Dinner with Rishi Desai, Pondicherry Café & His Signature Recipe

Last week was a bit of a blur for me
and maybe that’s why it’s taken
me a while to recover and post this follow-up to my Interview with Rishi Desai
of MasterChef Australia fame!
Rishi was in India all of last week
and after a couple of days in Delhi, he arrived in Mumbai. And I got a chance to
accompany him on his culinary exploration! Since he wanted to eat seafood, we
headed to Highway Gomantak in Bandra for a sumptuous meal of tisrya (clams)
masala, surmai (king fish) curry and bangda (mackerel) fry. This was of course
accompanied by chapatis and rice and we washed down the meal with couple of
glasses of sol kadi. We decided to head to California Pizza Kitchen for dessert
and wolfed down their scrumptious red velvet cake :)During dinner, Rishi regaled me with stories of his
experience on the show. Since the auditions were not aired on the show, I asked
him about what he made to impress the judges. In Rishi’s
words – “The audition was two-part. We had to
first bring in a cold dish and I made the Maharashtrian classic snack suralichya wadya, which the judges
loved. In the second round we had to make a hot dish; I made a Karwari fish curry, which earned me my
place in the competition.” Rishi made a modern variation of
this dish on the show recently, to highlight how much he has learned during his stay in the competition.


Image courtesy Sofitel

Rishi was staying at the Sofitel
in Bandra Kurla Complex and I was invited for a special dinner that the hotel
had organised at their Indo-French restaurant Pondicherry Café. The restaurant does a buffet dinner
and Rishi had developed 4 recipes especially for that night’s
service. On the menu were three fusion dishes and one modern Indian dish, which
is Rishi’s cooking style.

  • Curried Mussel Soup with Baguette
  • Indian inspired Lamb Burgundy
  • Moroccan Tagine with Couscous
  • Karnataka Risotto
Image courtesy Sofitel
The lamb burgundy was a very hearty
dish with perfectly cooked lamb. The tagine and couscous made a perfect
combination and the unusual flavours of the Karnataka risotto were quite
interesting – a Frenched up version of the humble bisibele bhaat. But as they say on
MasterChef Australia, the dish of the day was the mussel soup. Rich and
coconutty, the warm soup absolutely hit the spot. “The
mussel soup is my kind of modern Indian cooking and you will find the recipe in
my upcoming cookbook” said Rishi. The book is out next
year, so stay tuned!As I mentioned in my earlier post,
Rishi has quite generously shared the recipe of his signature dish. So here

Slow-cooked Goat with Cauliflower Puree and Pappadum
This dish serves 4


Preparation time: 20
Cooking time: 30
minutes (pressure cooking) OR 2 hr 30 minutes (slow cooking)
You’ll need:
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp natural
    unsweetened yoghurt
  • 500 gms diced goat
  • 2 tsp salt

For the Curry Paste

  • 1 brown onion
  • Handful of fresh
  • ½ tsp coriander seeds
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 cm piece of ginger
  • 1 tsp tomato paste
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala

For the Cauliflower Puree

  • 1 tsp butter
  • ¼ cauliflower coarsely
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • 150 ml thickened cream
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • ½ tsp cumin powder
  • ½ tsp coriander powder

How to:

For the Goat
  • Saute the onion until
    golden brown. Use a blender to blitz all of the curry paste ingredients to a
    fine paste.
  • Heat the vegetable oil
    in an oven-proof casserole dish. Add the spice paste and saute on medium heat
    for five minutes until the oil starts separating.
  • Add the yoghurt and
    saute for another minute.
  • Add the lamb and saute
    for two minutes.
  • Add the salt and a cup
    of water and place in the oven, covered, at about 160C to 170C for at least two
    hours, until the lamb is tender and shreds easily. Check every half hour and,
    if necessary, add more water.
  • Alternatively, you can
    pressure-cook the curry for at least 20 minutes, then remove the lid and cook
    until the sauce thickens.
  • Shred the lamb in the
    sauce and mix thoroughly.
For the Cauliflower Puree
  • Melt butter in a saucepan; add
    cauliflower, turmeric, coriander & cumin powders and sauté for
    2 minutes.
  • Add cream and cook while occasionally
    stirring for 10 minutes until cauliflower is tender and until the mixture
  • Add salt and lemon juice and let it
    cool down.
  • Blend the mixture until fine purée

To serve, smear the
cauliflower puree on a plate. Add the shredded lamb and put roasted pappadums
on the side. Garnish with pea sprouts.


Image courtesy Rishi Desai

Disclosure: I was invited by Sofitel to experience this offering. 

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