Sunil Srivastava, chef and co-owner of Verandah Progressive Indian Cuisine, once had a neighbor whose grandfather cooked rabbit.
Essentially, says Srivastava, this grandfather—who was part of the ruling class in the northern Indian state of Rajasthan—was a chef who procured the rabbit. He opened a pit in the backyard, marinated the game, then wrapped it with coal, and cooked it in the pit. The rabbit was cooked until the skin burned. The skin was then scraped off, leaving tender, outstandingly smoky flesh.
Later in life, Srivastava reconnected with this chef. He learned the recipe, then reworked it for an oven preparation.
"I always wanted to sell rabbit in my restaurant," says Srivastava, who previously owned Great W'Kana and W'Kana Express, popular outer-loop restaurants serving traditional Indian fare and street food, respectively. Verandah has all of that, along with some dynamic dishes that both point the way forward and deeply uncover styles found throughout the Indian subcontinent.
Srivastava's rabbit dish, called khargosh ki saounth, nods to its Rajasthan roots in presentation (on a tree stump fashioned into a serving dish) but is worthy of its placement on the restaurant's gourmand menu. Spiced with cardamom and served with biryani, a few perfectly cooked and colorful carrots, and a lightly creamy but nevertheless extravagant korma sauce, it's a headlining dish for Verandah.
And it's not the only dish you may be shocked to see at this River Oaks restaurant that opened in February. I won't spoil it, but look for fish and lamb. You'll be happily surprised.