They opened a curry house in Kyneton, drove a food truck through the Macedon Ranges and brought us creative Indian dishes at Horn Please (North Fitzroy) and Babu Ji (St Kilda). Husband and wife team Jessi and Jennifer Singh have worked hard to transform the way we think about modern Indian cuisine.
In May 2015, the Singhs expanded their offering with the opening of Babu Ji NYC in Alphabet City, East Village.
“We’ve loved bringing an elevated level of Indian dining to our guests in Melbourne,” says Jennifer. “But coming back to my hometown (of NYC) has been a long-time dream of ours.”
So, Babu Ji NYC was born. Like in Melbourne, the modern Indian classics as well as Indian street foods created by Punjab-born Jessi have been very well received.
One of the crowd favourites is the tandoori chicken – a recipe which features in The Broadsheet Cookbook. We're proud of its Melbourne roots, so we're sharing the secrets with you. Enjoy.
Horn Please's Tandoori Chicken
Chicken tandoori shouldn't be red. It comes as a surprise to Westerners who order the dish at Horn Please, the Indian restaurant originally run by Jessi Singh and his wife Jennifer, who have since sold to their longtime associates Amar and Raj Singh.
"Most restaurants add food colouring to their tandoori chicken and say that cayenne pepper or paprika is responsible for the distinctive colour. Chicken should not be red and ours isn't. There's nothing in a traditional tandoori chicken recipe from India that would make the dish appear red," says Jennifer.
But Horn Please, named after the hand-painted slogan on the back of vehicles in India, isn't all about sticking to tradition. Although Jessi has remained true to his culinary roots from north India to North Fitzroy, he puts his own spin on classic dishes. Tandoori chicken is traditionally slid off the skewer and served with a mint or yoghurt-based chutney and lemon, but Jessi balances the heat and complex spices with a refreshing salsa.
6 chicken thigh fillets
1 litre orange juice
25g thyme sprigs
150ml extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra
juice of 1 lemon
1 small fennel bulb, finely sliced
80g mixed green salad leaves
160g plain yoghurt
120ml lemon juice
50g ginger, crushed to a paste
50g garlic, crushed to a paste
2 teaspoons gram flour (chickpea flour)
2 teaspoons salt flakes
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground tumeric
½ teaspoon kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaf)
1 ripe mango, finely diced
1 carrot, finely julienned
2cm piece of ginger, finely julienned
3 coriander stalks, leaves picked
2 spring onions, finely sliced
1½ teaspoons salt flakes
This recipe will need to be started the day before serving.
To make the marinade, combine all the ingredients in a large bowl.
Trim the fat from the chicken and cut into slightly larger than bite-sized pieces. Add to the marinade and massage into the chicken. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.
The next day, preheat the oven to 180°C fan-forced (200° conventional).
To make an orange dressing for the chicken, add the orange juice and thyme to a small saucepan and reduce over low heat until approximately 100ml, about 20-30 minutes. Strain and mix with the extra-virgin olive oil.
Add the marinated chicken to a large casserole dish and roast for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, make a lemon dressing by combining the lemon juice with an equal quantity of extra-virgin olive oil.
For the mango salsa, combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl, dress with a couple of teaspoons of the lemon dressing and stir through gently to combine.
Combine the fennel with the salad leaves.
Remove the cooked chicken from the oven and rest for 5 minutes before combining with the orange dressing.
Spread the salad over a long rectangular serving plate, arrange the chicken on top and pour over the remaining lemon dressing. Sprinkle the mango salsa over the top and serve.
The Broadsheet Cookbook includes 80 recipes from our favourite local restaurants.
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