Ask the Chef - Hrishikesh Desai

Hrishikesh Desai with his wealth of experience in Michelin-starred restaurants has taken over as Executive Head Chef at Gilpin Hotel & Lake House after staving off some stiff competition on Alex Polizzi's Chefs on Trial TV programme.

Hrishikesh is one of the few chefs to have won both the Roux Scholarship (2009) and the Craft Guild of Chef's National Chef of the Year (2010) awards, and unique in that he won these in consecutive years. He brings with him a wealth of experience including Institute Paul Bocuse, Les Maison de Bricourt, Le Chateau do Bagnol, French Laundry and Lucknam 'The Park'.

Hrishikesh has teamed up with Sugarvine to answer your cookery questions:

Latest Question

When should I add kasoori methi to a curry? I usually add it with onions in hot oil so that the oil could pick up its flavour but that seldom happens. If I add it at the end with garam masala, the dish happens to have a bitter after taste which is a put off. Please help me create a perfectly balanced curry having kasoori methi, also tell me which all whole spices could I use along with it in my cooking. - Saurabh Suri


Dear Surabh,
1) When should I add Kassori methi - always last with finished or cooked spices. The bitter after taste is either the kasoori methi is too old or the main base gravy has a burnt ingredient (normally it is the onion). Any spice that is cooked and powdered is used last as it is there to be infused.
2) Which whole spices you can use with it - All sweet spices, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves etc. are perfect match for kasoori methi. I will avoid cumin, fennel seeds, onion seeds as they tend to be used in light gravy preparations.
3) Finally, always remember the whole spices should go first in oil so that you extract the flavour, normally the spices have their own oils which is released due to penetration of heat and fat.
4) Any ground uncooked spices like, turmeric, coriander powder, chilli powder should go in between, once you have cooked the base onion, ginger and garlic. This way the ground spices don't burn but release more flavour, they dissolve well which gives a smooth texture in the mouth.
5) Any cooked spices, Garam Masala is a prime example, should be used last as you have cooked all the spices to a certain degree and then pulsed them to a fine powder. The resulting mixture is added to the finish gravy or sauce to give the right flavour by infusing.
Saurabh, this is my philosophy with spices and this is how I approach in cooking with them and so far has worked for me to create good curries. Hope this will help you.

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