2012 Jun 30 Masala Master: Khajuraho Chef Sarvan Singh
Khajuraho may be one of Beijing’s newest Indian restaurants, but having already opened restaurants in Russia, their team knows all about bringing their cuisine to new markets. We met Sarvan Singh, Khajuraho Beijing’s head chef, to ask about dish recommendations and more.
Where did you learn to cook?
The first lesson is always at home. It was my mom. I always wanted to cook like her, but the first thing I ever cooked in my life was instant noodles. I was 9 years old and I made a mess, haha!
Who was your first boss?
My first boss was Rtd. Col. Malkeet Singh. It was really difficult to work with a retired army officer, as he was a good cook and very strict and punctual. Still, his sincerity about work made a lasting influence on me.
What food from India do you miss in Beijing?
My mom’s special mutton curry, which she makes as soon as she knows I’m coming.
What’s your favorite dish on the menu at Khajuraho?
My all-time favorite would be the lamb rogan josh – not only popular in our Beijing branch, but in all other locations of Khajuraho.
If you could have anyone visit the restaurant for one meal, who would you choose?
I have Jackie Chan and Andy Lau on my list as my Chinese favorites, since I’m in China.
And if you opened a Chinese restaurant, what dishes would you serve?
That would be like a dream come true to open a Chinese restaurant. I’d serve my favorite shredded lamb in black bean sauce and kung pao chicken – and many others that I would keep secret until I open!
What’s the first lesson you give to new staff?
Learn from your heart.
And if you were going to evaluate a chef’s ability by examining their kitchen, what specific areas would you look at as a test?
Safety of the personnel, quality of equipment, hygiene and a safe environment that you can breathe in.
What one item of clothing best sums up your personality?
My favorite costume is my uniform. It’s what I am and it’s what I do.
What character in a film would you like to be?
I would like to play Mr. Bean, because that’s how I am in life. Funny.
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Photo: Judy Zhou