When young Roger Raizada arrived in New Zealand from New Delhi in 1987 he was pleasantly surprised by the breathtaking beauty of our clean green country. However, he found that some of the ‘authentic’ Indian meals served in some restaurants were an unpleasant surprise. To his discerning palate, shortcuts were being taken. In one case he was served Biryani Chicken consisting of precooked rice with stewed chicken and a few spices mixed through it. Not the genuine careful combination of highly spiced and yoghurt-marinated chicken with aromatic basmati rice that can take up to five hours to prepare. Roger decided to go into the restaurant business in Nelson and Blenheim.
Some ingredients used in authentic Indian dishes provide tangible health benefits. Fenugreek, for example, can help heart health and improve blood glucose levels and cardamom helps protect the gastrointestinal tract. Long before gluten-free became common, Roger had introduced gluten-free and lower fat dinner options. He has now launched a range of spice mixes and pastes, roti and naan all of which are gluten-free apart from the naan. Local ingredients are used where possible, including garlic and tomatoes.
His spice mixes and pastes can also be used as flavour enhancers for casseroles and soups even if they’re not specifically Indian. I had great success with a wild pork casserole cooked with red wine, shallots and thyme and a dollop of Roger’s one-for-all-spice-mix for red meat.
Roger’s authentic Indian tempters are available online (rogerraizada.co.nz) and from selected food stores. I’ve experimented with a couple in the following summer recipes.
Spicy squid salad
Roger’s spice mix is a combination of 6 spices including turmeric, cumin and coriander. The mix is also great as a base for korma or added to yoghurt for a marinade for chicken. Serves 2 as a light meal
250g frozen squid rings, thawed
2-3 teaspoons Roger Raizada’s One-For-All Spice Mix for Chicken, Fish or Vegetables
2 tablespoons canola oil
2-3 cups mixed baby salad greens & herbs
1 shallot, thinly sliced
3 cherry tomatoes, halved
¼ cup lemon juice
1 clove garlic, crushed
salt & pepper to taste
1 teaspoon olive oil
- Pat the squid rings dry. Dust in the one-for-all spice mix. Heat the oil in a medium-sized frying pan. When hot, pan-fry the squid rings for about 40 seconds each side. Remove from the pan and cool. Chill if not required immediately.
- To serve, layer the salad greens, herbs, shallot, tomatoes and squid rings in two serving bowls. Drizzle with the combined dressing ingredients. Excellent served with spinach roti.
Chopped chicken or shredded cheese can replace the spinach in the roti. Makes 3.
½ cup Roger Raizada’s Gluten Free Roti mix
⅓ cup water
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup free-flow frozen spinach
1 small shallot, diced
2-3 tablespoons canola oil
- Whisk the roti mix, water and egg, until smooth.
- Thaw the spinach in the microwave. Finely chop then squeeze dry. Add to the roti mix together with the shallot.
- Heat the oil in an 18cm frying pan. Add about 1/3 of the mixture and swirl to coat the pan evenly. Cook until golden on both sides. Repeat twice.
Chicken with cumin and fennel
1 medium onion, diced
400g whole skinned & boned chicken thighs, cubed
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon each: finely grated root ginger, canola oil, cumin seeds, fennel seeds
½ teaspoon each: mustard seeds, cardamom seeds
1½ teaspoons curry powder
1 cup chicken stock or water
2 large tomatoes, diced
- Place the onion in a microwave bowl. Cover and cook on high for 50 seconds, until tender.
- Dust the chicken with the turmeric. Cover and place aside.
- Combine the garlic and ginger.
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the cumin, fennel, mustard and cardamom seeds. Cook until the mustard seeds begin to pop and they are slightly browned. Add the combined garlic, ginger, cooked onion and curry powder and stir for 1 minute.
- Add the stock or water and the tomatoes and bring to the boil. Simmer for 20 minutes, until thick.
- Stir in the chicken and simmer for at least 15 minutes.
Cardamom cream and grilled balsamic pears
I used Kara coconut cream. This coconut cream topping is great for ripe peaches or nectarines or for fruit salads. This makes a delicious ending to an Indian meal. Serves 4.
1 cup thick coconut cream
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 teaspoons brown sugar
Grilled balsamic pears
4 ripe pears
2 tablespoons lemon juice
¼ cup each: good balsamic vinegar, brown sugar
- Combine the coconut cream, cardamom and brown sugar. Bring to the boil. Cool then chill well.
- Halve, peel and core the pears. Place in a shallow dish. Brush with lemon juice.
- Combine the balsamic and brown sugar. Heat until bubbling. Stir well. Cool. Spoon over the pears. Marinate for at least 1 hour turning and basting often.
- Barbecue or grill the pears until they are glazed. Cool. Serve topped with the Cardamom Cream.