A taste of India is as close as your kitchen

It has been a good year for Raga Cuisine of India.

The highly acclaimed restaurant was recently recognized in Seattle Magazine as one of the area’s “Best Indian Restaurants a Choice award.”

And not even two months into the year, Raga’s executive chef, Madan Sharma, was chosen to participate in the most recent KCTS Channel 9 cooking program, “KCTS Chefs.”

When asked about the experience, Sharma honestly enthusiastically talks about his joy of cooking and life and seeing himself on TV.

“And I did it in one take.” Sharma proudly explained to Kamal Mroke, the owner, and myself as we sat around a white linen-covered table in the light, airy restaurant. “And I was not nervous,” he said. A girning Sharma said he is delighted to be in the United States.

He apprenticed in India (his home country) and mastered French Cuisine in Canada. His personality is seen in his food: potatoes carved to look like mushrooms, food artfully arranged and passionately prepared.

Sharma will tell you story after story of his life, but by far, the most favored is the present.
Today, he enjoys the company of customers delighted by his aromatic, appetizingly beautiful, savory dishes.

The following recipes were all created by Executive Chef Madan Sharma of Raga Cuisine of India in Bellevue and the newly opened Raga Bar & Grill in Federal Way.
So that Sharma could use his tandoor (clay) oven, KCTS set up a television crew in the restaurant.
This is the actual recipe created by Chef Sharma on television. This delicious Malai Kebob (skewered chicken)is usually cooked in the tandoor oven but has been revised so you can enjoy making it in your home.
6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
½ cup raw cashews
2 ounces (4 tablespoons)cream cheese
2 Jalapeno chilies, dice
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 cloves garlic
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup half-and-half
Salt and pepper to taste
Chicken breasts may be left whole or cut into 1-inch cubes and threaded on skewers. Place the prepared chicken in a shallow baking dish and set aside.

To prepare the marinade, combine cream cheese, diced chilies, lemon juice, garlic, ginger, and oil. Process until smooth using either a food processor or a blender. Add the half-and-half and blend again. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Pour marinade over the chicken in the baking dish, turning the pieces or skewers to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for three hours in the refrigerator.

Remove chicken from the marinade and place in a casserole dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until cooked through.

To cook on a BBQ: Remove chicken from the marinade and put on a well-oiled grill rack. Set high over the heat source. The secret here is to cook the chicken slowly until thoroughly cooked through. Serve with rice pulao.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
½ large onion, finely diced
1 teaspoon cumin seed
4 whole cloves
4 whole black cardamom
4 whole green cardamom
2 bay leaves
3 scrapes of cinnamon (1/4 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups water
2 cups Basmati rice, rinsed in a fine sieve under running water.

In a medium-sized saucepan, heat oil and add cumin seed. Cook until seeds puff and rise to the surface. Add onions and cook for about two minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients, except rice, and bring to a boil. Add rice and cook for 7-10 minutes until rice is just tender but not mushy. Serve as a base or side for all savory Indian dishes.

A wonderful all-purpose sauce on chicken, lamb, shrimp, turkey, vegetables, or any leftovers.
Use approximately 1-1/2 pounds of coarsely chopped meat and vegetables in one curry sauce batch.
4 large onions, finely chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup crushed tomatoes (fresh or canned)
½ cup plain yogurt
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 tablespoon chopped ginger
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 tablespoon turmeric
Cayenne to taste – ¼ teaspoon mild
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large pan, sauté the onions in the oil until golden. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook for five minutes. Let mixture cool slightly, then blend in a food processor until smooth. Return to pan and cook until the mixture becomes glazed.

Add your choice of meats and vegetables to this mix and cook until done. If using leftovers, make sure they are heated through.

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