Chef Sanjeev Kapoor is perhaps India’s most well-recognized chef, having written several cookbooks, opened numerous restaurants and started his own 24-hour cooking channel. And his cooking talent was on display this weekend as he served up a ten-course feast for an excited, sold out crowd at New Delhi Restaurant in San Francisco.
The event was partly a celebration of Kapoor’s visit, partly a launch for his latest book, “How to Cook Indian” and as a benefit for Compassionate Chefs Cafe, a San Francisco-based nonprofit which helps children both locally and globally.
The dinner was prepared by Kapoor and New Delhi chef Ranjan Dey and his daughter Sarah. Appetizers were prepared by the Deys and included an Alu Chat Crustade (spicy potato and garbanzo mash in a yogurt-tamarind sauce), Mango Chutney Chenna Boat (seasoned chenna in a mango chutney filo boat) and a Chili Cheese Pakora. Each bite-size dish was wonderfully presented and provided a vivid flavor, something that would continue throughout the evening.
It was on to the mains, which were presented family-style, as was the entire meal. Everything was terrific but the real standouts were the Tamarind Eggplant and one of Kapoor’s signature dishes, the Makai Saag. The eggplant had a real sense of both sweet and tangy. And the Makai Saag, which featured spinach and fresh corn, was just perfect and brilliantly presented. Just as the chefs did with the appetizers, there was a wonderful variety and explosion of different tastes with each bite.
The meal ended with a terrific chilled rice pudding (Aam Kheer) and a Masala Chai.
Chef Kapoor spent a few minutes after dinner discussing Indian cuisine and answering questions about his life and career. He has his own 24-hour cooking channel in India (FoodFood TV), an ode to the Cooking Channel and Food Network in the U.S., but with his own spin. He also talked a bit about his book, which he said was a “comprehensive book on Indian food, the way Indians eat it.” He said there is such a complexity and uniqueness to Indian cuisine that the large book allowed him to give readers a full understanding of Indian food.
All in all, it was terrific night to gain a grasp on classic and authentic Indian cuisine from three great chefs.