Today’s column is different— it’s about restaurant cooking, not home cooking. Good food, well served in enjoyable surroundings, is one of life’s great pleasures and one that restaurants all over Sandy Hill happily provided before COVID-19.
Alas, since March 16, Ottawa restaurants have either had to close entirely or stay open only for take-out service for an indefinite time. Among those open for take-out are Working Title Café at 330 Laurier Avenue East and RamaKrishna Indian Restaurant at 417 A Rideau Street, whose recipes are featured here. See also Paula Kelsall’s article, Dining out at home for other restaurants open for take-out.
Sandy-Hillers who are not able to eat in their favourite eateries may feel gloomy or dejected these days. But for restaurant owners and their staff this is a real threat to their very existence. Heartfelt thanks go to all restaurants who continue to give wonderful and safe take-out service. And my plea goes to you, IMAGE’s readers, to join me in supporting them as best you can so that we can all enjoy eating out when this is over!
Meanwhile, here are two recipes from the chefs of two of my favourite restaurants—just to remind you of what you may be missing. Both restaurants have kindly agreed to let IMAGE publish a recipe for one of their dishes. Thank you, RamaKrishna Indian Restaurant and its executive chef, Vishal Chand, for the luscious Kadahi Chicken recipe. And thank you, Working Title Café and its chef de cuisine, Nena Ngo, for the delightful Muhammara recipe.
Executive Chef Vishal Chand
RamaKrishna Indian Restaurant
Serves 2 to 3
Vishal Chand’s Kadahi Chicken, a mild and exquisitely flavoured masala, is the signature dish of RamaKrishna Indian Restaurant. The ingredients list makes it look formidable, but making it is not difficult, just be sure to have all ingredients at hand, ready to add to the pan, before starting to cook.
3 tablespoons vegetable, sunflower or corn oil
1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
2 whole cloves,
2 green cardamom pods
2-3 whole black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon ginger-garlic paste
– or 1/4 teaspoon finely minced ginger and 1/4 teaspoon crushed garlic
1/2 large onion, finely minced (generous 1/2 cup)
1 medium tomato, finely minced (generous 1/2 cup)
250 grams boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 medium onion, diced (1/2 cup)
1/2 medium bell pepper (1/2 cup), any colour
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon Garam Masala
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
2 green chili peppers
10 grams fresh coriander leaves, coarsely chopped, plus extra for garnish
2 tablespoons butter
100 ml (1/2 cup) whipping cream (35%)
1. In a non-stick pan, heat the oil over medium heat.
2. Add cumin seeds, whole coriander seeds, cloves, cardamom, black peppercorn to the pan. Stir until the seeds turn a light brown colour—a few seconds. Add the ginger-garlic paste and let it cook for few seconds more, stirring gently while it cooks.
3. Turn heat to medium high. Add the finely chopped onions, and cook until they turn a light brown, stirring gently.
4. Add the finely chopped tomatoes and cook until they melt into the onions, again stirring gently.
5. Now add the chicken and stir well. Then add to the pan the diced onion and bell pepper, the turmeric, ground cumin and coriander, garam masala, paprika, bay leaf, chili peppers, and salt.
6. Stir to blend the masala with the chicken for 3 minutes.
7. Cover the pan, turn heat to low, and cook for 10 minutes, or until chicken is tender, stirring from time to time.
8. Add the coriander leaves and cook for a minute.
9. Add whipping cream and butter, cook for 3 minutes, stirring gently.
10. Remove from heat and place in a serving dish. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve. It is best served with freshly baked naan bread.
The published recipe may vary slightly in seasoning from what is served on any one night by the restaurant.
Chef de Cuisine Nena Ngo
Working Title Café
Makes between 1 and 1-1/2 cups
Nena Ngo’s Muhammara is a sophisticated and innovative variation on a Mediterranean mezze. It is quick and easy to prepare if you have a blender or a food processor and excellent as a dip with pita bread. Or do as Working Title Cafe does and use it as an accompaniment to grilled chicken thighs.
2 roasted red peppers, diced
20 g raw sunflower seeds
15 grams sun-dried tomatoes, diced
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon sumac
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 garlic clove, sliced
Extra sunflower seeds for garnish, optional
Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and process them until you have a smooth purée. Et voilà—ready to serve!