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Rishi Singh – February 22, 2011Posted in: Featured

Food, it’s a sensory experience!

Touch – A sea of avocados, three minutes of thumb indentations to determine your ripe companion.
Taste – A smile creeping across your face as a triple cream brie serenades your taste-buds or biting a chili pepper which bites you back.

Sound – The snap and crackle of juicy steak searing in your cast-iron skillet, a rumbling boil of water anticipating fresh pasta.
Sight – Thirty colors of ice cream brighten your eyes on a steamy Houston afternoon or the sudden inspiration from a passing food truck.
Smell – An oven floods the house with scents of Cornish hen and homemade rolls. Food transports us.

“Love of food” is a sum of the sensory elements, a feeling of anticipation, the process of preparing a meal and sharing with friends and family. My name’s Rishi Singh, Hungry in Houston’s newest contributor.

My “chef instinct” is definitely a product of humble beginnings. I’d say my first unofficial training occurred in diapers, sitting atop a kitchen counter observing my mother stew and simmer various Indian curries, sauces, and form decadent desserts. Tasting rich and varied Indian cuisine at a young age definitely jump-started my palette. Rarely did my mother use a measuring spoon or cup, instinct drove her creations. I was instilled with her sense of cooking without boundaries and with an educated palette I gained the ability to mix and match unusual ingredients.

Right now I’m gazing at a bookshelf filled with international cuisine I use as a source of inspiration. So how does my “chef brain” work, what’s my creative method, my process?

Here’s a “candid” illustration of my neurons firing as I conceive recipes using popular Houston flavors:

I’m holding a book on Mediterranean cuisine and a book on Thai cuisine, how can I marry the flavors? Hmm, how about “Thai red curry hummus?” I think it would work, 5 parts traditional hummus and 1 part Thai red curry paste, blend, then garnish with a drizzle of chili oil. The flavor profiles should work in harmony, hummus is a neutral item and should marry well with a bold Thai curry. This could also taste great in a grilled tofu wrap!

Classic chicken salad is starting to bore me, blending mayonnaise, rice vinegar, mirin, and yellow curry paste, I think I have a new dressing for “Thai Chicken Salad.” I think I’ll toss in some currants for a few bursts of tart and sweet,  a garnish of shredded coconut should blend well. For color I’ll use some hand-torn cilantro and toasted black sesame seeds.

I love New Orleans Muffuletta and who doesn’t love pizza? How about a “Muffuletta pizza,” let’s top it with capicola ham, salami, emmentaler, provolone and use olive tapenade for the sauce.

Can I fuse Bahn Mi (Vietnamese Po-Boy) with Indian cuisine? Sure, how about stuffing french bread with tender tandoori chicken, cucumber, carrot and cilantro. I’ll use a garlic ghee as the spread and drizzle the sandwich with sriracha yogurt.

Would it be possible to deconstruct the above Bahn Mi creation? Sure, let’s make tandoori chicken stuffed samosas with a side of cucumber, carrot, and radish salad. We’ll utilize a creamy sriracha yogurt as a condiment and garnish with poppy seeds and cilantro.

Time to change up my daily Vietnamese coffee, this can of coconut milk has been in the cupboard for ages. Let’s reduce it with coffee and condensed milk, yum, “Vietnamese coffee” with hints of coconut.

During creative periods my mind simply begins to race, “Barbacoa Cheesesteak,” “Coconut Saffron Martini,” “Crepes stuffed with cumin crab”,”Carbonara pizza”,”Chickpea flour fried-chicken”,”Sriracha Hollaindaise”,”Boudin Burger”, etc.

Through work and travel I’ve had the opportunity to create, taste, and most importantly, serve the taste buds of the community. With my trusty Santouku knife and Canon camera I’ll be presenting fresh photos, hot recipe concepts, reviews, and general thoughts and processes “all things food”. Houston is a culinary playground with no lack of material. Well that’s enough about me. Thanks for the invite Adam and Stef!, I’m definitely Hungry in Houston, time to check out the city’s bounty.