Chef Q&A: Salt & Good, Stevenage
PUBLISHED: 09:30 29 January 2016 | UPDATED: 16:38 16 May 2016
Kamal Jeet Singh, Indian chef at world cuisine restaurant Salt & Good, Stevenage
Describe your style
The style of cooking is very authentic and original. It consists of two types of cuisines – tandoori, which is cooked in a traditional clay oven and consists of kebabs and naan breads, and the other style is related to curries, which are predominantly Punjabi food from the north of India; a very rustic style of food.
The main ingredients are caramelised onions, which impart sweet flavour balanced by the tartness of fresh tomatoes. Then other spices are added to provide flavour – the main onee being coriander seeds in its three forms, crushed, ground and fresh.
How do you decide your menu?
The menu is very much based on the most popular Indian dishes in the UK, so the idea behind this is that people are already familiar with these classics but our job is to enhance these dishes by going back to their roots and using our own fresh ground masalas and cooking methods. So when our guests try our own chicken tikka masalas, they can taste something familiar yet more traditional.
Which menu dish do you most enjoy preparing?
Slow-cooked pork, because it is marinated for three days in a secret rub and then cooked for eight hours.
What ingredient is most important to your cooking?
Garam masala – a ground mixture of spices – is a necessary part of Indian cooking for its distinctive flavour. We make our own.
It is a very old recipe, the two main ingredients being coriander and cumin dry-roasted and ground. The other aromatic spices are cinnamon, bay leaf, black cardamom and cloves.
What’s been your best culinary idea?
Chicken pista masala. The chicken should be marinated (it’s a secret recipe) for at least four days and the gravy has a rich texture of cashew and almond along with silver leaf and pistachios with homemade clarified butter.
It is then served with saffron pilau, pickled onion and poppadom.
Who did you train under and what did they teach you?
I’ve worked with many chefs and received lots of knowledge and tips, but the best thing I’ve learned after all the years I’ve been cooking is that food should be simple, tasty, healthy and easy to prepare.