Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Chutney's Sarasota - A Dining Paradise

There are most restaurants, and then there are extraordinary restaurants like Chutney's of Sarasota, which serves Greek, Middle Eastern, Indian and other cuisines. It is not easy to serve such diverse cuisines, but Chutney's does it remarkably well. It is run by husband and wife team - Ash Shukla and Denise May, and has been a fixture of the Sarasota restaurant scene for some 27 years. We have not met her, but he is the perfect restaurateur - charming, gregarious, creative, customer-focused, etc., etc.

We had not eaten there for a number of years, but decided to try it last night when we were in the area of Sarasota Memorial Hospital for a late-afternoon doctor's appointment. It turned out to be the perfect choice. Every morsel was superb, and the wine was very nice.

Most of what we had were specials for the day. It was very hard to chose because there were so many delicious-sounding dishes.

My wife started with the Greek salad that came with her meal. This "Greek Salad" was the Americanized version of Greek salad because it had lettuce, which one does not find in true Greek salads.

I had bowl of Persian spinach and lemon soup. Its ingredients included split peas, turmeric, onion, and pomegranate. Every spoonful was superb. The pomegranate added a very nice sweetness that complemented the other ingredients.

We both chose the same main course - Bo Bo Tie, a South African dish which dates to the 17th Century, and whose origins are in Indonesia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bobotie). Early versions were made with mutton or pork. Later versions with beef or lamb. The version we had was with ground breast of chicken.

It is a mild dish with a nice mixture of spices. Its ingredients included ground breast of chicken, madras curry spices, milk, and panko bread crumbs. It was topped with a mango chutney. It was fantastic. The consistency was that of a meat loaf.

As an accompaniment to the Bo Bo Tie, we both had cranberry rice pilaf, whose ingredients included rice, dried cranberries, cashews, and sautéed onions. It too was superb.

The Bo Bo Tie, Cranberry Pilaf, and Salad were $21.95. The servings were huge.

We had a very nice red wine with our dinner - Marchesi Biscardo Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso for $42. The retail store price of this wine is about $23, so $42 is a very reasonable restaurant  price. Mr. Shukla spent a generous amount of his time discussing some of his wines, and his philosophy of reasonable pricing of those wines. We really enjoyed chatting with him. We watched him as he managed to devote attention to all of his diners. It was clear that a number of the diners were repeat customers, who loved Chutney's and felt very much at home there.

The pita bread served with our meal was very nice, not like the faux pita sold in supermarkets.

We took home a dessert- a New Orleans bourbon bread pudding, for $6. Like all of the other dishes we had, it was marvelous - sinfully rich. It seemed similar to one I have made (http://viaggiviniecucine.blogspot.com/2013/06/new-orleans-bread-pudding-with-bourbon.html)

One nice feature of the Chutney's menu is that diners can create multi-course Middle Eastern or Indian entrées.

The owners close for a month each year to travel and enjoy other cuisines. This year, they traveled to Italy and spent time in Umbria around Lake Trasimeno. We discussed Umbria and Tuscany with Mr. Shukla.

We highly recommend Chutney's and intend not to wait so long before returning.

Chutney's is located at 1944 Hillview St. Phone 941-954-4444. They do both lunch and dinner. I recommend making reservations.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Delicious & Easy Salmon with Philippine Flavors

In doing an Internet search for an easy salmon recipe with turmeric seasoning, I came across this very nice, mild-curry recipe on http://salu-salo.com/, a Vancouver-based blog devoted to Philippine cuisine. I did not include the cilantro leaves, which I did not have at home. That would certainly have made the dish even better for us. The blog's author suggests that any fish steaks would work.


- Salmon steaks or any fish steaks. (I used two 8-oz. fillets.)
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 medium onion finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/2 cup tomato sauce (I used about a cup of chopped canned tomatoes)
- chopped cilantro leaves


- Preheat oven to 375°
- Sprinkle salmon steaks with salt. Place steaks on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Set aside.
- Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the onion and garlic; cook until soft and brown. Add the coriander, cumin, and turmeric; and stir fry for 30 seconds. (I had premixed the spices in a small dish.)
- Add the tomato sauce and simmer for 1 minute. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve with rice.