Journey to India. Celebrity Chef Will Meyrick, famed for his Bali-based restaurants Sarong and Mama San, takes us on a journey to India with some scrumptious Indian recipes from Chef Meyrick’s new book.
Charcoal-Grilled Snapper Cakes
A light yet aromatic entrée, this dish appeals to me a lot because the ajwaini seeds have a certain, light aniseed quality that I love using in Indian cooking.
250 grams snapper fillets
2 tablespoons of chopped bird’s-eye green chilies
250 grams of plain yogurt
1⁄4 teaspoon of yellow food coloring
2 tablespoons of mustard seed oil
2 tablespoons of ajwaini seeds
1 teaspoon of black salt
1 teaspoon of table salt
1 tablespoon of chat masala
1 tablespoon of cumin powder
1 tablespoon of kasoori methi
1⁄2 a cup of chili paste
1⁄2 a cup of ginger garlic paste
Juice of 1 lemon
Coconut husks or wood for the charcoal grill
8 pre-soaked skewers
It’s best to source good quality wood charcoal, but if this proves difficult to find use the best quality charcoal briquettes available. You’re looking for a golden crust on the fish that you can only achieve from cooking on a very hot charcoal grill.
First soak the skewers for one hour in cold water and hang the yogurt in the muslin cloth for five hours, or until you have strained away all the liquid and are left with a thick yogurt.
With a sharp knife cut the snapper fillets into 1inch cubes. Transfer the fish into a bowl and add chili paste, garlic ginger paste and lemon juice and mix gently but thoroughly making sure the fish is evenly coated. Set aside to marinate for ten minutes.
Add the remaining spices, green chilies and salt to the mix and allow to stand. Slowly add the yogurt to the mix until all of the fish cubes are coated evenly. Add the yellow food coloring to one tablespoon of water, then add to the fish mixture, which will turn a sunflower-yellow color.
Take the skewers and add the fish cubes—around three cubes per skewer—then leave them to rest and ensure the embers on the grill are burning hot. Add the skewers to the very hot embers and grill for five minutes on each side. Transfer to a serving plate, garnish with fresh cilantro and accompany with warm chapatti bread.
Palak Paneer Cooked In Spinach
This is a popular Indian dish commonly found across the globe in almost every Indian restaurant. The curry consists of spinach and paneer cheese in a medium-spicy sauce. Many restaurants (known locally as dhaba) across India and Pakistan specialize in palak paneer and this recipe is a traditional taste of the local cafés and is an excellent vegetarian dish in its own right
1 bunch of washed English spinach
170 grams of homemade paneer (see separate recipe)
2 kitchen spoons of vegetable oil
2 tablespoons of chopped garlic
2 kitchen spoons of onion masala
1 large chili, chopped, with seeds
1 teaspoon of turmeric
1 1⁄2 teaspoons of chili powder
2 teaspoons of Kitchen King powder
1 teaspoon of coriander powder
1 1⁄2 teaspoons of dried kasoori methi powder
1 1⁄2 teaspoons of garam masala
30ml of purified water
1 pinch of salt
1⁄2 cup of cream
2 kitchen spoons of natural yogurt
1 knob of unsalted butter
Blanch the spinach in the boiling water for 10 seconds only, remove and immediately plunge into iced water to refresh and retain the natural vitamins and color of the spinach. Remove the spinach and shake off excess water, blend to a puree and leave to one side.
Dice the paneer into 2-centimeter cubes. Add oil to a pan and fry the chopped garlic until golden in color. Add the chopped green chili and the onion masala. Combine all remaining spices and add to the masala, chili and garlic. Stir the mixture and add the spinach puree. If the consistency is too thick (reminder: you’re looking for a sauce that holds its own form) add in a teaspoon of water to dilute.
Add in all but one of the paneer cubes (retain one piece to the side), butter and the yogurt and cream. Garnish with a sprig of cilantro and finely grate the remaining cube of paneer over the top, then add a drizzle of cream to finish the dish.
Easy Sarong Twist
You can substitute the paneer for haloumi, tofu or even use boiled potatoes or green peas for a dairy-free version. Perfectly accompanied by a good fresh naan bread.
Simple Palak Paneer
3.5 liters of fresh milk
125 grams of yogurt
25 grams rice vinegar
50 grams double cream
Bring milk up to the boil in a saucepan then add in vinegar and cream. Strain through a muslin cloth. Set in a large bowl to catch any leftover residue liquid. Tie the cloth in a knot and sit a heavy pot on top to form a cake-like shape for the paneer.
Braised Lamb Shank
I found this dish when I was cooking in Rajasthan. As often happens when traveling in India, I was invited to my driver’s house and his wife spent three days showing me how to cook traditional Rajasthan cuisine. This is a very similar dish to a rogan josh, but includes chana dal. Adding a small spoon of natural yogurt helps lighten the depth and richness. Traditionally, this dish is prepared with diced lamb leg but I’ve decided to use a lamb shank as the flavor of the bone marrow enhances the sauce.
1 lamb shank (approx 500 grams)
1 cup of chana dal
5 kitchen spoons of oil
2 Indian bay leaves
3 red onions, blended
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
1⁄2 a tablespoon of cumin powder
2 pieces of black cardamon
2 tablespoons of ginger garlic paste
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
1 tablespoon of chopped green chilies
3 chopped tomatoes
5 tablespoons of water to cover the shank
2 tablespoons of dry chili powder
1⁄2 a tablespoon of Kashmiri chili powder
1⁄2 a tablespoon of turmeric powder
1 1⁄2 a tablespoon of coriander powder
1⁄2 a cup of chopped fresh cilantro
1⁄2 a cup of yogurt
First soak the chana dal in 500 milliliters of water for an hour. Take a saucepan and fry the bay leaves, black cardamon, cumin seeds and cloves off over a low heat and add in the onion paste. Cook for five minutes and then add in the ginger garlic paste and increase the heat until the paste starts to sweat.
Add in the chopped tomatoes and the green chilies and continue to fry on a high heat for 10 minutes then add in the tomato paste to thicken and enrich the sauce. Add in the lamb shank and fry for another 10 minutes, then add in the dal with the water, making sure that the lamb is covered.
Take all the remaining spice powders, mix together and add to the five tablespoons of water, stir well and add to the braise. Reduce the heat to a low simmer and cook for 1.5 hours until the lamb is falling from the bone. Half-way through the cooking process, add in the yogurt, reserving a tablespoon for garnish.
When ready to serve, add in the fresh chopped cilantro, check your seasoning and place the lamb shank in a bowl. Spoon over the dal sauce and top with a tablespoon of natural yogurt and a sprig of cilantro.
Easy Sarong twist
To speed up the cooking process, you can use diced lamb leg, beef or chicken.
Stock up, Indian style:
Specialty Indian ingredients such as kasoori methi powder (ground fenugreek leaves) and aiwani seeds can be found in any good Indian grocery supplier. Some options in Jakarta are:
Lakits’ Little Indian Provision Shop
Sunter Podomoro, Jakarta
Maharani Super Market
Jl. Veteran I, Jakarta
Jl.Danau Sunter Utara, Jakarta
Jl. Kelinci Raya, Jakarta
Jl. Danau Sunter Utara, Jakarta
Over the years, Will Meyrick has traveled all over the Asia-Pacific region in search of good food and good recipes. Inevitably, he meets talented characters, chefs, cooks and epicureans who share his passion along the way. He’s brought many of those recipes back to his restaurants in Bali, Sarong and Mama San, and now he his sharing some of his recipes in the new Inspirations of Sarong cookbook coming out this year.
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