Akhtar Nawab

Biography
Akhtar Nawab is Chef/Owner of Alta Calidad in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. The restaurant, which literally translates to “High Quality,” offers a smart and creative take on Mexican cuisine in a vibrant neighborhood atmosphere. This most recent project builds upon the myriad of experience Nawab has had with the cuisine, including Mexican street food concept Choza Taqueria, in which he became partner...READ MORE

Akhtar Nawab is Chef/Owner of Alta Calidad in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. The restaurant, which literally translates to “High Quality,” offers a smart and creative take on Mexican cuisine in a vibrant neighborhood atmosphere. This most recent project builds upon the myriad of experience Nawab has had with the cuisine, including Mexican street food concept Choza Taqueria, in which he became partner in 2014, as well as his time spent as executive chef of New York City hotspot La Esquina. Nawab’s inherent refinement and less-is-more style of cooking has earned him critical praise throughout the years, beginning with his time with Tom Colicchio in the kitchens of Gramercy Tavern, Craftbar and Craft- the latter of which received three stars from The New York Times and won the James Beard Foundation’s “Best New Restaurant” Award during Nawab’s tenure at the helm. His loyal following picked up steam while Nawab serve d as executive chef of East Village gastropub, The E.U., during which time he received StarChef’s “Rising Star Chef” award, and through the opening of his first proprietary restaurant Elettaria, which landed him a spot on Food Network’s “Iron Chef America” and inclusion in Coco: 10 World-Leading Masters Choose 100 Contemporary Chefs (Phaidon, 2009). An avid gym-goer with a deep personal interest in health and wellness, Nawab also owns Indie Fresh – a fast casual concept featuring wholesome, nutritious, and ever-flavorful bites and beverages – with locations in Gotham West Market and Chelsea Market in NYC.

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What is your favorite restaurant in NYC? Tough to choose favorites, but I think I'd have to say NY Noodletown because of all the memories I have there. My most cherished accolade of all time is having my picture on the wall of this legendary NY restaurant! What is your ultimate meal? Ammi's (mom) Indian cooking by far. What three things are always in your pantry? Almond butter, sriracha, coconut oil. If you weren't a chef, what would you be? A musician, bass guitar. Ideally I would be Geddy Lee's bass guitar sub for RUSH. What is the best advice you have ever been given, and from whom? "Don't eat more than one candy a day." I took it one step further and I don't eat candy at all, and I have never had a cavity!
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I love the guajillo salsa we make at Alta Calidad. Its got all the qualities of a traditional salsa but adding things like raisins and allspice give it almost a chutney quality. I like to puree this salsa very fine so that the different ingredients we are using in the salsa are out in front.

5 -7 guajillo chiles, seeded and de-stemmed
2-3 chile de arbol, seeded and de-stemmed
2 -3 allspice
1/2 cup raisins
1 tsp black pepper
2 onions
4 tomatoes
1 head garlic, peeled
1 tsp cider vinegar
1/2 cup water

Toast the chiles in the 325 degree oven until aromatic.
Char the vegetables in a broiler or on a grill until almost blackened.
In a pot combine the chiles, vegetables and all the rest of the ingredients.
Simmer the salsa for about 10 - 15 minutes over low heat and season to taste.
Transfer to a blender and puree until smooth.