PRATAP CHAHAL: one Desi Chef cooking up a storm in the U.K.

“Food Glorious Food…”

pratap-food-small.jpg

Pratap Chahal is one the very finest desi chefs working in London right now, not to mention one my oldest and most insane friends from Saint Stephen’s College. Everyone knew that Pratap was destined to do something extraordinary with his life; perhaps write lyrics for Infected Mushroom? But Pratap moved to London and into the hard core sleep-two-hours-a-night cut-throat world of cheffing instead. And he has taken cooking to a new level of other-worldly experience- having been lucky enough to share a flat with him in London, I can say with a degree of authority that if the devil offers you one of this pastries in exchange for your immortal soul…you should take the pastry.

But here is the man himself, the sultan of cheffing, the madman himself…with some recipes to start you up…

pratap-small.jpg

The summer is here and here’s an easy recipe to cool you down.

Tomato and Green Mango ‘gaspacho’ with frozen coriander oil

Ingredients

Gazpacho:

20 – ripe tomatoes

4 – large green mangoes

2 – red onions

2 – red peppers (capsicum)

Few springs – basil (or tulsi if you cant get green basil)

Few sprigs – coriander

1 inch piece- fresh ginger

3 cloves – garlic

200 ml – water

1 tablespoon – ketchup

2 tsp – salt

2 tsp – sugar

½ tsp – cumin seeds

¼ tsp – ajwain

½ tsp – fennel seeds

Coriander Oil

250 ml – olive oil (veg. will do, but olive is much better)

1 bunch fresh coriander

Method:

For the soup, chop up all the vegetables and mix with the water and ketchup and leave to marinate overnight. The next day, blend the mix in a food processor and pass through a coarse strainer. In a pan, heat a little oil and fry the spices and add them to the soup. Check the soup for the seasoning and add more salt if needed. Chill well.

For the oil, gently warm the olive oil and add the chopped coriander and leave to cool down. After 15 minutes, warm the mix back up again the blend for a few minutes until the coriander is completely pureed. You can either pass through a fine sieve or leave as it is. Pour into ice cubes and freeze the mixture overnight.

To serve, pour a little soup into chilled bowls and place one ice cube of oil in the middle of the plate. Sprinkle a few toasted almonds around the soup and serve with a light salad or toasted brown bread.

There’s a bit of work involved here, but if you do it the night before for the next day, you wont be disappointed…I’ll be back soon with a very sexy dessert for the hot afternoons or even evenings! In the meantime, why not try freezing some ambi-panna and then scraping the ice with a fork to make a tasty granite? Heap it on top of some chilled lychees for a quick but very cooling fix!

Advertisements

17 Comments

  1. Mr. Pratap, I was wondering about why it is so difficult and they work so many long hours. How does that training help budding chefs? In later life, do chef’s also work 100 hour weeks? I am very interested in becoming a Chef also, and I am 18 years old, and I make a meat curry and also as you probably know the art of Biryani is very delicate and I am trying to master that. After hearing this story, it sounds very exciting and fast! Is the training like that in India also? Will you come back and open a chef school here? Sorry to ask so many questions but it’s so cool that an international Indian chef is communicating to his country through the internet!

  2. Hey that was really interesting. Sounds like a really intense place to work. I have some questions: what is the weirdest dessert you’ve ever made? What is the worst combination of flavours you’ve ever tried? And what is Raymond Blanc’s favorite dessert?

    cheers!

  3. Great to read about folks like Pratap. Indian restaurants in the west suffer from a total lack of creativity. After the hundredth variation of the same old “chicken tikka masala”, it gets a little old! We need more people who “float, swim and dive between desi and pardesi khana”!

    There’s a place in Chicago called Marigold that’s also reinventing Indian food. Classic dishes, but prepared (and presented) in a refreshingly modern way (think Roasted Duck Vindaloo served on a bed of microgreens, etc.)

  4. Thanks for your comments guys!!! There’s a restaurant in London called the Cinnamon Club that takes classic and modern indian dishes and adds a funky twist to them (I do experiemental stuff for them as well). My weirdest dessert…one that kept getting worse and worse and ended in the bin very soon…Goats Cheese and Grape Icecream…had balsamic vinegar added to it, then had truffle oil added to it..then went in the bin! lol! Raymond Blanc’s favourite? I think it’s one called ‘Floating Island’ he always raves about it: it’s a poached meringue with custard and caramel and almonds. very classic.

    Mr Budding Chef: Not everyone and everywhere works that many hours. sometimes in very fine dining (michelin restaurants) the hours are like that and some places I’ve worked in, I haven’t minded as it’s very satisfying pushing on with all ur passionate energies. In later life, it all depends on how ur career pans out and what kind of food you want to do. Biryani is a fine and delicate art and one that’s rewarding…there are cooking schools in India but mostly related to hotels. so if you want to learn Indian cuisine then try the hotels Taj Oberoi or ITC. For global and western cuisine…schools here fare better as they put you into independent restaurants rather than the hotel itself.

  5. Folks, that stunningly handsome bloke above is my elder brother. And I must confess, not only his being is in my family, his food too has a very personal relationship with me. For, yes, I am the true, original guienne pig for Pratap. Yes, I was the person who had to mix the eggs for the cake, oil the tin, cut the vegetables, etcetra. I have know my brothers cooking since the begginng (where a disaster in Vasant dada’s house in Panipat occured where Pratap tried cooking Vindaloo. It, people, was hotter than the devils throne in hell!) He improved, and I have seen him grow into a truly original chef, and even though he’s far away in London, I do miss his cooking more than I miss him. LOL! It is he who taught me how to bake cakes, and they’re bloody good. So in conclusion, keep going! Desi all the way!

  6. dude. goats cheese and grape icecream…I’ve got to hand it to you…that is innovative. looking forward to next week’s chef column. By the way what is Gordan Ramsay’s favorite dessert?

  7. Hey Pratap, I’ve been reading about how hemp is now being marketed as a really tasty organic food. They make all kinds of things out of it and I was wondering if you’d ever cooked hemp before or if you might consider cooking it? What about a hemp brule?

    here is another idea for hemp food I got from hightimes.com

    “There are few better hemp snacks around than Hempzels. Baked in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country, Hempzels are available as peanut-butter-filled pretzel hemp nuggets or as sourdough pretzels that come in sesame, garlic, jalapeno or pumpernickel-and-onion flavors. The company also produces a delightful dip for these morsels: Hempzels Hand Crafted Homegrown Horseradish Hemp & Honey Mustard. (It’s a mouthful, but you can handle it!) Additionally, they market whole hemp seeds seasoned with sea salt, perfect for salads and such…”

  8. Hemp seeds are fantastic! I use them a lot at home, toasted with a host of other seeds for tasty salads, though other than that, hemp remains a textile in the UK. the seeds are really healthy, though cooking with the actual leaf might be interesting!!!!

  9. Turmeric benefits the quick healing of wounds and any other body
    pain. Moreover Alzheimer’s disease is considered very rare in India. The positive effects of this natural wonder range from pain relief to settling the stomach and doctors have only just begun to delve into its potential to fight serious disease.

  10. The fruit is even a wise alternative to laxatives for anyone experiencing constipation.

    There is a new diet craze in Japan and it has created a shortage
    of Banana’s form the shelves. Blandness for one thing, if only because it is so very redundant.

  11. Perhaps you recall chamomile from the times you were sick and your parent, friend, or partner, gave you a hot cup
    of this therapeutic drink to ease your suffering stomach.
    My hypothesis is that Vitilago is a systemic fungal
    condition similar to, if not, Candidiasis (yeast overgrowth).
    If you want to boost your immune system so that various diseases natural do
    not easily target you supplements is one of the best ways
    of doing so.

  12. With the popularity of this oil, natural
    treatments have again gained their place in the worldwide
    market. Since your hair can get damaged due to various environmental conditions, the regular use of Macadamia Natural Oil Rejuvenating Shampoo will protect the health of your
    hair by safeguarding it from any unfavorable conditions and replenish the natural moisture of
    your hair. If the leaves remain yellow and the plant
    does not recover with the fertilizer.

  13. So a holistic approach must be taken to health starting with nourishing the
    body from the inside and nourishing and protecting the skin from the outside.
    Therefore if you are not too careful in selecting the skin care product
    that you use you might stumble on products that could add
    more troubles to your skin. There are many natural substances that are
    known to be dangerous and too toxic for human consumption
    or exposure.

  14. Thanks for another informative site. Where else may I
    am getting that kind of information written in such a perfect manner?
    I have a challenge that I’m just now working on, and I have been on the glance out for such information.

  15. Ahaa, its pleasant discussion concerning this piece of writing here at this web site,
    I have read all that, so now me also commenting here.

  16. Howdy I am so excited I found your website, I
    really found you by error, while I was researching on Digg for something else, Anyhow I
    am here now and would just like to say thank you for a tremendous post and a all round enjoyable blog (I also
    love the theme/design), I don’t have time to read it all at the moment but
    I have book-marked it and also added your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to
    read much more, Please do keep up the fantastic jo.

  17. You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this topic to be actually something
    which I think I would never understand. It seems too complicated and very broad
    for me. I’m looking forward for your next post, I will try
    to get the hang of it!


Comments RSS TrackBack Identifier URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s