Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Amaya | The Indian Room: Refined Indian Cuisine

As part of the Amaya Group of Restaurants, The Indian Room has become synonymous with culinary excellence. Founded by chef Hemant Bhagwani in 2007, and drawing inspiration from his travels and experiences in India, Amaya's dishes focus on both north and south Indian cuisine, with tandoori flavours from the north and seafood specialties from Goa. The dishes come beautifully plated and served in handsome hammered copper bowls, creating an environment that is as beautiful, as it is welcoming. The combination of gracious service and fresh ingredients, creates a seductive experience in the way that only food of the subcontinent can be: rich, assertive, complex and exotic. Organic Butter Chicken is maharajah here but there is no shortage of other contenders for the crown, from crispy Kale Pakoras, plump and juicy Amaya Prawns, slow roasted Lamb Lollipops, and exquisitely tender Braised Beef Short Ribs, to Amaya's gorgeous Dal Makhani, lovingly simmered for 12-hours in a rich tomato and creamy butter sauce — plus of course a couple of orders of hot pillowy Onion and Sage Naan. Located on Bayview in trendy Leaside, Amaya is heaven-sent.

Amaya's bright and modern interior

Popaddums with mango chutney

Bollybellini cocktail with raspberries, lychees, rose and cardamom with prosecco

Amaya vodka martini with a twist

Vegetable Pakora Amuse-Bouche

Amaya Prawns in green mango curry

Wine Marinated Lamb Lollipops with mint and fenugreek sauce

Amaya's offers an extensive wine list with many wines by the glass

The World's No.1 selling Indian beer, Kingfisher is perfect with Indian cuisine

Braised Beef Short Ribs in black cumin curry with red wine, Indian Basil and crispy okra

Emerald Green Saag Paneer accented with nutmeg, ground coriander, ginger and garlic, and made with house made paneer

Dal Makhani, Amaya's 12-hour cooked black lentil stew prepared in a rich tomato and butter sauce

Succulent Organic Butter Chicken in a richly flavoured and layered tomato cream sauce

Onion and Sage Naan

Chef-Owner-Sommelier Hemant Bhagwani of Amaya Indian Room
Photo © John Cullen

Goan Cod
Serves 4
Recipe courtesy chef Hemant Bhagwani

Coconut and Lemon sauce:
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, sliced
6 lemon leaves
5 green chilies, cut length ways in half
2-inch piece fresh ginger, cut into fine strips
1/2 tsp ground turmeric 
15 oz coconut milk
1 tsp salt

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp black onion or mustard seeds 
1 tsp salt
4 cod fillets, about 8 oz each
1/2 tsp dried red chilli flakes
2 tbsp pressed rice flakes 

For the sauce, heat the oil in a pan, then add the onion and sauté until soft. Add the lemon leaves, chilies and ginger and sauté for one minute, then add the turmeric and stir for a minute. Pour in the coconut milk, bring to a boil and simmer for six to eight minutes, until the sauce thickens. Stir in the salt and set aside. Rub 1 tablespoon of the oil, the black onion or mustard seeds and salt into the cod. Heat the remaining oil in a large frying pan, add the cod, skin-side down, and sear for 2-3 minutes, until crisp. Turn the cod over and cook the other side. Depending on the thickness of the fish you might have to finish cooking it in a moderately hot oven for five to six minutes. Mix together the chili and rice flakes and press them on top of the fish to form a crust, then place under a salamander for a minute or two, until golden. To serve, pour the sauce on each dinner plate and place the fish on top.

Amaya Prawns
Serves 4 as appetizer
Recipe courtesy chef Hemant Bhagwani

12 large king size prawns
3 tbsp lemon juice
3 tsp curry powder 
1 tsp garlic paste
3/4 tsp salt 
2 tbsp oil
1 onion, diced
 and cut into 1-inch triangles
1 orange and yellow pepper, diced and cut into 1-inch triangles
2 tbsp mango paste
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 tsp dry fenugreek powder or kasteri mehti leaves 

Peel and de-vein prawns, leaving tails attached. Rinse and pat dry. Marinate prawns in lemon juice, curry powder, garlic and
 salt for 10 minutes, then drain the prawns. Heat oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Add onions and pepper and sauté 2-3 minutes until they start to soften. Add prawns and sauté for 60 seconds or until they start to curl. Add the mango paste, coconut milk and mehti and simmer gently over low heat for 2-3 minutes or more, until shrimp are just cooked through. Serve immediately with some peppers for garnish.