TV presenter HARDEEP SINGH KOHLI is celebrating the British love for curry and attempting to track down the best curry house in Britain as he delivers his Indian Takeaway around the UK. CATRIONA REEVES discovers his recipe for cooking and comedy.
CATRIONA REEVES: Your Indian Takeaway stage show involves a nightly taste-off between a curry that you’ve prepared on stage and one delivered by a local curry restaurant suggested by the audience. Which dish usually gets the thumbs-up?
HARDEEP SINGH KOHLI: The idea of the taste-off is to show the difference in ingredients and style. British-Indian food is incredible, but it’s not what I grew up eating in a Punjabi household; what my mum and gran cooked at home. When I come to a town, we want people to suggest their favourite curry house; somewhere where they eat regularly, and get someone to actually ring up and make their usually order, so they can compare a takeaway they love with the curry that I’ve cooked.
CR: You’ve been taking your live shows on the road and to Edinburgh for about three years - how did come up with the idea of combining cooking and comedy?
HSK: I’m quite good at cooking and quite funny, but not good enough at either on its own - so if one falls down, the other fills the gaps. I’m not a stand-up comic, I’m a raconteur. The stories I tell while I’m cooking are about my love of food, my years of being a waiter, and the culture clash of growing up as a Scottish Indian.
I was runner-up on the first Celebrity Masterchef series in 2006, and after that, I presented quite a few food programmes, and wrote a book, also called Indian Takeaway, before putting on my first show at the Edinburgh Fringe, four or five years ago. I’ve been doing the current show for about a year, and it’s such good fun.
CR: Which is the best curry house that you have discovered through doing this show?
HSK: There’s a particularly cracking restaurant in Leicester. The audiences there are particularly well versed in good food. I think it’s important for this show that it’s local people that are suggesting the restaurants we order from, so we are really getting the best example of Indian takeaways in that town.
CR: What dish do you cook on stage during the show?
HSK: My recipes change every night, to keep it fresh for me. One of my favourites is lamb curry in black pepper. Pepper provides a different sort of heat - it will make you sweat a bit, but it’s not mental. And because I’m North Indian, I always defer to bread rather than rice to accompany a curry.
CR: Lastly - being from Scotland, do you have a recipe for haggis curry?
HSK: Yes I do. Haggis, tatties and neeps curry. That’s the great thing about curry - everything goes in together, so it saves on the washing up.
- First published in Newbury Weekly News on February 14, 2013