Chef of the Week: Sarah Ali Choudhury – Private Chef in Dorset

How long have you worked at your current restaurant?
I don’t have a restaurant yet!

However, I do cater for private and prestigious events and have been doing so for the for the past 17 months alongside writing recipe articles for various newspapers and magazines.

I launched my event catering business and catered for The Sand Polo Beach Championships held at stunning Sandbanks in July 2017.

Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
My passion for cooking comes from the flavours that Indian spices create.   If I don’t eat curry for a few days I feel as though I haven’t eaten properly!  I think you’ll find this happens with most Asian chefs!

When I was 9 my late grandmother (from Guyana,  South America) stayed with us for a year.  She was the best cook I’ve ever come across. I think my passion was instilled by her but it is my mum that taught me and continues to teach and inspire me in the kitchen.

What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
I set up my business so I could manage my 4 children whilst still working. It isn’t possible for me to fit in with anyone’s timetable or rota. I love having the ability to be free to work around my own lifestyle.

Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without.
Garlic, onions and turmeric.

Which piece of kitchen equipment couldn’t you live without?
I use all Robert Welch Knives in my kitchen and always keep them dangerously sharp! I have the 8 piece Signature ABS Block Set with Sharpener that was presented to me after completing a cookery demonstration at Purewell Cookery Theatre in Christchurch by Robert Welch HQ.

What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
One of the most recognised food trends presenting itself currently is how Indian restaurants are recreating their plating techniques.

Over the years Indian restaurants have come away slightly from the recognised comfort food to more elegantly designed plates with less comfort, more style.

What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down?
Definitely overworking themselves through sheer determination of “getting the job done”.

What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
After Christmas we are all carrying a little extra weight, and it’s the best  time to get healthy and put New Year resolutions out there. Regardless of whether we stick with them or not,  it’s always great to start the New Year with a good intention! Oranges and lemons come in to season, root vegetables like parsnips and swedes are in abundance, and salmon makes its seasonal debut.

Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
I make a crab claw curry and duck bhuna that I am most proud of! I can’t get enough of either of these dishes.

The crab claw takes some preparation but it’s worth it, with a silky smooth sauce,  a dash of chilli and a hint of coconut it is an exceptionally unique dish.

The duck bhuna needs be slow cooked with lots of spices including coriander,cumin,  and garam masala…. the ultimate comfort food!

How do you come up with new dishes?
By eating out in other restaurants,  reading books and talking to other chefs who inspire me.

Who was your greatest influence?
My parents are my greatest influence and inspirational people like Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey inspire me to do things differently.

Tell us three chefs you admire
Ching He Huang – British Chinese writer and TV Chef. I watched a programme of hers a few years ago and tried making it for myself,  and everything was delicious….result!

Munayam Khan- Owner of Raja Monkey in Birmingham. Munayam has been working in the restaurant food industry since he was 17. He now owns one of the most well known and popular restaurants in Birmingham serving delicious Indian Street Food. No gimmicks, just real Indian comfort food.

Rick Stein. I love how Rick Stein travels all over India and Bangladesh mastering the art of cooking Indian food. I tried a Goan fish curry at the Sandbanks Rick Stein when they first opened and I was impressed!

What is your favourite cookbook?
My mums recipes that have been hand written by myself while talking to her on the phone!  … there are a collection of recipes written on the back of envelopes… waiting to be published!

Who do you think are the chefs to watch over the next few months?
Roy Brett, as he’s worked closely with Rick Stein and he knows his seafood!

What’s been your favourite new restaurant opening of the last year?
In my opinion, every new restaurant is a blessing but my favourite restaurant will be the one that I open myself…