Cook Up The New Indian Classics With Michelin Chef Suvir Saran

Sep 24, 2021, 4:41 IST

The New Indian Classics

Chef Suvir Saran, known for his Michelin star for Devi in New York, demystifies two traditional favourites and offers his own take on biryani

Crispy Okra Salad

(Karari Bhindi)

Serves: Four

Prep time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Oil for frying
450 g okra (bhindi), stems removed and thinly sliced lengthwise
3 small red onions, thinly sliced
3 small tomatoes, cored, seeded and thinly sliced
¼ cup chopped fresh coriander
Juice of ½ lemon
1½ tsp chaat masala
1 tsp toasted cumin seed powder
1 tsp sea salt

  1. Heat two inches of oil in a large heavy-bottomed pan.
  2. Add one-third of the okra, and fry until browned and crisp, about five to seven minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain, and repeat with the remaining okra, making sure the oil temperature is hot again before frying additional batches.
  3. In a large bowl, toss the okra with the onion, tomato, coriander, lemon juice, chaat masala, toasted cumin powder, and salt.
  4. Taste for seasoning, and serve immediately.
Tip: For well-seasoned crispy okra, season with chaat masala and some salt as it comes out of the oil and drain it on the paper towels.

The New Indian Classics

Green Beans With Coconut

(Green Bean Poriyal)

Serves: Six 

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes

¼ cup canola oil
1 tbsp mustard seeds
24 curry leaves, roughly torn
1¼ tsp cumin seeds
¾ cup shredded coconut
450 g green beans, cut into bite-sized pieces
1½ tsp kosher salt
1 cup water

  1. Combine the oil and the mustard seeds in a large skillet or wok. Heat over a medium-high flame until the mustard seeds start to pop (about one-and-a-half to two minutes).
  2. Add the curry leaves and cumin and cook, stirring often, until the cumin becomes fragrant and browned (about one-and-a-half to two minutes).
  3. Add one-fourth cup of the coconut, and cook until it turns a toasty brown colour, stirring continuously so the coconut doesn’t burn (about 15 to 30 seconds).
  4. Add the green beans and salt, and cook for five minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add the remaining coconut and the water, and bring to a simmer. Cover the skillet and reduce the flame to low-medium. Cook until the green beans are tender (about 10 minutes).
  6. Uncover, raise the flame to medium, and cook until all the water has evaporated, stirring often, about five to eight minutes. Taste for seasoning, and serve.
Tip: You can substitute any bite-sized vegetable for the beans – try zucchini or cabbage.

The New Indian Classics

Mushroom Biryani

Serves: Six

Prep time: 20 minutes 

Cooking time: 60 minutes

¼ cup canola oil
6 black peppercorns
6 green cardamom pods
3 whole cloves
1 tbsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
36 curry leaves, roughly torn
2 to 6 dried red chillies
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp ground coriander
1 kg white button mushrooms, trimmed and thickly sliced
1 tbsp sea salt
1 tsp sambar powder
1 cup buttermilk
¼ tsp freshly-cracked peppercorns
1 tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature
¾ cup chopped coriander leaves and tender green stems
½ cup water

For the rice:
10 cups water
6 black peppercorns
4 whole cloves
4 green cardamom pods
2 bay leaves
1-inch piece cinnamon stick
2 cups aged basmati rice

  1.  Bring the water, peppercorns, cloves, cardamom pods, bay leaves and cinnamon to a boil in a large pot. Add the rice, and stir so it doesn’t stick to the bottom. Return to a boil, and reduce the flame to a vigorous simmer. Cook, partially covered, for six minutes. Drain and set aside (you can pick out the whole spices if you like).
  2. Preheat the oven to 150° C.
  3. Heat the oil, peppercorns, cardamom, cloves, mustard seeds and cumin in a large skillet or wok over a medium-high flame, cooking until the cumin is browned and the mustard seeds start to pop (about one-and-a-half to two-and-a-half minutes).
  4. Add the curry leaves, red chillies and turmeric and cook, stirring, for one minute. Reduce the flame to low, add the ground coriander and cook, stirring, until the chillies start to darken (about one minute). Add the mushrooms and salt, and raise the flame to medium-high. Cook, stirring, until the mushrooms release their liquid and reduce to half (four to five minutes). Mix in the sambar powder and buttermilk. Bring to a vigorous simmer, and cook until the liquid is reduced by half and slightly thick (eight to 12 minutes). Stir in the cracked pepper, and turn off the flame.
  5. Grease a large oven-safe casserole dish (with a lid) with butter. Spread two cups of the cooked rice evenly over the bottom. Cover with half the mushroom mixture, and sprinkle one-third of the fresh coriander. Evenly spread one-and-a-half cups of rice over the coriander, cover with the remaining mushroom mixture and half of the remaining coriander. Evenly spread the remaining rice on top, and pour half cup of water around the edges of the dish. Cover tightly with foil, seal with the lid, and bake for 35 minutes.
  6. Remove the casserole from the oven, and let it stand for 10 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with the remaining coriander, and serve.
Tip: For a more substantial meal, add one cup of cooked chickpeas to the mushroom mixture.

Images courtesy Chef Suvir Saran

Also see: Tomato Pie with Chef Suvir Saran