Are you into mezze platters, falafel and hummus? Chef Ved Prakash at Delhis one-year-old Fez restaurant reckons there are plenty of fans out there of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine — which he has specialised in.
Prakash graduated from the Institute of Hotel Management, in Delhi in 1985 and he has worked at places like Le Meridien Hotel and the Taj Mahal. He has even done a stint with a Greek cruise line where he specialised in authentic Mediterranean cuisines.
Cooked in olive oil, Mediterranean food is healthy, the spices are similar to the Indian spices but the food is not as hot, he says. He left The Taj Palace Hotel in 2008 to help launch Fez and work on the menu with owner Rajneesh Malik.
There are plenty of choices at Fez and the chef particularly recommends the chicken tajine for non-vegetarians. And for vegetarians one favourite is the zucchini wrap which leaves you with a wonderful flavour of dates and feta cheese.
8-10 dates (pitted) 50gm feta cheese 10gm pickled onions 5gm herb parsley 10gm chopped almonds 1 zucchini
Take the zucchini and chop it into slices thin enough to be rolled. Grill these slices for about two minutes. Now take pitted dates and fill each piece with a mixture of feta cheese along with pickled onions and herb parsley. Wrap the stuffed dates with zucchini slices. Bind the wrap with a tooth pick and serve.
Chicken Tajine with Prunes and Almond
1 chicken broiler, cut into small pieces 2 onions, chopped 20gm garlic, chopped 3tsp olive oil 1tsp cinnamon powder 1tsp black pepper, crushed Lemon preserve (from one lemon) A few saffron threads, soaked in cold water 350ml stock or water 6-8 stewed prunes 8-10 blanched almonds 1tsp All spice (mixture of Moroccan spices)
Cut chicken broiler into small pieces. Marinate it with a paste of chopped onions, garlic, pepper powder and lemon preserve for 15-20 minutes. Now sauté it in olive oil, add cinnamon powder and all the spices. Add stock to the cooked chicken and cook it for almost 15 minutes till it becomes tender. Now add the prunes and almonds to the chicken. Cook again and finish sprinkling with one tsp of olive oil, All spice and coriander (optional). It is usually served with accompaniments like saffron rice, pickled vegetables and pita bread.
Sweet Aubergine Magic
1 aubergine Olive oil or regular refined oil for frying 100gm assorted nuts 2tsp honey 3tsp pista and almond slices for garnish
Cut the aubergine into round slices and fry them in plenty of olive oil till they turn crispy and golden brown in colour. Chop the nuts and mix them with sugar. Roll the mixture of nuts in the fried slices of aubergine. Glaze the roll of aubergine and nuts in honey and bake in a hot oven for three minutes at 220°C. Now garnish the rolls with pista and almond slices. Serve with ice-cream.
As told to Chitra Papnai; Photographs by Jagan Negi