Reza’s Indian Spice – restaurant review

There are a few chefs in Britain who are icons of the industry and recognised by just their first name. There is the forceful “Gordon”, the ever popular “Jamie”, the solid and respected “Cyrus”, and then there is “Reza”.

asian cookbook review Reza's Indian Spice Reza Mahammad has been one of the cornerstones of Indian food media in all its forms for years and one does indeed wonder if there is a picture in this man’s attic. Not so much ‘Dorian Grey’ but more ‘Reza with a hint of rose water, a dash of yellow saffron and a shimmer of gold vark’. His youthful visage isn’t thanks to the skill of the TV makeup girl, it’s part of his battery of assets.

Reza’s Indian Spice – Eastern recipes for Western cooks is the latest in a slew of projects showcasing Reza’s skill as a chef, TV presenter and writer. His restaurant, Star of India on Old Brompton Road in London, remains popular and soon there will be a cookery school in France to give further coverage, but for many the first introduction to Reza Mahammad was via the small screen. His passion, sense of camp fun and evident knowledge of Indian food has made him a much-loved exponent.

He shows imagination and flair

This book is a confident expression of different ways of using Indian spice. Yes, there are plenty of classic curries, but Reza’s Indian Spice has its focus on the spices and their broader use, rather than just Indian dishes. He shows imagination and flair and an appreciation that perhaps Westerners want to use that stock of cardamom and cinnamon at the back of the larder for something new and contemporary.

Reza loves ‘Frindian’ food which showcases his admiration for French cooking methods combined with Subcontinental vibrancy. Paupiettes of Lemon Sole with Saffron Sauce is a recipe which takes advantage of that partnership. It is undoubtedly smart and even the most discerning of diners won’t feel short-changed when presented with this combination of delicate sole and complex filling of prawns and spices, garnished with a creamy-spicy sauce.

A certain je ne sais quoi

A recipe that wafts the prospect of seasonal spreads is that for Turinois. It offers that well-loved combination of chestnuts and chocolate but Reza adds a hint of exotica in the guise of ground cardamom seeds. These work so well with chocolate and introduce a certain je ne sais quoi or whatever that is in Urdu or Hindi.

One of the simplest dishes from Reza’s Indian Spice is that for Roast Potatoes with Chilli and Chaat Masala. One would think that that pillar of a good Sunday lunch could not be improved upon, but Reza throws in a couple of spices and transforms those spuds. A great idea when you want to present something a little special but haven’t the time to fiddle.

Reza’s Indian Spice – Eastern recipes for Western cooks is an attractive volume that will be welcomed by even the most avid Indian cookbook collector. It’s full of innovation but remains accessible to the home cook. Nothing is over-taxing but the results of your labours will be deliciously impressive. It’s gift-quality and amazing value for money and will be on many a Christmas culinary wish-list.

Reza’s Indian Spice – Eastern recipes for Western cooks
Author: Reza Mahammad
Published by: Quadrille Publishing Ltd
Price: £17.99
ISBN 978-1-84949-141-9

The Star of India
154 Old Brompton Road,
London, SW5 0BE


Restaurant review by Chrissie Walker © 2018


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