Thursday, September 03, 2009

Quite Possibly the Most Delicious Meal of My Life

Basu and Robin Ghosh of Basu's Homestyle Indian Cuisine are a father-and-son team, whose passion for creating great-tasting West Bengali Indian dishes is evident in every delectable bite. Inspired by his family’s recipes and authentic cooking methods, Basu skillfully applies his engineering discipline to his culinary skills, refining each recipe again and again until it's just right. His epicurean precision is flawless, and it's no wonder he is thought of by many as the Beethoven of Indian cooking.

His latest challenge was to bust the popular myth that vegan food cannot be great-tasting. (A myth I'm fond of busting myself!) So when I was contacted to become a taste tester for Basu's, I couldn't have been more excited.

I had no idea of the pleasures that awaited my palate. I've been eating Indian food since I was old enough to drive a car, and that's more years than you can shake a stick at. I've enjoyed enormous Masala Dosas in New York, Los Angeles, and New Dehli, and a conglomeration of curries in London, Toronto, and Udaipur. But never before have I tasted anything so exquisitely enticing.

The rice and sauces arrived on dry ice in plastic bags, which I placed in my freezer until ready to prepare. Lacking the patience to try them one at a time, I decided to cook them all for one meal. What a symphony of flavors!

Pictured clockwise from the top are:

• Roasted Red Potatoes in Peanut Masala Sauce
• Sweet green peas and baby bella mushrooms in Vindaloo Sauce.
• Coconut-Roasted Vegetables in Masala Sauce. I used sweet potatoes, onions, red bell peppers, eggplant, and carrots bathed in coconut oil.

At the center of the dish is Basu's Saffron Rice, which was the perfect accompaniment to all of these recipes. And I served the meal with my iced Jungle Chai Tea.

I prepared a Channa Dal bowl with sliced cucumbers, topped with a swirl of Tamarind Chutney.

Each of the sauces are completely unique. Although Basu says he was inspired to create his Peanut Masala Sauce after Thai peanut sauces he's enjoyed, the savory flavor of his version has not a speck of coconut or sweetness. It has just the right amount of fiery kick and is perfectly peanutty. It reminded me a little of an African peanut stew.

The Vindaloo sauce tasted smoky and sultry. It would be wonderful for creating a romantic dinner. A glass of red wine, some nice hot chappati, and a few vegetable aphrodisiacs like eggplant and asparagus would go nicely with this sauce.

My Coconut Roasted Vegetables blended beautifully with Basu's creamy, rich, and fragrant Masala Sauce. This is a dish I could eat day after day and never get tired of.

The Channa Dal completely blew my mind. Like the Masala and Vindaloo Sauces, this dish tastes incredibly rich, because at its heart is Bengali garam masala, an intoxicating combination of spices, cooked with lentils, coconut, and raisins. I wondered how many fat calories I was consuming in this meal, but Basu assured me that the amount of fat in each dish is actually extremely low.

For lunch the following day, I decided to make a vegetarian thali plate out of the leftovers. Everything tasted even more delicious reheated the second day!

Basu believes that the act of cooking is about more than just filling the belly and pleasing the palate. It's also about providing emotional nourishment—a means to igniting the light in your eyes and placing a smile on your face. He says that he makes homestyle Indian cuisine that makes people dance. Well, my toes are still tapping, and it's been two days since I've enjoyed his cuisine. And yes, he has completely destroyed that silly myth about vegan food not tasting great.

If you're lucky enough to live in Southern California, Nevada, or Honolulu, you can savor Basu's Homestyle Cuisine at Whole Foods cafes. They're working on a retail product launch, and until that happens, I know I'll be dreaming about these dishes again and again. You can check out the complete line of Basu's Homestyle Indian Cuisine and read what others are saying at:


Ingrid said...

Are you kidding me? I love Indian food, and I want some of that channa dal right now!

Anonymous said...

omg I'm getting hungry, now!

Sheila said...

YOWZA! Why do I have to live clear across the country? I can smell the fragrant spices from here, and it's making me salivate all over my desk.

Helen said...

My goodness, everything looks and sounds so incredible. All that's missing is the vegan kheer for dessert. If you have a recipe for that, I'd love it!

Batty said...

I love, love, love Indian food. I look at your pictures, and just looking is putting a smile on my face. And a rumble in my belly. And drool on my keyboard.
It looks delicious.

Vegiegail said...

Thank you all for your comments! I really was surprised by how superb all of these sauces are. And now that I've plowed right through them, I'm wishing I had used a little self-control and made them last longer. Helen, I do happen to have a terrific recipe for vegan Kheer, and I will share it in my next post. Thanks for the great idea!

Anonymous said...

oh my goodness, that looks amazing!

Mandi said...

amazing! I love when food is so nourishing/yummy that it becomes a boderline spiritual experience. So lucky you are to have one of these near you!

Anonymous said...

That's it! I am moving to LA right now!

VeganMarr said...

Wow, what a smorgasbord you made!!