Chef Prateek Sadhu hits the nostalgia button with this mouth-watering Kashmiri recipe

JAN 28, 2019 | By Aneesha Bhadri
Food photographs by Rohan Hande. Chef Prateek Sadhu of Masque.

Food is an integral part of our lives, whether we realize it or not. A meal, even a morsel can evoke a memory, a feeling that takes us back to happier times. There is an emotional link that is forged with the hot tom yum soup cheerfully slurped on a rainy day, when you’re out for dinner with friends. A bite of sinfully delicious semolina halwa can remind you of those lazy Sunday lunches that go on for a couple of hours. In an exclusive with Elle Decor India, Chef Prateek Sadhu of Masque captures this precious connection with food in his Kashmiri rice pancakes known as tzir czot, a recipe close to his heart. “It’s my mother’s recipe. I have grown up eating this. A lot of memories are attached to it,” says Prateek. In Kashmir, the indigenous kalari cheese is fried, salted and enjoyed as a snack with kulchas. By combining it with traditional Kashmiri rice pancakes and serving it with walnut chutney, he gives you Kashmir on a plate. The origin of the name of the dish — tzir czot — is derived from the sizzling sound the batter makes when it hits the hot pan. The pancakes are a simple affair of rice, onion, chillies, coriander, salt and water. He drizzles some ghee on the pancake and flips it. The kalari cheese, a more chewy version of mozzarella indigenous to Pahalgam, needs to be fried golden and salted. “Cheese is good any time, whether it is breakfast, lunch or dinner,” the chef quips. The thought of Pahalgam brings a nostalgic look to his face, “You must visit it in Summer.” He carefully plates the dish to bring out the colours and textures. Nudging us to eat the dish with our fingers, Prateek says, “Eating with the hands is such a significant part of Indian food and culture. You engage all your senses and you connect with the food you eat.” Recipe: Tzir Czot (Rice Pancake)500 g rice flour1 litre water 20 g onion, finely chopped 2 green chillies, finely chopped 5 g cumin powder Mix the ingredients for the pancake together. Heat a little ghee in a non-stick pan; once it starts smoking, pour in the batter and cook till golden brown on both sides. If you’d like, use a round cutter to get neater circles after cooking. Walnut & Radish Chutney200 g walnuts50 g radish4-5 red chillies 60 g yoghurt Salt, to taste Pound the walnuts, red chilli and radish to a fine paste. Add the yoghurt and season with salt. Mint Chutney½ bunch mint leaves 40 g coriander stems 1 green chilli Pinch salt 5 g cumin powder 2 g black salt2-3 limes ½ a raw mango 15 g (or 1 tbsp) yoghurt 2 ice cubes Wash the mint and coriander, then blend all the ingredients together till smooth.Tamarind Chutney1 kg tamarind pulp200 g jaggery20 g Kashmiri chilli 10 g cumin seeds15 g ginger powder5 g fennel powder 10 g black salt 2 bay leaves • Heat a little oil in a pan. Add the cumin and bay leaves, chilli, ginger, fennel powders and salt and cook for a minute.• Add 100 ml water, the tamarind pulp and jaggery and cook on a low flame until it thickens slightly.To construct: • Top each pancake with the three chutneys, sliced radishes and a handful of microgreens.• Using a non-stick pan on medium heat, fry the kalari cheese on both sides in a little ghee until golden brown. Season with salt and red chilli powder, then serve fresh off the pan atop the pancakes. Enjoy the tzir czot with a cup of hot tea!