Have you ever tried fruit stuffed crepes for breakfast? If you want Indian touches to that, perhaps you could try ‘Chocolate Dosa’. If you are worried about the calories in heavy-to-digest pizza, you could perhaps try cheese vegetable utappam.
Fusion seems to be a natural habit for Indians who always want some Indian taste in any food item from any other cuisine. For those who are still struggling to Americanize or Indianize a favorite dish, expert help comes from musician Anand Bhatt.
Bhatt, who hosts ‘Rock Star Recipes’ show on Amazon Prime, has recently published his book ‘Rock Star Recipes’ featuring Latin Indian fusion recipes on Amazon Kindle. ‘Rock Star Recipes’ is perhaps the first book to present fusion of Indian and Latin foods, and includes interesting recipes, such as Pani Puri Nachos, Aloo Mofongo, Vindaloo PorkTacos, Churro Gulab Jamun, Tres Leches Ras Malai, Butter Chicken Enchiladas, Samosa Quesadillas, and more.
The first Indian to walk the Latin Grammy’s red carpet, Bhatt is a Chicagoan. Bhatt’s family includes a mechanical engineer father, a school teacher mother, and an older sibling. Bhatt was attracted to music from childhood, having created and performed an original song which later aired on the Chicago Radio. During his years at the University of Illinois, Chicago, while doing his undergraduate and graduate degrees, Bhatt met with like-minded friends and formed his own heavy rock group, Anand Clique, with which he has also performed solo. Bhatt’s first Grammy nomination as a lead guitarist was playing with the rock group ‘Faith No More’.
Bhatt’s involvement with food is a natural blend, according to him. “My music has been in ‘Latindian Style’ for a while, and it was only natural for this fusion to bleed into my cooking,” Bhatt told News India Times in an exclusive interview.
The cooking show ‘Rock Star Recipes’ on Amazon began as a book, Bhatt said. “When I wrote my original book, “Rock Star Recipes,” it was inspired by my experiences as a musician on the road,” he said. The book features entertaining anecdotes about Bhatt’s encounters with colleagues and heroes such as Motley Crue, as well as a wide range of recipes that he used, to stay healthy and keep his taste buds happy while travelling, Bhatt said.
‘Rock Star Recipes’ became a hit and later became a TV show on Amazon in the U.S. and the U.K. Born out of the necessity to find entertainment and creativity during the confinement of the pandemic, the show has a unique concept. Restaurant chefs would send ingredients and instructions for their signature dishes and Bhatt would create the dishes on camera. “My kitchen turned into a two camera studio for months!” Bhatt said.
‘Rock Star Recipes’ features fusion of Latin and Indian food, but Bhatt said he cannot remember when he first had Latin food. “It has always been a part of my life,” he said. Bhatt remembers going to Mexico on vacation as a child several times with his family. “I believe my first taste of Latin food was likely Mexican cuisine,” he said. He said Mexican cuisine has been a part of his life since then.
Experimenting in music or food is part of Bhatt’s creative mindset, he said, adding he often tries new things on the spur of the moment. Bhatt said he finds fusing cuisine creative. The desire to add Indian touches to Latino dishes or adding Latino touches to Indian dishes is ‘incredibly enjoyable’ with countless creative possibilities, he said. “I had a fantastic time creating dishes like Samosa Empanadas and Tres Leches Ras Malai for this most recent cookbook,” he said.
There is also a practical side to creating fusion dishes. Bhatt said he found it difficult to find food to his taste while on music tours. Indian spices and herbs are still not part of everyday cuisine in many parts of the country. Bhatt ended up making his own meals and bringing them along on his tours. Like his music, his food also has taken on the Latindian style, he said.
Bhatt spoke of an opportunity to learn about Latin cuisine in Jalisco where he found the best authentic Mexican food, especially at the street side restaurants or dhabas and birria. Bhatt said he then began incorporating other Latin flavors in his cooking, having traveled and lived in Nicaragua, The Dominican Republic and Colombia.
Anand Bhatt’s new book ‘Rock Star Recipes’ is available at https://amzn.to/3KtwuAD
RECIPE SHARED BY ANAND BHATT WITH DESI TALK/NEWS INDIA TIMES
Bhatt shared the recipe of Samosa Empanadas from his book. He said it is one of his favorite recipe. “They are fun to make, and folding the little empanadas into samosa shapes is just challenging enough to make it interesting,” he said.
The crispy and delicious samosa empanadas are a fusion of the spicy and savory Indian and Latin flavors, combining the traditional flavors of Indian samosas with the Latin American pastry.
For the Filling:
2 potatoes, boiled and mashed
1 cup green peas, boiled
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 inch ginger, grated
2 green chilies, finely chopped
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons oil
For the Empanada Dough:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold water
• To prepare the filling, heat oil in a pan and add cumin seeds. Let them sizzle for a few seconds.
• Add ginger, garlic and green chilies and sauté for a minute.
• Add onions and cook until they turn translucent.
• Add turmeric powder, coriander powder, garam masala and red chili powder. Sauté for 30 seconds.
• Add mashed potatoes and boiled peas. Mix well and cook for 2-3 minutes.
• Add salt and lemon juice. Mix well and let it cool.
- To prepare the empanada dough, in a large bowl, mix together flour, baking powder and salt.
• Add shortening and butter and mix well using your fingers until it resembles coarse sand.
• Add cold water and mix until it forms a smooth dough.
• Knead the dough for a few minutes and cover with a damp cloth. Let it rest for 30 minutes.
• Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
• Divide the dough into small portions and roll each portion into a small circle.
• Place a tablespoon of the filling in the center of the circle.
• Fold the circle in half and seal the edges using a fork.
• Repeat the process with the remaining dough and filling.
• Place the empanadas on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
• Brush the empanadas with beaten egg for a golden color.
• Bake for 20-25 minutes or until they are golden brown.
• Serve the hot samosa empanadas with your favorite dipping sauce.