Island News

Cooking with Khem Singh

Written By : JONATHAN BRYCE. There are a number of different restaurants in Suva and all around the country with the exotic taste of some of India’s finest dishes. However,
05 Jul 2008 12:00

image Written By : JONATHAN BRYCE. There are a number of different restaurants in Suva and all around the country with the exotic taste of some of India’s finest dishes.
However, there is only one that has the artistic cooking talent and skills of Mr Khem Singh.
After migrating all the way from Punjab, India, Khem Singh now works at the Suva branch of the Ashiyana restaurant, located at the Old Town Hall building at Victoria Parade as its local head-chef.
Mr Singh has been a professional cooking chef for over nine years of his life and has been working in Fiji for the last four of those years, in Nadi as well as Suva. Mr Singh learned the fine art of cooking back in his home country.
He began to study the ways of the professional chef when he was at the age of seventeen in which he first started working in a line of hotel kitchens. The first hotel kitchen he began working and learning in, was at the Maharaja Hotel in home town of Punjab.
Khem Singh was proud to say that he came from a family where his father and all his brothers are professional chefs much like himself.
During his time in Fiji, Mr Singh had trained two other cooks.
Both trainees were trained so well by Mr Singh that they now currently working in as chefs in New Zealand.
Khem Singh also went on to say that as much as he loved to cook a number of authentic Indian dishes, he eventually considered his favourite dish to be the one he called the ‘Tandoori Makhi Murg’.
The ‘Tandoori Makhi Murg’ is a dish that consists of a specially-cooked chicken with a particular type of gravy. It is also a dish that is currently served on the menu of his restaurant.
Mr Singh spent his first two years in Fiji at the Nadi branch of the Ashiyana restaurants were he cooked as their head chef.
Afterwards, he moved to Ashiyana Suva branch where he is currently stationed.
Though he sometimes finds his job challenging, he claims to enjoy his duties and has found no difficulties in it that he can not handle.
“I really like my job here in Fiji. As long as I have a job as a chef, I will always want to work at Ashiyana. I have no problems meeting deadlines; I never had any problems with any of the customers. I do okay and I enjoy my work” said Mr Singh.
Mr Singh mentioned the one of the challenges he often faces is that he sometimes has to do all the kitchen duties himself. Despite his hectic duty of trying to do everything at once, his personal touch had always been a great part of what makes his cook great.
Regardless of such challenges he faces daily in his restaurant kitchen, Mr Singh always manages to cook up a storm and has the knowledge and skills to prepare over four hundred different dishes. “I have always wanted to be a chef” said Mr Singh, “I was inspired mostly by my father. He was a professional chef too; he inspired my two brothers too.”
Out the many dishes on his menu, Mr Singh generously decided to share the secret recipe of one particular dish. The dish he chose was a chicken dish he calls Kadai Murg.

The ingredients
needed are:
l 400 grams of onions
l 150 grams of capsicums
l 200 grams chicken
l And 200 grams in tomatoes
The process of cooking
the Kadai Murg is as
l First, pour cooking oil into the frying pan
l Add cumin seeds into the frying pan
l Add the onions
l Fry for about seven minutes until it is golden brown
l Add the tomatoes and capsicum
l Then add the chicken
l Cook for about ten minutes
l Add butter and cream into the mix
l Add korenda and ginger
l Then serve.
Khem Singh had brought the great taste of Indian cooking with him from India and is determined to keeping serving up many of his homeland’s exotic meals at the Ashiyana restaurant. Mr Singh wished to conclude with this piece of advice for the future chefs of Fiji.
“If you work hard, you’ll achieve your dream. There’ll always be struggles in life, but success is there waiting for you.”

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