Books | ‘Rasika: Flavors of India’ by Ashok Bajaj, Vikram Sunderam and David Hagedorn

At long last, in a book by the Washington, D.C. restaurant’s chef, owner and a local food writer, the recipe for palak chaat is revealed.

Photo by Mike Ramm

If there’s one reason to buy Rasika, it’s for the unveiling of the legendary palak chaat recipe. The step-by-step process for assembling the tower of crispy fried spinach decorated in raw onion and tomato with squirts of yogurt and tamarind sauce is revealed after more than a decade of adoration.

Rasika, a modern Indian restaurant in D.C., has been named one of the best places to eat since its inception, garnering four-star reviews from The Washington Post and a James Beard win for Best Chef for Vikram Sunderam. The book is partly an ode to creating the groundbreaking restaurant in what was then the emerging Penn Quarter neighborhood and a guide to Indian cooking with an edge of American trendiness and seasonality, like using kale in fritters, butternut squash instead of eggplant in a bharta dish and quinoa for pearl tapioca in a recipe eaten during fasting (not always a total abstention from eating). The authors—Rasika’s owner, Rasika’s chef and a local food writer—also give insight into the nuances of Indian spices and ingredients with callouts for specific brands, which is particularly helpful for novices. It’s the rare restaurant-based cookbook with the home cook in mind.

(January 2018)