To Balance, Strength, Love, Faith, and Hope:* Jehangir Mehta’s Mantra

Mehta MantraReflecting the ayurvedic principle of balance, chef Jehangir Mehta’s cookbook, Mantra: The Rules of Indulgence (2008), carries the imaginative use of flavorings to nirvanaic levels.

Turmeric in Its Many Forms
Turmeric in Its Many Forms

A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Indian-born Mehta draws on the centuries-old practices found in Indian cuisine and combines them in startling ways with many traditional Western, and even Indian, dishes. Take his Turmeric Yorkshire Pudding as just one example:

Turmeric Yorkshire Pudding
16 servings

1 cup milk
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
15 medium eggs
Pinch of kosher salt
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
¾ cup duck fat

In a large bowl whisk together the milk, butter, eggs, salt, and 1 cup water. Sift the flour and turmeric onto the batter and whisk until combined.

Cover the bowl with plastic and let it rest at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F.

Set sixteen 4-ounce aluminum ramekins on a baking sheet and place 1 tablespoon of duck fat in each. Place the ramekins in the oven for 5 minutes or until the fat begins to smoke.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven and carefully ladle the batter into each ramekin until about halfway full. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until the puddings are puffed and golden brown. Remove from the ramekins while hot and serve.

Turmeric Flowers (Photo credit: Subharghya Das)
Turmeric Flowers (Photo credit: Subharghya Das)

Arranged by types of flavorings — Flowers, Fruits, Vegetables, Roots/Bulbous Stalks, Rhizomes, Leaves, Herbs, Spices, Seeds, Nuts, Grains, Legumes — like a Russian matryoshka doll, Mantra will surprise even the most jaded of taste buds.

Apple-Rosemary Brioche. Fennel Ice Cream. Cauliflower Clafoutis. Jasmine-Glazed Doughnuts. Mint Sorbet with Candied Kumquats. Fenugreek Financier. …

* Dedication at the front of the book.

© 2009 C. Bertelsen

3 thoughts on “To Balance, Strength, Love, Faith, and Hope:* Jehangir Mehta’s Mantra

  1. I’ve used duck fat when I had it from cooking ducks, but it sounds bizarre in a milk pudding. It’s good in rillettes or other preserved duck dishes made in rustic France. And like chicken fat it would be good for frying potatoes, roasting vegetables, prepping stuffing for the bird itself. But in milk? That’s a job for butter.

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