By Anupam Dabral
Simi Kohli’s earliest encounters with food happened in her talented mother’s kitchen. However, the founder of the very popular Shibuya restaurant in Delhi credits her father for pushing her to understand gastronomy better.
“He would make us try different cuisines, introduce new ingredients and never once complain if we didn’t get a certain dish right. Instead, he’d appreciate the effort!” she says.
Born in Mumbai, Simi spent her adolescent years in Tehran. She later moved to Delhi to study and settled here after marriage. Her restaurant in the lush locales of Greater Kailash II is a one-stop destination for anyone who wants to explore pan-Asian cuisine, and especially Japanese. Not just that, but every small detail, from the food to the buzzing atmosphere, has a punch of global flavour.
Her Instagram page is proof of her love for travelling: Be it trailing the spice route across Sri Lanka or discovering the gastronomical wonders of scenic Chinese provinces, Simi has found inspiration in all the corners of the world. Married to a travel aficionado, Simi says, “Travel truly is the best form of education.”
With Shibuya, Simi is combining her passion for food and travel with photography. Food for her is nothing less than art and she thrives on the limitless possibilities that come with it.
Her belief is not just about creating sumptuous recipes, but also presenting them in an appetizing way. Here, she shares three recipes from her restaurant. Try them out!
MANGO DRAGON FRUIT SMOOTHIE
Ingredients (serves 1):
1 cup Greek yoghurt
1 tbsp honey
1 frozen chopped mango (preferably Alphonso)
1/2 frozen banana
1/2 dragon fruit
1 tsp chia seeds
1. In a glass, place slices of dragon fruit on the inside wall of the glass.
2. Prepare a skewer of the dragon fruit for garnish and set aside.
3. Add the yoghurt, mango, banana, chia seeds, honey and 1/4 dragon fruit in a blender and blend well. Pulse it a couple of times before you pour it into the glass you prepared earlier.
4. Garnish with the skewer and sprinkle some chia seeds on top.
ASIAN MANGO SALAD
Ingredients (serves 2-4 people):
2 cup grated raw mango
1/2 cup iceberg lettuce, finely julienned
1/2 cup purple cabbage, finely julienned
1/3 cup peanuts, roasted and coarsely crushed
Handful of mint leaves, washed and stemmed
Handful of basil leaves, washed and stemmed
Handful of lemon balm leaves, washed and stemmed
Handful of coriander leaves, washed and stemmed
1/3 cup shallots, finely julienned and dehydrated or deep fried and left to air dry
For the dressing:
3 bird’s eye chilli, finely chopped
4 tbsp light soya sauce
4 tbsp peanut / sesame oil
5 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp coconut / palm sugar
4 tbsp fish sauce
1. Put all the dressing ingredients in one bowl and whisk them together.
2. Then add all the salad ingredients other than the shallots and peanuts.
3. Use washed hands to mix them well so that everything is coated with the dressing.
4. Place the salad on a salad platter and top it with the shallots and peanuts.
5. Ornament with a few edible flowers (optional).
6. Serve it immediately and enjoy your salad!
SOYA HONEY GLAZED VEGETABLES
Ingredients (serves 2-3 people):
6-8 asparagus, trimmed
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
250 gm green beans, trimmed and snapped in half
1 small head broccoli
Handful of peas
6-8 green onions, trimmed
6-8 cloves garlic, peeled
4 dry red chillies
4 star anise
4 tbsp sesame oil
3 tbsp honey (I used Pioneer Honey’s Kashmiri Ginger)
4 tbsp soya sauce
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
1. In a wok, heat the sesame oil and add the dry red chillies, star anise and garlic.
2. Sauté for a few minutes. Once you can smell the aroma, add the vegetables – green beans, asparagus, broccoli, green onions – and stir fry them on high flame for 4-6 minutes. Make sure to toss them frequently.
3. Once they are almost done and slightly caramelised, add the cherry tomatoes and peas, and toss for a couple of minutes more along with honey and soya sauce.
4. Finish the dish with the lemon juice and test for the flavour at this point; adjust with the salt and pepper.
5. Serve hot.
First published in the July 2018 issue of eShe magazine.