Asian Lite’s FnB columnist Riccha Grrover in conversation with Chef Reetika Gill on her art of cooking authentic Punjabi cuisine
Chef Reetika Gill is the owner-chef of Curry Singh Kitchens-with a professional chef degree from New Zealand under her belt. She continues to explore and grow as a chef with her initiatives in promotion of sustainable food, heritage recipes, local and seasonal produce.
Reetika says she “cuts no corner at Curry Singh Kitchens” – her food is entirely free of cream and nuts, and she only uses the traditional ghee and mustard oil for her dishes. The result is flavourful crowd-favourites like Dhein chicken (a chicken preparation with yoghurt) and Makhani dal.
Inheriting the legacy of Indian cooking from her father – the iconic Chef Manjit Singh Gill – has given her a keen understanding of food. Her style of cooking can be described best as ethnic style Punjabi dishes made tasty with understanding through mentoring.
In her efforts to make the world a better place, Chef Reetika endorses and supports humanitarian initiatives like the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of #Zero Hunger where she is a signatory and promoter of the Chef Manifesto. Her kitchen from day one has been a zero waste kitchen.
RICCHA GRROVER- Tell us about your brand Curry Singh Kitchens- what cuisine do you specialise in cooking and what part of India does your food take its inspiration from?
REETIKA GILL-Growing up in a family surrounded by enchanting taste and aromas, even as a young girl, I had envisaged opening my own restaurant someday. I drew inspiration from my father Chef Manjit Singh Gill, and my mother Sally Gill, who had a four-year-stint of running a takeaway joint with a small number of traditional dishes in the menu.
On my own culinary journey as an entrepreneur, I was clear about two things – that I would cook only what I loved and also would share the Indian food philosophy with the world. The result was Curry Singh Kitchens, a small restaurant with a selective menu based entirely on my time tested family recipes. In my endeavour to introduce diners to the little-known elements of Punjabi Cuisine, I ensure quality, consistency and a timely delivery while providing a fine taste in food served with warmth to my diners.
Taking old domestic favourites like tindas (apple squash), karelas (bitter gourd) and methi (fenugreek), I have strived to turn them into restaurant-worthy experiences.
I cut no corners at Curry Singh Kitchens – my food is entirely free of cream and Nuts. I specialise in Traditional Punjabi Food. My inspiration is from Punjabi Food and Indian Food Philosophy.
RG-Did you always want to be a chef or dabble into it as an extension of a hobby? Where did you train to be a professional chef?
ReG- I was always fond of cooking but I did do my professional training to be a chef from New Zealand in 2013 as I always wanted to be professionally qualified. I believe that you should dream every day as those who dream convert them into thoughts and thoughts are powerful enough to spur one into action sometime.
I had always dreamt and imagined that one day I would be starting a venture of my own. The dream was there and the vision was in place. I reached rather reluctantly to my family and was pleasantly surprised at the quantum of encouragement that came my way and I decided to create this brand called Curry Singh Kitchens as a testimonial and tribute to our family’s culinary heritage and thus started my journey of Curry Singh Kitchens. This venture was conceptualised with passion and culinary integrity as my brand is a collection of limited recipes redolent with love and passion, reflective of my culinary genes & reminiscent of all my childhood aromas of the house i grew up in.
RG-What can diners expect when they eat a meal cooked by you? What are your top 3 dishes you recommend a first time diner to try?
ReG- Diners expect the ethnic taste and flavour of Punjabi cooking. Our menu at Curry Singh Kitchen is small purposely to maintain quality, taste, hygiene and it’s a zero waste kitchen and also our kitchen is Trans Fat Free. We do keep adding seasonal dishes.
Top three dishes that I recommend:
1- Dal Makhni
3-Murgh Makhna ( Our take on Butter Chicken)
RG- What have been your biggest highs so far in your career?
ReG-The biggest high is yet to be achieved! For now I am working hard and everyday is a challenge I look forward to.
RG- What is your mantra of success? What keeps you inspired as a chef? What are your future aspirations for yourself as a chefpreneur?
ReG- My Success Mantra is to keep ethical practices and transparency in food. Every day I get 2 -3 new guests and their smile on their face after food is my biggest reward. My future aspiration is to serve great food and that my next plate is even better than the previous one.
RG- What words of inspiration would you like to share with budding chefpreneurs?
ReG- Keep learning always and have the spirit to imbibe like an eternal apprentice.
Chef Reetika Gill signed off by saying “My father Chef Manjit Gill inspires me as he is my mentor and my guru.
What I’ve learnt from him as a chef is:
– To be honest and sincere in whatever I do (and cook)
-You don’t need rich ingredients to make soulful, sumptuous food but you need to prepare food with knowledge, skills and practice.
-Do read recipies couple of times before attempting it. Timings are always just guidelines , do add more or less water based on your own intelligence.
-Tasty food is the result of mindful cooking done with positive energy and simplicity.”
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