The Little Curry House owner, Jas Singh, on his love of fenugreek and Mars Bar pakora
At 23 years old, Jas took this business over from his father, Kulwant Singh, one of the founders of restaurant, Mother India
What’s your favourite ingredient?
Dried fenugreek. It goes great in butter chicken and adds so much to a dish. Coriander would be a close second.
Do you have a guilty food pleasure?
I recently created a Mars Bar pakora which is pretty close, but I’ve got to say chips, cheese and beans. I’ll maybe make it once a month, because I’d like to live past 30. I elevate the beans with chillies, cumin seeds, onions, garlic and coriander. It’s the business.
Tell us about your first food memory
It’s trying Indian food at home – it helps when your dad is one of the best Indian chefs in the country. If I’m honest it was ruined by starting work in the family restaurant at the age of 13. Restaurant flavours are so exaggerated and they took my appreciation of food to another level. A home cooked curry just doesn’t hit that level, now. With good reason though – if you ate like that every day you’d be obese.
What’s your favourite Scottish restaurant, deli or cafe?
Dishoom on St Andrew Square in Edinburgh. It may be a chain restaurant, but it’s got the whole package when it comes to food, service, decor, branding, and marketing. The menu looks extensive, but it really isn’t from a kitchen point of view. It’s well constructed and provides something high-quality for everybody. The highlight for me is the black daal.
What would be your last supper?
Butter Chicken Version 2.0 – it’s slower cooked, thicker, and with more chilli, coriander, dried fenugreek. Chapatis on the side only. It takes ages to cook but I wouldn’t be in any rush.
Starter or pudding?
Pudding. I’d go for gulab jamun – an Indian sponge in hot syrup served with double cream vanilla ice cream.
Do you have any food hates?
Chasnis and kormas. They are really easy to get right and are pretty much the same everywhere, but don’t show off what the restaurant can do. If somebody orders one I’ll usually try to point them in another direction.
What starters, main and dessert would be served at your dream dinner party and who would you invite?
Starter: Aubergine fritters and veggie pakora (my mum and sister are vegetarian). Indian style is the best way to enjoy vegetables. We treat them with respect.
Main: Small plates of chilli garlic, butter chicken, dahl (with added tomato and fried onions) and mutter paneer (peas and cheese)
Dessert: Four gulab jamun for the four of us.
I have very little interest in celebrity, as family and friends are what matter most. My guests would be my mum, dad and sister – they’re my best pals and there’s no better company. My dad is my hero – in life and work.
What's your favourite geographical foodie destination?
Punjab, in India, where my family is from. There are plenty of high-end restaurants, but what excites me is stuff you get on the street. Dishes like aloo tikki – shallow fried potato patty, salad and chickpeas; kulcha – stuffed naans/bread; or lassi (sweet yoghurt drink) They’re sold from self-operated owners who all do it differently. Amazing.