If there’s one reason to buy Rasika, it’s for the unveiling of the legendary palak chaat recipe. The step-by-step process for assembling the tower of crispy fried spinach decorated in raw onion and tomato with squirts of yogurt and tamarind sauce is revealed after more than a decade of adoration.
Rasika, a modern Indian restaurant in D.C., has been named one of the best places to eat since its inception, garnering four-star reviews from The Washington Post and a James Beard win for Best Chef for Vikram Sunderam. The book is partly an ode to creating the groundbreaking restaurant in what was then the emerging Penn Quarter neighborhood and a guide to Indian cooking with an edge of American trendiness and seasonality, like using kale in fritters, butternut squash instead of eggplant in a bharta dish and quinoa for pearl tapioca in a recipe eaten during fasting (not always a total abstention from eating). The authors—Rasika’s owner, Rasika’s chef and a local food writer—also give insight into the nuances of Indian spices and ingredients with callouts for specific brands, which is particularly helpful for novices. It’s the rare restaurant-based cookbook with the home cook in mind.