Today Janine created two new fusion dishes inspired by the Bangladeshi food that she has been learning to cook over the past couple of weeks. As the culinary intern, Janine’s responsibility this summer is to infuse Bangladeshi flavors into a new menu at Panigram that is not only delicious, but reflects the resort’s core values of fresh, sustainable, and inspirational. Her first two recipes – Pumpkin Spice Shobji and Banana Cake – definitely meet both requirements.
As a rule, culinary artists rarely achieve perfection with recipes on the first attempt. Today, however, Janine hit the bull’s eye with her Pumpkin Spice Shobji. The simple taste of the pumpkin and the savory flavors of the shallots and garlic complemented the spicy harmony of cinnamon and clove.
“It’s the start of the monsoon season in Bangladesh, the harvest time for pumpkin,” explains Janine, ”I believe that Panigram’s menu must embrace fresh, local, and seasonal ingredients, so pumpkin was a natural choice. The earthy textures and tones completment the spices and flavors of Bangladeshi food. I played around with the traditional shobji recipe to make it lighter and healthier while still maintaining the complexity needed for a luxury menu item.”
Delicious with rice, Pumpkin Spice Shobji is a hit with all the interns. Chi Chi, Jonathon, and myself all give the dish a two thumbs up rating. Ever the perfectionist, Janine feels the dish needs a tad more fresh chili to add another dimension – and a little attitude – to the already flavorful dish.
With one savory recipe under her belt, Janine next offered us her dessert: banana cake topped with cinnamon-infused honey. The spicy honey overwhelmed the mellow banana and vanilla flavors of the cake. Janine, recognizing this issue with the recipe, plans to replace the cinnamon honey with Bangladeshi ghur (molasses from date palms).
“I conceived the idea for my recipe after trying banana cake at our neighbor’s home,” continues Janine. “The dish I had was essentially a deep-fried banana dumpling; I tried to make the dessert lighter. Instead of using the ubiquitous deep fry method, I modified the recipe to make an actual cake. Also, I believe the ghur will make the dessert more sophisticated while still maintaining its Bangladeshi origins.”
With two new recipes, Janine is ready to tackle other culinary challenges. This upcoming week she hopes to perfect a chilled yogurt soup, a steamed hilsha fish entrée, and coconut mishti doy (sweet yogurt). I look foward to sampling more of Janine’s delicious creations.