Table Talk: Rosheen Kaul

Table Talk: Rosheen Kaul

One of Melbourne's most pre-eminent chefs, Rosheen Kaul is currently at the helm of Etta in Brunswick East, penning an evolving menu of global influence, drawing on her Kashmiri-Peranakan-Chinese heritage. 
When she is not in the kitchen at Etta, Rosheen is a recipe columnist and food writer for Good Food and published her first collaborative cookbook Chinese-ish, with co-author and illustrator Joanna Hu in July 2022. 



Tell us about the recipe featured in your Food For Everyone poster - Black Pepper Mud Crab. Why did you choose this recipe?

Black pepper crab is the evil twin of the famous Singapore chilli crab. The sauce has this luscious, radiating warmth from the cracked black peppercorns and chilli, and so much fragrance and flavour from curry leaves. I have the most wonderful memories of eating this dish by the sea with my family in Singapore, always the centrepiece of seafood feast that included steamed king prawns, crispy baby squid and sambal stingray. I always feel that picked or cleaned crab meat never tastes as good as crab gnawed out of the shell with your teeth. The peppery, delicious sauce finds its way into the cracks and crevices of the crab, doing something magical to enhance the sweetness of the crab. Getting it all over your face is part of the adventure.


What do you cook for the people you love?

Whatever they feel like eating. I like to ask earlier in the day what they feel like, then plan my shopping trip and cooking around their requests. I make it an all-day endeavour when I cook for the special people in my life.



What are your favourite songs to cook to? 

I’m vibing so hard to Spotify’s Global Grooves playlist for my home kitchen. At work, nothing below 120BPM. I love listening to drum and bass and techno when I’m prepping for service.

Describe your cooking style in 3 words.

Playful, abundant, multicultural

What is your current favourite place to eat out in your city and why?

I go to Gimlet again and again because I just love the ritual of it all. The grand dining room, the white-jacketed waiters, pitch perfect gimlets (of course), the warm hospitality and some of the most perfect desserts you will ever have. I’ve been thinking about the toasty malt shortbread gelato and zesty pink grapefruit gelato from my last visit a lot. It was pure magic.



How do you like to shop for food?

I really love wandering around amongst it all, often losing all sense of time when shopping for food. I find busy fresh food markets and Asian grocers so invigorating yet so calming at the same time. I’m at my most mindful surrounded by uniformly stacked fruit and vegetables. I grew up amongst so many rich Asian cultures with such a huge range of produce, so I love finding new and unfamiliar ingredients to taste and cook with. I wasn’t overly familiar with European vegetables or even the concept of seasonality when we moved to Australia from Singapore, and spending time in markets when I was younger really opened my eyes.


Food For Everyone
Rosheen Kaul's Black Pepper Mud Crab by Allie Webb

Unmistakably the work of artist Allie Webb, this lino-cut piece depicts Rosheen Kaul's Black Pepper Mud Crab — a recipe so fiery and luscious has seen Allie introduce burnt red into her traditionally monochromatic works.