BY AIDEN JEWELLE GONZALES
Chef Sampooran Singh Panwar, the Executive Indian Chef of Al Saray Gourmethouse, shares two homemade iterations of his signature dishes.
By Aiden Jewelle Gonzales
I was born in Dehradun, India, into a family of professional chefs, so you could say cooking was my life. My brothers were all chefs, and I always looked up to them and took inspiration from them, as well as culinary greats such as Master Chef Sanjeev Kapoor. So from a young age, whenever I would see my mum cook, I would often help her out in the kitchen.
When I turned 19, I started work in Mumbai at a very famous fine dining restaurant named Copper Chimney, and from there, I’ve occupied the position of Head Chef in fine dining restaurants in hotels and resorts across India and beyond – from Mumbai, to Delhi, to Al-Khaleej in Kuwait. However, over my 21 years of culinary experience since 1998, I still consider my signature style homemade authentic Indian food, which is what I’m pleased to serve every day at Al Saray.
Homemade Bhindi Masala
Total time: 15-20 minutes
500g bhindi (okra)
200g onions, sliced
100g fresh tomatoes, sliced
20g fresh coriander, chopped
1tsp red chilli powder
1tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp salt
1tsp chaat masala
1tsp lemon juice
- Wash and dry the bhindi, and cut each one into pieces about 1cm across.
- Heat the ghee in a pan, then add the bhindi and sauté for 1 minute.
- Add the onions and continue to sauté until they become transparent, then add the sliced tomatoes and cover the pan, leaving it to cook over low heat for about 2 minutes.
- Add the red chili powder, turmeric powder, salt, chaat masala, fresh coriander, and lemon juice, and stir for a minute.
- Garnish with fresh coriander, and serve with homemade Indian bread (paratha, phulka, naan,) or plain boiled basmati rice.
Homemade Butter Chicken
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 6.5 hours
800g boneless, skinless chicken thighs/breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
150g plain yogurt
30g ginger & garlic paste
1 tbsp garam masala
1 tbsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp red chilli powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp salt
100ml mustard oil
30ml lemon juice
10 pieces green cardamom
20g ginger and garlic paste, or chopped
6 pieces green chillies, deseeded and chopped
1kg fresh tomatoes
100g cashew nuts, fried
10g chilli powder
10g kasoori methi
150g fresh cream
30g fresh coriander, chopped
1 litre water
1 slice of lemon
- In a bowl, mix the ingredients for the chicken marinade, and marinate the chicken in the mixture for an hour (or overnight for extra flavour).
- Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat, and when it starts to sizzle, add the marinated chicken pieces and roast each side for three minutes or until brown, then set aside and keep warm.
- In the same pan, add the cloves, green cardamom, ginger, garlic, green chillies, fresh tomatoes, and fried cashew nuts, and sauté for 2 minutes.
- Add a litre of water and cover the pan, leaving it to boil for 8-10 minutes until the tomatoes have softened.
- Remove from heat and scoop the mixture into a blender and blend until smooth.
- Heat the butter in another pan, and add the kasoori methi, red chilli powder, and turmeric powder, and stir for 30 seconds.
- Add the blended tomato paste and stir for a minute, then add the roasted chicken pieces, fresh cream, garam masala, honey, and chopped coriander, and mix well until the sauce is thick and bubbling.
- Garnish with fresh cream and fresh chopped coriander and serve hot with either boiled basmati rice or homemade roti, according to your taste.