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Q&A with Sudesh Singh from Scene Indian Street Kitchen

21 Mar 2016
Chef Profiles

We had the opportunity to fire some questions at executive chef Sudesh Singh from Manchester's Scene Indian Street Kitchen. Having worked throughout India with the 5 star Taj Group before spending many years at the legendary Shimla Pinks kitchen in Manchester, there isn’t much Sudesh Singh doesn’t know about Indian cuisine. Since April 2015 Singh has been at the helm at Scene, creating dishes from the sub-continent that are inspired by the vibrant colours and tastes of India’s exciting street food culture. Singh utilises a variety of cooking styles and authentic methods for creating the distinctive flavours of India, Pakistan and Southern Asia.

Why do you think Indian food has become the nation’s favourite cuisine?
There’s really something to suit everyone. From mild to medium to hot, the wide variety and diversity of the dishes appeals to all palates. It’s also a very sociable cuisine, we encourage sharing plates at Scene which is why the Street Food option is a favourite.

You don’t have to convince us - but for the uninitiated, tell us what is wonderful about Southern Asian food and why should people try it?
The freshness and vibrant colours of the ingredients we use at Scene have to be tried to be believed. The spices we use infuse the restaurant and will transport you to the heart of Southern Asia – from the middle of Manchester!

Do you adjust traditional recipes to better suit Western palates?
Not at all, we offer authentic Indian flavours to give our customers a real taste of the subcontinent.

Do you think the dining public is now far more educated about Indian cuisine and that traditional Indian restaurants need to raise their game?
There will always be a place for the traditional Indian restaurant but diners are also keen to look towards the newest concepts. Indian Street Food combines the traditional, authentic flavours and recipes from the sub-continent whilst also offering diners the chance to try a lot more dishes than just one curry.

Tell us about the signature dishes and how you’ve managed to retain the real flavour.
Our handpicked selection of specialties and signature dishes are made using a variety of cooking styles, recipes and methods and vary from region to region. All dishes are made using the highest quality ingredients from authentic Asian recipes. A firm favourite with the Scene regulars is our Samosa Chaat. The home-made pastry really is made from scratch in our kitchen and the pomegranate, chickpeas and sweet chutney are full of flavours, a real traditional street food treat. So much so, it’s been recognised for an award as we’re shortlisted for the Food Porn Awards with our Samosa Chaat.

What are the key factors in making Indian food “authentic”?
Spices need to be ‘cooked’, not just added to dishes. The aroma will change and let you know when they’re cooked and they are the prime ingredient with Indian food. It’s also very important to not let the spices burn. If recreating a curry at home, add a small amount of water with your spices to avoid burning.

How do you create a personal identity on dishes for a cuisine as wide and diverse as Indian food?
The dishes offered at Scene are inspired by the street food vendors of India as well as Pakistan and Southern Asia and our aim is for customers to feel like they have taken a journey of discovery using all five senses. Myself and our kitchen staff have a wealth of experience and project our own stamp onto each of Scene’s unique and exclusive dishes.

What is your own culinary heritage and do your recipes have roots?
I am extremely passionate about authenticity in Indian cooking having worked my way up through the kitchens with the 5* Taj Group in India before spending many years working at Manchester’s legendary Shimla Pinks. Of course, nothing will ever beat my grandmother’s home cooked curries – the stuff that dreams are made of!

Who in the whole world would you most like to feed and what Indian chefs do you most admire?
I love to cook for my family first and foremost, when the people you care for most enjoy your cooking, it gives you a great feeling. I very much admire the first Indian chef to win a Michelin star, Atul Kochhar. In my eyes, he’s the founder of Indian fine dining.

Indian food has evolved in the UK but how do see the food scene changing in India?
Indians want to experience upscale dining from various international cultures although they never forget their heritage, many Indian chefs are choosing to celebrate traditional home cooking methods but presenting them in a contemporary manner.

How do you think Spinningfields is developing as a dining hotspot?
There so much happening in Spinningfields now, it really is a go-to destination in Manchester. People can come for dinner and spend their whole night visiting the various bars. It definitely offers ease and convenience.

What’s next for Scene Dining?
We are opening a fabulous riverside terrace area in the Spring which we have worked hard to establish the plans for and are very excited to see it being enjoyed by our customers.

And last but not least we’d love to know your finest formula for the perfect kati roll…
The highest quality ingredients are sourced for this classic street food dish. I couldn’t possibly give away Scene’s trade secrets though, you’ll have to visit us to try for yourselves!

Find out more about Scene, Indian Street Kitchen and look at the menus Here

Q&A by Natasha Dervish @saucingaround