Fork in the Road Reviews Elettaria (with Bonus Recipe)

Categories: Forking It Over

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This week, I review Elettaria, Akhtar Nawab's new Indian-New American place on 8th Street in the Village.

I think the only other critic to write about Elettaria so far is Alan Richman, and I agree with his assessment that the restaurant has "a coherent and confident point of view."

Much of what I ate at Elettaria was both delicious and surprising—new ideas thoughtfully executed. Even when things aren't quite right (check out the waitress' dresses, for one...) they do reflect coherence and confidence. This is a restaurant with a soul and a point of view.

Whenever I review a restaurant, I'm going to try to get the chef to give me the recipe for a dish I liked and post it here.

So! Akhtar Nawab's Pan roasted Duck, Keema, Nettles, Cardamom, after the jump.

Pan roasted Duck, Keema, Nettles, Cardamom
Chef Akhtar Nawab, Elettaria
Yield: serves 4

1 Long Island duckling, butchered into two legs and two breasts
1 cup sugar
1 cup salt
1 tsp coriander, toasted
1 tsp fennel seed , toasted
1 tsp mustard seed, toasted
4 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
1 tsp peppercorns
4 cardomom pods, ground in a spice grinder and toasted
4 tbs butter, divided
1 onion, minced fine
2 tsp ginger, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 fresh chile
2 cinnamon sticks
2 cloves
4 cardamom pods, divided
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp saffron
2 large potatoes, peeled and diced, 1/2 inch squares
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup diced carrots, 1/2 inch squares
1lb stinging nettles, cleaned and blanched
ground cardamom, to taste

For the duck breasts:
In a large bowl, combine the sugar, salt, coriander, fennel, mustard seeds, thyme, bay leaves, peppercorns, and cardamom. Pour this curing mixture over the duck breasts and leave to cure for 8 hours.

Bone the leg meat and coarsely dice the meat. Place in the freezer for 1 hour. When fully frozen, run through a meat grinder and place the ground leg meat in the fridge to keep cold.

For the keema (ragout):
In a large pot, add 2 tbs butter, then add the onion, ginger, garlic and chile. Leave to stew until tender. Separately, toast the cinnamon, cloves, 2 cardamom pods, turmeric and saffron in a small pan over medium heat. When aromatic, add the toasted spices to the onion mixture.

In a separate pan, heat 1 tbs butter and add the ground duck leg meat. Cook until the fat separates from the meat. Pour into a colander and discard the fat.
Add the ground duck meat to the already cooking onion and spice mixture. Cook over low heat until the flavor begins to develop.

After an hour of low heat cooking, add the carrots and cook for 20 more minutes. Then add the potatoes and cook until tender. When the potatoes are tender the ragout can be removed from the stove and left to cool.

To finish the dish:
Cook the duck breasts on the skin side on low heat in a heavy steel pan to render the fat. After about 10 minutes, discard the fat and add 1 tbs of butter to the pan. Add 2 cardamom pods to the pan, and baste until the meat is medium rare. Leave to rest in a warm place.

In the same pan as the duck was cooking, add the blanched nettles and sauté.

Gently re-heat the ragout in a small pot. Equally divide the ragout into 4 bowls, being careful not to damage the cooked potatoes. Carve and place the slices of duck breast over the ragout. Scatter the stinging nettles over the duck and season with ground cardamom.

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