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Restaurants & Bars 2

Curry Leaf

Allan Evans | Mar 17, 2001 02:03 PM

Lunch today: lamb curry, dal makhani, rice, nan. The lamb curry was quite fine, but as it was early in the day, the meat would have benefited from another hour of cooking, yet it was more than acceptable. I was unprepared for the dal: it looked and impressed as fine dal, being a mix of lentils and beans, bits of cumin, cardamom and sprigs of cilantro. One taste overwhelmed me - as the chef on duty today gave it an invisible silken blanket of voluptuous garlic. There are many ways to prepare garlic, and it will change flavor if it is chopped, diced, crushed, baked, sauteed, stewed, fried . . . but the most engimatic way of releasing its glory eludes me as a cook and the masterly hand at Curry Leaf captured it knowingly. This sensual draping of the flavor throughout, without any harshness or even physical nuggets to imply its presence was moving.
A visual approximation was when first heading up the East Sierra highway past Mohave towards Lone Pine (near Mount Whitney) to see jagged redstone formations jutting at a 45 degree angle out of the desert, and on turning the bend, the strata gave the mirage effect of a Hindu temple busy with thousands of embracing statues of deities, forever changing one's perception of the actual statues, the natural formation, and the magic spot on earth where this Fata Morgana dwelt. The transformation entered into the palate and opened into the soul. Moreover was the transformation of the curry when eaten with a dollop of dal-covered rice. Their rice was dry, as should be, topped by a few caramelized onion slices and decorative peas.
I couldn't stop and had to order kheer, which was thick, creamy (rice pudding), pungently flavored with rosewater and ground pistachios.
The garlic recalled how Maharajahs often took opium with their meals.

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