My Global Kitchen: Q&A with Cassia Owner and Chef Sid Sahrawat

Sid Sahrawat chats to us about Indian cuisine, his My Global Kitchen creation and shows us how to plate it up – restaurant-style!

Cassia Owner & Chef Sid Sahrawat (Photo by Josh Griggs)

What’s the story behind Cassia?
Cassia is a modern Indian restaurant in Auckland’s CBD. The restaurant is underground – down a Melbourne-style laneway and has an industrial vibe. My wife Chand and I wanted to showcase our Indian culture through sharing our cuisine but not as you would normally expect out of an Indian restaurant.

We showcase our beautiful New Zealand produce using traditional Indian flavours. Cassia chefs use both traditional Indian techniques like cooking on coal in a Tandoor (clay oven) but also European cooking techniques like confit-slow cooking in fat. It is all about treating the produce with respect while enhancing the flavours.

What flavours are prominent in Indian cuisine?
Indian cuisine is a marriage of spices, it is bold. There is a certain skill to balancing the spices to get the flavours just right. People associate spice with chilli but Indian food is not really hot, it’s aromatic. As India is the birthplace of many spices like cardamom, peppercorns and cinnamon, the food of the region is unique and varied. Regional differences in the cuisine also make it very interesting. For example, South Indian food is more subtle and delicate while North Indian is bold. 

Sid and Chand Sahrawat in front of Cassia (Photo by Greta Kenyon)

What was the inspiration behind your dish for My Global Kitchen?
As a kid I travelled a lot as my father was in the army. My favourite journeys involved getting food at different train stations, I remember eating vegetable Korma and rice in a city called Lucknow. I recreated that memory at Cassia and thought that the mild korma sauce would be perfectly paired with fish. The Korma sauce recipe is an old recipe passed through generations and was actually brought to India by Mughal kings.

What ingredients can foodies expect to experience?
The korma sauce is almond based so it will have a nutty and creamy flavour with subtle hints of cumin, coriander and turmeric.

What tips do you have for foodies when cooking the dish?
Cooking the fish just right will be key. Look at your fish fillet and adjust your cooking and heat accordingly.  A good way to tell when the fish is cooked perfectly is to prod it with the back of a spoon and if it has no resistance it’s ready.

Sid demonstrates how to place your dish restaurant-style
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