06:51 Saturday 09 March 2013

A mixture of comedy, curry and takeaways

Written byBY STEPHEN SINFIELD

CURRY is one of the nation’s favourite dishes — but have you ever wondered if your takeaway chicken madras bears any resemblance to authentic Indian food?

Radio and television presenter, and all-round funny man Hardeep Singh Kohli, is on hand to find out.

His Indian Takeaway Tour is sweeping the nation as Hardeep mixes curry with comedy to deliver you some answers — and deliver you a takeaway.

Hardeep said: “The idea for this tour is the result of a mixture of things but one of those is that people would always ask what the difference is between what people cook at home and what you buy from a shop?

“The answer is that what you get from a takeaway is nothing like authentic Indian food and so to illustrate this I cook on stage while we order a takeaway from a local outlet as recommended by the audience.

“For example, you won’t find chicken tikka masala on any menu in India — it was invented in this country.

“But it’s the same as going out to the pub for a Sunday roast. It’s all very nice and it tastes good but it’s nothing like what you would eat or cook at home.

“Home cooking is always different as you are not catering for maybe 75 diners at a time.

“There’s nothing wrong with takeaway food, it’s just different to what Indians traditionally eat as everything is cooked in a different way.

“Home cooking clearly uses a lot more fresh ingredients than restaurant food.”

Hardeep’s love of all things culinary has led to him touring the UK constantly for the last three years with his hit shows The Nearly Naked Chef and Chat Masala which have both been huge hits.

He was also runner-up on the first series of Celebrity Masterchef which led to two series for UKTV Food, New British Kitchen and Chefs and the City.

His first book Indian Takeaway was nominated for an Independent Book Award and he has written about food for Olive, Observer Food Monthly, The Spectator, The Times, The Sunday Times and various other publications and is a columnist for Waitrose Food Illustrated.

Hardeep said: “I have been cooking since I was about 10 years old.

“One thing about being a brown kid in Glasgow in the 70s and 80s was that food was something everybody could relate to.

“They probably didn’t understand much else about me at that time but everyone relates to food.”

Using recipes passed down by his mum and his gran, Hardeep goes head-to-head on stage with the chosen takeaway dish.

He explains: “The level of takeaway has been variable depending on our location.

“Sometimes the audience opt for the familiar takeaway dish and other times they prefer mine but they all thoroughly enjoy it.

“I learned to cook from my mum and there has always been a willingness to share recipes between us.

“The trouble is that nobody ever writes these recipes down and so you can never truly recreate the same dish as they may forget to tell you about a little trick or addition.

“My favourite curry is my mum’s lamb curry which I cook myself now but it is nothing like what my mum makes. It is her recipe but for some reason it always tastes better when it’s cooked by your mum.

“I have shown my two children a few recipes and tricks over the years and my son was a trained chef before he went off to university but he has a love for food and I think he will probably return to cooking.

“I’d be happy if my daughter did something in food as well.”

As well as his tour, Hardeep is also keeping busy on the airwaves for the BBC. He said: “I used to cover for Aled Jones and now I’m about to start covering for Clare Balding on Radio 2. I have also done a few documentaries for Radio 4 and 5 Live.”

You can put Hardeep’s cooking skills to the test at the Lakeside Art Centre in Nottingham on May 16.

For more information on the tour or for tickets, visit www.hardeeplive.com.

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