Peter Gordon in Last Bites
The Urban Rajah on the power of beetroot and giving in to your sweet tooth
My kitchen is … incredibly tidy. Spices, knives – everything is ordered. I need to know where everything is, and there are certain things I’ll always have to hand – coriander, fennel and cardamom seeds.
My favourite kitchen tool is … My tawa – a kind of rimless frying pan that I use to toast chapatis, wraps and pitta. There’s nothing like a hot chapati.
My storecupboard staple is … gram flour. I’m never without it. And cardamom powder. I’ll often make my young son a lassi with almonds, pistachios, milk and cardamom powder. But he never gets close to it – I’ve always finished it before he sees it.
When I’m starving I … head for my own seasonal hummus. I always have chickpeas in the house.
My culinary inspiration is … my family. I grew up around fabulous food. Travel is also a big influence. Recently, I’ve been developing recipes inspired by South African game I sampled last year. I’ve been playing around with ostrich fillets paired with Indian spices – lime, cumin seeds, coriander seeds...
My best-kept kitchen secret is … the power of beetroot. Most of the time, the red hue of a tandoori marinade is achieved through food colouring. I’ve taken to using beetroot powder instead, which gives the right colour, and lends a natural earthy sweetness to the mix. I also use it in my mango lassi – it takes on a peach melba appearance.
My current obsession is … chaat masala, a spice blend made with black salt, which has this pungency and is so versatile. It works well as a rub or when making fries, but also naked – scattered on a salad with a squeeze of lemon.
Everything tastes better with … stories. Food is always best when it’s shared, and the story of the dish, the recipe, where the ingredients have come from or the story of the person who’s cooked it is shared.
When I go shopping I … prefer ethnic or independent grocers to the supermarket. I’ve just come across Pakistani carrots, which are bright crimson in colour. I’m always excited by the potential of trying something different.
For dinner tonight … I’m making a mango and cardamom-essence parfait. My little boy adores ice-cream, and so do I. My tooth gets sweeter the older I get, and I’ve given in.