Tuesday, April 16, 2019

The Spiceman Cometh: Meet Indian Specialty Chef Radhey Shayam of The Peninsula Manila's Spices

People say enjoying authentic Indian food is like a spiritual experience. The delicate blend of rich and exotic spices, the layering of complex flavors and the bold yet subtle, almost sublime flavorful punch that hits the palate are what you can expect from this unique eastern cuisine. And The Peninsula Manila's Spices unveils even more delicate layers from this fabled culinary heritage with the arrival of their new Indian specialty chef... 

The Peninsula Manila welcomes its new Indian Specialty Chef, Radhey Shayam, to their signature Asian restaurant, Spices. Known for their vibrant Asian cuisine, Spices takes diners on a culinary journey of eastern flavors with its impressive repertoire of Indian, Indonesian, Malaysian, Thai, Vietnamese and Singaporean dishes (for more on Spices at The Peninsula Manila, see my previous posts, Thailand on my Plate: A Thai Cooking Class at The Peninsula Manila's Spices and Spices Under the Stars at The Peninsula Manila). The arrival of Indian Specialty Chef Radhey Shayam completes the colorful tapestry of Asian flavors, and loyal diners can expect authenticity with every dish served at Spices...

Indian Specialty Chef Radhey Shayam's personal culinary journey began at an early age, observing his mother and grandmother at the kitchen. Hailing from the state of Uttarakhand near the Himalayan foothills bordering both Nepal and China, Chef Radhey's palate is deeply rooted in traditional Northern Indian cuisine with its milder, more delicate and nuanced flavors. It's a journey that led him to culinary school in the city of Dehradun followed by a stint at New Delhi's restaurant chain, Sagar Ratna. But Chef Radhey was ready to take on the world, leading him to Nanjing and eventually to Beijing with the prestigious The Red Club 96 Nanchizi in the historic city's Old Quarter followed by a post in The Peninsula Beijing. It wasn't long before Chef Radhey's journey took him further east to The Peninsula Manila's Spices restaurant.

A staunch adherent of the Pandit Brahmin diet, or yogic diet, Chef Radhey follows a strict vegetarian lifestyle choosing natural foods that promote peace and tranquility like herbs, spices, vegetables and nuts. How does Chef Radhey manage the pork, chicken, mutton and beef dishes at Spices? Chef Radhey turns to his culinary hero, Master Chef India host and judge, Kunal Kapur, saying he first perfects the sauces of these ingredients before adding the meat. Just a little over six months in his new assignment, Chef Radhey's Chili Paneer, Tandoori Jumbo Prawns and Chicken Manchurian, a dish reflecting his experience in China, have already been tagged as favorites by loyal diners of Spices. And Chef Radhey has big plans for Spices. "My dream for Spices is to put it under the spotlight and attract more customers to make them discover truly authentic Indian cuisine," said Chef Radhey. Drawing inspiration from fond childhood memories in the family kitchen, guests at the exclusive media preview experienced a sample of Chef Radhey's rustic and authentic Indian flavors at The Peninsula Manila's Spices.

That evening, the Peninsula Manila's new Beverage Manager, Federico Deang (L),  also shared his inspired cocktail creations to complement the festive vibe at Spices. A round of his handcrafted libations followed by another gets you in that chill groove in no time, as Indian Specialty Chef Radhey Shayam joined guests at the table (R). 

The Peninsula Manila's Beverage Manager Federico Deang gets you on track with the first of five refreshingly inventive cocktails with the Manila Dawn, a mildly sweet and tart concoction with green tea infused-vodka, ripe mango, passionfruit, fresh lime and sugarcane. Each sip delivers bright tropical and fruity hints, perfectly finished by the sharp notes of the green tea-infused vodka.

The Opihr with apple slices and cinnamon drapes your palate with an indulgent sweetness, opening up the palate with its soothing notes...

...while Federico Deang's third cocktail creation, in stark contrast, offers a bolder and more pronounced citrus profile. The Arc Botanical with dalandan and calamansi is perfect for humid summer evenings, cooling you down followed by the zesty sharpness of dalandan and calamansi.

Made with Arc Botanical, a premium local handcrafted gin infused with rare botanicals foraged from all over the Philippines including Sagada oranges, Benguet pine, sampaguita and ylang-ylang flowers, the floral and aromatic hints combine for a clean, balanced and refreshingly crisp finish. 

The elegant French gin, Citadelle, is the base for Federico Deang's next cocktail. The Citadelle with orange and rosemary combines citrus and herbal notes in a light and velvety smooth blend with deep and rounded flavors...

...followed by a tangy finish from its unique blend of 19 different botanicals including Moroccan coriander, French juniper and Chinese liquorice. From the first cocktail to the last, Federico Deang weaves his own colorful tapestry of refreshing notes in four unique expressions. But like they say, finish strong. And Federico Deang does exactly that with his last cocktail.

The name itself already tells you this is one potent cocktail. Made with the increasingly popular gin from Thailand, Iron Balls with pineapple and kaffir leaves culminates your cocktail flight by Federico Deang on a high note. Using pineapples and coconut as the base for the distillation process of the gin, Iron Balls packs quite a punch finished by a subtle sweetness for balanced notes. Federico Deang brings out the delicate notes of these botanicals by adding slices of pineapples and kaffir leaves for even more layers of flavor with every sip. One more round, and Indian Specialty Chef Radhey Shayam served his sumptuous Indian feast...

...starting with the Crispy Chicken Samosa Spring Rolls with coriander yogurt and fresh mint. Perfectly deep-fried with a light crispness, the mildly spicy samosas with thin flaky pastry offers both flavor and texture followed by rounded notes from Chef Radhey Shayam's spice blend for depth.

The richer flavors of the savory filling comes from the use of free-range chickens sourced from Pamora Farms in Abra. One bite gives you an idea of Indian Specialty Chef Radhey's culinary style, with the delicate blend of spices that do not overwhelm the palate. Instead, Chef Radhey builds multiple layers of distinct notes with a variety of spices emphasizing flavor instead of heat.

A traditional Indian Thali is served next with a variety of popular staples including Garlic Naan, Papadum, an Indian salad with ripe tomatoes, cucumber, red onions and fresh coriander; Murgh Makani, Chili Paneer, Malai Kofta, Goat Rogan Josh, Dal Makhani, Matar Pulao and Raita Yoghurt. This is India on a platter, and Chef Radhey masterfully recreates each dish with his blend of rich spices.

The Garlic Naan with ghee or clarified butter, crushed garlic, and chopped cilantro is a soft and chewy Indian flatbread based on his mother's recipe, while the Papadum is a thin and crisp tandoor-baked bread using seasoned dough. One of Chef Radhey's signature dishes, Murgh Makani or Butter Chicken, is also part of the lavish Indian thali. Made with tender roasted free-range chicken in a thick and silky tomato gravy, it's a dish that typifies the Spices experience. The delicate notes of the chicken are kicked up by the rich spice blend of the gravy. But the spices do not overpower the dish, as with many Northern Indian dishes. The Chili Paneer with Paneer cheese, stir-fried capsicum, onion and chili glaze is inspired by Chef Radhey's stint in China for a creative fusion of Indo-Chinese flavors. True to his yogic diet, the Malai Kofta is a vegetarian version using Paneer cheese instead of meat for his kofta along with potatoes, nuts and dried fruits. It's a recipe he shares with his brother, also a chef in the UK, for a lighter yet satisfying kofta dish without meat. The richly spiced Goat Rogan Josh is a succulent and savory slow-braised stew with garlic, ginger, cardamom, cloves and cumin combining for complex yet balanced flavors. The Dal Makhani, a creamy Punjabi dish of braised lentils, reveals Chef Radhey's culinary journey. It's the very first dish he prepared as a child that inspired him to pursue a career in the culinary arts. At the center of the thali is Chef Radhey's Matar Pulao, a Basmati Rice Pilaf with onions, english peas, cashews and spices. It's a vegetarian rice dish created by Chef Radhey exclusively for Spices, and no, you won't find this dish anywhere in the metro. And just in case you can't take the heat from spice blend, Chef Radhey's Raita Yoghurt with cucumber, onion and lemon juice is there to cool you down.  The variety of flavors offer not only a tasty glimpse of Spices, but Chef Radhey's culinary journey. But there's more... 

Chef Radhey's Tandoori Jumbo Prawns with coriander and fresh mint brings the smoky notes of the tandoor oven, the complex spice blend and the succulent briny sweetness of the sustainably-farmed prawns in a seamless and perfectly balanced blend, easily one of my favorites during the media preview dinner. The fresh snap of the plump prawns releases fresh and clean flavors capped by the spices to complete the dish. 

Our Indian feast at Spices by Chef Radhey Shayam ends with another seafood dish, the Salmon Fillet Tikka Masala with tandoor-roasted Norwegian Salmon draped in a thick spiced curry sauce. The North Indian dish highlights the buttery flavors of the premium salmon complemented by the fenugreek-based sauce of the rustic tikka masala. Like many of Chef Radhey's dishes, the flavors are delicate, even gentle, compared to the spicier dishes of the south. It's these distinctive and authentic flavors that offer diners at Spices yet another taste of Indian cuisine.

For dessert, Chef Radhey presented his elegant Mango Kulfi, a decadent medley of pistachio cremeaux with cardamom crumble and mango jelly. It's been said many times before, there's just no better way to understand and appreciate a culture, or a person, than experiencing their local cuisine. That evening, I was introduced to the gentler flavors of the north that make up the diverse culinary heritage of India. And I have to say, it's one more reason to visit Spices at The Peninsula Manila. Again.

A freshly brewed cup of Masala Tea infused with spices caps our sumptuous evening at Spices.  

From cocktails to starters and savory mains, Spices remains at the top of the list for authentic Asian flavors in Manila. And the new Spiceman, Indian Specialty Chef Radhey Shayam, is waiting to take you on a culinary journey to exotic destinations...at Spices.    

Spices is located at the lobby level of The Peninsula Manila, Corner of Ayala and Makati Avenues, Makati City or call +632 887-2888, 812-3456 and 810-3456 extensions 6754 and 6755.

Dude for Food is now on Facebook and Instagram, check out the FB Page and IG Feed for regular updates on good eats. Better yet, click "Like" and "Follow" and enjoy the ride...just look for the FB and IG widgets on the right sidebar.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Got something to share? I'd love to hear from you...

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...