Your first memories of food? I was about 17 years old and went down to Durban for my grandfather's funeral. My grandmother took me with her to their neighbours to collect vegetables, spices and ingredients to make food for the funeral. She started in the early hours of the morning and I got up with her and she showed me how to make a big pot of curry from scratch. Vegetable biryani, vegetarian curries and different types of other curries caught my interest.
Where are your grandparents originally from? My mother's side is from Mauritius and my father's side is from Kerala in southern India.
Would you say that your style of cooking is a combination of the two cultures? They are both very similar to Durban-style cooking so I mixed them together and created something unique with the flavours.
Where was your first experience cooking in a restaurant? La Perla in Sea Point. I had dabbled in a few other restaurants too, but La Perla was on another level.
What have you prepared for us? A typical Durban dish called bunny chow, a South Indian curry that we put in hollowed-out bread. I've adapted it to three little bunny chows for our tapas-style menu — the lamb bunny is very popular. The second dish is our Kerala roast chicken, which is done in a big clay tandoor oven.
Why tapas-style Indian food? It's part of my heritage and also one of the strengths of my cooking skills. I can cook anything from Italian, French, Greek to Chinese, but Indian has always been my passion and a lot of my old clientele from La Perla and The Grand have always loved my Indian-style cooking. They always said, "Why don’t you open an Indian restaurant?" so I decided to do something a bit different to opening another Indian restaurant.
What do you eat when you're not cooking? Usually my mother sends me food from her home in Milnerton. She's got a competition going with me, because she always thinks her food is better than mine. If she sees a video, she'll say, "Now I'm going to make this chicken better than yours," and next thing it arrives at my home, because she's sent it to me in a takeaway box. If I make crab curry for her birthday, she says, "Oh, it's not bad." And then the next week, she'll make me a crab curry and say, "This is how it should be done!"