Cooking with Indian Spices

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Floyd Cardoz is the Executive Chef of Tabla, a groundbreaking restaurant serving New Indian cuisine cooked with the sensual flavors and spices of his native land. He has a new book called One Spice, Two Spice: American Food, Indian Flavors.

Chef Floyd Cardoz's Rice Flake Crisped Halibut, Watermelon and Wilted Watercress Curry
This recipe, as served at Tabla in New York City, serves 4. 
For Watermelon and Watercress:

2 1/2 T olive oil
1 t cumin seeds
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped fine
1 T minced ginger root
1/2 t coriander seeds, freshly ground
1/4 t turmeric
1/4 t aleppo pepper, freshly ground (if you can't find aleppo, use any good, dried red chili powder...but then eliminate the pinch of cayenne pepper)
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 1/2 C watermelon juice, made in blender
Salt to taste
Juice of two limes
2 C watermelon, seeded and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 bunch watercress, picked of its thick stems and chopped in half
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste 
For Halibut:
4 pieces halibut
2 egg yolks
2 T flour
4 ounces "beaten rice" flakes (if you can't find them at an Indian grocery, use cornmeal or uncooked Cream of Wheat instead)
Cayenne pepper to taste
2 T corn or canola oil
1 T butter 
For Topping:
Zest of one lime, without any white skin
Flesh of one lime, sliced into little segments 
For Sauce:
1. Place a large heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat. Put in 2 T olive oil and heat. Add the cumin seeds and cook until fragrant (about 1/2 a minute), making sure that the seeds do not burn. Add the chopped garlic and ginger, and cook for 1/2 a minute more, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat and add the ground spices to the pot. Stir and cook for a few seconds. Next, add the watermelon juice. Return to high heat and rapidly reduce the watermelon juice until it reaches 1/8 of its original volume. Season with salt and the lime juice. Store until ready to use. Actually, it's preferable to make this curry up to 6 hours in advance, to let the flavors mellow and blend with standing. 
2. Just before you're ready to eat, reheat the watermelon curry and keep warm. Heat a large heavy-bottomed saute pan, and add the remaining 1/2 T olive oil. When oil is hot, add the diced watermelon and quickly saute so that the watermelon just warms up. Add the curry sauce and continue to cook rapidly, taking care that the watermelon does not disintegrate. Next, add the watercress and continue to cook until the watercress starts to wilt. Season with salt and black pepper and serve immediately. Note: this step should not take more than five minutes. 
For Halibut:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 
2. Make an egg wash with egg yolk, flour, salt and pepper.
3. Brush one side of the halibut with egg wash.
4. Press the egg-washed side of halibut in rice flakes (or corn meal or Cream of Wheat) to give it a good coating (this can be done up to 2 hours before).
5. Heat a skillet on medium heat and add corn oil. When the oil is hot, saute the fish -- coated side down -- until rice flakes get a light color.
6. Turn fish over and continue to cook.
7. When fish is almost done, turn over once more and add the butter.
8. Finish cooking until just barely done (up to four minutes) in a 400 degree oven. This helps it cook thoroughly and evenly. 
Ladle the watermelon curry into broad bowls or onto plates. Top with the halibut filets, and then top each piece of halibut with a clump of lime segments and lime zest.

Sweet Spiced Oxtail with Turmeric Mashed Potatoes
Yield: 4 portions

Oxtail braise:
4 Tbsp. Oil
4 pieces Oxtail
2 ea. Onions, medium dice
2 ea. Carrots, medium dice
4 ea. Celery stalks, medium dice
½ head Garlic cloves, minced
2-inch piece Ginger, minced
½ cup Red wine
¼ cup Red wine vinegar
2 ea. Bay leaves
Water to cover
1 sprig Thyme
1 sprig Rosemary

Spice mix for oxtails:
4 ea. Cloves
1 tsp. Black peppercorn
¾ inch Cinnamon stick
1½ Tbsp. Cumin
1 tsp. Mustard seed
1 ea. Dry chile
2 tsp. Coriander seed
1½ Tbsp. Brown sugar
1/8 tsp. Cayenne

For mashed potatoes:
1 tsp. Corn oil
1 tsp. Chana dal (split yellow peas or split chick peas)
1 ea. Onion, peeled and diced
1 tsp. Coleman’s mustard powder
2 tsp. Honey
¼ tsp. Turmeric
2 Tbsp. Heavy cream
¾ cup Milk
4 ea. Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, steamed and rinsed
Salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp. Butter

Method for oxtail:
1. Season the oxtail with salt and pepper.
2. Heat a rondeau or other large pot over medium heat. Add the oil and sear the oxtails. Remove from pan.
3. In the same pan, sauté onions, celery, carrots, garlic and ginger until golden. 
4. Grind the spice mix and make a paste using the red wine vinegar and red wine to loosen.
5. Add the spice mix to mirepoix and cook until any liquid is evaporated.
6. Mix in tomato paste and cook for 3-4 minutes.
7. Add the oxtail and cover with stocks.
8. Bring up to a boil, add herbs, cover and place in a 350 degree oven. Cook until fork-tender. 
9. Remove oxtails and pass the stock through a strainer, pressing to pass through vegetables. Store the oxtails in liquid overnight. Remove oxtails and reduce liquid by half over medium-high heat. To serve oxtail, reheat in reduced liquid until warm through.

Method for mashed potatoes:
1. Place a medium stew pot over medium-high heat.
2. Add the corn oil and the chana dal and cook until the chana dal is golden brown in color.
3. Add the chopped onion and the turmeric and cook until the onions are transparent, 4-5 minutes.
4. Add the honey, cream and milk and simmer for 5 minutes.
5. Add the milk mix and butter to the potatoes and mix until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Goan Spiced Crab Cakes
Yield: 4 servings

¼ c Corn oil
1  Onion; diced small
1 tb Peeled; minced fresh ginger
½ tb Minced garlic
1 ts Coriander seeds; ground
1 ts Cumin seed; ground
¼ ts Turmeric
1  Tomato; diced small
1 c Crabmeat; carefully picked
2 medium Shrimp; minced to fine paste
2  Limes; zested (chopped), and juiced
8  Sprigs cilantro; washed
1 tb Chopped chives
1  Egg; beaten
1 c Panko -; (available in Japanese specialty Stores)
Salt; to taste
Freshly-ground black pepper; to taste
Cayenne; to taste

In a large saute pan, heat one tablespoon of the corn oil. Add the onion, ginger and garlic and saute for 5 minutes over medium heat. Add the coriander, cumin, turmeric and the tomato and continue to cook until it turns dry. Remove from the heat and cool down. In a large mixing bowl, combine crabmeat, the cooled onion mixture, shrimp, chopped lime zest and juice, cilantro, chives, beaten egg and 3 tablespoons of the panko. Season with salt, pepper and cayenne. Mix well so that all the ingredients are well incorporated. Test a small quantity by forming a teaspoon of this mix into a small patty and frying it in a pan. Adjust the salt and pepper if necessary. Divide this mixture into 4 equal portions. Form into balls and flatten to form small patties. Put the rest of the panko on a cutting board. Place the patties one at a time in the bread crumbs. Heat a heavy-bottomed skillet large enough to hold the crab cakes on medium heat. Add the oil and fry the crab cakes. When the cakes turn a light golden color, flip them over and cook them on the other side until they are light golden in color. Using a slotted spatula, remove and drain on a paper towel. 
Music Break: Funkround - The Cavendish Orchestra