Called the new Fanny Cradock by Gordon Ramsay on his show The F Word, Ravinder Bhogal, of Jikoni in London, has also won the UK’s Best First Cookbook at the Gourmand World Cookbook Award for her debut book Cook in Boots.
Bhogal will be in Mumbai next week to create a special dinner at Magazine St Kitchen. Known for her unique take on food with influences from India, Britain, East Africa, Asia and the Middle East, she will be creating a multi-course menu with an assortment of dishes.
Here she talks about her love for food, her favourite chefs, and the restaurants she loves in India.
1. How did your love affair with food begin?
“It began at age five, when I was dragged kicking and screaming into the kitchen by my mother, who was determined that all her daughters should learn to cook and help out in the kitchen.”
2. Who was your inspiration behind starting Jikoni?
“My grandfather. He believed in the idea of service and feeding people. He said it was the easiest way to be of service. His delight in eating and sharing food was infectious.”
3. What is Jikoni’s ethos?
“We cook food influenced by Asia, East Africa, Britain, the Middle East, and our wider travels. We feel that when you mix cultures you can create something that is better than the sum of its parts. It’s a sort of cooking without borders.”
4. Your food has flavours from across the world. Which of these has influenced you the most?
“I think learning to cook with my mother has inspired me more than anything, so probably Indian food.”
5. Is there an item you never fail to pick up while travelling?
“Kitchen utensils, like coconut scrapers, knives, pestle and mortars – I’m obsessed with kitchen shops.”
6. An Indian and non-Indian chef you admire?
“Too many to name, but I love Vivek Singh, Skye Gyngell, Anna Hansen, and Pierre Koffman. I admire all of them for their integrity and craft.”
7. Tell us about your experience cooking with Gordon Ramsay.
“Gordon was great fun to cook with. Winning the competition on The F Word kickstarted my career, though it feels like a very long time ago!”
8. Which is your favourite restaurant internationally?
“Trattoria Dardano in Cortona, Tuscany. I have many happy memories of eating the best tiramisu in the world there. Plus, it has the best hospitality.”
9. Which is your favourite restaurant in India?
10. What’s your sweet indulgence?
“Always a good tiramisu – the balance of coffee and booze has to be just right.”
11. Which is your favourite cuisine?
“It depends on my mood, but I eat home-cooked Indian food at least once a week.”
13. What is the one ingredient Indian food needs?
“Balance. Sometimes people forget to respect all the spices and layer them correctly.”