Theres rarely a dull moment in Ritu Dalmias life. These days you can catch up with the celebrated chef, restaurateur and cookbook author at Latitude, her brand new restaurant on the second-floor at Good Earth, the up-market home store in Delhis swanky Khan Market. Already the haunt of the citys swish set, Latitude is the fourth restaurant in Dalmias kitty. When Good Earth proposed this joint venture I just couldnt say no. I love this store and I was delighted to collaborate with them, she says.
Dalmia oversees all her restaurants and keeps a sharp eye on the centralised kitchen at her flagship restaurant, Diva. The six-year old Diva is all about Italian style fine dining, while she operates an informal pizzeria — also called Diva — at the Italian Embassy Cultural Centre. Meanwhile, Le Café, the rooftop restaurant in designer Ravi Bajajs high fashion store is known for its Mediterranean menus.
But Latitude is not just about Italian khana. Its more in tune with earthy, wholesome food and dishes that Dalmia personally enjoys. She calls this fuss-free cooking. But the dishes are loaded with cutting-edge creativity, she adds. Latitude needs my attention, so Im spending lunch hours here while my evenings will always be at Diva, promises Dalmia.
Here, she shares three signature dishes from Latitude.
For the croutons 2 large garlic cloves A pinch of salt 3tbs virgin olive oil 2 cups French baguette slices cut into ½ inch cubes (white bread works too)
For the salad 1 large egg 1tsp fresh lemon juice 30ml white wine vinegar 30ml red wine 2 garlic cloves, crushed 1tsp Dijon mustard 1tsp Tabasco or even Chinese chilli paste 1tsp Worcestershire sauce 50ml extra virgin olive oil 2 heads Romaine or regular lettuce Plenty of Parmesan cheese, grated Salt and pepper to season
Method Preheat oven to 200°C. Com-bine garlic, oil, salt and bread cubes in a bowl. Mix until the cubes are coated evenly. Spread the cubes onto a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes until the croutons are golden. Alternatively, toss the cubes in a pan on a high flame till crispy. Mix the Worcestershire sauce, chilli sauce, wine, vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper and mustard in a bowl. Break the egg and add to these. Whisk the dressing until smooth. Slowly add the oil in a steady stream while constantly whisking the dressing. If you add the oil too quickly, it will not blend with the dressing. Add a bit of Parmesan cheese. Tear the lettuce leaves, add them to a large bowl. Add half the dressing, toss the salad, and add the remaining dressing and loads of Parmesan cheese. Warm the croutons and toss again. Serve on chilled plates.
Prawns with black pepper, chilli and basil
½kg prawns with shells 2 tbs butter 50ml olive oil 4 garlic cloves, chopped A fistful of fresh basil 1tbs black pepper 100ml dry white wine 1tsp Thai sweet chilli sauce Juice of one lemon
Method Clean the prawns, leaving the shells on. Devein and wash them under running water. Pat dry and keep aside. In a large frying pan, melt butter with olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic, basil and pepper. Then immediately stir in the prawns. Cook for about 30 seconds. Add white wine, Thai chilli sauce and lemon and cook for another two to three minutes. Serve with bread.
Torta di Noci
6 egg whites 125gm sugar plus little extra for sprinkling A pinch of salt 500gm walnuts, coarsely chopped Oil for greasing the baking pan
Preheat the oven at 180°C. Line a baking pan with butter-paper and grease it lightly with oil over low flame. In a heavy saucepan combine three egg whites with sugar and stir for about 10-12 minutes, till it becomes all gooey and slushy. In a separate bowl, whisk the remaining egg whites with a pinch of salt till stiff peaks are formed. Now combine it all with chopped walnuts. Fold them in slowly. Transfer this batter to the baking pan and sprinkle some sugar on it. Bake for about 50-55 minutes till the centre is soft. Cool and serve with either a dollop of whipped cream, or a scoop of ice cream.