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Guest Chef Demonstration with Rakesh Nair

Le Cordon Bleu London were joined by Chef Rakesh Nair, known for his contemporary Indian cuisine, for a cooking demonstration at the school’s first Summer Festival on June 29th. Rakesh serves as Head Chef at The Cinnamon Club, Westminster, London, which is considered a highly innovative, fine dining Indian restaurant. Rakesh is also Group Development & Training Chef, where he oversees five different restaurants.

Born in the small coastal town of Varkala, Chef Rakesh first discovered his hunger for cooking in his childhood. Fast-forward, over the course of his 17-year culinary career, Rakesh has continued to evolve as a chef, devising refined Indian cuisine, upholding the state’s complex and interesting flavours while adopting Western culinary techniques.

Rakesh has been in The Cinnamon Club group since 2002, where he met renowned Indian Chef Vivek Singh, CEO of the group in Delhi, who asked him to join the team as Chef de partie. The restaurant continues to excel and expand with the launch of its two recent restaurant openings in the UK.

Rakesh’s ethos reflects what Le Cordon Bleu is also renowned for: delivering innovative dishes using traditional techniques.

Rakesh taught guests how to prepare clove smoked loin of lamb with black flower reduction, masala cashew nut.

When it comes to Indian cuisine, marinating the meat multiple times throughout each step is the key factor to getting those sharp and powerful flavours you often taste in Indian dishes. This recipe has two marinades for the lamb...

For the first marinade, the ingredients used were salt, red chilli powder, ginger and garlic paste. Once marinated, the lamb was set aside for about 20 minutes to allow the flavours to soak in before marinating the lamb for the second time. For second marinade, the ingredients used were Greek yoghurt, salt, red chilli powder, garlic, garam masala, chopped fresh coriander and vegetable oil.

The lamb was then smoked by placing it in a deep metal dish and putting live lump wood charcoal in the centre in a small bowl. After gently blowing the charcoal, cloves were placed on top of it. Clarified butter was drizzled over the lamb, then quickly covered with a lid, ensuring the smoke did not escape. Alternatively, it can be covered with tin foil. The meat was covered until the charcoal died out.

Next, they boiled onion and tomatoes with a little bit of water until they turned soft. Once done, it was blended into a smooth purée, and strained and set aside.

Vegetable oil was heated in a saucepan, with added remaining whole spices, rock moss, dry lime and fenugreek leaves, then stirred until the flavours were released. Ginger garlic paste followed by the powdered spices were added and cooked for one minute. Stock and purée were added and simmered down until the sauce reduced slightly. They stirred in the yoghurt and cooked for a couple minutes, then removed from the heat and strained until smooth.

For a third marinating sauce, a masala cashew nut was made using roasted, salted cashews, vegetable oil, chopped garlic, cumin seeds, crushed fenugreek leaves, a teaspoon of sugar and a pinch of chaat masala. These herbs and spices were heated up in a pan and stirred well for roughly 30 seconds. It was then removed from the heat and left to cool down and used as a garnish for the lamb saddle.

The lamb was laid in a frying pan at a low heat for another 2 minutes, and once done a fourth marinade was placed on the meat and finished in the oven, preheated to 180° C for four to five minutes. During this, a sprinkle of salt and chopped garlic was added on it.

Finally, once the lamb was removed from the oven, sliced and placed on a plate, with some sauce. The dish looked picture-perfect as it was served with pak choi halves alongside sprinkled masala cashew nuts.

Guests left with the knowledge of how to create this gorgeous dish. The experience Rakesh delivered was a truly motivating one for guests who aspire to be Chefs in the future.

To see other guest chef demonstrations like this one, visit our culinary conferences and cooking demonstrations page. Or to learn skills like those demonstrated by Rakesh Nair, why not browse our programmes and courses?