He has mastered the ‘ghazab-ka-tikka’
Interview/Sr. Sous Chef Pradeep Khullar/OWH Pvt Ltd
fnbworld: When and how did you get interested into cooking?
Ans: Since the beginning, I’ve enjoyed good food but never realised that cooking good food is an art and science, which is not an easy combination if ratio is not right of the either two. I joined hotel management institute after I was inspired during my school days by a gentle man who also is a hotel management graduate and very successful in his field. On his recommendation, I decided to take on Food Production much before I entered college and after admission it took me no time to realize that my decision was correct as no other subject excited me.
fnbworld: A brief (bio) about your education/hotel management with specialization?
Ans: I graduated from DIHM, Lajpat Nagar, New Delhi. After completing a 3- year degree programme, I enrolled for post-graduate diploma with Symbiosis, Pune for Distance Learning Programme, which I successfully completed in 2 Years.
As part of the the curriculum, Istudied all the subjects, however, it was Food Production which fascinated me and after having a brief introduction with global cuisines at the college level, I decided to specialize in Indian cuisine.
Chor Bizarre khumb tikka
After taking part in the Chef Competition and scoring highest grades in production and overall also at college level, I was convinced to keep going with Indian cuisine, supported by my faculty members.
industrial training exposure backed my interest by
giving me ample opportunities to try my hand at
the cuisine in a five star hotel and also gave me
a chance to serve the guests and then talking to
them about their feedback.
fnbworld: You’ve been with OWH and Chor Bizarre in particular, what has changed over the last decade or so - in terms of food, dishes and its clientele?
Ans: As Chor Bizarre’s menu covers dishes from Kashmir to Kerala, it has a lot of variety to offer and with the menu changing every now and then guests keep coming back again to savour the delicacies.
As far as menu change is concerned it has always been welcomed by the guests, however, our signature dishes like Gazab-Ka-Tikka, Sharabi-Kababi Tikka-Masala, Murga Maska Maar Ke and Dal Chor Bizarre have their sturdy holding yet. These dishes existed 20 years back and are still going strong as the bestsellers. Kashmiri cuisine is an integral part of Chor Bizarre, with the constant changes in the menu; patrons of Kashmiri food have always loved the dishes like Goshtaba, Tabakmaaz, Roganjosh, Dum Aloo, Tamatar Chaaman etc.
The only change I have observed in the few clientele preferences is the reduction in use of oil and butter intake (guests being more diet conscious now) since Kashmiri food requires extra oil and spices to be prepared due to harsh weather conditions to keep their bodies warm, which is not a prerequisite here in Delhi.
Also the delighting part is that today’s guests are quite responsive of the food they are eating and also they understand that an effort has been dedicated to the food and service to create an experience for them, hence they respect this gesture. Nowadays, a major change that one can see in the scenario is that chefs now approach the guests on the tables themselves and after talking to them understand the preferences and serve the precise requirement of every individual. This style of service allows the chefs to customize the food for their clientele to make their experience a WOW factor.
signature dish and its main ingredients?
Ans: It’s the Gazab Ka Tikka. The main ingredients of this dish are the Chicken breast, cheese and fresh cream to make it more soft and juicy. The Sharabi Kababi tikka Masala is a curry item. Chicken Tikka masala flambed with brandy is the speciality of this dish. This is also the signature dish of Chor Bizarre.
fnbworld: Which is the most commonly used herb in your recipes and how does it help the preparation?
Ans: Every herb has its own distinct flavour and characteristics. Use of the herb is dependant on the dish itself. For example, Shammi Kabab has to have flavour of mint in it. However, I like mint and basil the most and I use these quite often in my recipes.
fnbworld: Who plans promotions like the ongoing kebabs festival and is it followed by other outlets as well?
Ans: Chef Rajiv Kumar Malhotra, the Executive Chef finalises the menu and the recipes are drafted by me for the any promotional or monthly menus that have to run at Chor Bizarres. Yes, a Chor Bizarre festival is concurrently on at both Chor Bizarre Delhi and Chor Bizarre Noida.
fnbworld: How many types of kebabs feature in the ongoing festival, can you share the main ingredient/style of cooking each, of course without giving out the recipe!
Ans: We have 12 kababs of which 6are Non-Veg and 6 Veg.
Nimbu Ka Jhinga –The main ingredient is Prawn flavoured with lemongrass and kaffir Lime as the name itself says Nimbu ka Jhinga.
Tamatar Adarak Wali Machhli – The main ingredient is fish (Mekong’s Basa), marinated in ginger and tomato based marination. Grilled.
Thathe Ke Kabab – It’s a Lamb Kabab flavoured with aromatic spices. It is grilled on a iron mesh with charcoal.
Chappali Kabab – Pounded Lamb flavoured with Pomegranate Pods. Grilled on a hot plate.
Bhatti Ka Chooza –Main ingredient is Chicken flavoured with star anise and malt vinegar. Grilled on a hot plate.
Murg Dill Tikka – Tandoor roasted Chicken morsels abundantly flavoured with Dill leaves.
Tulsi Chutney Ka Roomali Paneer – Basil leaf chutney wrapped in cottage cheese sheets. Cooked in tandoor.
Khumb Khurkure –Deep fried mushrooms stuffed with cheese and peppers, flavored with mint and cumin seeds.
Hare Mattar Ki Chaampein – Green peas mixture skewered on sugarcane sticks, deep fried till crisp.
Banarasi Seekh –Cottage cheese, spinach and nuts are used in this kabab and flavoured with green cardamom.
Gulkand Aur Dahi Ke Kabab – Gulkand is the main ingredient as it enriches taste for this kabab encased with cardamom flavoured hung Curd. Grilled.
Pudina Dal ki Shammi – Split moong dal tempered with generous helping of mint Leaves, stuffed with spiked hung curd. Grilled on hot plate.
fnbworld: Chor Bizarre specializes in Wazwan cuisine, I believe you also do the Kashmiri Pundit cuisine here. What’s the difference?
Ans: We have dishes from the repertoire of both Muslim and Pandit cuisine; however, Wazwan being more popular because of the style of serving and it is an experience which one has to go through it to realize.
The reason we specialize in both cuisines is because of we have Wazas (Chefs) from Kashmir who are with us since 25 years and they cook authentic Kashmiri food.
The basic difference is that Kashmiri Pandits do not use Onion and Garlic in their food at all (but are meat eaters), whereas Muslims are fine with it. Pandits use asafoetida and curd extensively in their kitchens, whereas Muslims shun the former ingredient.
fnbworld: I noticed the Phirni looks and tastes different, is it an in-house recipe?
Ans: Definitely. Phirni is our in-house preparation like everything else.
It looks and tastes different for two reasons:
1.) Saffron in brewed in hot milk for long, which leaves the colour and flavour in abundance and on the other hand, milk gets reduced resulting in making the Phirni creamier.
2.) Our Phirni is not made from rice flour or pounded rice like others make it. Ours is Kashmiri Phirni and is made with semolina, which gives it a unique velvety texture.
fnbworld: What do you do on an off day from work? Do you cook at home... your favourite food?
Ans: Offs are generally lazy and I spend my day time watching movies and in the evening I visit restaurants for a family meal.
Yes, I do cook very often at home especially the dishes which are new to the palate and using the left over stuff, transforming it into a new dish is the part I like most (also keeps my mom happy).
Recently, I cooked Mutton Roganjosh and Bharwan Tindey for my relatives and it turned out a huge hit. Home-made chholey-chaawal is my favourite.
fnbworld: What’s the scope for Indian and Wazwan cuisine globally and the reasons for this?
Ans: The question is passé since there are so many restaurants already doing extremely well and quite a number have earned Michelin stars as well.
People do not go to a restaurant because it has a Michelin star but for the love of the food, service and the entire experience. They make if successful, popular and probably that could be one of the reasons why restaurants gets Michelin stars (Of course, several other parameters are also there).
Wazwan is doing very good at our London Chor Bizarre and we have so many Kashmiri food lovers visiting us regularly. Apart from Indians who love the Wazwan, it is equally popular among the Britishers and foreigners.