The Dish: Gujarati Lasagne
Where to Get It: Rasika West End
What It Is: Gujarati lasagne is an Indian take on the traditional baked pasta dish from Italy. Instead of long, flat noodles, Chef Vikram Sunderam uses khandvi—thin rolls made of gram flour, buttermilk, and turmeric, among other ingredients. Khandvi is a traditional snack in Gujarat, a state in western India. For the lasagne filling, he folds in eggplant and zucchini, cooked in a sauce of tomatoes, coriander, fenugreek seeds, mustard seeds, ginger, and other spices. Think of the filling as ratatouille with Indian seasonings. Chopped peanuts add texture and earthiness. The lasagne is cut into rounds for serving and topped with an Indian gravy called khadi that is made with chickpea flour, yogurt, and mustard seeds, poured tableside. Rice is offered on the side, which can be mixed in with the lasagne and the sauce. The flavors are bold and spicy, and the khadi is warm, creamy, and comforting.
The Story: In 2014, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to D.C. The State Department consulted with Sunderam to develop an innovative Indo-American tasting menu before hosting Modi. Noting that lasagne has become as American as it is Italian, this is one of the most popular dishes that chef created, which is why it is still available on the Rasika West End menu. Sunderam included classic Gujarati ingredients, such as khandvi and peanuts, because the prime minister is from Gujarat.
Why Even Meat Eaters Will Like It: This dish sells itself before you even taste it. The lasagne glistens like a crown on the plate and swims in a pool of fragrant gravy. The warm, earthy flavors, the crunchy and creamy textures, and the delicious aromas of Indian spices will take over your senses until you finish every last bite.