Chef Samaira attributed the dessert dish of Anjeer Kulfi to her dad and I am sure that would do him proud with nice sweet flavor ("that didn't come from any added sugar but just the sweet fruits", as she assured us). Following "daddy's dessert" came "mummy's masala chai", with the hand-grinded spices in the unique combination carried through family, from mother to daughter. 

It's not a particularly busy night (with 15 covers or so at this preview event), but still, I was impressed how chilled she was throughout the evening, with only she and her sous chef handling all kitchen duties. And I was glad for the opportunity to try Chef Samaira's food again, and witnessed an evolution of an up-and-coming culinary star in the making. 

When? September 10 2021
Where? Tatler Dining Kitchen, Haus Hong Kong, Shop 38&40, 48 Queen’s Road Central, Central, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? "The Humble Batata" East Indian Lamb Potato Chop, Green Pea Chutney, Kachumber
Perrier-Jouet Grand Brut Champagne NV
Perrier-Jouet Grand Brut Blanc de Blancs NV
Perrier-Jouet Blason Rose NV
2012 Champagne Perrier-Jouet Cuvee Belle Epoque
Web: (Tatler Dining Kitchen)

1 comment :

Samaira Kavatkar said...

Thanks Gary for your always so encouraging and kind words🙏🏽 Was a pleasure cooking for you all. See you again …soon :)