is an Indian restaurant group with Michelin starred locations, ‘Trishna’ and ‘Gymkhana’. Currently ‘Gymkhana’ is up for best restaurant award, which will be announced on April 28th.
Group Head Chef, Rohit Ghai, has had an impressive career. The Sethi Family Restaurants have built up a reputation for excellent Indian food. They create dishes using seasonal British ingredients whilst utilising authentic Indian cooking techniques.
We caught up with Rohit to get some insights into his inspirations, opinions on food and personal preferences.
Growing up what was your relationship like with food, did it inspire you to become a chef in future?
I was born into a Punjabi family, in which I was constantly surrounded by food … At most, meals in my family, there would be up to 10 of us sitting around a table and my mother would cook for all of us. She made each dish by hand and as the youngest in the family I used to sit with her while she cooked. She would teach me as she went along with recipes that were passed down to her, so I always felt a strong connection to the dishes and techniques I was taught.
Before you became Group Head Chef you worked in a few restaurants (Oberoi, Taj Hotels, Benares). Which job taught you the most valuable lesson/s in cooking and what was/were they?
I have found that every job in my career has improved my cooking skills in different forms. I started my career from ‘‘ where the foundation of my skills were formed and refined. I was always very grateful to my mentors and chefs who helped me grow. Then when I worked at the ‘Taj’ I learnt about Indian regional cuisines in depth, which also helped my growth a lot. After that I moved to London and started working at ‘Benares’ which widened my horizons with international cuisine; I learnt more about the British palate and French techniques. I have to say that my role as Group Head Chef with ‘‘ and ‘‘ has been the most exciting and challenging. It is a role that is constantly challenging me to explore new ways of thinking about Indian cuisine yet staying true to the flavours of traditional Indian recipes. I have always enjoyed the company’s ethos and am looking forward to the future challenges.
Are there certain ingredients or spices that you would consider your ‘Go-To’ when devising a new recipe?
When creating a new recipe or dish I also consider seasonal vegetables or fruits and how they can pair or work with Indian spices. Another factor to consider is how it is going to pair with wine. At ‘Trishna’ we pair each dish with a recommended wine, so I work closely with our team of sommeliers to make sure that everything works well together.
Most British people love a good curry, what is your favourite Indian dish and why?
My favourite Indian dish is an authentic Sarson ka Sagg and Makkai ki roti with white butter. Preferably cooked by my mother.
When you received your first Michelin star how did you celebrate?
When ‘Gymkhana’ received it’s 1st Michelin star we celebrated as a team. We looked at this accomplishment as something that the whole team accomplished together … Of course, we all went to dinner!
It’s clear that you have a passion for Indian cuisine, but are there any other regions of the world where the food really excites you?
I haven’t settled on one yet, it’s something that I’m still exploring. I love each and every other region but some of my favourites so far are Thai and Chinese cuisine because of their flavours and combination of spices.
Is there a ‘restaurant’ site you are particularly proud of and why?
I really enjoyed working with both ‘Trishna’ and ‘Gymkhana’ equally, as they offer different concepts and have different teams. ‘Trishna’ focuses more on coastal cuisine and seafood dishes, whereas ‘Gymkhana’ focuses more on game meats.
Poppadom or Naan?
I have to say Naan for it’s versatile character. Naan can be cooked with any flour or any filling and can be served with any Indian curry, it can really make a dish complete. For example, we serve a venison Keema naan at ‘Gymkhana’ and rabbit Keema Naan at ‘Trishna’
See Below For Rhoti Ghai’s Recipe for Andhra Lamb Masala
- Prep Time: 15 mins
- Cooking time: 15 mins
Ingredients: 500g Mutton, 200g Onion, 100g Tomatoes, 1tsp Ginger – Garlic Paste, 1/2tsp Chilli powder, 2 tsp Pepper powder, Salt, Curry leaves, Coriander leaves
Ingredients ‘To Be Dry Roasted’: 1tsp Poppy seeds, 1/2 tsp Fennel seeds, Pepper Corns, 1 tsp Coriander seeds, 1tsp Cumin, Little bit of Cinnamon, 2 Cloves, 2 Cardamom
- Wash and pressure cook mutton pieces with 2 cups of water, salt and turmeric. Drain the cooked mutton from the water and keep the water aside.
- Chop onions, tomatoes. keep aside.
- Take a Kadai, dry roast all the masala. Once cool, grind to a fine powder.
- Then heat oil, add curry leaves. Then add onions. Saute till the onions are brown. then add ginger – garlic paste. cook well. then add tomatoes and mutton pieces, cook on high flame till the tomatoes are soft.
- Add the ground masala and simmer for 5 minutes, then add the water and bring to boil. Cook on high flame until the water evaporates leaving a nice thick gravy. Now fry the pieces until oil comes out. Once the water is completely gone, each piece gets a nice coating around it. In the end, add the remaining pepper powder over the pieces and stir well.