THE UTMOST NEPAL: INCULCATE NEPALESE CUISINES, MODERN COOKING AND FORGOTTEN RECIPES

GREAT CHEFS, GOOD FOOD with Head Chef  Santosh Shah_11.

REFT Today's interview conversation of Khatibah Rehmat and Head Chef Santosh Shah from Cinnamon Collection—London,
A MICHELIN STAR RESTAURANT, in it's Exclusive Talk Show—GREAT CHEFS, GOOD FOOD, and the topic is; THE UTMOST NEPAL: INCULCATE NEPALESE CUISINES, MODERN COOKING AND FORGOTTEN RECIPES:

1) Let us begin our talk show with your introduction to our viewers, which states all about your name, birthplace, family, education and also about your entry as a Head Chef in Cinnamon Collection— London.

Chef Santosh Shah: My name is chef Santosh Shah, I am a London based Nepalese chef and working as a Head Chef at one of the branches of Cinnamon Collection Group—London, UK, which is a MICHELIN STAR restaurant.

I was born in a small village of Nepal called Karjanha in Siraha district where, I completed my standard tenth and then moved to India to work for my livelihood. There, I got a job of a kitchen porter in Gujarat.

Being a very quick learner, I got a chance to work as a commi chef in the kitchen which became a turning point, where my journey began as a chef until now. While I was working in Gujarat, I completed my diploma in hotel and catering management.

English-Timbur spiced marinated octopus, nettles leaf and potato, taro leaf terrine, hemp seeds chutney, tempted yoghurt and puffed millet.

In Nepalese- Timbur Malala octopus, sisno ra aloo ko tarkari, karkalo ko pat, bhang ko chutney, sade ko dahi, fulaye ko Kodo.

From there, I came to United Kingdom in 2010. Here, I have worked with Micheline star restaurants and also with well known restaurants in London.

I became a head chef at Cinnamon Kitchen in 2016 but after few years of working there, I grabbed an opportunity to become an Executive Chef at hotel—The LaLit London.

After holding this position for few years my passion for food didn’t match so, I moved back to the Cinnamon Kitchen as a Head Chef.

2) People know about a very common dish called momos and misinterpret that it has come from Nepal. Chef, can you please put some light over it's origin and reality?

Chef Santosh Shah: As I am a Nepalese, I always had love for it's food to cook and to eat as well. People round the globe often think that most common steamed dish Momos is a Nepalese cuisine which is an incorrect information revolving everywhere.

If we talk about it's history then, it has been originated from Tibet and Bhutan. Momo is very popular in India now a days, there we get several varieties such as fried momos, tandoori momos etc.

Same as with Biryanis in India which came from Persia to Indian subcontinents and it became famous like anything.

TANDOORI MUTTON CHOPS

3) How are regular grains, spices and vegetables beneficial for health? Is anybody from chef's fraternity doing anything to work upon healthy food and also maintaining good taste from them?

Chef Santosh Shah: We have regular grains such as, Kodo (Millet), Makai (Corn), Gahu (Barley), some special kind of rice which is grown in high altitudes. We have so many vegetables that grows only in Nepal, like some Himalayan yam, mountain potatoes, some green leafy vegetables, etc.

We have very special spice called TIMBUR which is very similar to schezwan pepper, but it has a different kind of flavour. Now a days many chefs in Nepal are coming up with healthy food concepts and hopefully in few years, our country cuisines will be in world map as of other countries.

4) Every country,  has it's own national food and even lost recipes, can you please tell our viewers and readers about Nepali cuisines and also about their most important lost recipes?

Chef Santosh Shah: Nepal has so many cuisines which has not yet come at world front, they have same resembling cooking techniques as French people. We have one dish called KACHILA that is a same French dish which is called TARTARE. We use many cooking techniques in different parts of Nepal such as steaming, slow cooking, blanching, boiling, saute, frying, pickling, fermenting, roasting, poleko (BBQ), kachila, sun dried, freezing, etc.

Nepal has few popular cuisine styles such as Newari cuisines, Thakali cuisines, Tharu cuisines and many more. I have tried to make few forgotten recipes amongst them in London restaurant, for example—Bhang ki Chutney (Hempseed chutney), Bethuko Saag cooked in rice starch (Fat of Hen), Karkalo ko Pat (Colocasia Leaf)

5) What is the correlation between modern cooking and lost recipes of Nepal?

Chef Santosh Shah: Nepalese food has not yet moved towards modern cooking but, hopefully sooner or later I will take our forgotten and lost recipes over it. I think so London will be the best city for this, as modern Indian cuisines started from this place only.

6) You are a Nepal national and work for a British based, Indian celebrity chef's restaurant in London, what made you go so hey waya for choosing a workplace for yourself, leaving behind your childhood memories, family, friends etc.?

Chef Santosh Shah: I always wanted to do something amazing in Nepalese cuisines and also had a dream to take them to another level. Reason behind, I am working with celebrity chefs' restaurants is to learn the way they have made their cuisines world famous and have become celebrities in creating their cuisines and taking them globally. Believe me, I have learnt so many things that very soon, I will be doing a magic in Nepalese cuisines.

7) About which recipe would you like to talk upon to our viewers and readers?

Chef Santosh Shah: I would like to talk upon:

SPINACH, FIGS AND POTATO ‘TIKKI’: (Serves—10), TIME 50 Minutes.

Grated Boiled Potatoes.................. 600gm
Finely Chopped Ginger....................½ inch long
Seeded and finely chopped Green    Chillies.............................................5.
Roasted cumin seeds....................5gm
Salt..................................................10gm
Corn flour.........................................30gm

FOR THE FILLING:

Spinach leaves blanched
and chopped...................................500g
Ghee or oil.......................................50gm
Cumin..............................................5gm
Finely chopped onions...................1 large 
Finely chopped garlic cloves.........4
Chopped Ginger..............................½ inch
Chopped green chillies..................3
Dried FIGS finely diced..................10
Salt.................................................To Taste

FOR GARNISH

Sweet yogurt,
Tamarind chutney,
Chopped vegetables (Salad),
Pomegranate,
Crisp sweet potatoes.

PROCEDURE:

Mix all the ingredients into potato cake and make 10 equal sized balls.

For the filling, heat a pan with oil or ghee, add cumin seeds till they crackle.

Add garlic and onions and saute till onions are translucent.

Now stir fry adding the chopped ginger, green chilles and salt.

Add the chopped spinach and figs and toss well also check the seasoning.

Now cool the stuffing.

Take potato balls and make an insertion with your thumb and create a hollow space.

Now take a table spoon full (approx 20 gm) of the stuffing to stuff into the hollow potato and seal it to make it a ball.

Now with your palm, press stuffed potato ball to give it a pattie shape.

Shallow fry the cake till both the sides are golden.

Use garnish as you like or take reference from the picture.

Serve Hot.

INTERVIEWED: Santosh Shah—Head Chef
Cinnamon Collection—London
A MICHELIN STAR RESTAURANT.

INTERVIEW TAKEN BY: KHATIBAH REHMAT
SENIOR JOURNALIST.

PICTURE/VIDEO COURTESY:
Head Chef Santosh Shah

1 Response

  1. Nice

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