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

“Food Glorious Food…”


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…


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

Tomato and Green Mango ‘gaspacho’ with frozen coriander oil



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


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!



  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?


  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

    “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!!!!

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