Raasta The Carribbean Lounge at Hauz Khas, Delhi, specialises in Carribbean comfort foods: roasty, long-cooked comfort foods; pot roast, because of the all-day-on-the-stove essence. The restaurant’s signature dishes are Caribbean Chicken Stips, Caribbean Raw Banana Fritters, Cuban Cigar Rolls, Thyme Chicken Curry, stewed chicken or the creole seasoning, rubbed tenderloin with trinity of scallion, celery and pepper as the base of most of the dishes. With use of Herbano chillis imported from Cuba, rum and mango chutney as common cooking condiment, Chef Anil Pandey talks about the know-how of the cuisine and techniques used at Raasta to make it a lip-smacking affair.
Carribbean cuisine is essentially a collage of flavours and food style of the countries surrounding carribbean sea bringing together indigenous tastes of the native Arawak – Armends and Carib Indians, Chinese, European colonial influences, African flavours introduced by slaves, and strong Arab influence started late 20th century. In a nutshell, the cuisine includes flavours and cooking styles of the globe.
Seafood is a natural specialty, an enticing Creole mix that is one of the most widespread cultural exports of the Carribbean imbibed in the food. Indeed, the innovative cuisine of the West Indies is enjoyed all over the world. For those simply searching for familiar flavors, the cuisine offers fast food and pizza, among other international styles right from Chinese to Italian.
When it comes to cooking styles, Raasta focusses on Bajan style of cooking with emphasis on grilling, broiling and BBQ in an open spit roasting tandoor. The Carribbean colonial heritage certainly has an effect on Bajan’s style of cuisine. Raasta offers both classic and modern French cuisines too.
Seafood is a huge source of sustenance in the Carribbean. Specialties include Ye odle fish and chips, Cujun grilled Bassa, Jerk grilled salmon and Carni Jambalaya. Raasta offers chicken, pork, beef, goat, lamb and extensive variety of sea food. Poultry is the most economical choice of meat, so it is widely found in the restaurant’s menu.
Pandey mentions that Raasta extensively uses coconuts, mangoes, papayas, bananas, oranges, apples, figs, and pomegranate, Herbano chilly and other Indian varieties including ghost chilli from Assam. Starchy root vegetables and gourds such as sweet potatoes, yams, pumpkins, okra, tomatoes, pepper, cucumbers, onions, and a variety of fresh beans are also used. Most of the spice blends used at the restaurant are inhouse, Jerk spice, cajun rub, creole spice mix and the most interesting Bajan seasoning with mixture of fresh herbs and spices including thyme, marjoram, parsley, basil, clove. Spices such as Kebab Chini, black pepper, paprika, salt, and onions, garlic, and spring onions and ginger powder, are used in the signature dishes of the restaurant. Most of the ingredients used for the cuisine at Raasta are fresh and available in prime markets of Delhi.
Carribbean cuisine does not need too many specialised equipments and kitchen accessories as in the case of other specialised cuisines.