“Rasika: Flavors of India” by Ashok Bajaj, Vikram Sunderam and David Hagedorn: Green beans

Best cookbooks of 2017

“Rasika: Flavors of India” by Ashok Bajaj, Vikram Sunderam and David Hagedorn

In its eponymous debut cookbook, the famed Indian restaurant, Rasika in Washington, D.C., shares recipes that are rooted in tradition but that branch out in creative ways. Smoked rack of pork shows up in a vindaloo; the savory pancake, uttapam, is topped with asparagus; and samosas are made with sweet potato and served with cranberry chutney. James Beard Award-winning executive chef, Vikram Sunderam, gives tips on what part of the dish can be done ahead of time and how to maintain optimal flavor. “Rasika” is an ideal gift for those who know better than to clump all Indian food as curry.

Vikram Sunderam says: Don’t cook the beans raw in the masala as the bright green color will fade. So you always need to blanch it first as that the color will be retained. You can use regular green beans instead of the thinner haricots verts, but you may have to cook them for a few minutes longer.

Thanksgiving dinner: My wife cooks the meal as I am at work all day. When I go home at 9, we usually have a traditional turkey or a whole chicken with masala, gravy and mashed potatoes. 

Dinner at the restaurant: We are going to serve turkey tikka masala. The stuffing will be made with a hard baguette and flavored with onions, mustard seeds, curry leaves, lemon juice and green chilies.

Favorite part of the holiday: Being with my family for dinner. For me, the holiday is not so much about the food but more about the family — it rejuvenates me.

Thankful for: Every year, I am thankful for what I have achieved and that my family is hale and hearty.

Green Beans Chili Garlic

PG tested

Instead of green beans, you could use okra, broccoli or cauliflower.

2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon salt, divided

1¼ teaspoons ground turmeric, divided

1 pound haricots verts or green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces

3 tablespoons canola oil

½ teaspoon cumin seeds

2 cups finely chopped yellow onions

2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic

2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger

½ teaspoon finely chopped fresh Thai green chili

½ teaspoon red chili flakes

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Set up a large bowl of ice and water. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Stir 2 tablespoons salt and 1 teaspoon turmeric. Add beans and cook until crisp-tender but still bright green, about 4 minutes. Cook for longer if using regular green beans.

Drain beans and submerge in ice water, stirring until they’re cooled. Drain beans and blot them on paper towels.

In same pot, heat oil over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add cumin seeds and let them crackle. Stir in onions and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions turn brown, about 10 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium-low. Stir in ginger, green chili, chili flakes and remaining ¼ teaspoon turmeric and 1 teaspoon salt. Add beans and lemon juice and cook until beans are warmed through.

Serves 4.

— “Rasika: Flavors of India” by Ashok Bajaj, Vikram Sunderam and David Hagedorn (Ecco; October 2017; $34.99)


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