While sitting amongst the color-soaked dining room of her new Culver City restaurant, Sambar, chef Akasha Richmond makes a remark about the variations of her menu by saying, “Food is personal.” And while she was referring to the levels of heat in her dishes, the idea also resonates well with her culinary history. For the past 30 years, Akasha has travelled throughout India on food tours that have taught her about the intricate flavors of the country. As she studied ingredients, returning again and again to ask questions and uncover new plates, she learned about the layers that comprise Indian meals. Those interwoven tastes and textures give these dishes the personalities that make them intimate.
Slide onto a seat of emerald green leather to observe the modern room during dinner. Cocktails will be shaking behind a glittering bar beside the front windows, and an order of the Punjabi warrior should be well on its way. Start with the quinoa uttapam and sambar, the namesake dish featuring hempseed chutney, and then move to the head-on prawns in a mango powder marinade. Later, bite into the “truck stop” goat curry, which has been slow braised and served with cumin and a goat yogurt sauce. For the final dish, order the pork shoulder vindaloo with pickled radish pods. Leftover strips of naan can pick up what remains with the sauce that tasted best to you.
Between sharing a meal and tasting the culminations of a life’s work, this meal will be plenty personal.
Photo by Kimberly Genevieve.