Anjum Anand has written six best-selling books on Indian food. Photography courtesy of Anjum Anand
With stints at Café Spice in New York, the Mondrian Hotel in Los Angeles, and the Park Royal Hotel’s Indian restaurant in New Delhi (and six best-selling books), chef and author Anjum Anand is on a mission to make Indian food accessible to everyone. She was one of the first chefs to create Indian recipes for the health conscious and her popular BBC television series was watched by over three million viewers. “[Indian food] is my real comfort food; it’s the food I grew up with,” she says.
And while one of her favourite recipes is chicken curry, now she is married to a vegetarian, her go-to dishes at home are a paneer with spinach recipe and a bowl of chickpea curry, “eaten with a flaky flat-bread”.
She shares her recipe for this chickpea curry with T Australia, which she says is often misunderstood in the western world. “Whenever I translate the Indian name of this dish literally into English it comes out as ‘bean curry’, which is misleadingly and depressingly reminiscent of the sandal-wearing hippies of the 1960s and 1970s, detracting from its Indian roots and utter deliciousness,” she explains. “In reality it’s a lovely, flavourful dish, that’s it’s great with Bhatura (fluffy deep-fried leavened sourdough bread) for a fabulous weekend lunch. But I often eat it with buttered wholemeal bread for a divine, simple meal.”
Tangy Chickpea Curry (Serves 4-5)
12g fresh root ginger, peeled weight
4 fat garlic cloves
2 largish tomatoes, quartered
5-6 tbsp vegetable oil
4 green cardamom pods
1 black cardamom pod
2 large shards cinnamon
2 tsp cumin seeds
2-3 green chillies, whole but pierced
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp ground coriander
1/4-1/2 tsp chilli powder
salt, to taste
2 x 400g cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 1/4 tsp garam masala
1/2-2/3 tsp tamarind paste, or dried pomegranate powder, or to taste
handful finely chopped fresh coriander
Blend together the ginger, garlic and tomatoes with a little water until smooth (try a stick blender). Set aside.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the cloves, cardamom pods, cinnamon and half the cumin seeds and cook until they release their aroma and start to crackle. Add the green chillies and onion and cook until the onion is well browned. Add the tomato paste with the turmeric, ground coriander, chilli powder and salt and cook over a moderate to high heat until the oil comes out at the sides (around 15 minutes), stirring often.
Meanwhile, use the remaining cumin seeds to make roasted cumin powder. Add it to the pot.
Add the chickpeas and 500ml water. Bring to a boil then simmer over a medium heat for seven or eight minutes. Stir in the garam masala and tamarind paste. Mash a few of the chickpeas on the side of the pan to thicken the sauce a little. Taste for seasoning and tartness, adjusting if necessary, then sprinkle with the chopped coriander and serve.
The designer recommends blending the sauce until smooth and serving the dish immediately after making it. Photography by Meghal Janardan.
The fashion designer Zac Posen has always loved food. Now 40, he recognised that it had a unique ability to keep people connected even in his youth. His mother, Susan, worked as a corporate lawyer and, he says, “had crazy hours,” so many of the meals at the family’s SoHo loft were prepared by his father, the artist Stephen Posen. “My dad,” Zac says, “felt very strongly that a family that ate together stayed together,” and would often clip recipes from The New York Times, especially the health-conscious ones. “I was a kid who grew up eating tofu and seaweed.” Other sources of inspiration were the nearby neighborhoods of Chinatown and Little Italy, and it wasn’t long before the younger Posen started experimenting in the kitchen as well, making elaborate desserts for family events or, in his high school years, putting on dinner parties for his friends.
In 2001, when Posen was first starting out as a designer, after having studied at Parsons in New York and Central Saint Martins in London, he set up an atelier in the living room of his childhood home. “As the demands got higher,” Posen says of his namesake brand, which was shuttered in 2019, cooking “was always my solace, my happy place.” He began sharing the dishes he created, everything from matzo ball soup to homemade ramen to pesto with sweet Italian sausage to brown butter chocolate chip cookies, on Instagram using the hashtag #CookingwithZac, delighting his followers with a personal, joyful tone and mouthwatering photos. Nearly four years ago, Posen even released a cookbook, “Cooking With Zac.”
Last year, some of his friends got to do just that, as Posen spent the early months of the pandemic quarantining with a small pod at a house on Long Island. “I’ve never cooked more in my life,” he says. The group tried fried local blowfish, yellow tomato gazpacho, lobster risotto, barbecue ribs, cherry peach pie and more. “Then I went on this angel food cake kick,” says the designer, who would incorporate unconventional ingredients like fennel pollen and saffron into the batter to give it a zesty boost.
Being there also allowed him to see plants in the garden through from seed to harvest, something he’d always wanted to do. “Using my hands to work the soil feeds my soul,” says Posen, whose parents now live on a farm in Bucks County, Penn. “Pulling your first carrot at the end of the season brings real joy. You’re collaborating with nature and science and history.”
Posen cleverly organised the recipes in his cookbook by fashion season — spring and summer, resort, fall and winter and holiday — and is quick to point out that good ingredients are a lot like great fabrics. In turn, his passion for food has carried over into his designs. Among the many dramatic and expertly crafted red carpet looks he’s best known for is a 3-D-printed iridescent pale pink gown worn by the actress Deepika Padukone to the 2019 Met Ball that featured sea urchin-inspired beading.
Posen first tasted uni, which are the gonads of the sea urchin and a popular delicacy in Japan (“uni” is the Japanese word for sea urchin), in a pasta dish he had on a trip to Sardinia. He was so taken with the creamy, briny dish that, once back in his Upper East Side apartment, he set about fine-tuning his own version. It’s a dish the designer, who is currently at work on select custom couture pieces and is collaborating as a costume designer on the forthcoming film “The Outfit,” makes often, and one that evokes a time when both travel and large convivial gatherings were possible. Below is Posen’s perfected recipe, cooking along with a recent iteration of his cooking playlist. “It’s like the food,” he says. “It’s eclectic and it feels good.”
Zac Posen’s Uni Pasta
500g of spaghetti
¼ cup of shelled uni
2 tbsp of unsalted butter
⅛ teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1 tbsp plus ¼ tsp of fine sea salt
2 tbsp of finely chopped chives
¼ cup of extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp of heavy cream
½ tbsp of ground black pepper
1. Put the uni, olive oil, heavy cream, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper into a blender and blend until smooth.
2. Add chives into the blender, saving some to use as a garnish.
3. Cook the pasta according to package instructions.
4. In a separate large pot that is big enough for all of the pasta, melt butter on very low heat.
5. Once the butter is melted, add ¾ of a cup of the pasta water.
6. Add the cooked pasta to the butter and pasta water mixture. Be sure to toss so that the mixture thoroughly coats the pasta.
7. Turn off the heat and pour the uni sauce over the pasta. Stir together and then plate and top with the remainder of the chives.
One-pot berry Crumble. Photography courtesy of Dan Churchill.
When the pandemic hit New York hard last year, Australian-born, US-based chef Dan Churchill decided to stick around… not only for the sake of his friends but also because of the café he co-founded in 2018 in the upscale borough of Nolita. “We were, of course, shut down for part of the year, and we saw quite a few people leave the city to return to Australia or their home countries,” he remembers. “That said, so many folks stuck around and became even more of a family to us, so we’re tighter knit as a result.”
Churchill, who is a regular now on Good Morning America, on ABC’s The Chew and on The Food Network, first came to New York to grow the “Dan Churchill brand” after his successes on Masterchef Australia, YouTube and on Australian television shows. He was already the author of several popular health cookbooks, had a decent following on social media and also had managed to squeeze in a Bachelor Degree in Sport and Exercise Management, and a Masters in Exercise Science, somewhere along the line.
What he found was a city filled with “resilient and strong New Yorkers” with a strong history of customer relations and service, which impressed him. Though, if truth be told, he found it hard to get a good cup of coffee. “New York’s coffee is getting better, but our cafe culture in Australia is definitely something lacking in New York,” he says. That’s partly the reason for his venture into bricks and mortar with his café Charlie St. “I wanted to create a space where all of the inspiration I’d had living and working in Australia could find a home in New York,” he explains. “My vision was based on the notion of colourful ingredients, great coffee, and a sense of community.”
His food philosophy, he says, is to encourage people to eat more plants and introduce as much colour and vibrancy as possible into their diet. In that vein, here he shares his favourite dessert recipe, just in time for the weekend. “Why over complicate things in life,” he says. “This is one way you can reuse a premade granola or use this as an excuse to simply mix some yourself. Plus, it’s one of the easiest desserts you can make and is perfect for a dinner party.”