18 August 2009

but the beef is my favourite

For some reason, tonight I feel like writing in normal case. It is 12.47 and I am listening to Sigur Ros again. TAB is staying the night here - we experimented with dinner today (a gazpacho with an apple & coriander sorbet and an Italian pan seared tuna being the highlights) which was fun.

I almost wrote this post at about 3.30 on Saturday night after cooking 5 kgs of beef in our newly acquired Presto pressure cooker (more on that later) but for a change better sense prevailed and I caught 5 hours of sleep before we sold salads at Sunday Upmarket.

On Friday, Jonny kindly organised a tasting with Alan Yau. We made all 5 mooli's with our proper fresh bread (made beautifully by Raju - soon they will be made by moolita - she is on her way from San Antonio, Texas). It was a big day for us and as Mathew said, a day we are likely to remember. The order was - potato & asparagus with tamarind chutney, keralan beef mooli with our fresh salsa, paneer with Raju's secret tomato chutney, chicken and peppers with our coriander & apple chutney and finally Mathew's seriously fiery Goan pork with pickled cucumbers. Alan genuinely seemed to enjoy the food. At one stage (I think after he had either the paneer or chicken), he said 'the chutney with the potato was amazing... but the beef is my favourite'. He then went on to talk about the beef and while he was talking I was telling myself remember this Sam but of course I forgot the exact words. It was something along the lines of... the attention to detail is incredible and the flavours are delicately balanced, the salsa goes really well with the beef (that was Mathew's idea). After tasting the pork which he also liked he asked us how we get the meat so tender. Slow cooking. And here's how we do it:

Our brand new 23 litre Presto Pressure Cooker which my dad carried from California! It even has a proper dial and all. Dodie Miller and her head chef at Taqueria (best Mexican food in town) know how to slow cook meats and they've tried all the pressure cookers out there (including Hawkins!) and are convinced that Presto make the best ones. We simulate around 7 hours of slow cooking. A few months ago I wrote a post titled 'Being Heston Blumenthal'. We've come a long way since then and the attention to detail has become a religion. The red chilies are always dry roasted - and we know the exact number (from a particular brand) which we use for different quantities. The ginger is weighed. It's what my friend James calls 'spreadsheet cooking'. Under the influence of a neuroscientist girlfriend and the demands of a fast-casual restaurant, I've reined in the cooking by andaz style. Watching Heston Blumenthal on the telly showed me that coming up with the detail still needs passion and creativity. And that science can be good.

Today, at a tasting at Linklaters, Mathew said it's kind of nice that most people have their own favourite mooli - it is a sign they really like it. I oscillate between the pork and the beef though suddenly the potato & asparagus with tamarind chutney is in the running too. For some weird reason, I wonder which one Usain Bolt would pick. He clearly likes nuggets. Check out this nice interview on Top Gear.


VxD said...

Well done!! ...since the days of hearing about almost mythical Yau, you folks have come a long way!

mathew said...

Sam is being quite understated. I am pretty sure he used the A word for the beef.

Mowielicious said...

Hi Mathew, just saw your comment on my blog and thought I had to check you guys out =) Email me and we can discuss photos for your moolis: mowielicious[at]gmail[dot]com. Mowie

andaaza apna apna said...

'The ginger is weighed'? Tell me, Sam: if you currently use n milligrammes of ginger per pound, and deem this quantity 'scientific' and therefore graven in your grindstone (and scribbled on your spreadsheet), you must have a reason for using n milligrammes and not n+q or n-q milligrammes instead, which means you must actually have experimented with these (potentially infinite) alternative quantities and found the results wanting. Is this the case? If not, this business of weighing the ginger is bullshit: it is the same old andaaza style (which I am willing to defend against all comers) petrified beneath a veneer of spurious exactitude. Besides, cooking-by-numbers may make for efficiency and consistency, but I don't see how it makes for 'passion' and 'creativity'. Attention to detail need not necessarily take the form of mathematical inflexibility. In fact, that kind of inflexibility may be a way of NOT attending to essential details (the age, juiciness, and provenance of the ginger, etc.)You cannot weigh your ginger and respect it too.

Apart from which, a deep bow to you: Alan Yau praising your food is like Jimmy Page praising your fingerwork. You must be kicking some tight ass there.

mathew said...

you want to minimise too much creativity when you are cooking 5kg+. once you hit on a great tasting product, the passion and creativity must go towards making it taste as good each time.

sameer said...

andaaza apna apna, i enjoyed reading your comment. do i know you? :P

let me start with the chilies. i have actually experimented with quite a few alternative possibilities (admittedly not all infinite ones). 43 v. 48 chillies for example. i can smell and see the difference. i've dry roasted the chillies and not dry roasted them and seen the difference.

a lot of the creativity is coming up with your own method (which includes things like dry roasting, quantities, cooking times etc). you can experiment a lot (and here guided by andaaz and curiosity) to develop it. once you have an established method, no more creativity is needed.

the variance in different kinds of chilies is immense so you have to be careful about the brand/type. also quantities make big differences. so 43 v. 47 and you'll see a difference. with ginger, i have found the variance to be minimal (unless the ginger is very old). while 150 grams of ginger works for 10kgs (say) 135 would definitely work too but when you're making huge quantities you could slip and go with 110 grams and then there could be a difference.

we are going to come up with a method/process which makes sure our mooli's taste GREAT and the SAME every single time.

sameer said...

VxD, thanks! any chance of coming to London October/November/December? :D

Anonymous said...

Oh, good: it emerges that the measurement you are talking about is a way of working within a range rather than with exact quanta. I was beginning to think you were planning to make Ferran Adrià emulsions rather than Indian curry wraps.

Anonymous said...

my fav is the paneer mooli. awesome! all the chutneys are outrageous and im sure the salads are going to be amazing too!

anon nyc

VxD said...

SamSingh ...we are trying to cook some plans ;-) ...lure of Mooli is almost irresistible!