We caught up with pioneering British chef Cyrus Todiwala OBE.
Cyrus is the owner of Cafe Spice Namasté in London, currently closed like all other UK hospitality venues.
He is kindly supporting the #GiftToShareExperiences campaign, and who shares his thoughts on food, produce and lockdown snacking!
Below are his own at home experiences, and tips for the rest of us whilst in our own kitchens.
You are normally a very active person. How are you coping with cooking at home?
Cooking at home is something we’re all getting to learn. Before lock down we had bene hosting a series of cookery masterclasses to help people explore the mysteries of Asian cuisine. These will I am sure need to change in style and structure. We’ll re-open our London restaurant, Café Spice Namasté, as soon as we can, but I’m also looking at more learning packages; especially with ‘hands-on’ cooking which helps people to hone their skills and techniques. This now seems what people are seeking.
Any tips to share for the home cooks?
When cooking from recipes, it’s always useful to read and re-read it. When you first look at a recipe – especially with Indian cooking – it might look quite daunting. Try reading it just like a book; read it, set it aside and read it again later. It will suddenly appear easier than it sounded the first time. Then, just go for it!
Now you have a little more time like the rest of us, have you changed any home habits?
In lockdown, I’ve started baking things I haven’t made in a long time, like many of us have it seems. Things like biscuits and fresh bread. But I’ve also learned that if I don’t control myself from snacking, I may soon become a little fat! Restraint is the key for me. Again, I feel I’m not alone.
You are passionate about your spices, infact a main feature of your book, can you share any of your tips on keeping spices at home?
Spices aren’t just about flavour, they’re about wellbeing. If they’re well balanced and correctly handled, spices can bring great health and wellbeing benefits for the human body in many different ways, like improving immunity, fighting infections, improving concentration and reducing blood sugar.
The best place to store your spices is in the fridge. This helps to keep the temperature cool and constant, which prevents all the essential oils in the spices from evaporating. I love cumin and Kashmiri Chillies, but my very favourite spice is cardamom. Unfortunately, my wife and younger son don’t like it – so most of the time I don’t use it at home.
You love your meats, both eating and ensuring animal welfare. What are your thoughts on the growth in plant based eating?
Plant-based foods are on the increase, which is fantastic. But I do wish people would eat less pre-packaged vegan and vegetarian meals that are designed to look and taste like meat. These meals are full of additives and artificial ingredients, and we don’t yet know the effects of that. Freshly prepared is always best! My latest book, Simple Spice Vegetarian, is full of simple, home-cooked dishes with a spice box of just 10 favourites. It is proving very popular now people have more time to explore recipes, new flavours and new spices, whilst eating less meat.
What are you most looking forward to when you are able to eat out?
When I eat out, I look for the cuisine first, then the reputation. These ingredients, coupled with the friendliness of the staff, the atmosphere, the quality of the produce, are what make people come back to a restaurant. It’s not just the food; it’s the whole experience that’s important.
Signed personalised book.
Order Cyrus latest hard back at home cook book, and he will sign and personalise it. Purchase below
20% of sales are donated to the #GiftToShareExperiences campaign in support of Hospitality Action.
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