On Monday evening, a couple dozen of us in the Seattle area who worked on Modernist Cuisine went out to dinner at Naan-n-Curry in Renton, Washington. It was a reunion of sorts, and great to see everyone who labored over the book.
The restaurant’s owner, Majid Janjua, invited Nathan back to the kitchen to try his hand at making the eponymous naan in a tan door. As always, Nathan was excited by the challenge, and ready to jump into action.
Majid’s son, Shan, demonstrated how to knead the dough and how to use the tan door. Nathan was so thrilled with the process that he said he wants to get a tan door for The Cooking Lab. Two, actually: one to use, and another to cut in half!
A busy restaurant kitchen waits for no man. When some shouted, “Naan for table four!” Nathan smoothly kept kneading his naan with his left hand and grabbed up a piping hot basket of naan with his right, giving it to me through the kitchen window for the server. “Naan for table four!” he echoed, barely even glancing up.
Even though I’ve worked with Nathan for three years, his tenacity continues to surprise me. When the naan was done, he reached right into the tan door without the slightest flinch to get it. Shan warned him that his arm hair would get singed, but something like that would never deter Nathan.
“It reminded me of taking pictures of volcanoes in Hawai’i,” Nathan said. “The tan door is kind of like a skylight, which is a hole in the cooled crust through which you can see a river of molten lava flowing underneath. You can go at it from the side, but you wouldn’t want to look directly down into it from right above.”
The naan was delicious, and the evening was a successful celebration of everyone’s great effort in making Modernist Cuisine. It was only appropriate that cooking and good food were at the heart of it all.