Key Ingredients In Indian Cuisine

Key Ingredients In Indian Cuisine

A cuisine can say much about its nation’s history. Every flavour has a part to play in the telling of a country’s story, and every ingredient comes with its own journey to the final dish. At Shakinah, we feel it’s important to stick to the original culinary narrative, although we don’t mind adding a few of our own embellishments and interpretations along the way. Nonetheless, we’ve always stayed true to the foundations of Indian food, and our chefs have ensured that only the very best selection of these basics come through the kitchen door.

Our Best Selected Indian Spices & Ingredients.

Here’s a breakdown of some of our indispensable staples:

Yoghurt

With over 300 million bovines in its territory, India possesses the largest dairy herd in the world, and is the greatest consumer of dairy produce on record. It’s therefore no surprise that it plays a central role in the Indian diet, with buffalo milk being the nation’s primary source, and the cow revered as a sacred symbol in the Hindu religion. From lassi to raita, paneer and ghee, dairy sets the scene at the Indian table, working in tandem with a rainbow of chillies and spices. Often used as a cooling agent as well as a tenderiser, yoghurt makes its appearance in various forms, such as a marinade for most meats in tandoori, or a base for curry sauces. Most of our meats and seafood at Shakinah are marinaded in yoghurt prior to cooking, and we recommend a side of our own raita recipe to temper your spicy selections. Alternatively, our lassis are a delicious accompaniment to your meal, be they as an apéritif or digestif. A yoghurt-based drink blended with fruit, spices and salt, lassi is an indulgent beverage with a tart flavour and rich texture. 

indian yoghurtPhoto: Shakinah’s Raita

Coconut

Mainly used in South Indian dishes, or as a vegan alternative to dairy, the coconut is a lucrative drupe from which communities in tropical climates have been benefitting for centuries. As another prominent symbol in Hindu culture, the coconut and its derivatives have served humanity well. While the coconut’s shell and tree trunk are used as a source of charcoal and timber respectively, the fruit itself has given cuisine coconut water, oil, milk, cream and the flesh itself. Coconut cream or milk is mainly used as a sauce thickener along with the masala, giving a mild but tangy punch to the dish. At Shakinah, we like to use fresh coconut in all our Madras dishes, but it is especially tasty in our Sakuti, where prawns a served in a roasted coconut and onion sauce.

Paneer

Another dairy hero in the Indian glossary, paneer is India’s answer to the Mediterranean’s halloumi. A semi-hard cheese that doesn’t melt, paneer is made from curdled buffalo milk that is set with an acidic substance such as lemon juice. Though not as salty as halloumi, paneer’s dense and chewy texture renders it a filling alternative to meat and fish, and can be added to any masala sauce, such as tikka masala or sometimes even chana masala. Its star appearance however is in palak paneer, where cubes of this succulent cheese are immersed in an aromatic emerald green spinach puree. At Shakinah, we also feature a decadent paneer pakora which are smothered in gram flour and deep fried. Do try!

Basmati Rice

As the largest exporter of rice in the world, India’s national economy is heavily dependent on the production of its rice. Rice is the country’s most dominant crop, and its hot and humid weather, as well as heavy rainfall, offers the perfect environment for rice cultivation. The Basmati grain is the most common in Indian cuisine, providing a fluffy carbohydrate with a nutty hint. Biryani dishes, originating from the Muslim communities in India, feature a rice dish that celebrates aromatic spices mixed with cut meat or seafood. Shakinah’s Chicken Biryani with saffron is a star attraction, as is our classic pilau rice with cardamom, cinnamon and turmeric.    

basmati rice indianPhoto: Shakinah’s Pilau Rice

A Collection of Winter Cocktails

A Collection of Winter Cocktails

Looking for a fresh vibe for your cocktail hour this weekend? Shakinah has gone the extra mile to present an exuberant collection of original cocktails, packed with flair, flavour and texture. Curated by our resident mixologists, the Shakinah Winter Cocktail Menu is served in a handmade selection of unique and Instagram-worthy glassware.

King Shivaji’s Chillies

Named after a historical leader in Indian lore, our King Shivaji pays tribute to the culture of heat and spice in Indian cuisine. A concoction of sweet and sour notes, cranberry syrup is teamed with freshly squeezed lemon juice and fresh chillies, topped onto a double shot of Disaronno. The mixture is then dry shaken with cloudy egg whites to merge everything together. We like to serve King Shivaji’s Chillies in our David glass with a garnish of fresh cranberries and lemon zest.

Sweet City

Here’s a lesson for 2022: Everyone should drink straight out of a miniature bathtub for once in their lives. And if it’s to be any liquid, it ought to be Shakinah’s Sweet City. Served with a shot of Prosecco and raspberry on the side, Sweet City is a sweet and creamy cocktail that sets its own little scene of luxury. Foamed for that bubble bath finish, this is garnished with finely chopped rose petals and smooth crystal ice cubes. For its alcoholic base, our mixologists have opted for Sailor Jerry Rum (vanilla and cinnamon notes) and that quintessential raspberry liqueur, Chambord.

Shakinah’s Pumpkin Spice

We couldn’t present a winter menu without having a pumpkin staple in the list. Proving to be incredibly popular among our regular clientele, our Pumpkin Spice is packed with flavour and a heady texture. Presenting the sweet flavours of molasses, cinnamon, ginger and clove through Kraken Spiced Rum, the blend includes almond and vanilla milk, golden honey syrup and a pumpkin spice mix. Naturally, we’ve topped this with pumpkin seeds for that extra crunch.

Gin-ger Bread Fusion

We don’t mind milking the Christmas flavours throughout the rest of the winter period. Our Gin-ger Bread Fusion is a sour and creamy fluid of naughty niceness, served in a blush pink Christmas stocking, because why not? Bombay Sapphire Gin is infused with earl grey tea, gingerbread syrup, fresh lemon juice and mint leaves then well shaken with a delightful mixture of cloudy egg whites and a few drops of angostura bitters. We’re not afraid to be decadent at Shakinah.

Emperor Akbar’s Caramel Coffee Deluxe

We suggest you leave this one for afters. Our rich and sweet caffeine option comes with a coffee liqueur base, coupled with a serving of vodka and a fresh shot of espresso. Emperor Akbar offers a generous helping of caramel syrup and a pinch of pink Himalayan salt. This is also served with a cheeky side of sweet and salty popcorn.

Cranberry Mahal Mule

 

Our feisty thirst quencher comes adorned in our Frida glass, and encompasses all that is beautifully sour. The Cranberry Mahal Mule combines the sour classics of freshly blended cranberries, freshly squeezed lime and fresh ginger. These are then amalgamated with a serving of vodka and ginger ale. We recommend this tasty concoction at the start of your meal to whet your appetite.

Mulled Cider

Our mulled cider or wine is our very own mystery basket. Ask your server what we have on offer on the daily!