Vijay Sadhu’s new restaurant Sutra opens next month in The Shops at Legacy in Plano. He needed a few folks to use as guinea pigs to test some of his recipes. We were happy to oblige. Sadhu whipped out five dishes, assisted by longtime friend and Sutra consultant Arturo Romanillos (his specialty is pâtisserie and baking which he has done at Stephan Pyles and a few times at the James Beard House in New York. Currently he is Program Chair of Pâtisserie and Baking at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Dallas. Here are some of the dishes we tried and you may be able to taste when Sutra opens.
Mung dal Falafel with Tabouli and Tahini Sauce. The falafels are made with garlic, ginger, and ground spice. It is accompanied by a tabouli salad made from mung dal sprouts, garlic, parsley, bulgur wheat, and lemon juice. The tahini sauce is essentially a sesame seed sauce with garlic.
Tuna Tarbooz with Mango Watermelon Chaat. Tarbooz is the Hindi word for watermelon. Sadhu marinates the tuna in lime juice and salt, a preparation like ceviche, spiced with garam masala and green cardamom powder. He tops it with toasted black sesame seeds. He uses chaat masala seasoning on the mango watermelon chaat. The tamarind sauce streaked on the plate is laced with cumin and jaggery. Audience response to this dish was that the tamarind sauce should be given more of a star role. Dipping the tuna chunks in the tamarind was a rich, succulent combination. Undoubtedly the tropical fruit flavors in this dish balance the tuna.
Goa Empadinhas with Star Anise Foie Gras, Sorpotel Sauce and Bombay Chile Chips. Just to prove every county has its take on empanadas, the Portuguese bequeathed empadinhas when they ruled Goa. Sadhu’s version is puff pastry stuffed with sautéed onions, ginger, and garlic cooked with fresh chorizo. Feni (fermented juice of cashew fruit) is added at the end. Sorpotel Sauce is also from Goa and another Portuguese influence on the cuisine. It is made of cloves, peppercorns, cumin, white wine vinegar, cinnamon, cardamom, cumin, turmeric and cloves sautéed together. These spices go best with pork, hence the Spanish chorizo. The dish is topped with cardamom foam with tamarind jam.
Cashew Nut Crusted Soft Shell Crab with Mango Coconut Sauce. Kerala is the state in the very tropical, southern part of India. There are heavy Jewish and Dutch influences on the cuisine from this area. It is also seafood-intensive. Here. Sadhu makes a sauce of mango and coconut and roasts cashew with Bengal Gram, kari leaves, cinnamon, hing, cumin, red chilies. Then he grinds it into a fine powder, coats the crab, fries it and surrounds it with a mango, coconut milk seasoned with mustard seeds, kari leaves, and hing.
Nitro Kulfi topped with Basil Seeds (they look like caviar on top of the Kulfi) and Candied Pistachios accompanied by Cardamom Brûlée Bananas. The nitro in the name refers to liquid nitrogen which was used to chill a bowl of Kaurina’s Kulfi. This Kulfi is as rich and creamy as it looks. It is available (already frozen) at Central Market, Whole Foods, and local Indian markets. The liquid nitrogen made short work of the freezing. It took about 90 seconds.
Below is a video of the process. Excuse the happy people in the background!