The City Magazine Since 1975

Spice It Up

January 2018
Spice It Up

Allison Smith of Glazed Gourmet Doughnuts and Sambar serves up an Indian supper of curried chicken, spiced vegetables, and traditional bread

Allison Smith and Mark Remi cook a classic Indian spread. 

The baking whiz behind Glazed, the gourmet doughnut shop sweetening up King Street since 2011, has earned a reputation for creatively delicious baked goods. But doughnuts with berry-goat cheese filling, green-tea glaze, beet custard, and candied fennel aren’t the only goodies in the Culinary Institute of Charleston alum’s cannon. Allison Smith’s true passion skews toward international cuisines, specifically that of her husband Mark Remi’s South Indian family. “I cook at home a good bit, and it’s rarely a typical American meal,” she says. “Mark and I make a lot of Asian food, and Indian dishes are in regular rotation.” Smith’s personal menus became more public this past fall, when, sensing a hole in the local ethnic dining market, she opened Sambar, a South Indian food stall in Workshop.

“When I visited India for the first time eight years ago, I fell in love with the culture and the cuisine,” recalls Smith. “There is a big difference between the foods of the southern part of the country and those of the northern region, which Americans are more familiar with.” Named for a traditional lentil stew, Sambar’s offerings are inspired by dishes eaten during Smith’s travels, pages torn from Indian cookbooks, and recipes passed down by Remi’s mother. And as with Glazed, the chef has found success with flavorful combinations, like lemonade made with concentrated tamarind, a legume that’s harvested more in India than anywhere else in the world.

Though many of the recipes that Smith uses originated across the globe, the chef appreciates that she can recreate them easily with the dry spices in her kitchen. For Remi’s mother’s chicken curry, for instance, she blends cinnamon, crushed red pepper, cumin, and coriander into a kicked-up tomato sauce. The preparation also requires curry leaves (not the same as curry powder), but they can be found at Indian Spice in West Ashley as well as North Charleston’s Bombay Bazar.

Steamed cauliflower and tender beets, both made exotic with cumin-infused oil and spice blends, accompany the main course. The beet side dish also calls for grated coconut, which lends a floral note to the earthy root vegetable. The meal can be scooped up by chapati, an unleavened bread similar to a tortilla. “There’s an art to breaking off a piece of chapati,” says Smith, explaining that Indian culture dictates diners use only their right hand to eat while their left remains in their lap. “I haven’t fully mastered the technique. My in-laws laugh because I sometimes just form a taco.”

In the Kitchen with Allison Smith

Lives: In West Ashley with her husband, Mark Remi
Works: As the owner of Glazed Gourmet Doughnuts and Sambar inside Workshop
Around Town Bites: “When we eat out locally, we rarely have Indian food. I love going to Rappahanock Oyster Bar, Leon’s, and The Obstinate Daughter. When we travel, we research Indian restaurants ahead of time.”