Floyd Cardoz, Top Chef Master Season 3, won the nation over with his charm and continues to win them over with his clean and honest flavors served up at his restaurant; North End Grill in New York City.
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Recognized by his peers for bringing unfamiliar flavors from his motherland ‘India’ and incorporating them on his menus (at times boldly and at times with the subtlety of a whisper), he is credited for expanding the American palate.
With a vast culinary background which includes his classical training, working his way through kitchens in India, his experience at illustrious New York City restaurants and then the opening of his own restaurants; Tabla and now North End Grill, there has been a lot of ink around his name. Yet to meet Floyd, is to feel like you are meeting a long lost friend and so for the conversation to be uppity and formal would be anything but natural.
As I sat at his restaurant and enjoyed exotic touches to mainstay dishes, we talked about kids, travel and Christmas time at the Cardoz home. “Most people are surprised that I celebrated Christmas in India, I come from a Catholic family and this was our biggest feast” said Floyd. Floyds roots are from Goa, in the Southern part of India – a part of India that was colonized by the Portuguese and has a large Christian population. Christmas for him in India was a day to gear up for a huge family spread. The family would get together, the beers and wine opened up and spirits were high as everybody eagerly awaited the family lunch. There was the universal turkey to mark the occasion and then there was an array of Goan specialties, such as, Sorpatel - Goan Pork Stew, Sannas - a steamed coconut and rice cake and other proteins ranging from Pork Vindaloo to baked chicken.
Many miles away today, at his home in New Jersey, Christmas continues to be an important celebration for Floyd and his family. He continues to make some of those family festive staples, but opts for the less spice intensive dishes to embrace the milder palates of his kids.
Floyd shared with me, his recipe for Brussels Sprouts Hash. For those of you who think you know it all when it comes to Brussels Sprouts, think again. These sprouts do not fall victim to overcooking and as a result do not yield that offensive whiff. On the contrary, the finely shredded sprout is bright and given a quick flash in the sauté pan with chili flakes, curry leaves and a nutty textured lentil. This gives a classic Christmas dish quite a make over and the aroma will open even the pickiest of palates.
Recipe for Brussels Sprout Hash
3 + 1 tablespoons Canola oil
1 tablespoon split black beans (Urad dal)
1 tablespoon split yellow peas (Chana dal)
½ tablespoons Mustard seeds
1 teaspoons chili flakes
1 tablespoon minced Shallots
1 tablespoon minced Ginger
1 tablespoons fresh minced Chilies
3 tablespoons water
8 cups Brussels sprouts sliced thin on mandolin
1) Place a small sauce pan over low heat and add 3 tablespoons oil and beans. Heat oil slowly with the dals
2) Add the mustard seeds when dals start to color.
3) Cook for 1to 2 minute and add chilies flakes cook for 30 seconds. Add the ginger shallots and chillies. Season with salt and cook slowly. Add a little water or stock and cook so the lentils lose their crunch. (this can be done up to a day before )
4) Place a large sauté pan over moderate heat and add the I tablespoons canola oil and the Brussels sprouts and stir fry for 2 minutes add the lentil mix and continue to cook until tender (approximately 4-7 minutes more)
5) Season with salt
Saira Malhotra, is of British–Indian descent and is a chef, food writer and cooking instructor based in New York City. Raised in Hounslow, U.K, or rather ‘Little India’, where the air is aromatic with roasted spices, little did Saira know these moments would follow her from being a student in France and Italy to residing in NYC with her husband and kids and parlay themselves unexpectedly in to a culinary career. She is a graduate of the International Culinary Center in New York City. Come visit her at her food blog: www.passportpantry.com where she shares approachable and international recipes